The Virtual Vacation Diaries: Prague Edition
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Arrival and Day One Exploits
Foreward: Welcome to the Virtual Vacation Diaries! I love to travel. I cherish it and feel so lucky to have been able to visit so many cool places. I don't know about you, but this Coronovirus stuff has disrupted so much about daily life; who we can see, how we can work, where we can or cannot go. Many of these things are so important and crucial and we are sad or frustrated that we can't do them. I'm also keenly aware that it's even disrupting fun stuff too. The things we might call "first world problems". I've had to cancel a trip to Venice, Italy and Croatia that was planned for this year. While I know that opportunity may be realized later, it's still disappointing. And then I figured, maybe my friends and followers may be in the same boat. So it is with love and gratitude that I offer you the chance to travel along with me virtually. The first edition is from a recent trip (last summer) to Prague, Czech Republic. The first half of this story was actually written pretty quick upon our return home. But things got busy with trying to get back into a work flow with my businesses that I never actually finished the post. So the first half of this blog story may seem a bit different than the second half. Please bear with me. Also, since I'd like to take you on the journey visually, I'll be posting many more photos in the story than I normally do. So let's get on the "plane" and go to Prague!
How to Enjoy Prague, Czech Republic in a Few Short Days!
We have been able to check off quite a few huge locations in Europe off our vacation list. Paris, London, Rome, Athens. We have done it! But as Bryan and I set out to determine a 2019 vacation location and itinerary, there was much negotiation and strategy involved. While I am a sun worshipper and beach lover, my poor husband has had a few bouts of two different types of skin cancers. We can’t really do the “lay around a beach all day” type trip any more. Plus if I’m honest with myself, at the risk of sounding really bougie, “we’ve kind of been there and done that anyway”.
So this is how the negotiations went down. Me- “Do you want to do the beach thing?” Bryan, “Hmmm, I mean it worries me, but maybe Hawaii, but I don’t know. Me- “Oh, I know…. you’ve always wanted to go to Australia. Let me research it!”. Well I stay up late researching. I’m mostly afraid of how long the flight will be. I soon discover that the final flight is about 13 hours. Okay I tell myself I can do that. I’ve flown 10 hours straight before. That’s just a few more hours. Then I discover that Australia is literally on the opposite seasons as us. So to go in June is like traveling to their coldest and rainiest season. Ok, “No Thanks”. But I’ll bank it for a winter (their summer) getaway.
So I know that Bryan has kind of always talked about Prague. He’s heard great things from friends, plus we have done some mission trips that have taken us in that direction of Europe. When I break the news about Australia’s season in June. I say we should do Europe. He says “How about Prague?” I think its sounds lovely, but not for a week or anything. And I wasn’t super interested in going to neighboring Austria or Germany. So night two of investigating goes along the lines of me trying to find ANY other European location on MY list to add to a Prague excursion for Bryan. I’ve have always wanted to go to the South of France. So I start looking for river cruise options from France to Prague. There were some options, but they all involved 10-14 days after arriving in Europe. As business owners, it’s hard to disconnect that long. But then all of a sudden my Internet search takes me to Royal Caribbean 4 day cruise to the South of France!!!!!
The next morning I am so excited to present my travel itinerary to Bryan. The cruise portion starts in the port of Rome (Civitavecchia), and then takes us to Corsica (a small island off Italy’s coast considered a part of France); Marseille, France; and Nice, France (as well as Monaco/Monte Carlo). I propose flying into Rome one day early and getting adjusted to the time and revisiting some of our favorite places. Getting on the cruise to enjoy the South of France, which was a dream for me. And then post cruise, flying to Prague to fulfill a wish list for him. Bryan says done and book it!
Here we go!
Okay! Enough about the back story and we will talk about the France portion later. But let’s talk about Prague. By the time we get off our Royal Caribbean cruise back in Rome to go to the airport, Bryan and I are in a good vacation rhythm. We have overcome jet lag. We have equally disconnected from work and all those worries and concerns. We are getting along with each other… haha. If you all know us, or have read some of my other travel stories, you will know this is a feat in and of itself! At this point we are actually pretty excited to get off the ship and spend some time roaming the streets of a great city with no time schedules or constraints.
The flight from Rome to Prague was a mere few hours. We arrive early evening and get a taxi at the airport. Off we go! Arriving to the hotel that I booked from Expedia was really pretty easy and pulling up to it seemed magical. It was a precursor to the next few days. The hotel was The Kings Court Hotel and it was spectacular. They greeted us so graciously and offered a Prosecco Toast to our arrival. It’s majestic and so beautiful. The room is amazing. But maybe it’s because we’ve been in a cruise ship room for the last 4 days. I don’t know. But I don’t really care. This place is amazing and I highly recommend it.
The hotel is located on a quiet, but happening square. There are people moving about. There are many cool café and restaurant options and a huge mall. It’s weird. It was lively but equally peaceful at the same time. We found the most charming pub/restaurant that had an inner, outdoor courtyard for dining. I can’t explain how peaceful and beautiful that night was. And it doesn’t hurt that, after 4 days of menus in French that we couldn’t make heads or tails of, the menu was easy to read, had all the options listed in English and while we opted for traditional Czech fare, they were things we were familiar with and could really enjoy! On the way back to the hotel, we stroll the mall for the sheer heck of it, get a few pastries at one of their coffee shops and head back to the hotel for a wonderful night of sleep.
Our first night's dinner in Republic Square at Kotleta
DAY ONE! Walking, Bussing and Boating
First we get up and head down to the hotel’s breakfast that is included. We opt to sit at their outdoor café portion. I love a great outdoor patio café! The breakfast is out of this world. It’s free and included with your stay but it’s not meager by any means. Do you want a mimosa? It’s included on a beautiful juice and champagne bar. Want a coffee? Of course! And it’s not just your generic black coffee. You can get a Cappuccino, Espresso, Americano, Latte or whatever your heart’s desire brought to you by the loveliest of staff. The buffet is just too good to be true and offers something for every appetite.
Breakfast fit for a King
We had been told that there were walking tour guides and a plethora of ways to see and enjoy Prague without much pre-planning. Upon finishing breakfast it was easy to spot someone who could help us navigate the day’s sight seeing. The young gentleman holding brochures, and an umbrella to shield himself from the sun was easy to approach in our little square. He explains how to use the Hop On-Hop Off Busses and easily “up-sales” us to get a River Cruise Tour ticket. Tickets were purchased and off we go to explore and find the first Bus Station. We needed to get to Old Town Square. Which was by far the place to go and see. The walk from where we were was easy and took us down some really quaint streets. Upon arriving to Old Town Square, it was just truly breathtaking. You probably could have spent a few hours just taking photos there. But we were anxious to hop on the bus to go to the Prague Castle.
Our Walk to Old Town Square
I love all the sidewalk cafes
We've arrived to the square!
We found the bus stop and easy peasy. The bus stops right as we arrive and we load up and go just a little ways to the first stop, which is Prague Castle. Getting off the bus and walking right across the street to the entrance of the complex was truly breathtaking. This is not just some castle. The entirety of the grounds and structures are magnificent. It was super easy to get in line for tickets. The only mistake we made was getting into a line for entrance into the buildings only. There was another line that included audio headphones. Bryan was having no part in switching lines and waiting again in order to get the audio guides. I was a little bummed. But, I didn’t spoil our time with a brat fit about something early in the day, so I decided to let it go. And honestly it was fine! Each room had very readable explanations, which included English translations. We are quick museum explorers. We really don’t linger long at each exhibit or historic piece. I like a good picture if they are allowed, skim and read plaques or signage and quickly move on to a next room or location. There are, I believe, seven actual buildings on the castle grounds. We only went into about four of them. With my interior design background, I especially love to gawk at and admire all the old furnishings and paintings! We have travelled a lot and have seen a fair share of Basilica’s and Cathedrals and let me tell you that St George Basilica and St. Vitus Cathedral are among the most beautiful and ornate.
Walking up to Prague Castle
Entrance into the grounds of Prague Castle
I'm a sucker for beautiful, historic furnishings!
St. Vitus Cathedral
After we saw all that we wanted at Prague Castle, we went back to the bus stop and took a good look at the map to figure out where to stop next. We decided there was a stop that would put us on a good path towards the St. Charles Bridge and an eventual stop for lunch and possibly the opportunity to take our River Cruise with our tickets we acquired with our bus passes! I just love walking and exploring at our own pace. One travel tip I'll throw in right here... You MUST be patient with basically anyone, but I'll go as far to say with European travelers who seem to be very aggressive with getting into a line (or should I say the complete lack of awareness that someone was there before them and are equally anxious to get to their next destination!). Try not to get to annoyed when you get pushed out of the way even though you have been standing there 15-20 minutes before them. But I digress. Lets take a walk in another beautiful part of Prague! So we got off the bus and began walking. Found a wonderful little riverside cafe and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we walked and navigated ourselves to the famed St. Charles Bridge.
Bus stops at the Vltava River
Seems like an appropriate time for a Selfie!
My hubby is a good Instagram husband!
Walking towards what turns into a really cool cafe on the river
After our lunch we come to the famous and historic St. Charles Bridge! The structure is a sight to behold. I'm always pondering how people in times of old had the resources to build and engineer these types of things. It's construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV and was completed in the beginning of the 15th Century. This bridge was the only way to cross the river Vltava until 1841 and it was the most important connection between Prague Castle and Old Town and surrounding areas. Today, the bridge is a pedestrian only bridge and is full of vibrant street performers, artists, vendors and a slew of tourists!
After walking the bridge and enjoying the sights and sounds, we venture down the riverside to look for one of the boat docks to take our river cruise. There are several we can choose from along the way and the one we chose was literally loading as we walked up. There was no wait and we got excellent seats. Never mind the tourists that thinks its acceptable to stretch across you and your personal space to use their selfie sticks to get their "perfect shots". I mean I want a good picture like the rest of the bloggers/instagrammers, but not to the discomfort of those around me. Especially when there are tons of other great seats and views and photo opportunities. A quick trip the boat's refreshment center for a glass of wine (for me) and a Sangria (for Bryan) has us forgetting about these annoyances and we enjoy the soothing boat ride and the city's scenery from a different view!
It has certainly been a fun and jam packed day so far! We head back towards our hotel and think through any other last treasure we can find before dinner and bed. We decided upon the Communism Museum. Mostly because it sound interesting to learn a little history of the Czech Republic, but also because its literally across the street from our hotel and easy to navigate after a long day of sight seeing.
Is any one surprised that I took a lot of photos of the fashion looks from the different eras during Communism? And a cash register?
Whew! What a great day. We end it by visiting our hotel's street side cafe with a little pizza and wine, which is a real guilty pleasure for me. Now we need to go to bed and rest up for another wonderful day we have planned for tomorrow.
Come back and join us for Day Two!