Sunday, 29 November 2015

Prague 2015: Day 1

Prague 2015 has definitely been one of the most mesmerising, memorable, and magical trips for me. I have been reminiscing constantly about the beautiful city, and now I finally have time to sit down and share it all with you.

Our trip began with the usual early start; sleeping on the plane for a couple of hours before landing at Václav Havel Airport. As our trip included personal transport to and from the hotel, we waited in the arrivals hall for our chauffeur. Tired and hungry, my spirits could not help being dampened as we waited over 30 minutes for him to turn up. However, all the misery dissipated once his cheery and apologetic self appeared and hurriedly helped us to the car. "Sorry for my late." 

I really recommend getting personal/shuttle transport for the trip to and from the airport. I loved being able to get a glimpse of Prague all the way to the hotel. Often-times, we miss out on large parts of a country by concentrating only on the tourist hot spots. It's hard to see how people of the country really live unless you get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For the duration of the trip, we stayed at Jurys Inn: Sokolovská 11, 186 00 Praha, Czech Republic.

The layout heavily reminded me of the UK's hotel chain, Travelodge.

I have a weird habit of making the hotel bathroom the first place to tour - I was so happy to find a modern, clean and brightly lit bathroom!

Definitely redeemed itself from Travelodge status.

After a spot of mid-morning snack in the form of a Boots meal deal from Heathrow, we headed out for our pre-booked tour of the city.

Over the space of about three hours, we covered the streets of Old Town, immersed in Prague legends that have been passed down throughout the generations as we passed several of Prague's most famous landmarks, including the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, Church of Our Lady before Týn, the Jewish Quarter, Franz Kafka, the National Theatre, Prague State Opera, New Town, Wenceslas Squre, and the Prague Estates Theatre.

We also stopped off at a coffee shop to take a toilet break and grab a hot drink halfway through (and perhaps some cake) to warm up. I highly recommend going on a tour with this company! I learnt so much about Prague, but the important part is that I got to experience it and hear the stories directly from someone who knew all the legends and had a great passion for the country. Our tour guide was called Kieran, and he had such positive energy - he made everything magical! 

One of our stops - The Basilica of St James the Greater - had a truly stunning interior. The story that came along with it was rather gruesome though.

Prague legend has it....
Roughly 400 years ago, a thief crept into the Church at night and attempted to steal from the altar on which the Virgin Mary was sat. As he reached for the goods, Mary reached out and grabbed his arm. As she began to return to her statue-form, he began shouting and screaming from the pain. This woke the monks of the Church, who came running to find the shocking sight. 
"The arm shall have to be cut off", they said. 
The thief nodded profusely.
Unfortunately for the thief, the monks proceeded to amputate his arm in order to separate him from the Virgin Mary, without harming the sacred statue.
As a punishment and a warning to the public, the monks hung the amputated arm near the entrance to the Church. 

The arm can still be seen hanging there today! Yes, that small piece hanging above the black frame is claimed to be the very same arm that was amputated from the thief 400 years ago.

Every street in Prague just looks so magical!!

Shortly after our tour had ended outside the Estates Theatre, we headed back to Old Town for a closer look at some of the places we had visited.

Church of Our Lady before Týn

I was a little gutted that we never got to see the inside of this beauty. It reminded me so much of the castles in Disney movies!

Astronomical Clock

The side of the Astronomical Clock Tower actually displays half of the original building that stood before the War - the other half destroyed during the War - I love the difference it conveys!

As it got dark, we began to wander towards Wenceslas Square to find a restaurant for dinner. We ended up passing a C & A store - I haven't seen one of these for over 10 years, so a photo was very much required...

After leeching some free wifi from one of the hotels on the square, we decided on Casserol, a restaurant back in Old Town which had good reviews.

The brick-walled interior made the restaurant feel rustic and homely, whilst table layout and service gave a good fine dining experience.

The food itself wasn't bad either.

Trout marinated in red wine reduction, served over leek-potato cream and fresh dill dip - 178 CZK

Genuine oxtail broth, with root vegetables and meat dumplings - 68 CZK

The oxtail broth was really good! We recommend trying this dish :)

North Bohemian barley groat risotto, with wild mushrooms  and roasted Brussels sprouts - 246 CZK

Grilled pork tenderloin, with parsnip ragout, whole leaf spinach and spicy garlic glaze - 292 CZK
We found the other dishes to be too salty for us, although we later found it to be a running theme in Prague. So perhaps that is what Czech taste buds are accustomed to!

I always love open kitchens so you get to see what usually happens behind the scenes! 

After dinner, we took our romantic stroll back towards the hotel, and captured Old Town in the moonlight.

That evening, we planned our activities for the next day and slept soundly until our wake up for breakfast!

Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few belonging to myself appear, but the majority do not belong to me.
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