Prague is a fairy tale city which is bound to transport you into the bygone era with its beautiful castles, intricately carved cathedrals, old bridges, museums, quaint cobbled streets, walled courtyards, numerous gardens and lots more. It is a mix of buildings in the Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architectures as it escaped bombing during WW II and the Vlatava river passing through the city just completes the entire illusion. I have been lucky to visit this city twice and explore many parts and aspects of this charming city. On both these occasions I have loved the heady mix of the old world charm and the new world vibrancy, that is just Prague.
After a slight diversion and writing on other topics, I’m back to writing about my favorite place – Europe!
In May this year we started our second Europe trip from Prague again, as we just didn’t get enough of it last time and also the tickets were the cheapest than any other country. As this was our second trip to Prague, we decided to revisit the places we loved during our first trip and also visit the places that we had previously missed. One of the places we missed but really wanted to see was Josefov.
Josefov is a small Jewish Quarter in Prague located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. While Jews are living in Prague from as early as 10th century, the establishment of this ghetto is believed to be in the 13th century, when Jews in Prague were ordered to vacate their homes and settle in one particular area. Over time more and more Jews settled in this area, as there were increasing restrictions on their living areas, movements and trade.
I have been fascinated with Europe for a while. It all started in 2004 when my BFF, P first moved there and started sending postcards and sharing stories of a gorgeous world full of snow-clad mountains, fairy tale castles, scenic lakes, etc etc. All her stories created an image of a wonderland in my mind and I resolved to visit it as soon as I could collect some money. And as Paulo Coelho said in The Alchemist “if you truly want something, then the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it” – well, mine sure did. After numerous failed plans, my first international trip was to Spain in 2006. And with this trip, the fascination increased.
Prague is one of may favourite cities in Europe as its old, quaint and beautiful. However it is an amazing city for shopping too, especially for a budget traveller, as you find some really cute and unusual stuff here at very affordable prices. During our trip we saw and bought some really pretty and cute stuff here, like comic coasters of Prague sites, a bookmark with a small book at one end and a pair of spectacles at the other end of a thread, beautiful lace, magnets, key chains, glass painted stuff etc etc. Hence it was not surprising that we bought a lot of gifts for friends and family from here, considering that during the rest of our travel we were in expensive cities and couldn’t buy much 🙂
Amongst all the things that I liked in Prague, my top 5 picks for a “must buy” / or things that you must check out here are –
My love for Prague was definitely not one at first slight (for reasons listed in my earlier post http://wp.me/p29z7S-be ) but this city definitely grew on us when we gave it another chance. And later, we felt that it was one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities that we had visited during our trip.
I have been trying to write this post since a while now; but every time that I have tried to write, I been completely lost for what was the best thing about Prague or what can I describe it in one word as. Well I have given up on that now and realised that I loved practically everything here. We could explore this city for days at an end and still find newer and prettier things to see each day. Each building here is very modern as an establishment but still maintains its history and old looks. Also, it has something for everyone – starting from its history and culture to the most amazing party places and night clubs.
When we decided that we wanted to visit Europe for a holiday, the first city that we finalised was Prague. For some reason this city held a sort of a fascination for us; as we had heard that it’s a beautiful city from practically everyone who had been there and it was extremely recommended on every travel website. It was also a place that a lot of Indians normally didn’t visit, hence we decided to start our trip from there.
However, despite our huge excitement, our trip did not start on that good a note. We reached Prague quite tired after an over-night flight, only to read at the airport that the temperature here is 12 degrees (and we had come expecting summers). So we first froze outside the airport waiting for the shuttle. Next when we got off the shuttle to look for our hostel, as our luck would have it, it started raining. We somehow managed to reach our hostel (which was near the old town square) quite tired, wet and hungry only to be told that the check-in was another 2 hours away. Well that quite tested our patience levels and we just felt that this whole idea was a mistake. Then we two grumpy people just dumped our luggage there, collected the city maps and decided to head out to eat something.
Planning that first trip to any new continent is quite challenging. But planning that very first trip to Europe is nothing short of an overwhelming and even traumatic experience, as that first looks at the map of the continent and you are – “hmmm now from where should I start”. Even the lonely planet for this continent is super confusing with various editions like continental europe, central europe, western europe, eastern europe, Scandinavia etc etc. Phew…
This is clearly because there are about 50 countries to choose from and just too many things to see and explore – so much so that you are clearly spoilt for choices. And mind you everything is beautiful and worth an experience / visit. Here each country has its own unique history, culture, art, cuisine, landscape, architecture and in most cases even within each country there are numerous regions and small things to experience.