The longest day of my life started at 9am at Krakow bus station, waiting for a bus that was already in the station but had the wrong number on the front. After eventually coming to the conclusion that that was indeed our bus me and Emily got on and sat in the last two remaining seats. Both were single seats next to people who I can only assume had forgotten to wash for a number of days.
But then more people boarded the bus- it had been overbooked. The 8 hour journey consisted of 3 people sitting on the floor of the bus, due to the overcrowding, blocking the way to the toilet. So every time we stopped to pick up more passengers to squeeze onto the bus, me and Emily sprinted to use the bus station toilets.
Thankfully just as the sun was setting we arrived in Prague and not only that, we got a free room upgrade at our hostel!
Our local metro station had the longest escalator in the EU. It took 2.5 minutes to go up.
After the first good night sleep we had had in weeks we made our way to the start of a free walking tour. The tour was led by Michael, an American 25-year old. At first we were sceptical about having a Prague tour led by an American who had not yet lived in the city for a year. But he was extremely knowledgable and personable. Although his timekeeping was not the best- the 2 hour tour lasted 3 hours in the bitter cold. But we did learn a lot about the Prague’s history and the famous architecture which contributes to the capital being known as the ‘city of a hundred spires’.
Students taking a break
After warming up in a cafe we made our way through the narrow streets and crowds to the famous Charles bridge. It was incredibly busy but it was worth it to see the beautiful statues that line the bridge and a very enthusiastic busker.
The busker on the bridge
All the sightseeing took its toll on us so after an amazingly tasty burger (which we go on to eat for the next two nights running) we headed back to the hostel for an early night.
By complete coincidence Emily’s dad was also in Prague. So while she went to meet him to drop off all the stuff she had bought on our trip and couldn’t fit in her case I went to the main square, which was draped in sunlight, to do an hour of street photography. It was the first time on the trip the sun allowed me to do some street photography. I will be posting them to this blog on Thursday but if you can’t wait till then you can head over to my instagram.
After miraculously meeting up with Emily after my phone ran out of battery we headed over the Charles Bridge and up to Prague castle. Again it was very busy and the queue was so long we decided to take in the view of the city rather than go inside the castle. We then wiggled our way through the alleys and streets surrounding the castle. This was the first time in two days there were no tourists in sight and we felt like we were seeing an authentic side of Prague.
Emily on our way up to the castle
We spent the rest of the evening trying to get lost to see a different side of Prague but kept ending up at the main square!
A consumer of a ‘traditional’ chimney cake
My first impressions of Prague was not what I expected. Some places were so busy and full of tour groups you literally couldn’t move and we witnessed how a select few locals have capitalised on this. With ‘traditional’ cakes being sold (which are from Hungary) along with signs put up by the council warning tourists of not using taxi’s due to how much they will overcharge. We were also on the end of some very poor customer service in a couple of restaurants and a cafe (think 1/5 on Trip Advisor worthy). And we saw road rage so extreme the two drivers took to the street to ‘sort it out’ in front of a historic statue.
Our final day consisted of no plans- just to wander. We felt very safe to explore the different suburbs. We ended up walking along the river and up to a huge pendulum at the top of a hill. The pendulum represents moving forward and the end of communism. From here we had one of the best views of our whole trip. You could see the river wind round the city, all the bridges and hundreds of church spires.
With a few hours left before our flight we decided to explore the suburb at the top of the hill- I’m so glad we did. It was understated yet beautiful and filled with Prague locals going about their day. The suburb was surrounded by well-maintained parks and an easter fairground. Until this point I could never imagine what it would be like to live in Prague, but here I got a small glimpse and loved it.
My opinions on Prague changed from hour to hour. I loved the architecture and river but the mass of tourists and lack of customer service skills left us feeling a bit underwhelmed. But these are just my personal views from what we experienced and I would never discourage anyone from visiting. Prague and the Czech Republic have an intriguing history and the beer is not taxed like other alcohol which helps contribute to a (very) lively night life.
Sadly Prague was our last city on our trip! I am currently putting together a video of our Eastern European adventure which I’ll be posting to this blog, but until then I hope you all have great week, and please recommend where I should visit next!