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Clare
Clare

Day 1: Prague

Continuing the theme of getting the most out of our Bank Holidays this year, our destination for this weekend is Prague :) We have been to Prague once before in 2009, but it was a long time ago and we don't have many photos. While we definitely enjoyed it, some memories of that trip have been blotted out by the misery of a week in Bialystok which followed, so when we found cheap flights to Prague with Ryanair this weekend, we jumped at the chance to come back.

We had a rather early start to the day, with a flight from Stansted at 06.45. All went smoothly though and we found ourselves touching down in Prague by 09.30. After so many holidays spent flying to tiny Ryanair airports, which are often little more than a shed next to an airstrip, it made a change to land at an airport which was large enough to necessitate a bus from the plane to the terminal, and modern enough to have e-passport gates!

Getting to the centre of Prague from the airport is a lot easier now than it was last time we came, as there is a direct "Airport Express" bus which runs at least every half hour during the day from the airport to the main train station. We paid 60 CZK, which is about £1.60, and the bus was almost empty. Perhaps everyone else was taking a taxi!

The journey took about 30 minutes and soon we were wandering through the streets of Prague, towards the old town. Imagine our surprise when, having been in Prague for a whole 10 minutes, we found this:

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It seems like Tim is destined never to have an Esperanto-free weekend :)

Before long we were at the gateway to the old town.

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There was no need for a map because we were able to follow the crowds towards the old town's main square, Staroměstské náměstí.

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It's a really beautiful square. Behind us we could see the twin towers of the gothic Týn church...

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...while in front of us was the Old Town Hall, which is famous for its astrological clock.

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In the middle of the square is the memorial to the Czech national hero, Jan Hus.

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We stopped to get a drink and enjoy the view, although at 100 CZK for a bottle of water it may not have been a good idea!

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Feeling refreshed, we headed off through the streets of the old town towards Karlův most (Charles Bridge).

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Everywhere was pretty but extremely busy, with herds of people on guided walking tours.

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Of course, the majority of the crowds were heading towards the bridge itself, which is one of the most popular sights in Prague.

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The bridge, which crosses the river Vltava, was completed in the fifteenth century to connect the old town with the castle on the opposite side of the river. There are around 30 statues, depicting different religious and historical figures, which line both sides of the bridge.

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There were too many people to stop and appreciate the statues, but we were still able to enjoy the views across the river to the castle...

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..as well as back towards Prague.

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The highlight of crossing the bridge may have been overhearing the conversation of an American couple, where the wife was complaining loudly that she wanted to go on a gondola and the husband was trying to explain that they might not have them in Prague...!

The climb up to the castle is a bit steep, so we decided to leave that for today and walk into the general direction of our hotel.

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It didn't take long to get off the beaten tourist track and discover a more peaceful side of Prague.

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We were starting to feel hungry, so had our eye out for suitable places to eat. The restaurant prices were a lot cheaper in this part of town which was good... but unfortunately all the menus we found were in Czech. Oh dear. I was starting to wish I'd made a bit more effort with learning Czech before we came!

In the end we found a place that looked nice and decided to make an attempt at deciphering the menu. We established that there were burgers and some sort of pasta, but it was impossible to know whether any of the ingredients of the meals were things we might not want to eat. Luckily, when we asked if the waitress spoke English she disappeared and came back shortly with a translated menu, which was a great relief because it turned out that all the burgers included "pickled cucumber". I decided to opt for the tagliatelle instead :)

We had a lovely meal sitting outside in the sunshine and then set off to locate our hotel. The hotel is a few streets away from the football stadium for Sparta Praha, and we weren't sure whether to be relieved that no guns, bombs or baseball bats are allowed at their matches or concerned that such a big sign was necessary to explain this. Luckily today didn't appear to be a match day :)

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The hotel itself turned out to be lovely, although I did get a bit of a shock when we were checking in and I saw a sign saying that the price of a double room was €200. A hasty check of our reservation confirmed that we were only paying about £90 (in total for two nights), so seems like we got a good deal on booking.com!

We were feeling a bit tired at this point, having got up at 02.15, so we decided to have a short nap. The nap may have lasted slightly longer than intended, and by the time we headed out again it was early evening.

We strolled through some pretty suburbs, back towards the river.

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We had some beautiful views back towards the city centre.

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This time we walked over one of the normal road bridges rather than battling our way across Charles Bridge.

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We were able to appreciate just how wide the river is.

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We enjoyed another stroll around the old town in the twilight, then headed back to the hotel before the stag parties started coming out in force. Tomorrow we will hopefully be able to make an early start and see some of the sights before the worst of the hordes descend :)

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