My first visit to Prague was many moons ago during a long weekend away for my 21st birthday. So as you can imagine, it involved gallons of Czech beer, pretzels a-plenty, and being a November baby, many hours spent feeling festive at the wintry Christmas market in Old Town Square. I remember looking up in awe at the delightfully dark and moody gothic architecture and feeling like I’d just stepped into Maleficent’s kingdom, once upon a dream. Each day we got up and explored the city, and I relished the snuggly atmosphere of bundling into cosy traditional pubs and clutching a gigantic stein next to the fire every evening, to stay out of the cold and keep our cheeks flushed and bellies happy.
So this time, stepping off the train in Prague, it felt a little like arriving to greet an old friend. I don’t often return to European cities that I’ve visited before, not because I don’t like them, but because I’m always craving somewhere new to explore from top to bottom. But walking through those station doors four years later, the city seemed totally new and comfortably familiar all at the same time – and I still loved it just as much. Having done most of the typical tourist stuff the first time around, we opted for trying out some fresh new activities during our repeat stay (and the photos aren’t nearly as bad), and here’s just a small selection of our favourite corners of the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’.
The Lennon Wall
Funnily enough, the brightly painted wall near to the Charles Bridge that is now plastered in messages of peace, was actually sparked by a group of capitalist students that would air their grievances on the wall during Prague’s communist era. This eventually led to a clash between the students and the police, as the Czech authorities disapproved of their ideas, thinking them mentally deranged alcoholics. These days, every inch of the wall is covered in Beatles lyrics and beautiful murals of love and happiness. I love it because whatever time of day you stop by, you’ll always find travellers from all over the world scrawling their messages for the next people to find.
The path to Strahov Monastery is steep and winding, but once you’ve huffed and puffed your way to the very top, you’re treated to the most magnificent view of Prague, and you’ll know that it was totally worth the workout. Plus, you can replace those pretty much burned off calories (don’t pop my naive bubble) by treating yourself to a lip-smacking blueberry beer and one of Prague’s finest hotdogs! Once you’ve eaten your fill and enjoyed the views, you can then walk across the top of the hill to Prague Castle, a beautifully gloomy building that towers above the city. On our visit, we discovered the creepiest cash exchange, where you rang a bell and a long nailed, long fingered guy rose from the basement and cashed up your drinking money to Euros for you – I’m still wondering if he was an actor adding to the effect…
After all that walking, you’re going to need a nice, stiff drink – y’know, if you haven’t had enough of that already. Well, absinthe’s pretty strong, why don’t we go with that? Hidden away down a side street in the city centre is Absintherie, an ominous looking museum detailing the uses and history of absinthe, whilst also serving up the strongest (but totally fruity and delicious) cocktails you’ll find in Prague. We ordered an absinthe tasting board, which lets you sample each percentage, ranging from being actually pretty tasty to blowing your head off and making you cry, well that’s how it went for me anyway. I’m not even joking, the lady next to me actually started sweating profusely during her second cocktail, which I can only assume was due to the flames that were threatening to rip her throat apart. Too dramatic? Try it for yourself!
Like this? Why not check out what else I got up to in the city on Instagram?