After one of the most incredible travel experiences on the Uniworld, Tattoo Themed, German River Cruise, Reese Hilburn, her apprentice Jackie and I continue on to Prague then north to Berlin and finally to Copenhagen (see map below) to attend 50 shades of Ink Copenhagen tattoo convention.
This will our first time to Prague, Czech Republic for all of us. Now it is now one of my favorite cities in the world. I need to go back!!
Prague was never bombed
I was informed that Prague was untouched by war and never bombed because it is said that Hilter loved Prague, he wanted to save it for himself. I just had lay eyes on a city so untouched seeping in history!!! Prague was established in 14th Century – Golden Age under the Luxembourg dynasty during the reign of Charles IV. At that time Prague became one of Europe’s largest and wealthiest cities. And the clock… that still works which is said was built by aliens.. whaaa??? Um ok.. I’m intrigued ..let’s GO!
We depart from Regensburg Germany bus station, it’s close to a 3 hour ride to Prague and I slept the entire trip. Once we arrive in Prague, we check into “Old Town” Caruso Hotel Prague. The room is huge with shuttered windows overlooking the statues of the buildings next to us which is now almost eye level. Old hotels in Europe can have the tiniest of elevators! It took us 3 trips to get all our luggage up to our room.
Old Town Square, Prague and Astronomical Clock
Caruso Hotel is a 5 minute walk into Old Town Square and the must see Astronomical Clock. The clock is located inside the haunting looking Tyn Church (Týnský chrám). Gazing up at the church, you almost expect Dracula to swoop out of the Gothic upper windows. The Astronomical Clock is a medieval clock first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest WORKING astronomical clock in the world. It has special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets. Groups of people surround it every hour and cheer when the clock chimes and the saint statues rotate and pop out the window. Some say the clock is cursed by the great clockmaker Mikuláš from Kadaň. In that anyone who may try to fix it would either go insane, or die. While this is only a legend, it stands as a testament to the extraordinary nature and haunting history of Prague. There are also cobblestones below the clock that are marked with 27 crosses commemorating 27 beheaded Czech noblemen. YIKES!
The square is filled with outdoor cafes, restaurants, street performers, Thai massage parlors, shops, etc. I stood in the middle of the square and slowly turned in a full circle and got completely dizzy and fantastically overwhelmed with architectural history, sights and smells! I loved Prague!
Charles Bridge and Absinthe
Not knowing or caring what direction we are walking, we zig zag our way through cobblestone alleys and streets making our way to The Charles Bridge. We round a corner and there it is! WOW I was excited to see a bridge lol! The Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. It was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700. Standing on the bridge I imagined kings and queens of other European cities crossing the bridge to visit Prague castle.
It is time for a drink! Close to The Charles Bridge is an Absinthe bar called Absintherie. I’ve never tried this drink before. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (“grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color, but may also be colorless. I was later told that when drinking absinthe, you are “meeting the wizard” or the drink is referred to as the “Green Fairy” . And yes, it’s true! After a few sips I definitely felt a head rush and lightheaded when looking around. FUN!
Day 2 – St. Vitus Cathedral of Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
The second and final day in Prague (too quick! I need to go back!!) we cross back over The Charles Bridge and begin the 121 steps, built in the 17th century up to the castle Pražský hrad, founded around 880. It is now the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia and contains tombs of some of them.
After climbing the 121 steps to where the complex of castles and churches are we enter the St. Vitus Cathedral. Little did we know we were about to climb 825 Steps to the top! It’s a narrow tower where 2 people are barely able to pass each other on cement stairs! Imagine climbing a spiral staircase that is about 7 stories high and 14 flights of stairs! We make it to the top and the sweeping views make it worth the climb! Here we stand in awe of the 360 degree views of Prague.
St Vitus Cathedral’s stained glass
We stop to rest after our climb before we explore The Royal Gardens and then inside St Vitus Cathedral. In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of this Gothic cathedral and it was built over a time span of almost 600 years. Inside, the nave is flooded with color from stained-glass windows created by eminent Czech artists of the early 20th century. These are nothing like I have seen anywhere before in any church! There are also frescoes and semi-precious stones, historic musical organs, life size bronze reliefs of kings, beautifully carved columns and more. The Cathedral of St. Vitus had a tremendous influence on the development of Late Gothic style characteristic for Central Europe. Just WOW!
We make our way back over The Charles Bridge and pass by some type of parade. People are walking dressed in traditional attire wearing clothing replicating; gypsies, Italian mothers, middle-eastern women and more…. and then they are gone. What just happened lol! We are exhausted. Reese get’s a Thai foot massage, we eat dinner and are back in hotel ready for an early morning train ride to Berlin to meet up with Loz and Vanessa!