July 2, 2014
At the beginning of the new day at The Daliborka, the very accommodating staff confirmed for us we could proceed into Prague confidently. We asked more questions while under the gaze of a Czech police officer (in plain clothes). He comes to the hotel (and others) to verify that the guests have not been registered for more than three days. Apparently every three days we would need to ‘register’ with the hotel and provide proof of identification with our passport. We purchased our Metro passes (sold in increments of time) and used our cell phone GPS to walk to the bus stop. All very smooth thanks to my beloved tour guide.
Once reaching the Metro, there were some food vendors reinforcing what Helena told us at the front desk – ‘you will find some things to be very cheap’ Indeed! Coke for E 1.00 is unheard of! With only three simple Metro lines (think QEW, 401, 403 in terms of railway) – it was super easy to find our way to the centre of ‘the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life – PRAGUE’.
Stepping out of the Metro into the bright sun, the main street downhill is a gorgeous cobblestoned boulevard lined with architecturally fascinating buildings. If you have money to spend (and very large suitcases) Prague is a shopper’s dream. Everything you could ask (or hope) for is here. People were meandering the streets and enjoying the day. 1.2 million people and the centre of the city was closed for a ‘walkable’ street festival. No one is bothered.
The buildings all represent architecture from baroque to neo classical (this is most stunningly represented at Prague Castle). The Charles Bridge spanning the Vitava River is an edifice build by Charles IV in 1357. It features incredible statues across the bridge. most Czechs encourage you to see the Charles Bridge – they are proud of it – you can tell. So many locations to see in a very walkable city. However, we wondered if we would run out of steam and miss some important highlights of this European jewel. We decided to actually pay for a tour! (I know, those of you who really know us probably just gasped as its something we would not typically do). However, the city is sufficiently large and we were not as energetic AND we needed the ‘Coles’ Notes’ version. We spent about E 60.00 for a guided 3.5 hour Grand Prague Tour. The tour included some bussing by beautiful governmental buildings, up to Prague Castle (it makes Chateau Versailles look like a dwarf). We walked the perimeter with our small group for about 75 minutes while our multilingual guide Eva gave us an overview and allowed us to photograph the marvelous buildings.
About halfway through the walk, I saw an ice cream vendor. I decided I needed one urgently and I ran over – forgetting all math and subsequent conversions. Since math is not my strong suit, I asked for a cone – 90 CZ dollars. UGH! E 4.00 tiny cone now in my hand! I was so frustrated with myself. I consoled myself that we opted not to buy two more bus passes. Not that it really mattered, but I do hate wasting money and that ice cream was a definite waste. We finished the castle tour, hopped the bus to head to the one hour riverboat cruise. So great – weather was perfect and we floated under the spectacular Charles Bridge past show stopping buildings of every architectural era.
At the conclusion, we walked through the Jewish quarter which hosts the oldest synagogue in Europe. (The most exclusive retail therapy resides here, as well – Chanel, Prada, etc.) We completed our tour in Wenceslas Square making the Christmas song drum through my mind under the perma stare of Saint Nicholas from the church.
The cheerful guide was finished and we tried not to get whiplash looking at every amazing building imaginable. Strolling through peaceful back streets we made a small purchase for our grandson. While passing many inviting cafes (food IS cheap in Prague), we craved something non-pork, and our noses noticed a steak place! It drew us in. A fabulous steak dinner for E 30.00? Only in Prague and Lisbon!
Feeling completely accomplished with our day, we used our final Metro pass to get to the peaceful Prague suburbs to the boutique Daliborka. After settling in for the night, we prepared ourselves for the next leg back to Germany.