Prague, the city of my soul

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This summer was full of surprises for me. In July, I was invited to attend to a sport event that was going to be held in Prague. Being supported by Afi Park, to whom I wish to thank once again, and by Austrian Airlines, who ensured my roundtrip travel in optimal conditions, I arrived in Prague. I spent here 4 dream days, in which I succeeded to visit many picturesque places and to recharge myself positively for a long time. A good friend told me, when she found out that I will travel to the Czech Republic, that Prague is a wonderful city, full of mystery and elegant, advising me to get the most of these days. And she was right! It’s useless to tell you that each day was starting for me on Prague’s streets at 9.00 o’clock in the morning, ending around 11.00 pm, when I was going back in the hotel room. Being ravished by everything around me, I couldn’t even feel any tiredness.

Since the journey came unexpectedly and all my preparations were made so quickly, I had to plan every expense very carefully. For this reason, I choose a decent hotel for my accommodation, providing me with all the facilities, but not being placed downtown, but 3 subway stations and a short walk in a park away from it, and that was because my available budget had to allow me to visit as many tourists attractions as possible. I was nervous, of course, because I’ve wanted from the beginning to get the most out of each day, and I was afraid that since I was alone in a foreign city, I could risk to have troubles if I dared to walk on the streets of the city by night. It was my first trip in a foreign country which I performed alone, without being accompanied by friends or family, or without being part of an organized group. But it wasn’t at all as I was afraid! In just a few minutes, I could reach downtown by the subway, since the time interval between two trains was under 2 minutes. Connections with trams were very easy to be made, and a very good map of the public transportation was available and accessible for tourists. In order to have a cost-effective journey, I ordered the Prague Card since when I was still in Romania, and I picked it up from the airport. With this card, I enjoyed free transportation for 4 days and free or discounted entry to tourist attractions. You can travel careless with the Czech public transportation, and you will be extremely pleased by the provided services.

First day in Prague, after my accommodation at the chosen hotel, I visited the first touristic attractions. My first visit as a tourist was at Petřín Hill, which offers beautiful views of Prague and several attractions both for adults and children. I got there using the funicular. I climbed in Petřín Observation Tower, a tower inspired by the Eiffel Tower, but having a height of only 60 meters. It was worth the effort, because the view makes you speechless. Seen from above, Prague is dizzying… I had a lot of fun together with other tourists in Petřín Mirror Maze, then I had a romantic walk in Rose Garden. Unfortunately, Stefanik Observatory was closed and it was going to reopen at a much too late hour for me, so I had to postpone its visiting for my next journey in Prague. Going down from Petřín Hill, I enjoyed a well-deserved ice cream from the Angelato gelateria.

For the second day, I planned a historical tour of the city, which I enjoyed for free under Prague Card. I totally dedicated the rest of the day to visiting downtown. Early in the morning, after having a tasty breakfast and an energizing coffee, I went to the Old Town. Thanks to Prague Card, I could visit for free very many touristic attractions. After two hours of walking by the minibus to make the tour of the city,  I returned to the Old Town and started the visit with Old Town Hall & Tower. The Old Town Hall was established in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town administration. The oldest part of the complex consists of a beautiful Gothic tower with a bay chapel and a unique astronomical clock – known as the Orloj – where, every hour between 9 am and 11 pm, the twelve apostles appear. Together with other several hundreds of people, I watched the fascinating show provided by the ancient mechanism of the clock. The area is full of other old buildings, which in their turn are full of history: The Stone Bell House, The Golden Ring House, The Powder Tower. I was very attracted also by the latter. This monumental entrance by which the coronation processions of Czech kings entered the Old Town is one of the most significant monuments of Late Gothic Prague. Completed in 1475, the Powder Tower, which formerly served as a gunpowder store, is still the starting point for the Coronation or Royal Route to Prague Castle. The viewing gallery is located at a height of 44 m. And these are just some of the full of history buildings inviting you to visit. Being constrained by time, I had to give up visiting other towers and old houses. I opted for Wax Museum Prague. The exhibition is divided into several thematic units – important figures in Czech history, Czech and world figures of the 20th century in science, politics, culture and sport, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka, Hitler, Lenin, but you can also see Michael Jackson, Jim Carrey or George Clooney. But I missed many other museums, including Choco-Story Museum, Beer Museum, Logo Museum. I promised myself to visit them next time when I’ll come to Prague.

I ended my second day in Prague with a Night Guided Cruise with Dinner  on Vltava. The Vltava River flows through the centre of Prague, and is the waterway around which the city has developed over the past 1000 years. The Old Town (Staré Město) and the New Town (Nové Město) are on one side of the Vltava River. On the other bank lies the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and the magnificent Prague Castle, which is an awesome sight from the water. I was extremely impressed by the night view of the city, by its unreal beauty. Charles Bridge, the bridge on which I’ve always dreamed to walk, left me breathless, and that’s how I decided what I was going to visit in the next two days.

The third day was for me the opportunity to visit Karlovy Vary. I subscribed to a trip also based on Prague Card, and early in the morning I went to the famous Czech resort. The first stop was at the Moser Glass Factory, where I could see several stages of the manual production process of the famous glass objects.

The renowned spa Karlovy Vary is the ideal destination to spend a few days of rest and delights. The main element of treatment here is the drinking cure of mineral springs. You can follow here cures for liver or pancreas diseases or for the metabolic syndrome. The resort is crossed by a river from one end to another, on who’s both sides there are constructed buildings with a special architecture and various hotels. It’s a special ambiance and a complete silence.

When I came back to Prague, I went directly to one of the places in Prague that I felt in love with: Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge that connects the Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana). Its construction began in 1357. Charles Bridge has survived many floods, most recently in August 2002 when the country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years. There is a tower standing on each end of the bridge that can be climbed for a view of Prague. The bridge is famous also thanks to the statues placed on it. In that July evening, there were a lot of people on the bridge. I was hearing people speaking in a lot of languages around me, young people, children, old people, lovers, single people like me, but all of us were charmed by the ambiance. A group of young people was singing and dancing, other people were admiring a painter who was making portraits, others were selling handicrafts, souvenirs, things to remind you about the visit in Prague.

The fourth and the last day that I spent in the Czech Capital was dedicated to the Prague Castle. I took this decision while I was making the tour of Prague, because I admit that before it I was thinking to visit the Prague Zoo… But I couldn’t resist to the temptation of visiting the castle. So, early in the morning I went to this major touristic attraction, where I had to spend more than 4 hours. I started by visiting The Royal Garden, a sort of botanical garden that belongs to the castle, extremely well-tended and full of romance.

Prague Castle is the most significant Czech monument and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles. Also Czech Presidency is headquartered here.

I visited Old Royal Palace, I rested myself in the silence of St. George’s Basilica, I was impressed by St. Vitus Cathedral, which I can say that dominates the city, being visible from anywhere in Prague. The cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV, and construction began in 1344 on the site of an earlier 10th century rotunda. In the chancel of the cathedral, in front of the high alter, is the royal mausoleum. Below this, in the crypt, there are the royal tombs. Czech kings and queens, and patron saints of the country are interred here.

Another attraction inside the Prague Castle is Golden Lane, a narrow street of the artisans, where I could enter in a historical ambiance. There are various houses of artisans, decorated with furniture from ancient times, specific clothes for those times and of course tools used by them. There’s also a prison, a torture room, as well as a weapons room.

From the outside garden of the castle, I admired once again the view of the city seen from above, I loaded my soul with beautiful memories and I promised myself to come back as soon as possible to what I called “the city of my soul”. I recommend everyone to visit Prague!

I thank once again to Afi Park and Austrian Airlines for their support.