'See you at the Charles ' shouted my friend as we parted ways on our newly hired electric bicycles. Growing up in the streets of New Delhi, India I don't remember riding a bicycle after I was 14. Such is the level of engagement I had with this two-wheel creation before hiring it for a day to explore the beautiful city of Prague.
The year of 2017, Month of April: Why are we going to Prague asked my friend Yogesh, who was riding high on his success at casinos in Amsterdam. I had no concrete answers as all I had researched was of some beautiful pictures before taking a call to add Prague to the list. We were reaching to a due end of our 14 days tour of Europe. Having worked in hotels, it was almost impossible to believe we could travel together for so long yet here we were living the time of our lives.
After landing at the airport we decided to take our journey like the locals and took a local bus to reach our hotel. Being the guide to every destination, I took the liberty of deciding on our place to stay which like all other times was located right in the city center. The first sight does not open any shades of how we see Prague in pictures and collections of many yet it was about being patient. My co-passenger on the flight had already warned me to never look down while being in Prague as it has no end to the beauty. I could not wait but to see how much this city may hold when it comes to the experience.
20 minutes later I wasn't surprised by all what I had heard or seen, my camera which was barely surviving on the levels of the battery was already flashing into every possible corner I could reach to. I felt indifferent to every experience I ever had in life while reaching a new destination. It felt like a first time experience, a first of many things. In fact, it was the old world charm which kept me in disbelief of beautiful architecture. It all looked like a series of architectural war as if the architects wanted to be one better over the other.
We decided to walk through our first experience as we always prefer for a new city. The first step was to walk towards the old town which was located at a distance of 800 meters. While taking a walk we stopped to witness the world famous astronomical clock, old town square, a chocolate factory, a series of handicraft shops which served the best memoirs as takeaways.
We took a stroll around the Vltava river and decided to do some boating. On one side we could look at the best Prague had to offer in terms of beautiful buildings( including the dancing lady as I call it ) and the other side was all about the sight of the Prague castle. I guess the best time to do it is in the evening before the sun sets as each building looks glazed in gold when the sun kisses it away. Life around Prague is evident in the air as you can enjoy some drinks while listening to the range of local artists who use different forms of nature to create music. We took a walk around the streets and made sure we are on time to experience the astronomical clock moment which reappears every one hour. It is something which cannot be missed.
After spending much of our evening absorbing what looked unreal it was time for an easy dinner as I call it and taking to bed. Prague doesn't look same space post 2100hrs as you would find the young brads taking over many of the streets, something you may want to avoid if traveling with the family. Though for the late nighters, one could witness a range of options all around.
Day 2- We knew we were short of time and hence our routine of covering the city by foot had to be given some pace. We decided to embark on a new experience by hiring semi electric bicycles. Riding through Trams and traffic was never going to be easy and hence we realized when Yogesh & I had to split due to not being able to follow each other well. 'See you at the Charles' acted as a natural navigator. We both knew how to reach there although our ultimate destination was to ride till the Prague Castle.
Anyone who comes from India can realize the Bollywood moments while riding in Prague. I, knowing my navigation skills, had reached to the Charles bridge but could get no sight of Yogesh. Well, one would waste a very little time finding his best friend while standing in the middle of Charles bridge, which looked very little like a classical version seen on photos. There were easily a 1000 people strolling, taking pictures, witnessing local artists, staring at artwork - so much so on one bridge. It felt like a living city by itself. Meanwhile, my bicycle was not received well hence I had to figure my way out of the bridge. Once you cross the bridge, all you see is an uphill road leading to the castle.
I decided to trust my instinct and ride uphill while hoping to find my 'lost' friend at the castle. You would never do justice to your trip to Prague if you do not decide to ride up the hill to the castle all by yourself. No wonder Bollywood spends millions just to shoot in this location. After stopping for almost a trillion times, I reached the top of this carved hill which hosted a beautiful restaurant right before the castle. While I was parking my bicycle I could find my dear friend reaching the spot. He showed no signs of missing me, I should say it was a mutual reaction. One could spend hours witnessing the sight of the beautiful city of Prague. In fact, there is more to do once you reach the castle. Strahov Monastery hosts the most picturesque library one would witness. Opened in 1143, it still looks young and gorgeous. Enjoy the best views or dive into the golden lane. While anything more added here may dilute the idea of exploring yourself yet I will add a few pointers below for followers to know before they decide to visit the beautiful and gorgeous Prague.
Best Time to Visit - Well I would say it stands true being a city of all seasons
What to avoid - Beware of the touts who are happy to loot you by exchanging fake currency)
Food & Night Life - Subtle & selective choices
Where to Stay - Range of options as the city is most affordable among its counterparts
Atmosphere - Lively during the day, selectively chirpy during the evenings