on June 20, 2011
For the past ten years I have been hearing about Prague from other travelers. The city has come up on the top or near the top of their Do Not Miss destination lists and for some reason I always missed this lovely city. Because of a great price on airfare ($418.00 round trip from Chicago to Warsaw) I decided to spend a couple of weeks in Eastern Europe and this time I did include Prague. It was a wise inclusion and I am still enthralled with the city (despite the hoards of tourists).Parenthetically, much of this review will be, as usual, personal opinions and impressions of this most wonderful city and her citizens (both mine and theirs). I use no names, but those involved will recognize their expressed thoughts for which I am grateful.This writing will concentrate mainly on Prague's Old Town or Staré Mĕsto. It starts early (for me) in the morning after crossing the Charles Bridge or Karlův most, around 8:00 AM. Crossing the Charles Bridge is easy when you are early. When the day trip tour buses arrive (usually between 10:00 and 11:00 AM) and the hoards dismount, the Charles Bridge becomes a Highway of Humanity that I have described elsewhere. Cross early and stay late. Don't make the mistake of visiting on a day trip. To experience the true romance of Prague, you have to stay over at least one night. Prague is a city for dreamers and dreaming.Once over the bridge, the sights of the Old Town begin immediately and they are almost countless. I will not list all or even many of the sights because that is why people spend money for tours and tour guides. My goal is to provide through photographs the incentive for one to say, "I have to go there. I need to experience Prague for myself!" Tour books and tour guides do a splendid job of providing the histories of the places. I want to convince readers to not do what I did and wait ten years. The histories of 14th and 15th century highlights haven't changed in 10 years so even old tour books will give readers what they need, but very few of them prove that a place is beautiful and not just worth a look. I want people to be fascinated enough to want to see a place with their own eyes, not mine or anyone's. I'll label the images as best as I can. So look at my images and decide that you want to make your own. Go now!On the way to the Old Town Square, you will pass numerous souvenir shops, small clothing boutiques, a couple of shops that sell glass works of art, jewelry shops, etc.. One of the best shops for baked specialty rolls is shown in one of the photographs. It is wonderful, and all of the shops are interesting. I walked into many of these shops and just looked around. It costs nothing to look and I find them fascinating. The clerks and store owners don't expect everyone to buy something just because someone walks into the store to look around, so go ahead and browse. If I find someone who has a command of English, I ask them to talk about their city. I ask other tourists about their homes.When finally arriving at the Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock, a guest is always treated to a wonderful experience. The clock will strike the hour and a trumpeter will play from the top floor of the building. After the thunderous applause dies down one can look at the other tourists and wonder what the hell are we all looking at. Then one can marvel at the square and find something really rewarding. Czech beer, for example. After that, wander around the square for a couple of hours. Find the things that interest you. Give yourselves enough time to feel the romance of this awesome place. Make Prague a five star city for you too.Last comment. I have been asked why I rate almost everything and every place four or five stars. I find the things that are interesting to me. I give myself time to really look around. I ask locals where to go and what to see. I ask them what they like most about their city. I ask them about their favorite romantic place. I get information that is not in guide books. I seldom have more than a rudimentary list of things to see. I'll see what I see and enjoy that. I will not feel bad because of missing a particular museum or cathedral or anything else. Chances are that I will be back. I don't rate restaurants because I generally don't eat in restaurants. There are a few exceptions to that, but because I don't really understand or search out good food as determined by others. If I don't like a particular dish, it is probably not the fault of the chef or the restaurant. I don't rate anything that I am not qualified to judge. I feel the same way about hostels, pensions, B&B's. My taste and requirements are as individual as other peoples. If it doesn't meet my individual needs, I move. If it does or goes beyond I am very happy to report that fact. Again, my ratings are about my needs and not the needs of anyone else. If I give a place a poor rating, it probably isn't a fair mark. I am 71 years old traveling in a world of twenty-somethings. I am not looking to find a second childhood and party all night with the young folks. If I choose a "party hostel" and can't sleep, it is my fault for picking it. If the advertisement for the hostel says it is always quiet and it isn't, then I have a legitimate complaint. Same is true regarding cleanliness.Sermon over. Go to Prague; you'll love it!
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009