This is part 3 of our series on our European Holiday 2015 covering the month of August (one more post to go!). We have been to England, France and Austria and for this post - the Czech Republic, particularly Prague, is the focus. Right now we are in London and the tour is ending.....it feels kind of sad as I used to live here and have many happy memories. Anyway, let's go on with the post. This is the view of the city on top of the hill at Hradcany. You can also see Charles Bridge. :)
I have never been to Eastern Europe so I was really excited to visit Prague. I have seen photos of this magnificent city so I knew it would be fantastic but my sense of sight was still totally blown away with the beauty of its surroundings. It is fairy-tale like in grandeur, indeed and that's how I felt walking along the streets of Prague. It was as if I was transported to another time! It was an awesome experience and hope you enjoy the wonderful sights as you browse the photos.
We began our tour at the foot of the hill (the lowest area near us anyway) that goes up to the Prague Castle. We decided to go to the castle complex first because our hotel, thankfully, was quite near it. It was a short walking distance just abut 15 minutes (assuming you never stop for any photos which for sure you will as there are many picturesque spots!). And so we had to stop to take a photo of this lovely house - shame I didn't take a better angle here. Nonetheless, this was our starting point.
Near the top of the hill this is the view that immediately faces you. It was a little cloudy when we were there and the hotel staff told us that it often rains in Prague but thankfully that does not distract from the view. As my hubby said, who's been to Prague before, a perfect weather is not necessary in Prague as the buildings are all colorful and always look delightful. I cannot agree more. We did't let the cloudy weather get in our way of enjoying the view. Truth is we were happy with the cooler temps here (lower 20s in celsius) as previously in Germany and Austria, we experienced some heatwave with temps of up to 36 degrees celsius so this cooler temp was a welcome relief, indeed!
Me with my daughter Sophie Isabelle. Funny, looking at the photos you would think that we were in a very exotic area enjoying this fantastic views. Truth is we were on the roof deck of Starbucks!
This was the exact spot! Crazy, isn't it? I don't know if I should feel happy or sad about all this. It was kinda weird. But I should say, this would definitely be the Starbucks with a view! :)
Here are the two tots!
Sophie with Daddy.
Another quick look before we checked out the cathedral by the castle. I don't have photos of the castle front as some construction was going on though we got to view portions of it. It's believed to be largest ancient castle in the world.
A major attraction in the castle complex is the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral built in 1344. It is massive and truly amazing! Just look at the details....
The marks of the passage of time show how very old the cathedral is. It is quite blackish as you can see and like many medieval churches the gargoyles make them look really eerie. While the gargoyles are meant to illustrate evil in its form, it has some practical use - to divert the water away from the building when it rains - like a medieval gutter in a scary form.
Here's what the Vitus Cathedral looks like at the back.
One last view before we head down to the city center.
On the way to Charles Bridge we saw some swans swimming in the river. You can see the Old Town of Prague on the other side.
There were literally hundreds of people in the Old Town Square even late at night. Our hotel staff advised us to check it out at night because the buildings were all lit up. However, since there were a gazilion tourist in Prague at this time she suggested going there at midnight (yup, you read that right!) or at 6 am to avoid the overwhelming crowd. Since we had the kids with us we knew we couldn't wait for midnight and dared to go at around 10:30 pm but the crowd was still large even though the night was getting late. But it was worth it - as the views were lovely even at night.
Glad we managed to sneak in a shot when some people left the area by the clock tower. If you don't mind waiting until it clears up, you can get a nice shot actually.
Or perhaps take a shot from a higher angle. :)
The square at night, this was nearly 11:30 pm already so the crowd was starting to get thinner.
The statue of John Huss in the middle. Will explain more about him later for the early morning tour.
The view of the Prague Castle at night from Charles Bridge at the Old Town. This was the location of our hotel. It is called Mala Strana (Little Quater or Lesser Town), the district just below the castle complex by the river bank.
Once you cross the river via Charles Bridge this is what you see. It can get busy in the mornings with buses, trams and pedestrians all crossing through here. I believe the clock tower here belongs to the St. Nicholas Church. This was nearing midnight so it's a bit quieter now.
I took a quick shot of this beetle as I thought it showed a great contrast in time - an ornate and baroque clock tower (yes, Prague is a city of towers) with a modern car in the foreground.
We woke up early the next day to get an unobstructed view of the Old Town - a must if you wish to take good photos of the city square without the crowd getting in the way. So glad to find the beetle was still parked there so I took another quick shot so you can see the difference in the night and day shot.
The usually buzzing street is practically empty. We were on our way to Charles Bridge.
When you go to Prague you'll find yourself crossing the Charles Bridge many times (as we did) as it connects the Old Town with the Lesser Town. It can get very busy as you can imagine with many tourist taking photos of the fantastic views of either side of the river bank. On the busiest time of the day, you would also find some vendors plying their trade and some musicians entertaining the pedestrians.
This bridge is perhaps as romantic as the one in Paris near Notre Dame as not just once but at least 2-3 times we saw newlywed couples having their photos taken by the bridge. I guess, like us, they were taking advantage of the perfect lighting early in the morning and because the weather was actually dry.
Here's another one just starting to set up their cameras and crew as we passed by.
We have now reached the square in the Old Town and it's empty at 7:30-ish in the morning. What a contrast to last night when it's fully packed with onlookers.
Time to have a few shots in the square.
William and Sophie.
Still at the square - aren't these buildings gorgeous?
Just to show how massive the clock tower is (see photos above of night shots of the clock tower).
A photo by the Orloj - Prague's Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Square.
A kind passer-by took our family photo.
And, naturally, we saw another newlywed pictorial. All of them were Chinese - that's truly fascinating!
This was our family's favorite and can be found all over the city - Trdelnik - a traditional cake and sweet pastry made from rolled dough wrapped around a cylinder, grilled and then rolled in a cinnamon sugar, walnut mix. Even from a distance you can smell it's delightful cinnamon-scented aroma! Definitely, something you have to try when you visit Prague!
Here are other delicious pastries, both savory and sweet on offer!
Just looking at these make me so hungry!
But we had some breakfast waiting for us and so we went back to the hotel.
We were located at the embassy area of Prague in the Little Quarter so every morning we were there and were greeted by the sight of the German embassy, directly in front of us. Anyway, time to end another tour of Europe in this post. Until the next one - the last one in the series featuring Germany. Hope you enjoyed browsing and learned a little about Prague. Definitely, the highlight of our trip!