Day 3 of the Expat Explore leg of the tour was a trip to Prague via Nuremberg for a lunch stop. (A.M)
As much as I’d love to share more about Nuremburg, I must be honest and tell you that I really was just so excited to get to Prague. For some bizarre reason I felt like this was the official start of the tour.
I can go into a lot of history (which I must tell you is very interesting, because while on tour with Expat Explore, you get a lot of info on a country as you head into a new city and this really helps a lot!) but I won’t share too much, other than that after WWI, Prague was the capital of Czechoslovakia. Following a few other historic events, like WWII and also the Velvet Revolution (basically the end of Stalinist rule in the region), Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved and became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (T.L)
Fortunately when we arrived late in the afternoon, there was still time for a us to catch a quick guided tour of the city before dinner. This proved to be extremely helpful before we were left to our devices the next day and able to explore the city in greater depth. Aside from familiarising ourselves with the area we were also able to narrow down the key things to focus on during our free day and work out how much time we needed at each place. Based on our own experience and the info we absorbed from the tour guide, we’ve compiled our own “Top 5 things to do in Prague”. (A.M)
1. Old Town Square
As with many town squares in Europe, this is the heart of the city. It seems like there is a constant buzz in this square which not only houses many restaurants and cafes but other historic sites as well. (T.L)
A portion of the Old Town Hall, which was built in 1338, is still standing in the Old Town Square. Unfortunately most of this building was destroyed during the Prague uprising in the 1940’s. Going through Europe it’s actually insane when you realise how much history has vanished due to to conflicts over the years. In a sense I supposed the same could be said about Africa sadly. (A.M)
The Church of Mother of God before Týn, which has been the main church of this part of the country since the 14th century with towers of 80 metres.(T.L)
2. The Medieval Astronomical Clock
The Medieval Astronomical Clock is located on the Old Town Hall. The clock was first installed in 1410, which makes it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and it still works with all its original parts! (T.L)
I’d be lying if I said I figured it out, but it is possible to not only tell the time from the clock dial, but also what day it is and its position in the week, month and year. The clock also tracks Central European, Babylonian and Sidereal time in case you have some peeps in Babylon that you need to keep tabs on. (A.M)
Everyone arrives here waiting for the amazing show that happens at the top of the hour. They sit around and wait and wait to see a 2 minute animation show that takes place with the four figures that flank the clock (T.M).
Word of advise: Manage your expectations with regards to the “animation show”. As far as 600yr old installations go, it’s damn spectacular but it’s no Tomorrowland experience. During the summer months however they do have a video mapping projection show on the clock featuring some of the key events in Czech history which does upgrade the show immensely. (A.M)
3. Charles Bridge
We had to get to Charles Bridge and I do think this has got to be the most beautiful bridge I have ever seen! This bridge crosses the Vlatva river in Prague and is protected by 3 bridge towers. There are many statues on the bridge too, but they are all replicas as the originals are in safekeeping. This bridge isn’t long, but with everything to see on it, including a lovely orchestra playing, it takes a while to cross over!(T.L)
Apparently construction of the bridge started in 1357 and the very first stone was laid by King Charles IV himself, whom the bridge is named after. As with most of the architecture in Prague it has withstood some pretty horrid times from countless wars, floods and heavy traffic wear and tear. (A.M)
4. The Prague Castle
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the castle is the largest, ancient castle in the world and occupies an area of 70 000 square metres! It hosts the Saint Vitus Cathedral, a cathedral with a tower that gives you magnificent views of Prague. (T.L)
Make sure you you give yourself some time because you’ll want to take in all of the views and if it’s busy you may have to wait a while to get that ideal spot to snap your perfect shot. One of the things that will take some time (and a few euros) is climbing up the cathedral tower. (A.M)
Please do read the notices before you decide to start climbing… We didn’t (we learn through our mistakes!) and only found out halfway that there are 280 steps to the top! However, the views are worth it.
So who would’ve thought that we would see an Eiffel Tower in Prague? I’m sure nobody would, but this structure not the Eiffel Tower, it’s the Petrin Lookout Tower, which strongly resembles the Eiffel Tower, just much shorter. We decided not to do the hike up to the tower, but we still needed a picture. (T.L)
5. Traditional Prague Folklore Dinner
We couldn’t leave without experiencing a dinner party Czech style and when the Czechs throw a party, they do it big and loud. As if the bottomless beer and wine wasn’t enough, the meat just kept flowing and flowing as well. Heaven I tell you (A.M)
Besides the delicious food, the evening also allowed for us to get to know our fellow ‘tour members’ even better. I enjoyed this huge city that had the warmth of a small town. Quaint, cute, warm and just all round pleasant is how I would describe Prague and I would love to return for their Christmas Markets one day.(T.L)
A lot of people have asked me why I love Europe and the old buildings, etc. The answer is pretty simple, I really do love being in places that look so very different to where I’m from. I love looking out of a window and seeing things I don’t know and need to find out more about. I love walking on streets I don’t know and even the idea of getting lost doesn’t faze me.