Prague, Enchanted City

We took a weekend trip out to Prague in February, to escape the drizzle and misery of Madrid for even much more freezing weather. Javi´s friend Jose and his wife decided to join us.

I´d always heard about the beauty of Prague and how it´s a must-see for anybody traveling through Europe. And it certainly was beautiful, with the scenic views of the river, the bridges, castles and towers, the color of the old buildings, the plazas and charming side streets. However I expected it to have more of an Eastern European feel to it, and to be more breathtaking in atmosphere rather than picture perfect for tourism.

I think I feel that way because of my trip to Budapest during the winter holidays last year. Prague could be comparable to Budapest because of their similarities — the bridges, rivers, weather, transportation, language. But Budapest was gorgeous not because of any picture you can take or even anything specific I can remember. I just remember feeling a sense of awe while standing on one of those huge bridges looking down at the Danube river, between the two different sides which form the city, in the dead of winter with snow and a blanket of fog over everything — a feeling of smallness in the silence of a grand city. Also, it really improves your taste for a place when it doesn´t scream tourism.

Our hostel in Prague was in the center, so we were within walking distance to all the places of interest. It pretty much has all the main features of an old European city: a castle, a palace, bell towers, nice churches, cobble-stoned plazas, places with good views of the entire city.

It was cool when we visited the palace because we got to see the changing of the guards.

Also, the best thing about visiting new places is trying the food. Even though my Spanish friends would disagree, I enjoyed Czech food — hearty soups, goulash, lots of meat and potatoes. Jose and his wife complained about the lack of variety in the food…. I couldn´t hold my tongue any longer, and then came the inevitable argument about the quality of Spanish food. Haven´t I learned already not to criticize Spanish food in front of Spanish people?

Being on one of the bridges at night was memorable — the view of the river, the lights of the city, the old-fashioned streetlamps, the violinist playing a romantic tune. Prague is a great city for lovers.

Also, one of the best things were the marionette stores. In them you could find awesome witch and babushka marionettes, magicians, princesses, jesters, knights and ladies, and the Czech people really seemed to value their wood craftsmanship. We brought home two marionettes with us, the witch Estepanska and the magician Gambrinus (the name of their beer). More pics of them to come.

One of the best things we saw in Prague was the Jewish quarter. We did a little tour, which included five synagogues, one of them incredibly beautiful, and an old Jewish cemetery which was crowded with gravestones.

We also had a coffee in the Franz Kafka cafe, a famous place where the writer used to frequent. We had a good time, we really did.

Overall, the trip was an excellent weekend escape, even with the below zero temperatures. A bit of spiced mulled wine helped, as well as the tasty vendor sausages that warm your soul… Stay tuned for more adventures.

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