Praha. Day 4

Our final full day in the Golden City started off routinely well. It looked like the sky was clearing up a bit and even though that wasn’t supposed to be a busy day, we still had a few things to look forward to. Our breakfast got us ready to walk the central Prague again and drop in to a few shops on the way. Just to experience a typical Prague morning and be astonished at the thought of not having to join in the daily commotion. The Old Town was mine last but one time and that got me wondering how many more beautiful photos of me posing in its different parts had I been given more time to spend here. We had a mission though, which was to climb the Old Town Tower to get a bird’s view of all of the spires and get inspired as I’m hugely fond of this type of sightseeing. We had a bit of a difficulty finding the entrance to the Tower but we did get there a bit later. The wind was feeling a lot chillier from up here.

The Astronomical Clock stroke 10 but this time we could only hear it echoing in our ears as we were making our way all the way up. There was almost no one up here except us. The famous red roofs of Prague, I fell in love with you and I didn’t mind the wind sweeping off my hood and messing with my freshly done hair. I was happy to be struggling through the wind to see them. How many times will I find myself pondering over their beauty and magic charm as I am at my university building reflecting over my life choices and where they are taking me. How many times will I have to remind myself those roofs I can see are part of my daily routine which makes it obvious I’m not in Prague… But I was in Prague for now. The spires of the Týn Church and their maleficent glory, the Prague Castle looming away, the Wenceslav Square far off, the hills, and roofs and roofs and roofs. I felt free and alive, nothing fundamental that would tear me apart but just as much as you are supposed to as you are breezing through your daily routine.


We started making our way all the way down and even had a souvenir coin made for us after a bit of linguistic misunderstanding…. Another walk to the Charles Bridge, more people-watching and another look at a charming man who would see at one of the shops for two days running doing something a man isn’t meant to do – making aprons and smiling courteously. I bet he had no idea how cute that looked to see him at work! More views of the Charles Bridge – I could well get used to having it as part of my Prague existence! There were so many more little details to take in and I didn’t want to let go and let myself just leave the next day.

We made it down to ponder our existence some more outside the Franz Kafka Museum and I felt a child inside me rejoicing as I found the area around it virtually deserted, which meant a lot of photo opportunities. That was cheeky, Prague style. On my first visit here I remember seeing “The Two Pissing Men” by the same David and how bewildered I felt having seen something like that in Prague. Little did I know, I would get to know Prague a bit more intimately and there would be no questioning and amazement whatever I saw. These two exposed men were for me feeling resentful and that pretty much described the way I felt about going back home to what I’d been trying to get away from.


We stood here for a little bit more and got inside the Franz Kafka Museum just to see a few souvenirs.



As we were walking down to the Vltava bank, we recognized the very street we were walking about two years ago because there was this particular beer place I was dreaming I could visit back then. It didn’t look quite as appealing on this dreary day but the

recollection of the dream was sweet and warm like a glass of hot wine. We decided to make a more proper acquaintance with the swans. Standing here at the Vltave bank overlooking the Charles Bridge I could feel a kiss of spring on my cheeks. It was on its way and I knew it would find us a lot sooner than we thought! I breathed in but didn’t dare to exhale. How beautiful the world is – the swans, Prague…

We wandered for a bit till we found ourselves in a beautiful garden, which seemed like an amazing retreat. The spring was breathing more distinctly on me now… It felt as if we had found ourselves here by mistake because it had just popped out of nowhere. Magic of Prague… It turned out to be Wallenstein Palace. Peacocks walking around owned the area (or rather their tails dragging behind them did). Just as fast as we found the garden, did we find ourselves outside it. A walk through the Kampa Island brought us back to the figures of the giant babies and this time we got an amazing close up of yellow penguins lining the Vltava Bank. Prague and the Vltava – what a turmoil relationship!

Another mission was to find a recommended place to eat which was somewhere outside the Kampa Island. I found Prague to be quite comprehensible to navigate. There was another life going on here, less fundamentally magic as we moved a bit further off the Charles Bridge. We were moving towards the Petřín Hill. We came across the famous Monument to the Victims of Communism. The figures that were almost invisible as they were missing limbs looked really eerie.


I loved the famous “run down” feeling of that beer place. The meal and the service were amazing and I could resist meat and cheese and “Seven Bullets” (the best beer I’d tried at that point). After the lovely meal and a few reflections over our beers, we decided to burn it all off and walk the Petřín Hill. It seemed sweepingly high but the beers must have blurred our judgment a bit so we avoided using the furnicular to take us up. The sweeping views of the city we got were all worth it! I looked behind me and never wanted to turn away!

My inspiration helped me to encourage my sister to keep walking up as she was getting a bit grumpy about how we shouldn’t have got up here. On that lovely bench we saw being not occupied overlooking the Prague version of the Eiffel Tower (The Petřín Lookout Tower) the world was regaining balance.


A little bit of peace is always treat after a bit of commotion. It was getting a bit late so we decided we wouldn’t hang around for any much longer. I wish we had walked to the Prague Castle to watch it as the evening was settling in but my sister definitely didn’t feel like it. As we were going down, it started drizzling and that felt a bit nasty and my sister found it very menacing and went into the grumpy mode again… I was happy to have been wearing my newly purchased shoes and felt sorry for her in hers… The views of the Kampa Island and the Vltava with the penguins were amazing! It was all getting sad now and it seemed that it was now time to start saying my goodbyes. Why did I have to leave so soon…?


I had that overriding urge to take photos of everything and that was how I knew I was already saying goodbye… The last evening walk through the Charles Bridge… I paused right in front of the Prague Castle and it struck me how good it would have been if I was good at photography. This particular angle was a bliss for photographers and they were some trying to preserve their share of the Prague magic. I was there for a while messing around with my camera. The magic was there and who cared about photography skills at that point… A final round of trdlo and hot wine, views of the evening Old Town… No, it isn’t goodbye yet! Let the magic linger on…


Back at the hotel, we were getting ready to go out on this last night in Prague and head next door to the Beer Museum to get a taste of more kinds of the national drink. Beer had already become our routine drink! As we were getting ready to go out, my sister suggested we might want to feed the leftovers we had in the fridge to the swans when we went to feed them the next day. I have absolutely no idea why but what she said had me rolling with laughter all over my bed! Swans eating sausages! Was that just me or was that really something that didn’t seem quite easy to comprehend? Anyway, we didn’t have to go far and we were happy there was a table for us as the place was packed. I loved watching people there and I knew for sure a bunch of young men showing off were Russians before I even heard them talk… As we were sipping on our newly discovered beers, we watched more people coming and it felt like a privilege! There was an American man talking to one of the waitresses and I was saluting her language skills. A black guy who had passed by a few times came up to us and paid us a compliment. It was so sweet of him! A few nice words are a better catalyst of happiness than beer, for me anyway… With lots of things to smile about, we were getting ready to leave the place as it was almost midnight… Still smiling in my bed, I couldn’t get enough of the radio playing on my phone. That was our last night here in the Golden City. Early in the morning we got woken up by someone singing “Angels” by Robbie Williams at the top of his voice till someone shouted “Hey!” at him. As my sister would recollect, she thought there would be a fight but the singer was quick enough to cut off his singing. My sister was thankful to whoever it was for reminding her she hadn’t put her devices on charge…

Praha. Day 3

It was a beautiful (even though grey) morning here in Prague. Once we had been through that stage when we had to get used to being on holiday, we were ready to own the city and enjoy the time we had left to be here. Another delicious breakfast with just the same view we had the day before started us off for the day ahead. The only exception being that we got to witness a group of fellow Russians elbowing their way to get hold of the food. Those kids didn’t look as if they were starving but I guess it’s just a Russian way and I’m not sure if those were the years of starvation and hardship that had those kids and many others behaving the way they did or if those were just bad manners that gained Russian tourists quite a reputation all around the world which we still feel thankful and privileged to be able to travel. Anyway, I was here in Prague and I was loving that morning that had me sitting in the hotel cafe sipping on my coffee while I was watching the commotion at the bakery across the road. After we were done with the breakfast, we set out on the same walk along Dlouha Street which was starting feeling even more accommodating now with lots and lots of little shops which we knew there would be no time to visit.Each of the buildings with distinctive imposing details will leave their stories untold. We were again in the heart of the city and it felt so good to have a good look around the area which felt a bit different after the tour of the day before. We walked around the Týn Church and found it closed. The narrow streets surrounding it seemed full of mystery.



Even though Prague wouldn’t probably be the top pick for an art lover, it has some really nice and quirky (Prague style) museums that are worth checking out. There are a few around the Old Town area such as the Choc-Story Museum  which we decided to see as the entrance looked really tempting and appetizing. We found it to be more of a shop offering lush chocolate products that would make a fabulous gift. There is something so sensuous and feminine about chocolate. We hung around here for a little more and decided to see some museums lining up the street. There was also the Museum of Communism which for us was more than a fact to amuse us so we skipped that one.


There was another museum which we hadn’t been planning on visiting but as we were here surrounded by the magic of the City of the Thousand Spires, I thought I would take this chance to visit the Grevin Museum (Wax Figure Museum) as I wasn’t sure I would ever get an opportunity to visit the Madame Tussauds Museum in London. It was 10 am and the museum was just opening and we were the first visitors. The museum looked really modern outside with large pristine corridors. There were three floors and we were free to start with whichever one we wanted. The first floor featured political figures and distinguished writers and poets. This whole experience felt as if we were actually approaching these celebrities as every inch of their skin looked astoundingly real and I found it hard to believe those were mere inanimate objects and they wouldn’t talk or greet me back.  Those were such immaculate and painstaking pieces of work. It must have taken a genius to recreate human flesh using materials, expertise and imagination. The walls reflected some prominent events in the Czech history including defenestration when people opposing a current political regime were thrown out of the window with a thumping noise we could hear dully humming into our ears. A wonderful thing was that we had the whole floor to ourselves. There were some figures of  Czech writers and you could join them for a few beers in a setting which felt a lot like our first dinner on our first afternoon here. That was the spirit of Prague! Walking through a dimly lit room, we kept coming across more prominent Czechs and you could actually see some of them at work – writing, painting… Alphonse Mucha, Franz Kafka (whom I found very handsome), young Mozart who performed his famous Prague symphony in the enchanting Estates Theatre (Národní divadlo) who looked really vulnerable sitting here playing his piano (we could actually hear the music he was playing)… We saw some Czech kings and queens and that was a very interesting history lesson. Of course there was the mysterious Galem which brought me back to the day before when we were on a tour of the Jewish Quarter. His eyes were flashing with fire and that ws a scary sight. There was also the famous cartoon character Krtek and you could join him for an imaginary ride! On another floor there were sports stars and you could see them doing what they did best her and I certainly recognized Petr Čech, a German goalkeeper. We followed the glittering lights into the show business section which looked really chic and glamorous with an impressive lineup of Hollywood A-listers as well as international and Czech music legends. For a moment I was thinking I might not be dressed appropriately for the occasion as I looked around me to see another celebrity giving me a courteous smile or staring pensively. I admit it took me a while to get comfortable having all these “humans” with me looking larger than life. There would have probably been no other way I would ever see these individuals anyway. John Lennon (whom we would remember later that day), Gérard Depardieu, Marilyn Monroe, Celine Dion, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt… I knew realistically I would never get an invite if all of these ever decided to have a party together. As Prague is popular due to opera houses, there was a big stage where you could feel like a spectator watching and hearing opera singers perform. There was also a makeover section where you could get a virtual figure of yourself but it was a bit tricky to work out. We had been in there for about two hours and at that point I was certainly confused as to where I was. No, I did know where I was because Prague is surely a place to make you feel a part of some bigger magic plot. I felt like a kid inside me was rejoicing!


That would be the only museum we got to visit on this trip but it was a really extraordinary experience and totally worth its price! We wrote our reviews in the guestbook and left with a friendly Asian-looking guy saying his goodbyes to us and he was the first person we met here who seemed genuinely happy to hear where we came from. We were back surrounded by the magic of Old Town which seized us back (it might have never let go at all). We walked to the area we had been exploring on our tour the day before and I still think nothing can beat walking anywhere on your own. The House of the Black Madonna, the Powder Gate, Municipal House… We walked a bit further down the street till we reached Wenceslav Square lined up with urbanisatic shops. I thought I needed a new pair of shoes badly and I got some new ones which werewolf more comfortable for walking and experiencing Prague, they sedentary enough for winter but I loved that I didn’t feel chilly wearing them and I was so happy that I didn’t even need winter shoes in late January! A bit milder climate in Russia would have saved us so much money we have to spend on clothing to fit unpredictable weather patterns. A new pair of shoes owned by a smiling person – if you happened to be walking the streets of central Prague that day, you might have seen me and I might have smiled back at you. Another injection of a happy feeling Igotwhen I saw some British newspapers on sale and i certainly couldnt resist getting a few to nurture my love and admiration for my sweet dream which is journalism. We headed back to our hotel where I left my old shoes (but not the temperature had given me). The Old Town Square was bustling at 1pm. We were so happy we lived just round the corner. After a quick stop at the hotel, we decided to go out for a bit of pub crawl and we thought the place might get too packed at night. It was just next door, the Prague Beer Museum. It look really cool but not as rundown as the pub we visited on our first day. We were really spoilt for floodwaters were more than 30 kinds of need to choose from! We decided to go for a meter of beer which was similar to the one we had in Sony Centre in Berlin where you have small samples of different kinds of beer. I asked my sister she would promise me we wouldn’t spend the whole afternoon in there as we had Prague right there waiting for us to savour it! I’m a very weird person when it comes to beer as I love mine with different sorts of flavours like chocolate, fruit… There was something on the menu to please my palette as well and I had a while five samples of what a lot of people would call quirky! I tried a bit of all of these and tucked into my meat – that was gorgeous! My sister looked like a kid in a candy shop and a very pleased one! These are these small light-hearted experiences that we actually love travelling for! Just having a me and enjoying a few beers – people who would say I might have well got the same back at home shouldn’t waste their breath saying that! We were thinking of the itinerary we would go next as we left this place feeling high on Prague! We might have looked a bit ridiculous with our map of the city spread over the table looking for the Dancing House on it. Yes, we were gallbladder the kind of problems we had to deal with for the moment!


We walked all the way back to the Charles Bridge and the area leading to it even though we had walked it a few times during our time in Prague would keep throwing in new surprises to amaze us – street signs with one of them featuring a carp holding something in his hands, cute couples looking really loved up, handsome males, advertisements in both Czech and English. I loved having so much more real English in my life in this post-communist country! We admired the views of the Prague Castle in the broad daylight and I felt so happy to be alive (and I hadn’t forgotten that beer I had just consumed!). Walking the bridge this time felt a little different this time and it always did! It was quite busy in the late afternoon. I could see the city and its grey hills spreading before me and the exquisite figures on the bridge looking into the sky. How many people had looked at them before – it’s incredible! The postcard view of Prague was my reality and I could choose different angles to photograph and take it in. Kampa Island which was just a short way off on the side of the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) offered picturesque views of the Vltava River. That was a busy life going on under the Charles Bridge. “Imagine all the people”, I was humming to myself as we approached a bit of England here in Prague. The Lennon Wall was infused with inscriptions documenting current events and people’s reactions provoked by them. Even though the star himself never graced the city with a visit,  this wall was there to give people a chance to speak out which for me means being a human. Of course we couldn’t help leaving our tiny imprints here as well and another reason for me to go back to Prague would be to see if they were still there, which seems rather unlikely anyway.


After that as we walked a bit down, our current mission was to find “Babies” by  David Černý whose sculpture featuring a heavily pregnant woman we had previously seen in Dlouha Street. I knew there was a more profound message behind these sculptures, but I couldn’t resist posing with these huge-looking giant babies anyway!


Museum of Kampa provided a collection of very quirly images of objects, animals and that was what felt like typical Prague. We walked along the Vltava bank where we made acquaintance with lovely Prague residents – swans. They were desperate for food and had a lot of visitors grant them this wish. I just couldn’t believe they were here now in winter. They were little gorgeous performers hiding their heads in the water and then revealing them to a crowd of spectators. There was a couple of swans never leaving each other’s side there of course too and that was a touch of romance. It was a grey dreary afternoon but simply walking here surrounded by these barren trees and unknown grand buildings was marvellous and authentic. We felt a more intimate connection with the city now as if we were all alone gazing at its dreary waters.


We made it to the famous Dancing House which according to the popular belief stands apart from the typical architectural styles of the city. It is compared to a dancing couple, which was another romantic touch.


Just around the corner there was a place where we were supposed to meet other Prague residents – cats. They were living here in a cat café called Social Point owned by a Russian. We were met by a receptionist who turned out to be Russian as well. There were three cats here at the time – Hugo, Beatrice and Kenzo. They didn’t seem too friendly and willing to interact though. I wanted to interview the owner for a report I was supposed to write for a cat magazine. He didn’t seem too friendly either and familiar Russian grumpiness in him started showing just as we got to meet him. We went to the lounge where there were a few other visitors and among them there was a mother and son who spoke Czech and it was fascinating just to hear them talk (that got me more focused on the language rather than the cats!). One of them was fascinated by my cake and just got onto the table and snatched it leaving a trail of crumbles on the floor… He wasn’t being a gentleman at all despite him wearing a bow-tie. My sister was pleased to be here with the cats and that made me happy. The place looked clean but I just didn’t feel like staying here for much longer so we left. Of course the whole idea of starting a café where people would hang out instead of spending their time consumed by their gadgets was nice but I just didn’t seem to enjoy this particular café.

It was already dark as we started walking back to the Old Town. There were legendary red trams coming and going and there were obviously carrying people on their way back home from work. It felt like an ordinary city for a moment but it stopped being so just as we saw the night image of the Prague Castle in the distance. It was just wow! We decided to take a look through a sort of a looking glass which was installed in the street but we couldn’t see anything so we thought it was just a magic rip-off. It was beautiful just as it was and little money we had lost wasn’t a big deal after all. My sister insisted we kept on walking but I wanted to take it in and make that a moment to treasure. It was getting chilly and my dream was coming true as it started feeling just a tiny bit like winter now! Yes! We reached the Charles Bridge and that time round took what felt like a routine walk through it. People seemed to be leaving just to head somewhere to chill for the night. After a bit of people watching we found ourselves in the Old Town where we did what we wished was our routine as well – watched the apostles of the Astronomical Clock and had some hot wine overlooking the Týn Church (it wasn’t as good at this counter though). It felt even more like winter now. It felt so amazing where fairy tales come alive and it doesn’t matter you had to wait for that way beyond the age appropriate for reading and believing in them. We watched some street performances to end the night and headed back to our hotel stocked up on food and beer. It was another great night and next was our last full day in the City of the Thousand Spires.



Praha. Day 2

Do I need to mention I just love waking up in new countries? I love that feeling of actually LOVING to get out of bed and do what life is really about – discovering and exploring knowing that was going to be one of the days you would remember even when you are old and grey. So it was time for us to get lost in what looked to be a grey Prague morning and live our life and make memories… When I looked out of the window, grey skies seemed to me a beautiful theatrical setting for whatever our day would bring. We went down to get some breakfast and that was really filling and brought back memories of an amazingly substantial breakfast we had two years ago in Dresden, which is actually not too far from Prague and I could feel it with my palette that morning. We got a nice seat overlooking Dlouha Street. Right across the road there was a beautiful bakery and we could actually see people baking. On my first trip to Europe, I got to love that crispy chemistry of mornings and pastry and it hasn’t let go since. We made an observation as we were watching people getting out and about obviously on their way to work that they didn’t seem as happy as people in Rome and we somehow ascribed that to the Communist past our countries shared. A few sausages, some cheese, pastry and coffee got us fuelled for a day of exploring.

I felt fresh now that I’d had a decent sleep and excited about our first full day in Prague. Dlouha Street still had this medieval charm and I felt European to be walking along it on that slightly chilly morning. I knew well we were going to find ourselves amidst Old Town Square a few minutes later. Well, here it was and it looked quite different now that I’d just seen it in the morning! There was almost no one there at this hour and that was how I saw how travelling in a low season could be so much fun. I wanted both to take lots and lots of pictures and throw my arms into the air and shout “I’m here, Europe, and I’m so ready to take you in!”


The plan for the first part of the day was to go on a free walking tour of the city. As much as guided tours might leave us feeling disgruntled and leaving us wanting something more comprehensive to give us an idea of a place, we thought we would give it a try. There’s no fee for this kind of tours, you’re welcome to pay at the end of the day but it’s not reinforced. We were quick enough to find the meeting point and I was loving the fact we would be exploring the city centre together with an international crowd which was getting larger and larger. I felt amazing but a little bit insecure approaching one of the people in charge of the tour and humbled about being able to speak English but once I started, I really got into it and I loved the feeling doing that gave me! There turned out to be people from Brazil (poor things, it looked as if they were freezing), France, Germany… Do I need to say I felt so excited and it was also absolutely delightful to be spoken English with! No need to translate anything, just live the life and live it in English! Our guide turned out to be not the guy I originally approached to sign up for the tour.

His name was Martin and he was Czech and I wouldn’t have figured that out instantly because his English was really nice and that alone gave me a reason enough to admire him and I wish I could feel like this about my students back home. But I didn’t want to think about that life back home on that morning. Martin turned out to have spent a while living in New York and learnt English “the easy way”, as he put it. First off, he urged us to take a good look around us and take in Old Town Square which had textbook examples of Baroque, Renaissance, Rococo… We were of course shown and given some history of the Old Town Tower and the Astronomical Clock and that was when we found out a lot of people who had travelled to Prague cited the latter as one of the most disappointing attractions of the city. It does look very small and fragile but hearing the guide talking about it made me happy I’d get to see its miniature figures at the top of an hour a lot before we left.  Our guide was an architect so I expected him to guide us through. He was really laid-back and told a few jokes. It was nice to get a tour with a local. After that, we walked a bit past some more medieval buildings which we hadn’t seen yet and there was a building of the Charles University in Zelezna Street founded in 1348. It was incredible it was actually the first university in central Europe.


Where I was working didn’t seem a university compared to that. There was also Estates Theatre (Stavovske Divaldlo) there and once we stepped out of Old Town, the atmosphere seemed a bit different in that lovely but more deserted square. Next stop was a very extraordinary cubist building named the House of Black Madonna with an almost incospicuous figure of the Black Madonna on its right side. It houses the Museum of the Czech Cubism and a posh café.


There are germs for architecture lovers everywhere in central Prague indeed! It felt good we had this part of the city discovered for us by the guide. We would have come across by it anyway but that somehow spared us the effort and confusion. Right across the road there was the Powder Tower which used to be part of the city gates. To me it really conveyed a persistently Gothic atmosphere of Prague which the sky kept agreeing with.



There was an impressive limousine parked right next to it and as I later found out, it was owned by one of the largest strip clubs in central Prague. It is a really liberate city and it makes you wonder how the modern (which is sometimes vaguely felt) lives hand in hand with the old.


We were now at the corner of Na Příkopě Street and it looked really impressive with the Municipal House (Obecní dům) with a very imposing green golden dome, The Theatre Hybernia and the building of the National Czech Bank.

We made a short stop right across the road from the famous Wenceslas Square that witnessed focal points of the Czech history. I couldn’t understand why on earth the guide had to make a reference to the events of 1968 when there were Soviet tanks here following the beginning of Prague Spring in an attempt to stop a revolution from unfolding. In 1991 here in this square the first McDOnald’s restaurant in the country opened. I got the guide’s message. It’s a funny thing that as much as we love to slag off our government, whenever we hear foreigners speak badly of it, we get all defensive. I guess a German couple standing next to us might have felt uncomfortable as well (even though it has to be said, I wasn’t feeling like that standing next to them). Let the dead bury their dead… I got a feeling Russians weren’t really liked here and as much as I could see that coming, I felt a bit resentful… Most of the group went into a pub to refresh while we decided to hang around on our own checking out the neighbourhood and popped into the famous Havel’s market to get a few souvenirs because as much as getting them wasn’t our plan, we couldn’t resist that. It was wet and foggy but I was loving to be standing here in this cobbled street just across the road from Wenceslas Square.

Our group gathered again and we made our way back to the Old Town and got to a very nostalgic area of the city – Jewish Quarter (Josefov). It’s incredible to think of all the persecutions Jews have been put through. The architecture of the area was evocative of grief and distress for me. It must have felt really isolating to be living here. The Maisel Synagogue named after Miška Marek Meisel, a philanthropist who built it looked rather eerie surrounded by other equally gruesome buildings. Being here was an experience on its own and it made a change from what we’d seen so far. Tucked away in the busy city centre, it somehow didn’t feel like Prague at all and only the famous red street sign reminded us that we were in Praha 1. As we were standing here listening to our guide telling us about the story of the neighbourhood, I couldn’t help thinking about all these heart-wrenching stories it had to tell. I remembered the film “Life is Beautiful” which light-hearted humour and vivaciousness made it one of the saddest films I’ve ever seen. This area survived thanks to Hitler who wanted it to house the museum of the extinct nation. I had yet to figure out how it fitted my idea of Prague that I was now questioning. The rooftops were edged with what to me seemed like stitches that made hearts bleed with pain of alienation and loss…

We walked on to find ourselves to what made a huge contrast to the Jewish Quarter. Pařížská Street is perfect for window shopping as it is one of the most famous high-end streets of Prague. I vaguely remember being here on my first visit to the city and nothing had changed much since then as I still could only afford to take photos of some items on display (but with a more advanced photo camera this time round). “Je suis Charlie” sign reminded of a recent Paris massacre and I wasn’t surprised I hadn’t seen any of those back in Moscow… Right up the road we were shown a spot where there used to be the world’s largest monument to Stalin which was here for only seven years till it was blown to pieces. In 1996 there was a water-filled statue of the legendary Michael Jackson while he was on tour here. These two names won’t agree in a Russian’s head of course. History always has its funny way. I felt slightly uncomfortable that the man who ruled the country where my ancestors were born was standing here being totally out of place even if for so short a time.


We were back in the Jewish Quarter and we saw the Old New Synagogue. The Hebrew numbers on its clock transcended me to another world and I found myself feeling even more perplexed now. For the reason I don’t remember the guide made another uncomfortable reference to Russians owning most of the Karlovy Vary property. Well, I’ve already mentioned Russians’ preoccupation with showing off their wealth and I was sorry I couldn’t provide any explanation as to why that is. They remind me of a disadvantaged kid who finally got treated to lots of nice things that he couldn’t even dream he would access… The Jewish Cemetry which is known to have over twenty layers of tombs made the sight really macabre and put me off wanting to take a pensive walk there later on our trip (it might have been a good idea to do that on a sunny day though). I was getting some of my sister’s blues she got the day before during our walk along the Charles Bridge.



We walked a bit further from where we started getting a view of the Prague Castle looming in the distance. We were in a square named after a young man called Jan Palach who committed a suicide as a political protest during the Prague Spring in 1969. Another inevitable but grim sight on our way… Our tour ended here right in front of the Rudolfinium, a music venue and art gallery which is a very imposing neo-renaissance building.


That was my first time in this part of Prague and I was really loving it on this grey winter afternoon. The Prague Castle was getting a little closer. We opted to take a tour of it a bit later on with the same guide because even though we weren’t too excited about some comments we had made, we were trying to stay nonchalant about that. At the end of the tour you are welcome to make a small donation and we did as well. I loved the tour as it helped us discover some more of Prague and do it in good English. On top of that, I was surrounded by an international crowd where for me two people stood out. They were a French stylish girl who did try to show off a bit and hid her slightly slanting eyes under her sunglasses accompanied by a black guy who looked really slick and stylish. Well, French will be French. While I was thanking the guide for this tour, I told him I hoped he didn’t have hard feelings about Russia even though as he had mentioned, a few of his relatives were affected by the Communist regime. All he did was to grin and based on that, I assumed Czech people were still bitter. As there was nothing we could do to turn things around, we got busy thinking of where to eat before our tour of the Prague Castle which was only half an hour later. I suspected a woman in our group was Russian (it was just my gut feeling I guess) and she approached us. It turned out her name was the same as mine and she’d been living in Berlin for about twenty years now. To be honest, I think she should have invested in better-quality hair products not to give her nationality away. It looked as if she was willing to get to know us better but we didn’t really feel like mixing with fellow countrymen so we ventured out to find a place to get a quick lunch. We weren’t really aware of where exactly we were going, but we had to make sure we stuck with this neighbourhood. We decided to check out a random café which had a “Tripadvisor Approved” sign. As it was a lunch hour, the service was unexpectedly quick and we stopped worrying about being late for our Prague Castle tour. We had a very generous helping of knedliki and pork and it was very delicious! The Czech language spoken on a TV made it a full-blown international experience! I even managed to understand some of it while I was queuing to get into the lady’s room. That certainly gave me a boost. My linguistic love and affection goes beyond English, it is for languages in general as tools enabling us to live, to experience and to do both through communication with other human beings. It’s a toast to languages! It was time to go and we were happy to find our guide standing right outside the Rudolphinium and we still had time to get some photos in front of a few monuments and take in this large imposing building providing stunning views of the Prague Castle and gaze into the eyes of some pensive statues. Just as we got our tram tickets to get all the way up to the Prague Castle, our tour began.


We walked along the Vltava bank and on our left we saw the Charles Bridge and that was quite a new perspective of it for us. Bare trees all around seemed a bit gruesome but I think that was what Prague is about. Look at these swans swimming in the river, they are so cute! We’ll be encountering them more closely a bit later. We got on a tram which spared us a long walk up the hill. I held onto the handle to keep my balance but it was safe. A short walk took us to a panaromic view of the castle framed with barren trees.  Underneath it there seemed to be a large pit and I couldn’t resist leaning down. It was Gothic on an exaggerated scale! I was wondering what it must have felt like to be walking Hradčany some hundred years ago. It actually seemed we were frozen in time as we were standing here taking it all in. That was the world’s most ancient castle and I felt as if I were in a fairytale! We saw the Guards on duty of course. I remember seeing them but wearing lighter clothes on my first visit.


First off, we were shown a small amphitheate where you could stand in the middle of a circle and hear your voice echoed but it’s only you who can hear it. I was feeling a bit shy to go test it in front of everyone but I quickly did while they were all about to leave to move on to another attraction and I should say, that was very bizarre to hear my voice being echoed here. Magic truly never ends in Prague! Here we were right at the entrance to the Castle with a strange-looking man protesting outside it. According to the guide, he had been doing that over the past year and had even been on TV. From what I understood, he was protesting against the government getting an ownership of the state property. Yes, democracy can have certain implications of course. That was a truly magical place and this peaceful protestation was even adding an edge of authenticity to the scene.


Having walked a bit further, we got to see the Gothic emblem and epitomy of Prague – St.Vitus Cathedral. It was breathtaking just as when I first saw it. But there was also something more fragile about it against the grey sky. That just seemed so right and appropriate to be taking it in like this. We got inside and it was incredible and humbling to have it literally to ourselves as the cathedral was about to close for the day. I’d been in there before but that somehow added to the experience and let me focus on things I missed out on when I was here in the summer of 2012 feeling tears of joy and admiration coming to my eyes as I heard a choir of Asian singers in here. I’ve been in a few world-famous cathedrals and it’s curious how there seems to be so much they share and at the same time each of them appears to be distinctive. It felt chilly and wet here and being the last group visiting the place felt so unique! The watchers were getting a bit impatient and it was time to leave. Will I ever come here again? Let’s wait and see and in the meantime we moved on to what is “the cherry on the cake” – the façade of the cathedral. There’s just so much to take in you are virtually confused as to where to look. That feels like a Gothic Golem coming straight at you to leave you astonished. The gargoyles were larger than life. That is a masterpiece and leaves you feelinh humbled standing next to it.


One thing I couldn’t help noticing and feeling in my limbs was that it was actually chilly standing up here in Hradčany !  Who would have thought we would be feeling chilly here in Prague! I felt genuinely sorry for a girl from Romania who was wearing a little shawl over her sweater and got wrapped up in it to keep warm. Who I admired was a little cute kid being changed into warmer clothes standing up here with the wind blowing not making a sound and looking very cute, which is important! It’s amazing how kids are treated here as little personalities. I hope this kid grows into a very nice and handsome man. I was loving to be feeling cold and ironically, that was what we wanted to experience here. What we truly want is not a mere change of temperature but a change of scene and I enjoyed feeling cold HERE! We took a little break and got inside one of the cosy cafes to get some hot wine that brought this sweet delight to my limbs. That was magic unfolding. You actually need to get cold to see how fantastic feeling warmth back in your body really feels… It was getting dark and some streets lights were already on. I really felt I belonged here in these winding cobbled streets… I love to think there is still the air of me feeling happy lingering there. After the break, we all proceeded to the famous Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička) which can be visited free of charge after 4 p.m. It is funny that before that you have to pay to get into a street lined with shops that are likely to have you spending money too! This street seemed to small to be real and in fact there is still controversy over alchemists actually worked or lived here. We had walked it and that was nice anyway! The next stop was easy for me to recognize. That was The Toy Museum, the second largest exposition of toys in the world that I wished I had had time to visit when I was here first. Unfortunately, I wasn’t meant to this time either as it was closed for reconstruction. But at least the famous statue with a very worn-out private part was still here to make us giggle about our original reaction to it. There was some music playing from inside the Lobkowicz Palace right across the road showing how much more there is to be experienced up here.


Before our tour wrapped up, we went down a bit to see the evening lights of Prague. Do I need to mention I was enchanted? I’m a night person 100% and I have a secret love affair with night cityscapes. The Charles Bridge, St.Nicholas Church, Old Town Square, the Petřín Lookout Tower  – Prague’s very own version of the Eiffel Tower. That view alone was well worth coming back for. I was standing up here surrounded by people of different nationalities listening to a guide speaking English, the language that brought all of us up here together. How majestic! We started coming all the way down and as you are standing up here, you are wondering how on earth you are going to find your way back down.


We followed the guide down to the Charles Bridge and went on our own right outside the Rudolphinium where the tour got underway. The guide mentioned there was a chance to go on a bar crawl afterwards. Maybe next time if our budget is not so tight… My sister was getting panicky as she thought we might not be able to find our way back to Old Town. In Prague I was feeling quite confident navigating the streets and after some confusion (I’m a stereotypical woman when it comes to finding my way around), I said “Let’s go up THERE, along this street”. This deictic word “there” was an indication of my evolving connection with where I was and that was a big thing for me. I felt content with myself as we saw the buildings of Old Town emerging. I did remember walking here with the guide. Feeling a little jubilant about my progress in navigation, I suggested we took a walk along the famous Parizska Street we saw earlier that day because I didn’t really want to get back to the hotel yet. It made for a perfect entertainment to see its window shops. We were back to Old Town Square for another show of apostoles of the Astronomical Clock and I was thinking I could well get used to that! We had another round of hot wine and trdlo and that has to be one of my most favourite Prague street food and I could also see it become a part of my daily routine that would certainly different from the one I had been trying to escape here and yes, I’d been a success so far! We headed back to the supermarket to get some new beers this time and that wasn’t difficult at all. We felt shattered after a day of walking (I thought I might have to ditch those shoes despite them matching my coat). Some TV, some more radio and I was off to bed to let my dreams and fantasies take over my sleep just so that next day I could wake up to what I knew would be another day to remember.