Prague Without Reservations

Posted on September 13, 2011

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My dad and I arrived in Europe on August 15th, landing in Frankfurt and immediately taking a train to Prague. I did not do any homework on what we would find in the Czech Republic with the unfortunate hopes of finding out what it is like to be an ignorant traveler. We got off the train that afternoon without a place to stay and no knowledge of the city or language. My father, a relative European travel greenhorn, thought the old ladies who stalk travelers outside of the train station offering accommodation were completely harmless (which technically could be true, but I had a bad feeling about it, and didn’t want to risk being robbed by an old lady on the first night of a long trip). We politely refused, and set off to find a WiFi connection and a hostel.

Saint Ludamilla Church in Náměstí Míru

We found internet and caffeine at the Starbucks near Wencelas Square. After a bit of a panic trying to find accomodations, we were able to book a slightly overpriced room at the Czech Inn, two kilometers away on foot. We slung our packs over our shoulders and hoofed it for what seemed to be uphill the entire way. A few beers later at the nicest hostel I have ever stayed at, and we called it a night.

Contemporary Traffic Art on the way to the Kongresovým centrem

The next day, after booking less expensive accommodations, we set off to find the Kongresovým centrem Praha (Prague Convention Center) in hopes that we would run into my brother Zack, who was attending (and would later speak at) the Goldschmidt 2011 International Science Conference. Upon arrival, we quickly discovered there were over 6,000 attendees at the massive center, and multiple talks were occurring at the same time, all the time. Since no one noticed our lack of attendee badges, we helped ourselves to coffee and goodies as we searched for Zack, and just as we were about to give up searching, my dad spotted Zack a floor below us on the stairs. My brother was very surprised to see us, but delighted at the same time. We made plans to meet later, and my dad and I headed out to explore more of the city.

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

The touristy spots in the town were packed with visitors from around the world, so we spent a lot of time people watching on the Charles Bridge and relaxing with beers along the Vltava River. When we were joined by Sara and Ryan the following days, we quickly discovered that these activities are universally celebrated by our family and friends no matter where we visited in the city.

Old Town Square

Buildings in Old Town Square

The Crew at a courtyard at the Prague Castle

The newer styles of architecture in Prague reminded me quite a bit of was the renown architecture of Helsinki. I thought the Art Neveau and the Art Deco in Prague was not only less celebrated than the capital of Finland, but also much better. The Gothic architecture was nothing to sneeze at, either.

Detail of the Cathedral at the Prague Castle

Damaged Statue somewhere in town. Probably my favorite picture from the trip.

A rather intimidating entrance to the Royal Castle

Everyday in Prague, we would return to the Kongresovým centrem to take advantage of the free food and drink that you did not need a badge to partake in. Afterwards, we would walk a short distance to Vyšehrad, which had cheap food in a beer garden, and a beautiful church on elevated castle walls.

The Cathedral at Vyšehrad

The Vltava River from Vyšehrad

We would walk back during sunset along the Vltava, always enjoying beautiful sunsets and the crowds of swans ever-present on the river.

Solitary Swan on the Vltava

Prague at night (Photo: Sara Jay)

My dad and I ended up trying to book the overnight train to The Netherlands too late, so we ended up staying an extra night in Prague with Sara, Zack, and Ryan. It was great to spend time with Zack after he had given his big speech, and it was always a pleasure to see Sara and Ryan for a bit longer. We visited Vyšehrad one last time before heading into town for dinner, and I got these two final shots on that last night during one of the best sunsets during the entire month.

The Crew at sunset walking the castle walls of Vyšehrad

The Vltava and Prague Castle at Sunset

The next day, Howard and I arose early to depart Prague and cross the entire country of Germany by train in order to make it to a town festival in Holland.

Note: I am unsure how popular posts this long are. I am trying to cut down on the “Super Posts” I put together in 2008, but this one ran long unintentionally. What do you think? Should I cut down on length from here on out? Did you even make it this far? Did you read the words? Less pictures? Break into more posts? Let me know, leave some feedback! Thanks.

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