My Trip to Czechia: Part Two

travel

Following on from my first post about my trip to the Czech Republic, I figured that the time I spent in Prague deserved an entirely new post of its own.

Since I started writing travel articles in 2013, I’ve found myself being drawn to the hauntingly beautiful Czech capital over and over. Despite my unhealthy obsession, I’ve never quite found the time or money to actually visit… until now. After a few days spent in the Brno region, we took a bus up to Prague which took around two and a half hours.

I think one of the main reasons I’ve wanted to visit Prague for so long is because the architecture is so unique to that city, and that city alone. The gothic/baroque landscape is literally like something out of a medieval fairytale book, and the view across the Vltava River is a one-of-a-kind beautiful that you can’t find anywhere else. Prague has changed very little over the years, and I think that’s what makes it so special. Its major attractions and monuments have stayed intact, and the city has held onto its history and medieval charm with a firm grasp.

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After dumping our bags in the (very handy) storage lockers at the main bus station, we went off for a day of sightseeing. We walked through the famous Wenceslas Square, the city’s main boulevard. Thriving with tourists, the square is packed with shops, restaurants, museums and hotels. A short walk from here and we we’d arrived at the Astronomical Clock Tower, which is probably Prague’s main tourist attraction. It’s the oldest operating clock in the world, and dates back to 1410. It’s easy to see why such a crowd gathers underneath the tower when it’s close to the hour. Its chimes have an eerily haunting (yet incredibly cool) vibe, and the small wooden statues, installed in the 17th century, popping out one by one really is something else.

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Since the Czechoslovakians suffered so much during World War II, I knew a visit to the Jewish Museum & Cemetery was a must-do. It cost 220 Czech Crowns (about £7) for a ticket that gives you access to the museum, cemetery, and various synagogues throughout the city. As soon as I walked into the museum, I was hit right in the feels, as I’m sure every single visitor is, too. The walls are inscribed with the names of each of the 80,000 Czechoslovakian victims who were killed during the Holocaust. And I don’t just mean that there’s a few lists here and there; the walls are covered from ceiling to floor with the tiny inscriptions of the victims’ names, their dates of birth, the date of their death, and the town they were from. Everywhere you glance, it’s all you can see. There are also cabinets full of children’s drawings on display, all of which were found in a suitcase in the Terezín ghetto. They depict people being shipped off to the concentration camps, dreams of escape, and memories of their old lives.  For me, it was a harrowing reminder of just how barbaric the Holocaust was. You can feel the sadness in the air. Attached to the museum is the Jewish Cemetery, which dates back to the 1400s. The cemetery is so overcrowded that there are multiple graves in which up to twelve coffins are stacked on top of one another. In such a small burial place there are around 12,000 graves. It’s haunting and sad, but it’s also fascinating, and it’s an absolute must-do when in Prague.

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A quick ride on the Metro took us to our Air B&B, a huge room in a pre-War mansion on one of the main roads. It’s quite clear that nothing has changed in the house in all that time, including the gigantic original staircase. It was echo-y and a bit creepy with that kind of smell you only get in old buildings, but also really, really cool. It was the first time I’ve ever stayed in an Air B&B, and for £15 a night, I’ll probably do the same thing the next time I visit. The shower was in the kitchen, mind you, but the location was ideal. Opening the stiff old window and looking out onto the main road in the cool summer evening breeze, sipping from a bottle of warm Czech Chardonnay, was pretty fabulous too.

We got ready and took an Uber to a bar, where cocktails were around 125 Crowns (£4.50 ish) and the atmosphere was… sexual. We’d walked in, ordered our cocktails and were too busy chatting and taking selfies to actually look around us for the first hour. But when we did, the wall art depicted orgies, there were three girls getting very cozy at the bar, and the young attractive man opposite us wasn’t out drinking with his mum like we originally thought. Nope, he was just on a date with a 60-year-old. But this was Prague, and atmospheres like this were to be expected. Michaela didn’t even know Prague was notorious for its swinger bars and sex tourism, but I did, so I wasn’t all that surprised. After a swift exit, we headed to a club nearby called Roxy. It was exactly the kind of vibe I was expecting for a night out in central Europe. Electronic music with heavy bass, hippies off their faces on MD, seating booths with intimate dim neon lighting, an indoor smoking area, and of course, a massive dancefloor. It was a great night.

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I was due to fly at 5pm that day, so luckily we had enough time to see Charles Bridge and the John Lennon Wall in Prague’s Old Town. The bridge was crowded full of tourists, but it was still fascinating. It has stood there since the beginning of the 15th century, and the view from it onto the Vltava River is out of this world. Lining the bridge are religious statues, most of which are creepily blackened from age and wear and tear.

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I think if I wasn’t going on a 10-day internship in Prague next year, I’d probably be booking another trip as we speak. It’s safe to say that I’ve never been anywhere that can compare to the bohemian charm of the Czech capital, and I can’t wait to be back there.

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