The Magical Prague
Day VIII: Glimpse of the Magical Prague
Since the time I was planning this trip, This was the day for which I was most worried. Because we were staying in Zandvoort and not in Amsterdam and we had to catch a flight at 7:00 AM. The biggest challenge wasn't to wake up at 3:00 AM but to arrange a cab at such an odd hour that too, not in Amsterdam but in Zandvoort. And then hope, the driver would show up. Thankfully, the driver showed up at the right time and we reached the AMS airport by 5:00 AM and we could able to catch our flight Hazel free.
Czech and Hungary were the only 2 countries on our current backpacking euro trip where the national currency wasn't Euro. After exchanging my $ for CKZ at the airport, we took a tram. They had multiple variations of the tickets where the one cost 30 CKZ and would be valid for an hour across all modes of transport. while the 40 CKZ ticket would be valid for 90 minutes. We checked Google Maps which showed the time to reach our Airbnb would be around 60 minutes. So we bought the tickets accordingly and boarded a bus that took us to the starting point of the tram. from where we took the 26B tram to Prague1 District. Our Airbnb as well as most of the tourist attractions and nightlife existed in this part of Prague.
Every time While boarding a metro or a tram, we had to validate a ticket from a vending machine located at multiple places inside the trams or buses. Unlike India, we hardly found conductors in most of the public transport across Europe. But Any officer could randomly board the tram and asked for the validated tickets. If you would fail to produce a validated ticket, you might end up paying fines up to 100 times the ticket amount. So, no need to go for such an unwanted adventure when u travel abroad.
As I mentioned in earlier blogs, the check-in time across Europe was 3:00 PM. Unlike India, you wouldn't be allowed to drop your luggage as well. As we reached there at 10:30 AM and our room wasn't ready, we had no option but to wait at the doorstep of our Airbnb. We found an Irish Pub just across the streets. As it was open we went inside it. If there was a need to visit a pub at 11:00 AM, you had to be in Prague. Because "Prague is the City which consumes the maximum amount of Beers per person in the World. To be precise the number was 140 Liters/Person in a Year"
If you take me to the pub at any hour of the day, I would be ordering Beers 😉. They had two types of beers, the Irish and the Prague Beers. Even though I was in Prague, It was an Irish pub, hence I ordered an Irish Beer. It was by far the best beer I had. I observed from Paris to Prague, the bitterness of the Beer was reducing and its taste was reaching nearer to the taste of the wheat beers, I drink in India. I ordered Chicken Burger and Aayushi ordered Veg Grilled sandwich which took ages to be served. But who would visit the pub at 11:00 AM and order a chicken burger, Right 😜? Though our wait was rewarded by the delicious burgers & sandwiches. Okay, So why we entered the pub in the first place? To drop off our luggage. These beers and burgers were a token of respect for allowing us to keep our luggage at their place.
We reached Prague Old Town which was a few minutes walk from our place. The moment, I got a first glance at the square, I fell in love with Prague. It was crowded yet beautiful, Chaotic yet pleasing to the ear. The old Town square was surrounded by historical buildings such as the Astronomical Clock Tower, the Prague Cathedral and so on.
Since the 15th Century, the astronomical clock was the reason people from different countries were visiting Prague. So what was special about it? Well, Imagine, in the 15th century, having a clock which would tell you the time. wouldn't it be any less than a miracle? Indeed It was. When I was on a Kutna-hora tour, our guide told us many stories. One of them was associated with the astronomical tower. The Emperor of Prague was immensely impressed by the incredible clock and the artists who built it. But the King had a fear that if a similar clock would be built in any other country then Prague would lose its uniqueness. Hence, like Sahjahan, he too, decided to take the eye of the Artists so he couldn't build any more clocks. Because of this, the artist died. Surprisingly, the moment artist died, the watch too, stopped working! fascinating, wasn't It?
We headed towards the meeting point of our prebooked Prague Castle guided tour. The tour began from the other side of the Charles Bridge. Some of the history about the Charles Bridge. It was originally constructed in the 11th century to connect Prague Castle with the Old Town. It was destroyed in a flood in the 13th Century. Its rebuilding work was started in 1357 and was completed in the early 15th Century. In the 18th Century, It was renamed The Charles Bridge in honour of their greatest emperor Charles the Vth.
While we were crossing the bridge, we saw a statue of a saint with 5 stars appearing on its hat. The statue was of St. Nicholas who by the way wasn't renowned as a saint till the time he was alive. St Nicholas was a nobleman and a priest of the main church of Prague. King Frank the Vth (famously known as King Charles) wished to know all the secrets of his wife. Hence, he requested St. Nicholas to help him. St. Nicholas felt it was unethical and denied the request of the king. In anger, King had captured him and started torching him. Despite this, Saint Nicholas didn’t utter a word and after 3 days he died. In anguish, King threw his body into the river. As a priest, Nicholas was considered a nobleman, and his followers wanted to bury him with respect. They searched everywhere but couldn't able to recover his body. All of a sudden, 5 stars appeared around his dead body and that’s how they found his body and buried him by giving him all the respect he deserved. A few years later, the predecessor of King Charles passed the law by which priest Nicholas was facilitated as a Saint. how fascinating was that story? From now, whenever you would visit any Saint Nicholas Church or the Cathedral and see a statue of a saint with 5 stars on his hat, you should know who that saint would be :)
Even though I wasn’t aware of much of the history of European Kings and Saints, I loved the Charles Bridge and all the miracles associated with it. Not only the bridge but the entire of Prague was giving magical vibes. That was the most crowded place we encountered so far in Europe. yet, I wasn't irritated. There were festive vibes around the place. Countless Musicians were playing different instruments, some of the vendors were selling antiques, and pieces of jewellery while a lot of painters were selling mindblowing paintings of Prague. Some of them were even making real-time pencil sketches as well as funny portraits of the people. Just in 15 minutes, they made mindblowing portraits and charged just 20 Euros. The only regret of mine in Prague was not getting my portraits done in Prague. Though, I bought a nice painting from Prague which was currently hanging on my wall.
Upon reaching the other side of the bridge, we took Tram No. 22 and reached the entrance of Prague Castle. After completing basic security checks we entered the castle. The Castle was huge and possessed rich architecture and historical values. Though, It would have been nice to know some of its history before visiting it. The entrance of the Palace was built with Gothic Architecture.
I visited multiple cathedrals on the trip and noticed all of them had glass paintings on their huge windows, idols of the kings and saints. We came out of the castle and went to the other side of Prague Castle. Castle had huge but a different kind of clock. It had 2 Dials, one of them was showing what hour of the day it was and the other one was showing the minutes of the hours. Another Clock Tower, completely different from the rest. Also, these were built in the early 15 century which would tell the literacy of the community of Prague back in those days.
By now I was tired and losing interest due to the lack of basic knowledge that would have been required to enjoy this guided tour. We entered the Palace and visited Kings Charles's room and his workplace. The reason why he built a castle on top of the hill was to keep an eye on the kingdom as well as send a strong message across the kingdom that the place of the emperor would be the highest across the kingdom. It was in the 16th century when the king moved out of the castle because he had many children and Castle was incapable of accommodating all of them. Even today, the Mayer of Prague worked from one of the buildings of the Prague Castle!
At 7:30 PM, We went for a 50 Minutes scenic river cruise. We boarded a lavishly looking cruise from Pier No.5. We had intentionally booked an evening cruise so that we could able to enjoy both the evening view and the night view of Prague. We had seen all the famous monuments such as the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, and the St Nicholas Church but this time from the middle of the River. I figured out that the best way to learn about any European city would be by the River Cruises or by Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour.
We got down from the cruise and headed towards the old town square. The moment we reached the old town, we felt as if we were in a hobbit land. Good festive music was being played by the artists while everyone else was enjoying the delicious street food and beers with It. Despite being overcrowded, everyone seemed happy. These kinds of scenes I had only seen in the hobbit and similar movies. There was joy in the air, and that was why the moment we reached the square, we felt a different kind of happiness. Different vendors were selling a variety of delicious food such as Cheese garlic bread, Hot dogs, Hot chocolates, the very famous Chimany Cake and my favourite the Duck Burger. On top of that, I found green beers! It tasted similar to Heineken but because it was green it was costly 😜 So after tasting it once, I kept drinking the regular one! There were also shops for antiques and saviours. We bought Coffee mugs from there.
Day IX: Unbelievable Morning in Prague & Day trip to Kutna Hora
I read somewhere that if you wanted to explore any European city, the morning would be the best time because there wouldn't be many people around due to the previous night's hangover 😉. Hence, to taste that theory I woke up early and left for the morning walk across Prague including Prague Castle. As I had visited everything yesterday, I knew all places I wanted to visit and their routes. Despite visiting everything yesterday, without the crowd, all of them looked completely different and more beautiful. If yesterday, there was joy in the air, in the morning I felt the peace in the air.
Because of my photography skills and engineering brain (to apply desi jugad), I could able to capture some of the amazing moments on my iPhone even without Tripods. My walk started from the old town square and continued via the Charles Bridge till I reached Prague Castle. The old town without people felt deaf but beautiful while the Charles Bridge without people felt peaceful and insanely exquisite. As you knew, from Paris, I learnt a new thing called hyper-lapse video and I felt the Charles Bridge was the entire of Prague was the perfect location for It. Please have a look at some of the hyper-lapse videos I took on that day!
There was a shortcut way to reach Prague Castle so I took that path and after a small 15-minute hike I reached the entrance. The place provided not just one of the best but the best view of Prague! No wonder king had built a castle there! I enjoyed the panoramic view of Prague and then took some beautiful videos for the memories or I would say for Aayushi to see. Again, I resumed the hyper-lapse video till I reached Prague castle. The castle looked astonishing and I badly wanted a photo of mine at this exquisite location. Meanwhile, I found one walking towards me. I greeted him with a smile and requested him if he could take my picture. He was btw from Brazil and guess what his name was Nicholas what a coincidence 😃. And this was the picture, wasn't it good?
I checked the clock and it was almost 9:00 AM. I couldn't believe I spent 3 hours, I was like Abhi to 6 baje the aur 15 minutes me 9 baj gaye 😜. I got down in a hurry and ran towards my Airbnb because I locked Aayushi in the room and came on this adventure and I didn't want to be scolded by her 😜
The day trip was supposed to begin at 12:30 PM but I misread it to 10:30 AM. Hence, We got ready in a hurry and reached the meeting point at sharp 10:30 AM. Luckily, the meeting point was just in front of the astronomical tower. We were supposed to visit it in the evening but now we had 2 hours so we first visited Astronomical Tower and then the Cathedral. The entry fee till the top was 300 CZK and every cent of it was worth It. Just look at these pictures and decide by yourselves!
The Kutna-hora Trip
Time for a day trip to Kutna Hora! Our guide requested us to tie our seat belts, yeah seat belts in the Bus. 😃 Seriously, in eurpeons ko kuch jyada hi security ki padi rehti hai!
Kutna Hora, which was 2 hours bus journey from Prague. While leaving Prague, our guide informed an interesting fact about Prague. Prague was surrounded by 7 Hills and it had 8 Districts Amongst them, Prague1 was the district where we were living, Also, it carried immense historical value! The different parts of Prague were connected by 19 Bridges including the famous and oldest Charles Bridge.
The Interesting Story of Kutna Hora: Once a saint was lying down a tree and fall asleep. When he woke up, he found a Gold Coin. As it was considered the property of the kingdom, he went to meet the king and informed him about the whole incident. To remember the place, he removed a part of his dress and marked the place with It. Interestingly, the dress he was wearing was called Kutna and the place where this entire incident took place was the Hora Hills. That was how the place was named Kutna hora.
We reached the Kutna hora and started our guided tour from the Bone Chappel. As its name suggested, entire decorations inside the Chappel were made up of Human Bones & Skulls. It wasn’t made up of just a few Skulls but Thousands of Skulls and Bones, Wasn't it crazy? The fascinating story behind the Chapple was “In earlier centuries Europe was hit multiple times by Black Plague which resulted in the deaths of half of its populations. It was impossible to bury all of them. Hence, the government of those times had come up with an idea to build a chapel from these human bones which would solve the problems of dead bodies as well as provide a great honour to the dead!” Those are the skulls I was looking at.
Photography inside the Chappel was prohibited though you were allowed to take photos from the outside. these were some of the pictures I could able to capture of the chappel but I would suggest you all should search "Kutna Hora Bone Chappel" on Google and check out the images! While we were there, we heard some of the fallow Indian travellers saying “Maja aa Gaya” and indeed! Maja aa Gaya!
Outside the Chappel, I saw multiple shops of souvenirs where everything was themed around the Skulls. I wished to buy Mugs or wine glasses of sculls but Aayushi was in no mood to approve of my this madness 😜
Kutna Hora had 7 cathedrals but due to the time limitations, we visited the Main Cathedral. The cathedral looked like a replica of Prague Castle. Apart from the Castle, they had also copied the theme of a Charles bridge. I saw the same Nicholas Baba and other saints. This cathedral carried immense value in the evolution of Prague. In ancient times, Kutna Hora was one of the biggest mining places for gold. Mining work was extremely risky which was why most of the miners would die by the time they reached the age of 30. Despite such work, they were paid very less. Hence there was anger among the miners. During those times, a new religion named Protestantism was formed by the poor people of the society. With the ever-increasing disbalance in society, it became popular. The rich people of society didn’t want a new religion to be formed because that would reduce their power. Hence, to honour the miners and establish some kind of equality they put a statue of a miner at the centre of the main Cathedral and kept the colour of his dress as white. That had established some kind of stability between the two groups of people! During the Amsterdam blog, I informed you that I would describe the meaning of protestant. I hope you got your answers!
After the guided tour, we climbed up to the top of the cathedral and then proceeded towards the coin-making factory via Charlse Bridge look-alike courtyards. In the courtyard, I saw Nicholas Baba, and waved at him 😉 waved at him.
It's Copied Courtyard ~
Most of the coin-making workers belonged to northern Italy. These skills were rare which was why they were paid handsome salaries and personally invited by King to make coins for him. They were like today's IT professionals 😉 People from Northern Italy naturally had a stronger physique and as they earned healthy salaries they were very popular amongst the women of Prague!
We returned to Prague in the evening. We got off the bus and headed towards the river to watch the sunset. It was mesmerizing sunset over Prague Castle! It was incredible how seamlessly the transition of the colours of the evening took place! It was one of the best sunsets of my life!
Time for shopping. While shopping we found a mug which was similar to the one my friend Nitin had on his visit to Prague. He was my inspiration behind the paintings of Prague and now the Mugs 😃 Who would have thought one day I would be visiting Prague and find a Mug same as the one in which I had countless Teas & Coffees since 2017 😜 Apart from the mug we also bought nice fridge Magnets and an umbrella for the rainy European weather!
After shopping, we repeated everything we did the last night and felt the same happiness as we felt the last night!
Undoubtedly, It was my best decision ever to skip Germany and visit central Europe!
The following two days we had spent in Budapest. The know how we explored Budapest, Click on 👉 Chilling In Budapest