We made a quick detour out of Germany for a few nights in Prague (my first visit to the Czech Republic).
First impressions: the snow was very pretty – big fat, visible flakes; try as I might, I couldn’t get a handle on speaking any Czech (phonetics really let you down in some places); also didn’t get the conversion of koruna to AUD or Euros sorted in my mind, so everything we bought could have been insanely cheap or outrageously expensive…; the escalators at the train stations were so fast I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a pile of people at the bottom; chimney cakes are always a good idea (below); and they know how to decorate a Christmas tree.
View of Old Town Square from the Old Town Hall Clock Tower – with a solid dusting of snow (you can see the Christmas tree in the second pic, which gives you an idea of the size!).
Our hotel – there are many examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Prague, including where we stayed, the stunning Hotel Imperial. Designed by Jaroslav Benedikt and built in 1913, the mosaic and Majolica interior of the hotel’s restaurant (including tiled columns, walls and ceilings) is astounding.
Petřín Hill and the funicular ride – we can’t resist a view and who doesn’t love the jolts and creaks of a funicular railway? Petřín Hill is one of Prague’s largest ‘green spaces’ but the day we visited it was snowing, so it was a vast and magical white space. There’s a look-out tower and a mirror maze but the snow and the views from the paths winding through the forest were the highlight.
Czech Beer – you know when you’re on holiday and you find yourself doing something completely odd and you think ‘Why? Is this what happens here?’ but you just go with it because you’re there? So yeah, beer delivered to our table by a little train at the Výtopna Railway Restaurant. The kids loved it (the train, not the beer). And the truly strange thing was that the tiny ‘train driver’ looked exactly like a friend of ours in Australia, and as soon as my daughter said “Look! It’s Paul driving the train!”, we couldn’t stop laughing (or ordering Paul and his train back to our table).
Charles Bridge – there’s a reason why so many people are gathering to take photos (of the Bridge and its statues, not the Vltava River). Impressive.
Žižkov Television Tower (minus the babies) – we headed to the TV Tower promising my daughter giant climbing babies but little did we know that the babies were having their first restoration work in twenty years. The babies are the work of Czech artist David Cerny, and were welcomed by the people of Prague as a way of making the brutalist TV Tower a little easier on the eye. No babies but great views.