Spring Break: Prague

Celebrating a holiday is a little different when you’re abroad.

After returning from Cinque Terre I had a day to recover, do laundry, and pack for a week in central Europe with seven other girls. Despite living in the very Catholic country of Italy, none of us had realized that we had booked our departure flight from Milan to Prague for Easter Sunday (no wonder the flights were so cheap). So, we found ourselves spending most of our Easter in transit before arriving in Prague in the late afternoon.

After checking into our hostel, we headed to a local beer hall for some traditional Czech food and beverages. I had three different kinds of homemade sausage and some raspberry soda (since I don’t like beer). The beer hall was gigantic and it felt like a very authentic meal, so it was a great start to the trip. Also, I appreciated the fact that they gave us eggs to decorate so we could at least get into a little of the Easter spirit.

The next morning we went on a free walking tour of Prague. Prague (aka Praha) is the capital of the Czech Republic and is known for it’s architecture. Compared to the rest of central Europe, Prague was relatively unharmed during WWII which meant that we had a lot to see! It was actually pretty cold and we did get some snow (not ideal Spring Break weather…) but we managed to tough it out.

The tour started in the Old Town Square, my favorite part of Prague. There’s the Church of Mother of God before Týn, the Astronomical Clock on the side of the Old Town Hall, and a memorial to Jan Hus. There’s a medieval market in the square for Christmas and Easter, and since we were in Prague for Easter we were lucky enough to get to experience it!

We made our way to the Vltava River to see the Czech Philharmonic, and then continued on to the Jewish Quarter. We got to walk by the Old New Synagogue which is the oldest active synagogue in Europe, and rub the feet of the Franz Kafka statue outside of the Spanish Synagogue for good luck.

Then we made our way back to Old Town where we saw the Powder Tower (one of Prague’s original city gates) and Estates Theatre (where Mozart premiered the opera Don Giovanni). Despite the weather the tour was a great way for us to learn our way around the city and get some exposure to the history of Prague and the Czech Republic.

After the tour we headed back to the Old Town Square to warm up with some chimney cakes. Chimney cakes, I’ve discovered, are basically sugar coated cylinders of happiness, so you’ll notice that they’re a common theme throughout my time in central Europe.

Out hostel was in a great location right near the square and was also a pick up location for the infamous Prague Pub Crawl that we would all go on that night. On the Pub Crawl we went to 3 pubs, and then finished the night at a “five-story mega-club.” For an indication of how the night went, let’s just say that absinth is legal in the Czech Republic…

Don’t worry, we were still able to get up relatively early the next morning to see more of Prague. Having spent the previous day on the eastern side of the city, we decided to cross the famous Charles Bridge and see the other side of the Vltala River.

Our first stop was the Lennon Wall. Since his assassination in 1980, the wall has been covered in graffiti inspired by John Lennon. Even though the Czech Republic isn’t communist any more, people still like to graffiti all over the wall so it is constantly changing.

As we started to walk up the hill to the castle, we stopped for lunch at a Czech restaurant. I learned that I don’t like camembert, and that it’s really hard to find a Czech meal that doesn’t involve sausage and rye bread.

Once we got to the top of the hill we could explore the castle. Prague Castle is “the largest coherent castle complex in the world,” so while the only building we actually went inside was the St. Vitus Cathedral, we loved strolling around the complex and gardens. It’s an absolutely beautiful vantage point of Prague, so we sat up there for a while and soaked in the view.

We wrapped up the day by going back to the market in the Old Town Square for dinner and using up the rest of our Czech Koruna before we left the next day. It was a feast of sausage and rye bread (surprise surprise!) and nutella crepes. With a 6:42am train the next morning, we made sure to get to bed at a decent time.

With the snow, the markets, and the medieval vibe, Prague was an absolute fairy tale. While I definitely struggled to pick up the Czech language, I can’t say Děkuji enough because it was a fabulous first stop on this trip!