Day 9-10 of #KateKimEuropa2015
We had stayed in late last night and had a very good rest. We woke up feeling refreshed and so ready to start the day! We were close to a popular landmark, the Riegrovy Sady park, and thought it would be a good idea to walk through its hilly paths, lush trees that are slowly welcoming winter, benches that are enticing to sit on and mull over life, and of course, to be amid flowers before they wither.
We took streets called Borivojova, Polska and Vinohadry, which led to the main arteries, such as Vaclavske Namesti, that would eventually take us to Old Town Prague. Our excitement was palpable.
Prague is an interesting city. It is foreign even to me, who’s been to multiple European countries. I like it because it is not like any other European city I’ve been to. It has its own distinct character, and there’s a sense of covert action looking to be found. It entices with its rundown bookstores, vintage building that have escaped wars, cafes that remind you of Old World glamor, graffitied walls that speak of protests, alleys that hid many a rendezvous.
There were times when we felt we have to exercise a bit of caution when entering alleys or tunnels. We knew we were in Europe, but there weren’t a lot of familiar sights, sounds or smell around us. Personally, I was looking for the literary side of Prague, the city that birthed some of my favorite writers such as Milan Kundera.
We walked through cobblestone streets, made our way to Den Noc, the well-reviewed breakfast place in Old Town. It was a coffeeshop and wine bar combined, started by two best friends, one who loved baking and other who loved wine. We had these Czech pancakes; our savory dish reminded me of blinis, while our sweet dish reminded me of stuffed pancakes.
Prague was exotic. We explored the cuisine and found many good surprises. Street vendors were selling pretzels, Trdelník, crepes, Kolbasa sausages.
Cobblestone streets with antique shops were plenty, and they come to you one after another, slightly turing left or right, some winding, some just plain right confusing. These streets would either introduce undiscovered streets that look uncannily similar to each other, or extend to modern parts of Prague. These streets were not grand boulevards, nor were small alleys; they were ordinary streets in any other place but in Prague, they had were labyrinthine in quality.
The city calls you to look for architectural delights in all direction: forward, through its cobblestone streets, sideways, through its maze-like streets, and upward. On the ground, the City of a Thousand Spires invites your eyes to trace the sides of its buildings, to the spires, all the way to the sky. From a high viewpoint, it seduces you to embrace with your eyes the great expanse of red-orange roofs, Baroque buildings, Romanesque colonnades, and Gothic towers that are all seem to continue infinitely to the horizon.
And of course, the churches. Oh, the churches. They look like castles. It would be hard to distinguish a church from a castle. They’re equally grand, ornate, and seemingly sacred. We stopped by St. Niklas church, a beautiful central church in the Old Town square. Its chandelier held my attention. There was a Mozart and Bach concert that afternoon that we won’t be able to make. In the square, there was also the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn and Kinský Palace, among other visual delights. Farther out from old town square, were the Prague Castle complex which held even more surprises.
Our castle tour of Prague was magical. We went to St. Vitus’ Cathedral, which was a massive structure and absolutely larger than life. Its pointed Gothic roofs were everything you imagine being enamored with in Prague. The stained-glass windows inside were just as intricate, and would rival the Notre Dame in France.
The views from high points in Prague also give character to the beautiful city. When you’ve spent hours walking around town dwarfed by these grand, large scale edifices, you seek a breather and look to open spaces. Once you find a good spot, you take it all in as it whisks you away in a dream.