I have just got back from a wonderful 1 and half days in Prague! A city that I have wanted to visit for years!
This was an especially personal trip as I have never been on a solo adventure out of the UK, it was my first time flying alone (and with a Dastar, all went well). It’s a place I often talked about with my ex and a friend who died too. It’s also a place that has featured on multiple vision boards and affirmations. That is the true power of affirmation, visualisation working to make happen!
On average I overheard people saying they were there for 4 days, that’s quiet sensible and very worth it as there were sights I didn’t see that I will mention at the end.
Here’s a break down of what I did, some travel tips and inspiration.
At the very end there’s a quick summary of things to do in Prague 48 hours or less!
Tuesday – Arrival and half day exploring
I arrived into Prague airport and got a taxi from one of the booths, 700 CZK (Prague is in Czech Republic, they mostly take Czk (also called Korona/crown) in main Prague some places accept Euros). 700 CZK is around £25, Old town is a 40 minute car journey away, for the trip back they may give you a discount code and your journey is around 520 CZK /£18.
I went with Taxi FIX airport and my driver was brilliant, telling me about the sights as we drove into the city. I noticed the Boat hotel I had considered staying in and the driver put down the window so I could get a picture of The Dancing House, I saw it finally, in real life.
I stayed at Hotel Unic just 10 minutes away from Old Town, it was marvellous, there’s nothing like getting to the desk where they confirm your ‘superior room and breakfast’. I went to the room and organised myself with camera, notebook, money and so on.
As tempting as it was to stay in my room and celebrate the victory of actually going from Home-Gatwick South-Gatwick North-Travellodge-Gatwick North-Prague. I did it, I actually did it! I had a limited time and the sky was bright blue, great for photos. Also those travel related things seemed little now and the donations I had learnt from teaching yoga paid for extra bus tranfers!
The first thing I noticed as a solo traveller was the responsibility I had of getting from Hotel – Sights in town and then back again. There was no one to rely on, to ask if I’m going to right way (a sense of direction isn’t my strong point). I just had to walk and trust and use google maps. Just when I became self conscious of that, or conscious that I might be missing out on the sights of Prague, I saw lots of other tourists were doing the same, the tall buildings and winding roads, to any tourist blend into the same.
I walked to Old Town Square, a big space that is quiet then fills up with tourists as the day goes on. Here you will find the National Gallery, St.Nicholas Church, Jan Haus memorial statue and astronomical clock (it was having works down to it when I was there). Just walking around Prague, the buildings are beautiful to look at and take photos of.
It’s funny, all over the city are these brown tourist signs pointing which way to go, though they were more confusing than useful, I wonder if others felt the same.
I walked a little further to Municipal House and a bridge by the river. From here I saw the other bridge I would go to the next day, to get to Prague castle.
Late afternoon I walked back into Old Town and got a hot chocolate from the festive pop up stalls (the Christmas season hasn’t really started there yet, I bet it’s beautiful then but for my stay it was a wonderful blessing for it to be relaxed vibe).
I got talking to some American women who were on a trip together I saw lots of couples and groups in Prague, couples get away? Girls trip? Maybe next year. One of them sweetly paid for my hot chocolate and another told me of an app to work out conversion rates, so so useful.We chatted about how cold it was, except her friend from Alaska who was wearing dolly shoes. I later related to her talking of her body parts being ‘chapped’ by the cold.
The National Gallery had an exhibition on Asian Art and I went to see that for 150czk, the whole set of galleries ticket is 500czk. As everything felt ‘new’ 500czk felt like a lot of money to spend especially on my first day but really it’s about £17, I would pay that for a gallery in London.
Wednesday – Full day
I had breakfast at the hotel and it seems in Czech there are no cereals so I stocked up on pastries, fruit and pancakes with maple syrup as if I was eating for three. I left at 8am to explore properly, 10 minutes to Old Town, 10 minutes to Charles Bridge and I’m halfway to Prague castle!
Without planning it, it seems anytime before 9am is when there is less tourists, so I got photos when there were not many people out and later in the day got to experience the busyness of the bridge too.
The walk to the castle was wonderful! Words cannot describe except the saying ‘The journey matters more than the destination’ applies here. Walking to the castle and taking photos was so much fun.
Prague Castle is free to walk around, though go to the tourist information for tickets to parts of the castle and areas you can visit, they also do classical concerts here.
Another thing I got from the lovely American women was to visit Golden Lane which is ticketed. It’s an interesting lane, it’s a strip of tiny houses you can go into or like many tourists pose at the doors doing different guesters. For me personally, I feel I’ve seen something similar in the UK, we used to go round model villages as children, it reminded me of that a little.
Walking back from the castle I wanted to take advantage of leisurely going to places so I had a hot chocolate at Prague Chocolate Cafe & Bistro – a cup of melted chocolate with cream! Then walked to the nearest place and got a donut ice-cream cone or Trdelnik I kept seeing people walk by with.
A good idea would be to shop around, there is a variety of choices from cinnamon, nutella and fruit. Though just be warned any ‘sensitives’ like myself, they are high in sugar! Walking around eating my Trdelnik was an experience, does anyone else end up in a chocolate mess, find the cone is harder than you first think and walk to McDonalds for napkins?
It was wonderful though walking across the now busier bridge, I bought some gifts, including a sweet angel holding a tea light and an interestingly shaped mug. I noticed an Art gallery wasn’t open till 2pm so I would come back later in the afternoon. If I hadn’t had got such a sugar ‘high’ I may have remembered to go to another sight on my list, still I enjoyed a quick freshen up in my hotel room drinking the camomile tea and bottled water I bought from Mini market, you live and learn, hey I’m here for a whole experience!
Back in Old Town I went on a mini Synagogue tour, the pictures of inside The Spanish Synagogue looked interesting so I went there and to others – Pinkasova, Klausova and The Old Jewish Cemetery – on a combined ticket for 330czk. If you only go to one, go to Spanelska/Spanish Synagogue, the building interior is incredible!
I’m not Jewish so I didn’t relate on a level to what I saw but I imagine some people really would and each one had it’s own effect. Klausova is one I walked past a lot so it made sense to actually go in and see it, Pinkasova had lots of names on the walls and a collection of historical Jewish items and the grave yard alongside it. I had a friend who was Jewish and wanted to visit Prague, they were really proud of their heritage and it felt like they were there with me guiding me to each piece ‘This is so and so..’
I walked back over Charles Bridge that was getting busier, stall holders were out, including a few caricature artists. I went to Museum Montanelli, not really knowing what art to expect, though for only 5oczk I saw art by Lyudmila Jandova – Between Heaven and Earth. A wonderful exhibition of drawings, paintings and studio set up. What really struck me is that the art works spoke for them selves and the little titles and descriptions on the walls that I usually read at galleries, were hidden away. Her art featured a lot of little stick people going up ladders, walking to one door and so on. It had a vibe of freedom, escape, victory to it. Definitely worth going to if your in the area.
Afterwards I walked with a growing sense of going with the flow, going wherever I wanted and being spontaneous. I was reminded of the quote – ‘A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving- Lao Tzu.’
I went up The Petrin Observation Tower, completely unplanned, and for just 100czk took some photos of the whole of the city from high up!
I got a caricature portrait done for 400czk, had (my first ever) thai foot and neck massage for 590czk which was interesting (again, shop around some places will do cheaper) and ate another pizza this time at Pizzeria Ristoranti, Old Town. Where I chatted to a friendly male staff who reminded me – It’s better to come for a short time and enjoy than not at all and to come back for longer next time.
I walked around talking photos of the building lit up in the dark and got some more gifts, there is a wonderful shop selling all wooden things, I got a Christmas decoration there for my mum. I went back to my hotel, though if I had relaxed more I would have gone to a cafe I noticed on my walk back. Anyway I had tea, listened to music, had a power shower then journaled and painted in my sketch book and packed, is this how artists in the past got work done while travelling?
Thursday – Final hours
I went out after meditation before sunrise and well before breakfast to take some last minute pictures. It was cloudy so they weren’t ‘picturesq’ like in postcards but again the town was empty!
I didn’t make it to Charles Bridge but I photographed buildings in the square and used black and white film in my polaroid camera for the first time (note: black and white film is experiment, so far best used when more light and choose subjects carefully). I came back ate a lot of food (as with the travelling that may just be my breakfast and lunch, it was). Got a easy peasy taxi ride from hotel to airport and was there super early (even the staff were surprised and with their tablet I knew my boarding gate way before take off). I really didn’t need 3 hours+, I could of been exploring or enjoying myself in the city, though it meant I used left over money to buy a small family member a cuddly character, it looked like a distorted penguin but was really a mole from a Czech story, I drew in my journal and read, read, read.
The two books I read on my short trip are Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck (if you haven’t had Martha in your life, now is the time! Start with Finding your own North Star) and Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kadinsky (a very deep, inspiring read, it always is that with dead artists I wish I could have a book discussion with). It was when reading the later at the boarding gate a man saw the title and spoke to me about art and spirituality, it’s wonderful to connect with people and share inspirations in fleeting moments.
Here’s a quick summary of sights and things to do in Prague:
Top sights for 48 hours or less:
National Gallery – Art
Old Town Square
Museum Montanelli – Art
The Petrin Observation Tower
Go with the flow experience:
Drink hot chocolate/coffee
Try ice cream with donut cone
Get a portrait done on the bridge
Browse gift shops
Get a massage
Relax in a cafe
Other sights I didn’t get to see worth looking up:
John Lennon wall
National Gallery (whole of it)
Overall, I think being in a new city, exploring Prague was like being transported to a different world – and it’s less than a 2 hour flight away! It’s an exciting place to visit, people were friendly, there was a wonderful feeling about the whole place.
Camera and photography side note:
On this trip I took my Instax 70 (oh how I miss my Instax 90, it stopped working just before going away) and have updated my gallery Trust and Love in Polaroids you will find all shots here.
I bought a Lumix DMC-TZ80 which I’m still getting familiar with and of course I used my iPhone to take photos too. It’s a good place to come for photography, having a wide angle lens and zoom function is very useful here as the buildings have details and statues on them. I saw many people with Canon cameras, walking with tripods and I may have been the only one without a selfie stick, a future investment for a solo traveller!
Also a traveller I got some great tips and ideas from before going is Travel Gretl, check her out here.