Trip Report - 2 1/2 days in Prague

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Apr 11th, 2009, 10:43 AM
  #1
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Trip Report - 2 1/2 days in Prague

We (my husband and I) arrived by train from Vienna at the Holesovice train station around 2:30 sunday afternoon and took tram #22 to our hotel (Hotel Mala Strana on Melnicka Street) without a problem.

After checking in we set out to get our bearings since this was our first visit to Prague. It was a gorgeous, warm day and I wanted to see the Wallenstein Gardens so we headed in that direction and found them fairly easily. I thought the Owl Grotto was fantastic--my husband wasn't impressed.

Despite the fact that I’d read that the castle grounds would be closed (because of Barack Obama’s visit) we decided to head up there and see what we could. It turned out to be a good decision because when we reached the castle (after a stunning walk—Prague is gorgeous) they were just taking the barricades down and the grounds were open. We went to see St. Vitas Cathedral (with only a handful of other people) and then walked through the castle grounds and returned to the hotel from the other end of the castle.

For supper we went to Restaurace Bar Bar near our hotel—yummy crepes with cheese, bacon etc. and super reasonable (dinner for two with appetizers and beer was less than 450 Kc).

After supper we walked over the Charles Bridge for the first time—it wasn’t too mobbed with tourists. Then we walked up Nerudova Street before heading back, exhausted.

The next day we managed to explore the Jewish Quarter before it was too crowded (we just walked around, didn’t go to the museums). We walked over to the Old Town Square—packed with tourists—took a quick look around and then went for lunch at Country Life—it was very vegan but pretty good and inexpensive (and smoke-free).

We went to the Municipal House—unfortunately there were no tours offered that day so we just walked around and saw what we could—what a fabulous building—and picked up our concert tickets that I’d reserved before leaving home.

That night we ate at Olympia—also near our hotel—I had pork loin and dumplings and my husband had Moravian Sparrow—very good and, again, very reasonable. Then we walked via the Legion Bridge along the riverside to the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude to see our concert (Gregorian Chants—we really enjoyed it).

The next day we took the tram to Strahov Monastery—we saw the library (just ahead of the tour groups so we were virtually alone.) I had debated seeing this as I’d read that you can only peer in at the rooms but I’m glad we did. It’s gorgeous and the attendants were very sweet and offered us a sheet of information to read (when they saw me reading my guidebook).

On the way over to the castle we passed Cernin Palace, the Loreta and then meandered down Novy Svet which was absolutely charming and completely empty of tourists. The castle was totally packed and the lineup for St. Vitus was enormous—so we were doubly glad we’d gone the night we’d arrived. We were heading for the Lobkowicz Palace which I’d read about on TA. It was a little pricey—275 Kc—but it was an interesting museum—and a nice, manageable size. It reminded me quite a bit of the Doria Pamphilli (sp?) in Rome which also had an audio guide by one of the family members who owned the place.

We didn’t eat at the restaurant because it was crowded and we didn’t want to wait so we headed back to the hotel and ate a quick lunch at Restaurace Bar Bar again.

After a bit of a rest we walked over Legion Bridge and had cake and coffee at Café Slavia. We explored Stare Mesto a bit, spent about at hour at the Museum of Decorative Arts (free Tuesday 5-7, great view of the Jewish Cemetary from the second floor) and then walked along the river towards the Fred and Ginger building. When we were headed back for dinner we had the only rain of our trip—about a 10 minute shower—and then we ate our last supper at Café Savoy—before heading back to get ready to leave in the a.m.

I had considered taking the tram/bus to the airport but decided since our flight was fairly early to splurge for a cab (something we almost never do). We used the service provided by our hotel and were very pleased.

Overall, our first trip to Prague was fantastic. The crowds of tourists were tiring but we managed to avoid them the majority of the time—and we had no bad experiences (rip offs, rude waiters etc.)
outwest is offline  
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Apr 11th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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I was in Prague a couple of weeks ago. I share the OP's opinion that Prague is a fabulous destination. Wanted to let everyone know that it is possible to get an exclusive private tour that lets you into the library itself of the Strahov monasteryt. It was really a very special experience being able to see the ancient books up close, etc., and if you can afford an exclusive VIP tour such as this, I'd highly recommend it.
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Apr 12th, 2009, 04:53 AM
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I admire how much you saw and experienced in a short amount of time. Good for you!
I've loved Prague (twice) and can't wait to go again.
It's like Venice in the sense that excessive tourism increases its reputation for crowds and rip offs, but with a little effort, one can see the treasures and have a lovely time.
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