Twelve years after I've first visited Prague, my significant other and I finally made another trip to the Czech Republic's capital in a four-day micro vacation :)
While our visit was great altogether, the six hour train ride from Linz to Prague was a bit more bumpy than we had expected: Not only was the train already 40 minutes behind schedule in Linz, but we also had to take a rail replacement bus service between Olmbramovice and Benešov and the second train’s locomotive broke down just a few kilometers away from Prague central. Despite these little discomforts (which weren't nearly as annoying as they may sound), the journey was far less tiring than we had feared, so our mood was still sunny on the way to our accommodation. After a short trip in one of Prague's metros and a few minutes of aimlessly wandering around in self-inflicted disorientation, we arrived at the adorable pension that would be our home for the next three days. Thanks to a very warm welcome by the elderly pair of cousins whose hospitality we would enjoy, we instantly felt at home at our new base of operations in Nusle, Prague 4.
The next few days were well spent. During the day we usually roamed the city for eight to ten hours, which of course included visits to some of the many sights and attractions: Obviously, we couldn't resist being part of the giant worm of tourists that constantly crawled over Charles Bridge (Karlův most). We also made our way through the Old Town (Staré Město) and the Lesser Quarter (Malá Strana) before we ascended the hills to castle Vyšehrad and to the Petřín lookout tower. While the major attractions are amazing, the entire city contains so many beautifully decorated houses, churches and historical streets that it feels like Prague as a whole is one huge landmark. Well, most of it, at least – to be fair, we also paid a brief visit to one of the outskirts, which looked a bit more bedraggled.
As a funny coincidence, on our first arrival at the old town square (Staroměstské náměstí), we stumbled right into the much applauded return of the Czech national ice hockey team from their recent victory against Russia, which, considering history, appeared to mean far more than just an athletic success for many Czechs. This was already obvious the night before when sports moderation and screams of joy and excitement were audible all over town. Judging from what we heard from our hosts, It's probably safe to assume that the Czechs' attitude towards Russia is still reserved at best. It appears the scars from Soviet suppression have not yet healed as is also witnessed by the numerous "museums of communism" that are advertised like little horror shows across the city.
Maybe as a means to dissociate from the communist era, Prague's inner city on the other hand has grown into a consumerist's wet dream with multiple shopping centers and countless tourist traps, all of which appear to be exploiting the lack of a shop closing law with ridiculous opening hours. Most of the major franchises and chains seem to have placed at least one of their stores close to the gigantic Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), so the shopping centers there sport pretty much the same stores as they do in Austria. At least in the center, clothing and apparel costs as much as it does here; typical supermarket products are slightly cheaper. Eating out in a restaurant, however, is considerably more affordable than it is in Austria with food at about half and drinks at less than the third of the price one would have to pay in Austria.
Speaking of restaurants: After having a fairly good pizza on the first day and a rather disappointing dinner on our second evening, we chose to consult the interwebs for a good vegetarian restaurant where we could spend the last evening of our stay. According to several review sites, the Lehká hlava, a vegetarian restaurant close to the city center, seemed to be worth checking out, so we made a reservation. Considering how stuffed the restaurant was in the evening, this turned out to be a really good idea. The atmosphere was stimulating, so the fact that we had to wait for quite a while until the meal arrived didn't bother us much. I was positively surprised at how huge and delicious my plate – an assortment of various vegetarian dishes – was. Prices were reasonable given the quality we enjoyed, but I was a bit disappointed that they offered beer only in 0.33 liter bottles instead of pints at a price that was higher than what we would have payed for a pint in other restaurants. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend checking out the Lehká hlava if you are in Prague and enjoy vegetarian food.
Last Wednesday evening, we made our way to the train heading for Linz. Three days felt like exactly the right time frame for our trip, so we were were still enthused by the city, but also somewhat looking forward to get home. Also, we have saved enough sights for our next visit, which will hopefully be less than 12 years away from now ;)
Update: As you can (hopefully) see, I finally finished uploading the photos Sarah and I made during our trip.