It’s a small wonder but I have finally finished my uni EMA (end of module assessment) and submitted all 3490 words of utter rubbishness! Seriously if this one does not require a re-submission, I shall dance naked along the streets – er, actually no I won’t, but you get the idea. It was a stinker of an essay, not helped by having caught the lurgy from the passenger who was sat next to me coming back from Prague – some three weeks later and I’m still snottering and coughing. Anyway, I now have officially two weeks free from uni, until the delights of International Law starts and a mere 11 days until I fly off to Kefalonia, in the Greek Islands, so I’m grabbing the chance to post my blog(s) about the four days I spent in Prague.
Day one was an early start, although my flight was delayed by an hour due to heavy fog at Heathrow. I arrived, Charlie Bear in tow at Václav Havel Airport a little after lunch time and managed to successfully find the bus (the AE/airport express bus, 60 CZK) that would take me to Staré Město (Old Town) and my hotel the Astoria (http://www.hotelastoria.cz). Only it didn’t drop me where I had planned it to but instead at the main railway station of Hlavní nádraží, not deterred by this, I simply used my phone’s sat nav to get me to my destination safely.
The Astoria isn’t the prettiest of hotels but it’s ideally located in the Old Town, spotlessly clean and has smellies in the bathroom were to die for! It also has a kettle, hairdryer and television (although English channels were limited to either BBC or Sky news).
After unpacking, I went to explore. I’m notorious at getting lost and within 10 or so minutes, I had lost my bearings and stumbled into a courtyard of shops, finding the most amazing botanicals shop full of soaps, lotions and potions! Botanicus (http://www.botanicus.cz/en) is most definitely worth a visit if you love good quality smellies, so I’m glad I managed to get lost. Next (accidently) I came across the old town square, where hundreds of people were stood about, staring skyward. I had inadvertently arrived just as the Astronomical Clock was about to chime. It really is a work of art and precision but go early morning and you’ll get the clock all to yourself and far better photos!
After a long day of travelling, getting lost and buying soap, I searched on my phone (the Happy Cow app) for a nearby vegetarian eatery and found I was incredibly near to Maitea (www. restaurace-maitrea.cz/en_home.htm), one of the restaurants I had shortlisted and was not disappointed! The food was incredible, the staff very friendly and best of all, the setting is fountains, a fireplace and Buddhas, so I was in heaven!
Day two saw me up at 5am, determined to beat the rush to Charles Bridge so I could get some decent photos, after a walk along the Vltava River, I got to the bridge at around 6am and there were already people there with the same mindset as me. I waited patiently for the sun to rise, somewhat disappointingly but did get some half OK’ish photos, then it was back to the hotel for my complimentary breakfast – a brilliant buffet style brekkie of everything from Continental cheese, pastries and breads to self-service full English cooked breakfast….enough to fill you up for the day!
After breakfast, I headed over the river towards the funicular railway, only it didn’t start running until 10am, I was 30 minutes early and so decided to walk up Petrin Hill instead. Thankfully I’m quite fit, even then I struggled at time with the climb but the views from the top were so worth it and it was lovely to be in some stunning parks. From there I went to the Strahov Monastery and the Loreta (note that you have to pay to take photos in most places in Prague and flash is not permitted). There were a lot of school trips (unavoidable) and also a long queue once I arrived at the Prague Castle grounds (not helped by it being midday) but it’s worth persevering!
At the Castle, I paid for tickets into the main areas – the Royal Palace, the Basilica of St George, Golden Lane and St Vitus’s Cathedral (250CZK), you can spend more and visit all the exhibitions too but you need a lot of time, so arrive early. I was lucky enough to see the changing of the guard (midday) whilst waiting to gain entry and there were street entertainers there to while away the time, but the queues move very quickly and the security checks are there for everyone’s safety.
After an exhausting day, I headed back stopping at Vegan’s for eggplant lasagne and homemade bread (www.vegansprague.cz) – again amazing food, the Czech Republic really has mastered the art of decent veggie and vegan food! After filling myself, I headed back to the hotel, stopping by at the shopping mall near me for some cake to ‘take away’ and some nibbles for later from M&S – I know, so typically British but being a veggie, sometimes it’s easier to read labels in English and after walking 16.07 miles, I was ready to drop!
The cake (veggie not vegan) was a slice of Stracciatella dort and a slice of banana and caramel dort, and yes, I ate both bits!