Prague the Fairy Tale City and How We Almost Missed It
Next leg of our Europe trip was Prague! It was the city I looked forward to the most and it met all my expectations and beyond! It is such a gorgeous city that you can just wander in aimlessly. So many pretty arts – even the little souvenirs were all so pretty, cobbled-stone streets, hidden alleyways, towers everywhere decorating the city line. It just took my breath away.
Gorgeous gorgeous Prague. Like a city coming out of fairy tales. You completely stole my heart!
Should I probably just stop here and ask you to go see it yourself when you get a chance? (So far I have actually persuaded two friends to go to Prague :)
So how did we almost missed it?
Moving back a little bit to the beginning, we went by train from Vienna to Prague, that took about 5 hours.
Horror of horrors, we almost missed this train, because while the ticket said Meidling Station, it is actually the name of the area, and we were supposed to go to another station, which is called Philadelphia Brucke!
WTH! That was so tricky even for the most experienced traveler!
When the ticket says Meidling station of course I assumed it means Meidling station, not another station with completely different name in Meidling! (both stations are in Meidling area) Can you believe that?
Lesson learnt though, next time I really need to double check the map and be extra cautious. Stations with International connections usually have a different symbol in addition to the normal subway symbol on the map (this is quite common worldwide I think). So when the station doesn’t have that International rail symbol, even if it is the same name as what it says on the ticket, you better check first with people!
We were extremely lucky in that there were two angels disguised as local people that helped us to figure out what happened when we couldn’t find our train. And it was even confusing for them, and it took them a while to figure out after asking shop people. It was so early in the morning that there very few people around. When the two angels were discussing, I was impatient and went around to ask people around the shops and food places who were readying for the day, and nobody spoke English! It was frustrating and I started to get really scared.
After the angels figured things out though, they immediately came with us until we got to the right station (bless them). From this point on, it was all very comical. If I have not retired drawing comic I would definitely do it in comic form.
After seeing that our train hasn’t departed from the TV screen, we ran and rushed to the right platform.
Up the elevator, and there’s this giant old man blocking us!
So Rendy stopped since I guess we were raised not push an old man aside.
After a few seconds I thought, WAIT, this is NOT the time to be polite! I said go go go!
So we squeezed through! Excuse me, excuse me. Then we ran some more along the long platform.
Another thing you need to know is that the trains in Europe are all very long, and you do need to spare time to get to the right carriage. We saw the end of the train, but we weren’t completely sure whether we should get on those last carriages, so we ran and ran along the train. Trying to get closer to the front.
We saw nobody on the platform anymore. My pull bag was tumbling and twisting and I kept running and dragging it with me. Rendy experienced the same and started carrying his pull bag with one hand in the air.
Until we saw one guy leaning out of a carriage and he told us to go into this next carriage, quick!
So we did, we went in, and a few seconds later the train was moving, leaving the other carriages behind!
So we arrived at exactly the right second oh my god I think I almost got a heart attack. Just imagine if we just hopped into any of the carriages behind. Imagine if the two angels weren’t around or the last angel didn’t tell us the right carriage. I don’t even want to think about it.
Alright, if you plan to spend a month or even a week in Prague, then I guess it doesn’t matter much if you miss a train. You just go on the next one. But when you only have 2.5 days in the city, missing a train means a complete failure. For a city that I was most excited about!
Gosh that was stressful to even write about!
So going back to beautiful Prague!
Once we arrived, we went straight to Charles Bridge, the bridge that is told to connect Western Europe and Eastern Europe. It was so romantic and beautiful. It is decorated by 30 statues all along the side of the bridge (a couple of weird ones).
The bad thing about traveling in winter though is that the days are sooo short. So soon the sun started to set. We had a nice view of the Prague Castle glowing in the dark, decorating the skyline across the bridge.
Even in winter evening the bridge was quite crowded with people that it was hard for me to take good pictures. I can’t imagine how it is during summer.
I was sure I was going to pass the bridge again, but unfortunately that was the only time, and now I wish I had come back at day time. Our time in Prague was just too short.
The next day we hopped on a tram to go to Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world! It was soo dreamy-like seeing it from Charles Bridge the night before.
Now we got to see that Prague Castle is really a big complex of various buildings, like a small town if you will. And the largest of these is St Vitus Cathedral, whose tower is the one standing out when you see Prague Castle from afar. You can pretty much spend the whole day in the complex.
Church of Our Lady before Týn and the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town
The next day we spent the whole day pretty much wandering around the old town. Prague is such a lovely town to wander around aimlessly, discovering one cute thing after another. I was blown away by all the unique art studios everywhere and all the shops with pretty little things.
The Church of Our Lady before Týn was probably the most fascinating building I have ever seen, with its two black towers decorating the skyline. I loved it so much I took countless pictures of it.
Prague was so fairy-tale like! With the cobbled stone streets, the gothic and the beautifully decorated buildings, the astronomical clock, the art shops, the cafes, the spires, the bridge. Sigh.
At that moment (or even now) it’s hard to imagine there could be a more gorgeous city somewhere else in the world.
Puppets and Black Theatre
I’m not a souvenir person. I rarely buy souvenir anywhere I go, as I don’t like to have too much stuff in general. The less stuff you have, the easier you move, right?
But in Prague, I actually struggled to not buy anything. I even struggled to buy just one thing!
At the end I bought a couple of fridge magnets, a few of postcards, a few cards by a pencil color artist, and a Little Riding Hood puppet (Rendy got Pinocchio) from a two-floor shop full of puppets!
A puppet you ask? Yes! For some reason puppets are quite popular in Prague! There are puppets sold everywhere!
There are even puppet shows. The most famous one was Don Giovanni, that is claimed as “Mozart’s gift to Prague”. (Funny that Mozart still followed me until here, after his excessive presence in Vienna)
Another popular thing here is Black theatre (we went to Black Theatre Image).
Do you know that trick of making the stage all black, then some people wear all black so they’re hidden in the dark, while some others wear other colors so they’re visible? And the dark people move things around so it is as if the objects move by themselves? Well apparently that was started in Prague! Pretty cool!
There was Alice in Wonderland and I was half dying to see that one (you know how much I loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the book), but it was twice more expensive and Rendy was reluctant, so we went to the contemporary dance one – which was alright!
Food and Cafes in Prague
Prague is full of restaurants and cafes. And they’re all so pretty! Just a couple of examples below and I shall say no more.
It was hard to leave the city. I really wish we had more time.
Next I will talk about Bruges in Belgium – the last city in our first trip around Europe!