You know what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
This is the reason why I didn’t neglect my opportunity to shove tonnes of sugary pastry goodness into my body every morning. I wasn’t just going to live 2 minutes away from the best freshly made strudel in Prague and not take advantage of it. That would, if anything, have been a waste.
This strudel bakery is a hole in the wall establishment on the ground floor of a block of flats in a local area of the city. The magical parcels of warm fruit dusted with icing sugar are incredibly cheap (less than 2 euros) and you get the whole thing. Yep, thats like 30cm long. Finally, the man doesn’t just bake one flavour, this guy is some sort of strudel making machine. Apple, plum, curd and poppy are his flavours of choice and apple was my weakness.
The hostel and the surrounding area
Our hostel for the week was the Brix hostel, I went in pretty blind because it was where my friend Ollie had booked to stay so it was all a surprise. It turned out to be a really cool hostel with a big living room, an even bigger bar, an outdoor area with a ping pong table and seating. The rooms, kitchens and bathrooms were also really clean and well sized. The most frustrating thing was the walk into the centre but we did eventually realise our part of the city (Žižkov) did have things to do.
Firstly the National Memorial on Vitkov. This wasn’t in our plans when thinking about Prague beforehand, but when I had been walking around alone I had seen the large monument in the park at the top of a hill. After exploring the centre of Prague in the previous days we went for it. A quick walk through the park takes you to the imposing architecture of the National Memorial and out in front of it is the National Monument.
An enormous man riding a horse wielding a giant mace, I think Stonehenge could learn something from this monument in terms of style. I mean I’m not sure the people who erected the giant stones in the middle of the English countryside around 4000 years ago were too concerned with this aspect of their elaborate burial and healing site, but still, England take notes.
After looking at the monument for a while we went into the National Memorial which was completely empty. It had huge rooms with impressive decor and lots of interesting exhibits about the the Czech Republic’s past. The best bit though is the roof where you can see the whole city while avoiding a strange abundance of wasps. I’m not sure whether this is a usual occurrence or if they had followed me up there to incite a fury that I save especially for flying insects.
The other main highlight of this neighbourhood was the food. There was a Vietnamese takeaway from which I think I ordered enough to feed at least 4 people. There were another few chilled restaurants close to the hostel that were reasonably priced and had tasty food. Oh did i mention the strudel place?
Centre of Prague
A gothic masterpiece of a city centre packed with plenty to see and plenty of tourists.
The major sights of Prague lie close to the river with the most famous, Charles bridge, surprisingly, above the river. There are many squares and open areas packed with tourists but none quite compare to the intensity of Charles Bridge. Now, I’m not denying that its a nice bridge, maybe even a very nice bridge but the quantity of tourists on it day and night makes it a little bit of a nightmare.
We walked across the river many times to go to the often less busy parts of the city, but in reality anywhere off the main tourist roads and squares are much better. Over the river and up the hill is the complex which includes the residence of the president of the Czech republic and St Vitus Cathedral both of which were interesting but we mostly enjoyed the views of the city.
Note: If you want a real cathedral then Salisbury, UK is the place
Another interesting place was an amazing library within an old monastery, the rooms were intricate and beautiful. However, it was tarnished slightly by the fact you had to pay to take photos and weren’t allowed into the rooms without paying even more.
The beer is cheap, tasty and in great quantities.
The food is brilliant. (Try the Goulash served in a bread bowl, I had it twice and both times the bread was fresh, the beef was tender and I was a happy man).
Prague is an amazing city that I would love to visit again, but like everywhere, i think it’s important to get off the beaten tourist track and find somewhere to have more of a unique experience for yourself.