17
May
14

Czech Republic : Lovely Prague


Prague has always been a city I longed to visit. I have always known in my heart the well-known story that Adolf Hitler spared Prague during World War II because he did not want to destroy such beauty and it was rumored that he was even planning to live there. Even before Hitler, many famous people were mesmerized by the city’s medieval charm and they have stayed there for a time.  Two of them are Albert Einstein who taught at the Charles University and Mozart who composed most of his operas in Prague.

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2014 was the year I had to make my dream of visiting Prague come true. I took a flight from the Philippines operated by Emirates, adjudged the World’s Best Airline for 2013. I had a 9-hour stopover in Dubai which entitled me to a free overnight hotel stay paid by the airline and then I flew from Dubai to Prague the next day. We arrived in Prague after lunch time and I waited for my friend who came all the way from the U.S. via Amsterdam. We immediately took a taxi to our hotel for around US$40 which was actually more expensive than the US$30 private car I booked through the internet that would have brought us from the airport to the city but it never came.


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On our way to the hotel, we passed by the famous Dancing House.

 

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The Prague Hilton was our choice of hotel while in the Czech capital.  Its proximity to the Old Town Square, good reviews and reasonable price made the decision easier for us.

 

DSC_0392My friend and I had separate well-appointed rooms.  After 30 minutes, we were out in the streets of Prague.

 

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Since we were in the Old Town Square area we explored the neighborhood a little and we hurried down to the center of the famous square racing against dusk.

 

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The sun had just set, the sky was blue and I was loving the stunning scenery.  The Astronomical Clock Tower and the Baroque Church of St. Nicolas were on one side of the square.

 

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The other side was where Tyn church was located.  It is the most imposing Gothic structure in the square.

 

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It was just fitting to have our photos taken with such an amazing view of the square.

 

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I was actually extra ecstatic standing on that magnificent square, with sub-zero temperature and the sky adding a blue accent to the already magnificent backdrop.
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We met a Korean girl in the square whom we easily befriended.
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Focusing again on the other side of the square, it was an equally spire-laden view. The sky was still blue for about 15 minutes and then it became dark.  And we had to move on to our next destination.
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Just a few steps away from the center of the square was Hard Rock Cafe.  It is my customary activity to visit and buy a shot glass from Hard Rock Cafe in every city I visit for the first time. My entire shot glass collection is now almost 60.
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The neighborhood had some kiosks celling ceramic goods and souvenir items.  There was also a store selling hot wine.
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We walked further away from the main square and finally reached another Prague attraction, the statue-laden Charles Bridge. It was a bit strange that it was already deserted by locals and tourists alike as early as 7pm.
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We took some shots at the entrance of the bridge.
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From the bridge another Prague visitors’ big favorite, the Prague Castle, was visible. Since we realized it seemed to be not so far from the bridge, we decided to visit it that night instead of the next day.
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We just followed maps and signs in English.
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We could have taken the city train but we decided to walk so that we could do a bit of sightseeing. We were also able to see the bus stops and the train stops in that area of the city.
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We were also taken to deserted alleys.
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Finally, we arrived at the vast castle grounds and took one of the entrances leading to the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague.
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We had a hard time getting photos of ourselves with the towering spires of the church and we even resorted to literally lie down on the ground to make a wide angle capture because of the limited space we had as I did not have a wide angle lens with me.
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We toured and scrutinized the intricate side of the church…
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…and its equally stunning back.
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After the tour inside the castle, we started to head down to the main street back to Charles Bridge. On our way down, we were captivated by the amazing night views of  Prague.
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Back on the level ground, we could not help but be amazed by the mix of medieval and contemporary flair of the city.
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We passed by Charles Bridge and entered Old Town Square again on our way to our hotel to call it a day.
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The next day, we headed back into the Old Town Square just as the daylight was revealing once again Prague’s spires and its colorful buildings.
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The square center was still almost empty.  The Baroque Church of St. Nicolas came into our views again.
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Our first major activity for the day was to climb up to the viewing deck of the Astronomical Clock Tower.
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The top of the tower is known for having the bird’s eye view of Prague.
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We took what I call a twisted, metallic lift to the top of the tower.
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Inside, a mirror at the lift’s ceiling prompted us to take that unique shot.
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What we saw at the top was simply breathtaking. It was the bird’s eye view of the city. On one side is the Tyn Cathedral with the red roofs of Prague’s buildings.
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We had to take closer shots of those red roofs.
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We stayed at the viewing deck for about 30 minutes. It was windy and very cold even as the sun was starting to release its winter heat.  When we could not take the chilly wind, we would retreat to the enclosed part of the viewing deck.
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The viewing deck offered 360 degrees view of the city.  At one side we could see the Prague Castle.
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Another side revealed more red roofs.
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Inside the enclosed space of the viewing deck, we could still take photos with the stunning background if there were no tourists walking on the outside. After feasting on the sceneries of Prague from above, we went down to take brunch.
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Just across the entrance to the tower was a restaurant that was part of Hotel U Prince and we positioned ourselves next to the heaters to avoid the onslaught of the freezing weather.
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One of the items we ordered was the highly recommended beef goulash.  Yes, it was absolutely delectable and we truly enjoyed it!
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We also ordered grilled fish.
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We were back on the square center after taking the brunch and had fun with some golden entertainers, of course for  a small token of appreciation for what they presented.  We headed back to our hotel to rest for a while.
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We were back again in the square center (oh yes, Old Town Square was the most visited part of Prague during my visit) and it was very obvious that happy hour had just started as we saw everywhere locals drinking the best beers in Europe.
I thought the views at the Astronomical Clock Tower early in the day was the most unforgettable part of the day.  I never thought another view would top it after as we decided to climb to the penthouse of the Hotel U Prince, a restaurant called Terasa. I was stunned by the views from there.
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The Tyn Cathedral, the Astronomical Clock Tower and the main square were all visible giving me what I could consider the best view of Prague.  The golden effect of the setting sun even highlighted the city’s spires at this part of the city.
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We did not leave the place without taking that memorable golden Prague shot.
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We had hot ox tail soup to warm us a little and stayed at the top for a while.
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We then headed back to Charles Bridge again hoping to get the blue sunset skies.
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It was about to get dark and it was again another unforgettable evening on the bridge. Doves were flying in groups and tourists enjoyed playing with them.
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The distant Prague Castle still caught our attention.  It is considered the largest ancient castle in the world.
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Yes, the was the blue sunset sky again with the side going to Old Town Square shown here.
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Shifting focus to the other end of the bridge we could see the Prague Castle.
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Buildings along the Vltava River, the longest river in the Czech Republic, started to light up amidst the blue cloudy skies projecting into the river. Next stop was Buddha Bar.
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Whenever I have the chance I would always visit a branch of one of my favorite restaurant/bar chains in the world, Buddha Bar.  The branch in Prague was located in the Old Town Square area just a few minutes walk from our hotel.
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Prague is noted to offer the best beers in Europe and it would be a big mistake not to taste and enjoy it.
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From our seats in the second level of the Buddha Bar, the views of the signature chandeliers worldwide accenting huge Buddha statues were really postcard perfect.
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Buddha Bar + Czech beer = fantastic night!
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We transferred down to the bar’s first level to take our dinner. As in different Buddha Bars around the world, the food is Asian fusion.  I never expected Asian fusion food to taste this good in this part of Europe and we enjoyed it. And we suddenly realized our second day in Prague was over.
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I admit it was a short stay in Prague but at least I was able to experience and indeed confirm that it lives up to be called as the adult Disneyland. Called The City of a Thousand Spires, Prague is probably the most beautiful city I have ever visited as it left me with a constant sense of intrigue and awe at every turn. With some 600 years of architecture virtually untouched by natural disaster or war, few other European capitals look quite as stunning as Prague.
What are your favorite memories of Prague?

 


2 Responses to “Czech Republic : Lovely Prague”


  1. April 14, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Reblogged this on winairtravel and commented:

    My favorite city in the world!


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