This morning we set out on our final long-distance train ride of the trip: Vienna to Prague. We’ve had some “situations” with train reservations, and people sitting in our seats and not wanting to move. However, we were hopeful this trip would be a little easier because we vaguely remembered hearing a rumor that when you cross country lines you need to reserve seats. Whether this is actually true or not, I don’t know. But what I do know is that we were delighted to discover that we were in a train car that had compartments a’la Harry Potter, and even better, we had our compartment to ourselves (until the last 30 min of the trip, when a little old Czech lady joined us). Win! Not only could we stretch out, but we also could talk at a normal volume without concern we were disturbing those around us. While it was our longest train ride yet, it was also the best train ride to date.
I could hardly wait to arrive in Prague. I’d heard so much about what a beautiful city it was, and wanted to feast my own eyes upon the wondrous red roofs that the city is known for.
As usual, it was a bit tricky to actually locate our hotel. We (and by we, I mean Rachel) would always be able to find directions for our hotels according to which metro stop we needed to get off on, but rarely did the hotels tell us what to do after that. They must think it is fairly obvious. Well, when there are 1 trillion different ways out of the subway stop, it is less than obvious, unless you by chance pick the one exit that deposits you in front of the hotel (which we did not discover until much later in our trip). While we wandered, all lost-like, on the cobblestone square of Namesti Repbuliky, we were more than glad that we packed in carry-on sized suitcases.
When we got to the hotel, I was impressed by how important Prague finds my sister to be. Before we finished checking in, the hotel manager came over to shake hands and introduce herself to my sister. Then, we’d barely closed the door when there was a knock on the door. Oh, just a little complimentary room service to welcome us. Then Rachel opened the mini-fridge to see if there was room for a our complimentary water inside, when the phone rang (scaring her as if it were a mini-fridge alarm of sorts) but it was really just the front desk, wanting to make sure the room was satisfactory.
After visiting the Executive Lounge, where they really wanted to make sure we were well hydrated, we set out to tour the city. We saw all the main Prague sights that afternoon: Powder Tower, the Estate Theater, Old Town Square, Old Town Hall, the Astronomical Clock, and St. Charles Bridge.
I was more impressed with the Astronomical Clock than I expected to be. It was bigger and closer to street level than I anticipated. That being said, when the morality play happens in the clock at the top of the hour, I thought the figurines would come out, not just circle around behind little windows. However, I did enjoy the surprise trumpeting from the top of the tour once the little play had wrapped up.
I was ill-prepared for all the wedding pictures we would see in front of the clock (after being married in the hall). My favorite couple is the one that threw their bouquet to the crowd. We later saw them at other sites around the city as they got their wedding pictures taken.
While I knew that tourists came to Prague, I did not realize the sheer volume of tourists we would encounter. We heard more English spoken around us than I hear back in the states (ok, this might be an exaggeration, but not by much – SO much English, so little Czech). Because it was so touristy, it was hardy to appreciate the charm. I would vote Prague the prettiest city from a bird’s eye view. I couldn’t get enough of those red roofs. The influx of tourists resulting in the lack of really getting to see Czech culture, drops Prague to my 3rd favorite city of the trip. I am for sure glad we went here – I have wanted to see it for myself for years, but I don’t need to travel back here. I did however love the super narrow winding cobblestone streets. Rachel did not, because they were completely impossible to navigate (picture at least 10 turns necessary just to stay on a single street), but I thought they were quite enjoyable (until we got the tiniestbit lost at night. But that is another story, for another time. We are fine, Mom, don’t even worry)