Our second day in Prague, day 3 of the entire trip, we had arranged a three-hour van tour of Prague, designed for us to see the various parts and historical areas of Prague while also giving opportunities to stop and take a gander. While Prague is indeed a “walking” city, having a van allowed our radius of travel to increase significantly, allowing us to see more places without exerting too much energy. Our guide and driver were both very nice and would not only point out areas of significance but also answer questions that we had about the history as well as present day conditions.
We first visited a wonderful park that had an amazing vista of Prague. You could see the “Little Town”, “Old Town” and the “New Town” in one entire view. Next, we drove by the Prague Castle, as we had spent some time there already, we were given a brief explanation of the castle as we sat in the van before moving on to the Strahov Monastery. We walked around a bit, saw the historic monastery vineyards before returning to our van where we went back over the bridge and into the “Old Town” (disclaimer, if it’s hard to keep track of the “towns”, that’s because it’s confusing. Little Town refers to the area immediately downrange of the Prague Castle right on the western side of the river; Old Town refers to the area on the eastern side of the river that spans much of the traditional city of Prague; New Town is further east and has more modern buildings). We saw many different buildings and drove by many churches (for those who aren’t in the know, most “old historic cities/towns” of Europe all revolve around churches, cathedrals etc…which means there are a lot of churches and cathedrals.) and cathedrals, all adorned by their various sainthood statuses and etc. One of the cooler things we saw during our tour was the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral that had great historical significance.
During World War II, the Czech did not have its own standing military, however some brave men went over to Britain to train and be a part of their military might. As it happened, an operation was created to assassinate the leading Nazi official in Prague and fifth in succession after Hitler, Reinhard Heydrich. The mission was known as Operation Anthropoid. A squad of Czech soldiers trained by British special forces were air dropped into Prague to complete their mission of assassinating the official. After they had completed their mission, they hid out in the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral until they finally killed themselves at the end of a firefight. It’s these small historical vignettes that make this trip interesting.
After visiting this place, we continued to the main square in the center of the old town where the Astronomical Clock was located. The clock is essentially a large mechanical clock that follows multiple ways of time keeping. From the ancient Babylonian, to our modern day analog display, to sun position. At each hour, the clock We were lucky in that we arrived right before noon which allowed us to see the “show”. Afterwards we continued to walk around the area before the tour finally ending close to the Jewish Quarter. After we bid grandpa back to the hotel, Mom and I continued to walk around, finding lunch at a touristy stall right next to the Astronomical Clock. We ordered some sausages, potato salad and some wonderful ham, which was of course washed down with beer. We then walked around, before crossing the famous “Charles Bridge” back to the hotel where we briefly rested before dinner. After much discussion, and walking around, we finally settled on a restaurant where we once again had traditional Czech food.
The next day, we got up a bit slower, arranged for a cab to return to the train station where we boarded our train back to Vienna. It was once again, a very pleasant four to five hour ride back. We moved to a different hotel this time, now relatively closer to the city center. The next day, we would be getting on our boat, but still staying in Vienna.