Yeesh, June was a busy month! I'm just now finally catching up with what we all did. Hopefully I can get through the several trips we went on before the next batch! My folks had arrived in Europe late in May and had spent some time with our Austrian relatives. Our plan was to meet them in Prague for a week and then head back to Dublin. So on our 2nd anniversary, Diane and I flew to Prague.
We arrived in the afternoon and made the trip from the airport into town pretty easily. There's a convenient bus from the airport into a metro stop, which we hopped on and found our hotel. Upon walking in we were greeted by my parents and my cousin and her husband who were sorting out our rooms. Apparently the hotel had some water problems, and we were moved to another hotel in the same chain but right in the old town. This turned out to be pretty handy, as we didn't even have to make use of the transit services at all that whole week. We just walked everywhere.
Having found our new hotel, we checked in and then headed out to wander the streets a bit. The streets of Prague are quite pretty. The streets and sidewalks are all cobblestone, and the sidewalks in particular are all arranged in nice patterns of black and white stones. After wandering a ways, we found a place to eat called the two hedgehogs (after translation, of course). Dinner was simple, and tasty.
The next morning we got up early (well, for us) and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, headed out towards the Jewish district of the city. This is apparently quite a draw for tourists, so we figured getting there earlier would be best. The tourist areas for this were several buildings spread throughout the Jewish district. So we dutifully took each building in order. The most impressive one of the bunch was the Spanish Synagogue -- in which every inch was beautifully decorated. I wish pictures had been allowed inside ...
After exploring these buildings we went in pursuit of lunch, and after getting out of the heat for a bit, hit the streets again. My mom was looking for some bead shops, and one in particular was near by so we went in search of it. After finding it, our group split up for a bit of exploring and shopping on our own. So Diane and I split off -- I had seen a Crumpler store (a company that makes nice bags and backpacks) which we went off to and I bought a new camera bag. Sweet! After that, we found a lovely little park with an incredible rose garden, and a little farther along a mall that sold some cheap and delicious ice cream. We met back up with the rest of our group in front of the National musuem which overlooks Wenceslas square.
From there we headed back towards our hotel to drop off our purchases and get out of the heat for a bit more -- it was 30 degrees almost every day there! We then went for dinner at a pub around the corner from our hotel. Not the best choice for food, but it wasn't too bad either.
The next day, the plan was to hit up Prague castle. This wasn't something my dad was interested in doing again, so he took my cousin and her husband off shopping and we walked our way up to the castle to explore the many exhibits open there. It was a blisteringly hot day, but we got going and there sure was a lot to see at the castle. Probably the highlight of it was St Vitus' cathedral, which sits in the middle of a large courtyard in Prague Castle. The cathedral itself is impressive enough from the outside, but inside it was quite amazing. It sported several large stained glass windows with incredible detail, and every nook and cranny of the church seemed to be filled with yet another thing to look at. It was a good spot for pictures...
We took our time looking through all the exhibitions and then headed back down towards Charles' Bridge: a long pedestrian bridge over the Vltava river. This was our meeting spot with the rest of our crew. On the way, we walked through quite a large group of people surrounding a bike race that had been setup in the area. So in +30 degree heat, these people were pedalling their bikes up and down hills for what is almost certainly a grueling amount of time. Ugh. The rest of our party were waiting for us at the bridge and we walked around the area for a bit doing some recon for a place to eat a little later. Diane had done a bit of research on wikitravel and we settled in a place called Malostranska Pivnice which turned out to be a great choice. The food was delish!
The next day, our destination was Petřínská rozhledna (Petřín Lookout Tower). The tower sits on top of a large hill overlooking prague, so the top of the tower offered a really nice view of Prague. To get there, we took a funicular that serviced that area. On their previous trip to Prague, my parents had climbed the hill and had ruled that out as a possibility for this trip. So after taking the funicular we wandered some of the gardens at the top of the hill and eventually found our way to the tower. Since the rest of the party had already done the tower on their previous visit, just Diane and I climbed the many stairs to the top and enjoyed the view from the top.
The heat had started to get to us there, so we decided it was time to head back down the hill and find a place in the shade to have some lunch. We found a place on the main road not far from where the funicular stop was. After a much needed break we wandered around a bit more before going back to our hotel to rest some more (we really weren't used to the heat, and the whole week of heat was enough to make us slow right down). On the way though, we grabbed some ice cream from the same place a few days earlier. Mmm.
This being the last day in Prague, I wanted to try and find a particularly good restaurant to eat at. After doing some looking on wikitravel I found one, but when we got there it was all booked up. Oops. So we returned back to the hotel and asked them for a recommendation. They kindly made a reservation at a place really close by for a late dinner -- which was fine given our late lunch. So we wandered over there and enjoyed a wonderful meal.
Our final day in Prague was a travel day, so we didn't do much other than wander a little bit before taking transit to the airport and heading back to Dublin with my mom. It was a pretty fun week, and I think since we didn't see much more than the old town in Prague that we'll have to return!