Slightly overwhelmed by the crowds in Prague


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Europe » Czech Republic » Prague » Malá Strana
September 9th 2016
Published: March 26th 2017
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Getting out of Cesky Krumlov turned out to be much easier than coming into it for sure – plenty of bus connections to Prague... Possibly because it was the capital that we were going to and not some small town so you’d think it should be well connected with the rest of the country. Not only there were plenty of connections to choose from, but also the bus turned out to be one of the best buses we have travelled on so far. We got a complimentary coffee and on top of that each seat had its own private screen and a wide range of movies to choose from as well... Not that we would be able to watch anything... We most definitely could’ve tried but were pretty much sure our little munchkin would have other ideas... Eventually after we have fed and entertained Millie sufficiently, she decided to take a nap after all and I had a chance to watch a part of a movie. Since I didn’t ask for the headphones at the beginning of the journey and I couldn’t be bothered to walk up to the front of the bus to ask for them, I just picked some ridiculous movie, that would be easy to follow without a volume – picture and Czech subtitles for a movie like ‘Intern’ would suffice for sure... Before we knew it we were in Prague already...

The first thing we’ve noticed after arriving in Prague was the hot gust of air... Summer was still in full swing here it would seem... Not great if you’re walking with two big backpacks, two small ones, a pram and a slightly overheated and therefore not too happy baby... Thankfully it wasn’t too far away to the tram stop. Then a short ride, one change of tram lines on the way and shortly after we were almost at our hotel. We didn’t realise it was going to be up the hill from here though... oops! Not too far thankfully! Still we got to the hotel totally soaked... The room was slightly claustrophobic so we weren’t going to spend there much time at all! A few deep breaths, quick freshening up and we were ready for our first encounter with Prague (first encounter as a family that is as it was my second trip to Prague already).

It was just a short walk to the castle from the hotel and yet I felt like I needed some refreshments, fast! The summer was definitely in full swing here still, actually almost all of Europe was experiencing a heatwave around that time... We had a chance to see Prague through its rooftops first. I guess we would be enjoying this panorama every day while walking to town – at least one advantage in living on the hilly side of the city. Before we headed to the castle, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. One restaurant was offering some special 3-course menu for a reasonable price, ‘why not?’ we thought...we should’ve known better that there was some hidden trick somewhere... Of course the reasonably priced meal had to come with a very unreasonably priced beer! Ah well... At least it was nice and cold and we definitely needed one in that heat... We even had a part-time babysitter at our table as the waitress that was serving us started playing ‘peek-a-boo’ with Millie, which kept her entertained for a while and gave us a chance to eat in peace. 😊 The meal itself wasn’t too exciting and dessert quite disappointing unfortunately, but we probably shouldn’t have expected too much from it anyway... Next time if we opted for a meal-deal like that, I would set my expectations slightly lower – who knows! I could be positively surprised...

With full bellies we headed up to the castle, only to find out that they had street food stalls there and beers on tap as well... Ah well... maybe next time... We actually made it to the castle just in time for the guards to call it a day – we were a few minutes early so had just enough time to see how big of a circus the changing of the guards was... Circus when it came to tourists of course as I really felt sorry for the guards. Not only they were dressed in some very heavy clothes, which in this weather seemed slightly inappropriate, but also they were standing there for an hour at the time, not being able to move or even wipe the drops of sweat streaming through their faces... And then of course you had the tourists who were basically stuffing their selfie sticks in the guards faces or standing side by side and trying their best to make the guards
Tough job in this heat! Tough job in this heat! Tough job in this heat!

One of the guards at the castle in Prague
move or say something... But I guess this scenario is clearly visible in all castles, palaces and wherever else the guards are still performing their duties all around the world... It makes me wonder whether there is any need for it all... I know it’s a long going tradition and all that... Also I can only imagine that people working as guards for royals must feel quite proud being a part of this industry... and no doubt the salaries have to be very adequate as well... Still... standing there like statues the whole day surrounded by hundreds of noisy and annoying tourists? No, thanks...

After the guards went back to the castle, we headed to the Old Town for a quick walk around. So far the tourist volumes weren’t too bad, but as soon as we started approaching the Old Town it all changed very rapidly... Charles Bridge and both ends of it were absolutely swarmed with people – I hoped it was because of the time of day since we got there just as the sun was setting over the horizon. Trying to get to the main square in the Old Town turned out to be a bit of an effort as well – basically two lines of people going the opposite ways and I dare you to try to go a bit faster than the crowd! As nice as the old buildings around us were, we could hardly notice them at all, trying to manoeuvre with the pram in between the hordes of pushing tourists... It was a bit of a shock to see that coming from a very small and tranquil Cesky Krumlov... It was our first evening here though, so we weren’t going to cross Prague out just yet.

We woke up to another beautiful sunny morning and after breakfast were ready to give Prague another chance. It felt almost surreal walking along the empty streets with hardly any cars and a few trams passing by and the next moment stepping into a total chaos, the overcrowded with tourists Old Town... I have to say that the hordes of people didn’t really bother me as much as the day before. One thing that was extremely annoying though were the numerous Segway tours making their way in the middle of these crowds! And some of them were up to some speed for sure! Looking at
I just loved this musician!I just loved this musician!I just loved this musician!

Not only he had some talent, but also chose one of the best places to perform!
a few of the Segwayers practicing for a brief moment before their tour and then taking off shakily with the speed of light just made me wonder if any of these tours actually thought for a moment about the safety of passersby rather than concentrating on their profits. One thing was certain when walking around Prague – you had to have your eyes rolling around your head all the time, making sure you spotted the Segwayers before they crashed into you...

We walked around the Old Town, trying to find some less walked paths, admiring the architecture and enjoying the lovely weather. Lots of impressive buildings around with many interesting features. Eventually we did end up on the main square to witness the majestic hourly show of the astronomical clock... After all, according to the guidebooks, it was not to be missed! Well... To say it wasn’t much would probably be a big understatement... ‘Was that it?’ seemed to be the question popping into most people’s heads judging by the faces around... And there sure were lots of faces around... lots and lots! The crowd under the clock was simply ridiculous... and to think that all these people gathered there to experience the disappointing few seconds of... nothing really... Ah well...

After wandering around and pushing through the crowds in the main square we were ready to taste some of the Czech specialities. And what better way to fill your belly than to have a pork knuckle and a pint of beer! 😉 We found a nice spot a bit away from all the fuss, price was quite reasonable as well (for the Old Town area that is). The meal was really tasty and on top of that I had a chance to taste my first mixed beer – half dark and half lager and I have to say it wasn’t too bad at all! After the nice meal we wandered around the cobblestoned streets a bit more. It was nice to see the main square slightly less crowded. On the way back we listened to a few aspiring musicians on the Charles Bridge and... got told off by a tour guide... Still not convinced whether he was actually talking to us or another one of the thousands of tourists walking by, but whoever he was talking to, his reaction was totally unnecessary to say the least. We happened to stop by the Charles figure to take some photos as he was just explaining to his group what the statue was all about... the next moment he turned around and said ironically with a slightly frustrated tone of voice ‘Can I help you with something?’... Well... No, thanks mate, we’re quite fine but thanks for asking I guess... Sorry for overhearing your last two sentences but you weren’t exactly whispering... Why the anger? And with that slightly comical incident we called it a day. Despite the last incident we were slowly warming up to Prague for sure!

The following day didn’t differ much from the previous one, except maybe for the fact that we chose a slightly different path... We ventured a bit further out following some recommended walking route and I have to say it was a very pleasant stroll for sure... Starting by the river, we navigated through some interesting streets, passing old buildings. Sun was shining over our heads which was definitely making the buildings even more impressive with their lovely pastel colours beautifully illuminated in the sunlight... There was no doubt that Prague was a really picturesque city. After wandering around for a few hours, we ended up going to the same restaurant and sharing the pork knuckle once again – we probably should’ve tried something else but just couldn’t resist the temptation... Millie seemed to be quite happy about our choice as well. 😊

On our last day in Prague we decided to do a free walking tour – it probably would’ve been best to do it on our first day there rather than the last one... Ah well... We were eager to learn a bit more about Prague so it seemed like a good idea anyway. There were plenty of free walking tours to choose from, so we randomly picked one and booked it online and then just went searching for our umbrella on the main square. And there sure were plenty of these around... We did find ours in no time at all and I have to say I started getting a bit sceptical about it when suddenly we got surrounded by a few youngsters talking about getting wasted the last few nights, including the girl holding our umbrella... Thankfully she wasn’t our guide – sorry but I wasn’t really keen on hearing drinking stories... Funnily enough our guide, Michal, was Polish! How about that! My dear comrade... 😉 He was very enthusiastic about living in Prague and sharing his knowledge about it with others. With a lot of charisma and some degrees in history and arts, he seemed like a good start to our tour already...

We spent 3 hours wandering around some parts of the Old Town listening to interesting facts and legends. Prague sure is a big city and there was no way they were going to squeeze in all the tourist sites into one tour. I’d say they did a pretty good job with the itinerary though, from the old days Prague all the way through to the communist one... We did stop by the astronomical clock once again and even our guide had to laugh as to how much emphasis is put onto the hourly show rather than the clock itself as the show is not much while the clock certainly deserves a closer look. We wandered around the Old Town once again admiring the architecture and listening to our guide’s stories. One was particularly interesting – a story behind the 400-year-old mummified forearm which hangs inside the Church of St James! The legend goes that it belonged to a thief who tried to steal some jewels from the Madonna on the high altar. Madonna apparently didn’t like it and grabbed his hand and simply wouldn’t let go to the point that his arm simply had to be cut off to separate him from her. And since then it hangs in the church as a warning to other thieves.

Our guide, took us through many important historical events on our tour, including World War II and the communist era. Since both of these events played a great role in the Polish history, I was really happy to see they were covered in this tour as I am always interested to hear how other countries coped during these times as well. In the end it was well worth it to join the tour. With head buzzing with information we thanked Michal for his time and headed to get some well deserved cold beer.

On the way back we realised that we didn’t really check out the castle just yet and since it was our last day there it was high time to do that. We were a bit late as most of
Souvenirs made on the spot! Souvenirs made on the spot! Souvenirs made on the spot!

I couldn't believe the speed these women were sewing with!
the buildings were already closed, oops! Still, it was nice to stroll around the castle grounds with the sun slowly setting over our heads. And that was it for now, the following day we were heading back home, my first home that is, back to Elblag for a while. We were going back to spend some time with my parents again before taking off on the second leg of our journey through Central Europe. But first I really wanted to go back to another home of mine, catch up with my sister and friends and in general hang out around the familiar sites... Next stop after Poland: Dublin!


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Apparently one of the most famous pubs in town...Apparently one of the most famous pubs in town...
Apparently one of the most famous pubs in town...

...definitely the most popular! We waited for those beers for quite a while...


27th March 2017
At the main square in Prague

Prague
Ripper pic Anna...Brilliant
29th March 2017
At the main square in Prague

Prague
Thanks Dave :)
28th March 2017

Pushy Prague
Reading your blog reminded us of the horror of the tourist swarms, especially those @#$% Segways!! but then your photos reminded us how beautiful the place is and why it is so popular. Wasn't in a good frame of mind when we hit Prague so I guess that is part of the reason we didn't enjoy it, but unsure we would ever go back. So glad you all survived the tourist crush and you got to see that underwhelming clock chime and had a far better experience than we did.
29th March 2017

Pushy Prague
It was definitely the busiest city we've been to on this leg of the journey, but like you said the city is really beautiful so no wonder hordes of people visit it every year... If we go there again, definitely not in summer months though!
30th March 2017

Prague
Hi Anna, Enjoyed reading your blog on Prague equally as much as Cesky. My husband and I are so looking forward to visiting both this year and it's really good to have a little inside information beforehand on what to expect in these two cities. The astronomical clock is also on our list of things to do and, was interested to read your comments but, sounds as though it is a little over-rated. Will still go and check it out but, won't have great expectations - will wait and see. :) Weather should be a bit colder than your visit when we are there so also hoping for lesser crowds - if that ever happens in Prague :) - and will also make sure to watch out for the Segwayers! :) Jan
3rd April 2017

Prague
Thanks for reading Jan :) There is plenty to see and do in Prague so I'm sure you'll find things you'll really love. The astronomical clock is well worth seeing for sure, seeing it was created in the XVth century, it's just the hourly show that's slightly overrated and then of course there are the crowds... I hope it will be less busy in Prague when you're there and the crowds won't be a problem at all... :) Enjoy!

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