Prague is a dark fairy tale

by Kim on December 11, 2013 · 41 comments

Europe by train: day 22. Prague, Czech Republic.

I am in love with Prague.

This city is stunning and the people are warm and friendly. When Brian and I couldn’t find the apartment we’d rented, we ducked into a pub to ask directions. The employees crowded around us, hmm’ing and pulling up maps on our iPhone, determined to help us find our way. Eventually, we did.

Prague is like a dark fairy tale. The churches and castles embody my deepest childhood nightmares where Grimm’s fairy tales came to life. There are back-alley puppet shops and a Medieval chiming astronomical clock from 1410. A skeleton, the figure of death, rings a bell to mark each hour.  My mind races here like it did when I was a kid, when anything was possible and magic was real and evil things lived in dark rooms in cellars and under bridges.

My imagination is really running wild in Prague.

Even on the busy streets, the cobbled alleys that branch off and curve around unseen corners seem to lead to something darker. It feels like there is  an ominous secret hidden just underneath the surface of this city. Maybe it’s the weather, the dark days that lend this place it’s haunting feel?

We’re exploring Prague in the same way we see other cities- by pounding the pavement. We’ve been walking miles and miles every day, snaking through alleyways and climbing down castle stairs to explore the world below ground. Somehow we always end up back at the Christmas Market in the Old Town Square, which is perfectly fine with us.

The apartment we’ve rented has a great smoky bar (you can still smoke inside here!) that we visit for enormous beers (half a liter) that cost only $2. Then we just wander and wander, wrapping our scarves around us to stave off the cold.

We’ve walked over the Charles Bridge and climbed the hill to the Prague Castle to take in the view of the city. But for the most part we’re just wandering aimlessly, turning here or there whenever it strikes our fancy. I’m sad to say that we’ve barely scratched the surface of Prague .

After my less-than-stellar attempts to get to know Amsterdam and Berlin, Prague has electrified me again. I want to stay. I want to know more.

But that will have to wait for another time. We have a plane to catch in Budapest in just three days.

Behind the Prague Castle

 

Entrance to the Charles Bridge

 

Clock in the old town square

 

Prague from the water

 

Prague puppets

 

Walk across the Charles Bridge

 

Old Town Square

 

Old Town Square Christmas Market

 

Sun sets in Prague

You can see more photos of Prague in my Prague Facebook album.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Candace December 11, 2013 at 8:58 am

Ahhhh, I’m tearing up reading this. So glad you guys loved beautiful Prague! It is absolutely a city made for walking, isn’t it? That was pretty much how my mom and I spent our time there – although I’m so sad we missed the Christmas markets. Thanks for taking me back there this morning :)
Candace recently posted..The Great Affair’s Guide to: Getting off the beaten path in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:25 am

Yes, I could walk through Prague for hours (and I did!). Such a lovely, magical city.

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Hannah December 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

This is the perfect description of Prague! After your experiences in Berlin and Amsterdam, I was so worried that you wouldn’t fall in love with Prague either, which is one of my favorite cities. After seeing your photos, I know I’ll have to go back sometime to see the Christmas markets! Glad you are out of your travel funk.

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:26 am

I was worried about that too, but I definitely love Prague. I also know that my experiences in Amsterdam and Berlin were colored by my exhausting… it was less about the cities and more about my state of mind!

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Christina C December 11, 2013 at 10:14 am

Prague is a magical city and one that I know I will go back to some day. We also spent time in Budapest and my recommendation, don’t compare it to Prague. It’s much more of a “city” city. A bit harder to get to know, not there to impress you as a tourist. It takes a little longer to find the beauty, but it’s there. Have fun.

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:27 am

I will not compare it. We did some walking around Budapest yesterday. Today we are just trying to pull everything together before we head to Vietnam tomorrow (tomorrow!!!).

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Emily December 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

I’ve always wanted to go to Prague! And I love your remark on Grimm’s fairy tales…the picture of the puppets/figurines could really do a number on terrifying a child!
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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:27 am

Those puppets were so awesome/creepy.

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Jessica December 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

A dark fairytale…that is exactly how I have always pictured Prague. Another place I am desperate to go to. Love following along with your adventures, and hope that you make it back to Prague for a more indepth look one day. :)
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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

Me too, I absolutely want to go back to Prague. Argh, I feel like this trip we’ve take over the past 19 months now is really just a scouting trip, we’re growing our list of all of the places we want to go back to!

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Sarah December 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

So excited to visit Prague soon–it sounds like a magical place!!

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

I think you’ll like it!

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Patti December 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Abi and I hope to explore Eastern Europe one day, so glad you enjoyed Prague.
Patti recently posted..See the U.S.A. – 4

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

I want to see more of Eastern Europe. It’s so old-world and soviet… there’s just a feeling in the air, it’s hard to describe, but it intrigues me.

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Carmel December 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm

I’m dying to go to Prague!!! It seems like some of these cities have slipped off our itinerary in the effort to save money by spending more time in Asia, but…I WANT TO GO TO THERE! Given that my grandma’s family is Czech, it’s always been a dream of mine and the more I see and read about it from you and Candace, the greater the pull. Ugh…I think we’re going to have to figure out a way to go.
Carmel recently posted..WAT TOOK YOU SO LONG

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:29 am

You know, Prague was not too expensive at all. We rented a great apartment for about $30 bucks a night. We cooked our own food and beer was only $1. And since there’s so much to see by just walking around we didn’t even spend much money on the sites. You should go!!!!

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Agness December 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm

You have no idea how happy this post made me. Prague is my favourite European city and I was there at least 4 times. Loved everything about it – it’s history, delicious trdelnik and the bridges! I’m so glad you also enjoyed it guys! Great photos, they bring back great memories <3.

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 2:30 am

Thanks Agness. I think Paris and Prague are in my top two.

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HP December 12, 2013 at 3:38 am

A great euro trip overall I say. Though you only circled Austria…..
Can’t wait to hear about Vietnam.
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Kim December 12, 2013 at 5:51 am

Yes, unfortunately we couldn’t go everywhere. We will be back again someday for sure.

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Victoria December 12, 2013 at 4:11 am

I love Prague. It’s the place I take people who say they don’t like to travel (is very cheap to get to from London). It never fails to enchant.
Victoria recently posted..A weekend by the beach in Bali

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Kim December 12, 2013 at 5:51 am

There are people who say they don’t like to travel?!? Just kidding, I know a few of them myself. I think that Prague would really stir up the travel bug in almost anyone. It really does enchant.

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Sarah Somewhere December 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

Aah Prague, great city, cheap beer, which led me to buy weed off a guy on the street which turned out to be tea leaves then have a huge fight with my boyfriend at the time. I do remember the clock though :-) Go to the baths in Budapest if you would like to see lots of old naked people!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Might as well face it I’m addicted to carbs (and Twitter)

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:28 am

HAHA, Sarah. Funny story. The things we remember about a place sometimes are hilarious.

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Steve C December 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

Oh Kim, I’m so glad you visited Prague to pick yourself up off being splattered against the travel funk wall. After my RTW and a couple trips to Europe, I also discovered Prague and promptly put it to the head of my list of favorite cities of the world. This post is so refreshing from several of your recent attempts. It’s good that you have come full circle before you board that flight to Vietnam. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but get ready for a full 180 degree experience!

Now that you’re off that maniac train ride, I hope you don’t trade it in for a bike ride from hell, trying to ride a hundred miles a day, just to keep on someone else’s schedule. Enjoy!

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:29 am

Steve, Prague has definitely moved up my list of favorite European cities. And we made it to Vietnam! Definitely a totally different experience, but it’s nice to be back in Asia again.

And the bike ride is a tour so I will be on some else’s schedule. Luckily we have a whole week to sit in HCMC and have some downtime before it starts.

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Jimmy Dau December 12, 2013 at 11:22 am

That last photo is beautiful :)

Also beautiful is the Czech beer :)
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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:31 am

The beer was so good :)

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) December 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Best thing I ever did was wake up at 3:00 a.m. to see the bridge with no one on it! :)

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

Ah, YES. Good idea. I bet it was amazing.

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Steve Whitty December 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I’m also glad that you enjoyed Prague. It is one of those magical cities that I could wander round for days on end. Reminds me that I need to get back there soon.
Steve Whitty recently posted..Photo of the Week – Graffiti Art in the Sniper Tower, Mostar

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:34 am

I would love to go back in the summertime to see if it still had the same dark feel (I bet it would). Such a cool, cool place.

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Carlos December 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Hi Kim,
thanks. I’ve been to Prague last year, it is a marvelous city, I loved it…. but like you had in Amsterdam I think there are too many humans, too busy all over Europe. I await your post about Vietnam….

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:44 am

For some reason I didn’t feel like Prague was overcrowded, but that was probably just my state of mind.

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marty gibson December 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Hope you bought a puppet for future use in your home ; – ) Love reading your bloggs
Marty

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:44 am

Marty, I DIDN’T! I really, really wanted to but I didn’t think it would make it all the way back to the states in one piece :( So sad.

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Maddie December 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Prague is so beautiful, truly like something out of a fairytale. We went one year for my birthday in February and there was a good ft of snow on the ground, it made getting around challenging but was stunning to look at. Glad you guys had fun.
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Kim December 21, 2013 at 6:42 am

Ohh, it would be so beautiful with snow! I loved Prague so much, such a beautiful city!

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Ed Evans May 21, 2014 at 4:50 pm

My first visit to Prague immediately followed my first visit to Vienna. We were driving during this particular holiday, and were incredibly impressed by Vienna. We thought that Prague had to be a letdown. It was not! Even though I was in bad health, once we were on the street, we couldn’t stop. Every turn revealed a sight even more beautiful than the one before. What started out as an hour stroll wound up at least a six hour meander followed by one of the most delightful meals and best beer in the world. We only had 24 hours to spend, and vowed we would return. Several years alter we did, but the magic was tarnished by the commercialization which had devoured this most beautiful of cities. I wouldn’t go back again, but for anyone who has not been there yet, it is one of the most impressive cities in Europe and well worth a visit.

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:17 am

Wow, I would love to see it before the commercialization because I love it even now, as it is. Prague is just a magical place- there is a certain something in the energy of that city. Love it.

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