Prague had been on my travel wish list for a while, ever since my father traveled there about a decade ago. He returned from his trip and the first thing he told me was, “You need to go to Prague; you will love it there.” Now, my father has not always been overly supportive of my travel decisions (Kenya immediately comes to mind), so for him to tell me that I NEED to go someplace, I thought it wise to follow his advice. I finally made it to Prague earlier this year, it being the last stop on our #GwOFamily Euro trip. The city definitely lived up to, and exceeded, my expectations. My family and I visited the main tourist attractions, such as Prague Castle and Old Town Square, and loved every minute of it. But what we realized later on is that those spots mainly served as backdrops for the unforgettable experiences we had and for the invaluable time we spent together as a family. You know, those moments that you wish you could just bottle up and keep forever? Months later, I’m now reminiscing about my family’s cherished time in that magical city and wishing I had those bottles of encapsulated memories to open and savor once again. In my head, I’m reliving our favorite moments and, inevitably, making a list of our favorite things to do in Prague.
Hang out, people-watch, and drink beer at Old Town Square
Cliché, I know. But Old Town Square is fascinating! On our first morning in Prague, we ventured to the top of Old Town Hall Tower and took in the city from above. It was Holy Week so the Easter market was going on and Old Town Square was just bustling! I was getting antsy at the top of the tower; I wanted to be back at ground level, rubbing elbows and mingling with everyone. Even from high above, I was able to pick up on the joyous and lively vibe of Old Town Square.
We descended from the tower and made our way around the square, stopping at just about every vendor’s stall. Despite the day being cold and gray, the square was quite colorful, all dressed up in rainbows of Easter pastels. We sampled some food and beverages, but one of my favorites was the Prague version of grilled cheese. I wish I could remember the proper name for it. It was a little pocket of cheesy goodness that was pressed, almost like panini, and brushed with garlic butter. Ridiculously delicious. We eventually settled in at a table at one of the many cafes surrounding the square. The Working Dad and I treated ourselves to a few beers (when in Prague, right?) while Princess Lucia calmly sat and took in all that was unfolding before us. For a five-year-old to be that captivated, you know the people-watching was top notch. This cafe-sitting/beer-drinking/people-watching became part of our daily routine for the rest of our time in Prague.
Enjoy the music of street performers
One of life’s greatest enjoyments, for me, is seeing live musical acts, whether they’re playing small clubs or large arenas. I’m also quite fond of street musicians, especially in large cities. Their melodies are carried through the air and add a gentle calmness to the symphony of chaos and clatter. Such was the case for us in Prague, from the lone bagpiper in St. Wenceslas Square to the jazz ensemble that we ran into a few different times. Lucia was excited to see them each time, even going so far as to drop everything and dance to their music! I have to say, they were impressive! The main singer sounded a bit like Louis Armstrong, and they even had a vintage microphone and washboard instrument. On our last full day in Prague, we were walking across Charles Bridge and I noticed a crowd forming up ahead. As we approached, I could hear the faint beating of a drum. Then I picked up on the unmistakable hum of bagpipes. Lastly, I heard a chorus of voices and, by this time, I was subconsciously being drawn in the direction of the music. We arrived at the crowd’s perimeter to find these dark-robed men that call themselves Bohemian Bards. Drums. Bagpipes. A fiddle! I was in heaven. We stood there, listening and swaying to the music, for as long as they played. And what a beautiful setting. Standing on the spectacular Charles Bridge in the magical city of Prague, in the bright afternoon sunshine.
Our first stop in Prague, after getting settled in our apartment, was St. Wenceslas Square. We were in search of a restaurant for dinner; we were pretty hungry after being in the car most of the day. As we walked through the square, we saw a bunch of people eating these hollow, cylindrical cake-like treats. Immediately we were intrigued, simply because of their unusual design. It wasn’t like anything we’d seen before. Because we have to set a good example for our daughter, we waited until after dinner to try one ourselves. When we did, we learned that they’re called trdelník; they’re made by wrapping dough around a stick, grilling over an open flame, then rolling in a sugary/cinnamon-y concoction while still hot. We each had at least one trdelník a day while in Prague. On the last day, we let Lucia live on the edge a bit and got her a trdelník coated with Nutella.
Wander Lesser Town
Lesser Town is across the Vltava River from Old Town and there is nothing “lesser” about it. Above Lesser Town sits Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the castle’s many gardens and museums…. it’s a lovely and oft-visited section of Prague. But wander down the hill from the castle and you’ll find yourself in an area that’s been said to rival Paris for the title of “most romantic”. I’ve never been to Paris so I can’t speak to that claim, but I can tell you that Lesser Town is wholly romantic. It’s also rather enchanting, with Baroque architecture lining cobblestone streets. Wandering about, I felt transported to a different time and place. While in Lesser Town, we also visited Church of Our Lady Victorious, which houses the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague statue. As I was raised Catholic, I remember my mom talking about “the Infant of Prague” and having replica statues in our home. So, it was important for me to see the original and beloved Infant of Prague and to say a prayer for my mother and other loved ones back home. The stop at Our Lady Victorious was the perfect end to an already spiritually uplifting day spent in Lesser Town.
Revel in the hockey madness
As I mentioned, I was raised Catholic, and I was also raised to be a hockey fanatic! I’ve been in love with the game for more than thirty years. Seems that Prague and Czechs in general love the game as much as I do. There was hockey everywhere. Maybe I noticed it more than other visitors because I love the game so much, but I took it as a good sign when, on our first morning in Prague, the top story in the newspaper was about North America’s National Hockey League (NHL). I said to myself, “Yeah, I think I’m going to like it here.” One of the best players in the history of the NHL, and one who is still playing at forty-two years of age, is Jaromir Jagr, a native of Czech Republic. So, those Czechs do have a lot to be proud of when it comes to hockey. It also made me smile to walk past this “hockey restaurant” every day (though we never did go inside).
I would not be opposed to a return trip to Prague, but I’m quite content with the memories that my family and I made there on our first trip. I don’t know if anything could beat watching Lucia dance along with the jazz band, but I sure would like some more Czech pilsner and trdelník…
Have you been to Prague? What are your favorite things to do there?