We. Had. The. Best Vacation Ever.
In July, we traveled for 12 days to Prague, Czech Republic; Krakow, Poland; and Berlin, Germany. Darius and I saw a Pearl Jam show in each country and they were beyond amazing.
Before I get into the details of our incredible Prague trip, for those who might be just stopping by the blog and need fast info, I listed my quick tips and travel spots below. For those who want the full scoop and details of the trip, it’s all below the quick info!
Quick Prague Travel Tips:
1 | Exchange money if you can before the trip, or better yet, use an ATM in the country you are traveling to. In the airport in Prague I paid $47 to change $200 US dollars. I was not pleased and this was one of my biggest travel regrets. I know airport exchange rates are bad and this one seemed exceptionally awful. I let my travel exhaustion get the best of me. If I had used an ATM, I would have only paid a $5 bank ATM fee and my bank’s currency exchange fee, which many banks will waive if you call in advance and request.
2 | Wear sneakers. I so resisted sneakers. At the last minute, I added these Adidas sneakers to my suitcase. I put in a special arch support insole (I have high arches) and couldn’t be happier I brought them. So many of the streets were cobblestone and we walked an average of 9-10 miles every day. Also, there were a lot of people partying into the early morning hours it seemed, so on our early morning walks we were dodging broken glass bottles. I was so grateful was was wearing close toed shoes. I barely wore the sandals I brought with me. These sneakers saved me.
3 | Get to tourist spots early. Use jetlag and travel insomnia to your advantage. Completely by accident, we were up so early every day. (I think this goes without saying, but obviously if it’s really early, it’s best/safest to wander in a new city with your travel companion or partner.) We decided to go to all the tourist spots we wanted to see then and ended getting a full day of sight-seeing done in around 2-3 hours every morning. It’s amazing how fast everything goes when you don’t have to wait in line for anything. This allowed us to be tourists all morning, then have leisurely lunches, drinks, afternoon naps and dinners like locals.
4 | Yelp was amazing. I used the yelp app for not only every restaurant we went to, but also for the tourist attractions because yelps makes it super easy to get walking directions. I could just hit “get directions” on the restaurant or attraction yelp page and it would open google maps, put in the exact address, and let me pick “walking directions.”
We found so many amazing restaurants through yelp. Just search: “current location” then hit the option “open now” and then look for the restaurants with the most reviews and most stars.
Side note: I have my cell phone coverage through Sprint, so I had free international roaming. Make sure to check with your wireless phone company before you go to buy international data or consider switching to Sprint if you travel a ton, because using maps, yelp directions, and uber uses a lot of data. Google maps also works while your phone is in airplane mode, fyi. After you get directions and hit “go”, you can switch back to airplane mode and it will still give you step-by-step directions.
5 | Air B + B’s vs Hotels. We stayed in air b + b‘s in Prague and Krakow and it allowed us to feel like locals while staying right in the heart of the tourist districts. The air b and b’s we stayed in were really incredible locations and in Prague had the best interior decor and a wrap round top floor balcony! We stayed in a 5 star hotel in Berlin, which was also fun (hello morning spa and sauna.) It was great mixing it up and having both living experiences on the trip. When booking with air b-and-b, look for the “Superhosts” as they generally run this as a full time business and have a ton of great reviews. Also, read the reviews to get a better sense of if this is the right place for your trip (location, amenities, size, etc). Here is my referral link for $40 off your first trip.
Quick List of Spots Prague (by section of city):
- walk along Vltava River (it runs under the Charles Bridge)
- Charles Bridge
- Prague Castle
- Clock Tower (in Old Town Square, buy a ticket and see Prague from above, amazing view of the city)
- Old Town Square
- U Flecku (food)
- Nove Mesto Farmer’s market (Saturday’s only, ends at 2pm, most vendors were cash only)
- Our Air B and B was called “Mozart’s Hideaway” and was right on the Vtara river, next to the National Theatre and about 4 blocks from the Charles Bridge. Find it here and + $40 credit for your first air b and b rental
- Sunset Hill (byob)
- Havlickovy Sady Vineyard (wine/views)
- Beer Spa – Lazne Pramen ($$$ was priced towards tourists, but very fun and unique)
- Letenske Sady Park – amazing views of Prague from across the river
In-Depth Prague Travel Journal + Photos:
Prague, Czech Republic
Night/Day 1: We arrived at 10pm Thursday night after leaving Los Angeles Wednesday at 11am. Needless to say, we were exhausted.
Our uber driver dropped us off and we couldn’t find the door to our Air B and B. We texted the host and they immediately called us (why you need to book with a super host) and led us back to the door that we had walked right by. Ha! Once we finally got upstairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The apartment was absolutely gorgeous, with views of the river and literally right next door to the National Theatre. The gold detailing was glinting in the moonlight. Breathe taken at the sight.
We walked to a dive bar for a drink and to see a bit of the neighborhood. Total for a top shelf liquor shot and a beer: $4 USD. Walked to a second bar, Bar 23, for a glass of wine and a beer, total: $5. People were not lying when they told us that in the Czech Republic, the beer is cheaper than the water.
Day 2: Awake at 7 am because of jet lag. At 8am decided to go for a walk and get coffee, but everything seemed to still be closed. Prague is divided into sections and we were staying in the historic area, Praha 1. Walked a mile along the river and found an open cafe. Had amazing to-go espressos. Feeling very European!
Walked back towards the apt and decided to go to the Charles Bridge. We walked past the bridge and around the area for a bit, just taking in all of Prague’s beauty. I’m not kidding when I say that Prague is beautiful in any direction you look. Across the river there were huge stretches of green trees. I’ve never seen a city so lush and green!
The Charles Bridge was almost totally empty at 9am. When we walked back over it an hour later (after finding a breakfast spot), it was significantly more packed.
We got home from breakfast and bam, I was sick. I don’t know if it was the stress of delays, travel, food, water, or a combination, but it was not good. I was shaking, nauseous, and had chills. I was not about to spend my entire vacation in bed, so I took medicine and went out to find a gatorade (which somehow always makes me feel almost immediately better). This turned out to be no small feat. I paid $3 for a tiny sport sized bottle of gatorade in a tourist trap convenience store across from the Charles Bridge. This was around noon and now you could no longer even move on the bridge, people were just shuffling around.
We starting walking towards the famous Clock Tower, but stopped in a restaurant and grabbed a beer (Darius) and sparkling water (me). I don’t know why, but when I drink water when I’m sick, I get almost instantly nauseous. We decided to skip the clock and go to the oldest restaurant in Prague. U Flecku, a “tavern” that has been operating since 1499. How cool is that!? Since the menu was 99% meat (which I don’t eat), I wasn’t missing out by skipping lunch. I ordered a coke (which I never drink normally, I’m wild on vacation!) and Darius ordered goulash and another beer.
Then we went home and took a nap. I need naps when I’m traveling. I know some people feel like they are “missing out” by sleeping on vacation, but I need sleep and naps or else I feel grumpy the whole time. I’d rather enjoy what I do see then push through and be miserable and exhausted all day.
We woke up and got an uber to Havlickovy Sady Vineyard, a winery in the middle of a park in Praha 2. There was a wedding going on, but they let us buy glasses of wine and go upstairs to their gazebo, where there was a dance competition (!) going on. This was so fun to watch.
From here, we walked fast over to “Sunset Hill,” Reigrovy Sady park, to watch the sun set. You can openly drink in Prague, by the way, it feels a bit like a European Vegas in this way. They are very relaxed about alcohol.
I had bought a banana on the walk over and my stomach and nausea was starting to feel on the mend! Yay!
We were at Sunset Park on a Friday afternoon, so there were a ton of locals out to watch the sun set and hang out. This was by far one of our favorite experiences on the trip, and there were SO MANY good times. It was so relaxing and inspiring and wonderful. It’s hard to describe, but seeing everyone enjoying life so easily and being a part of it was great.
There is a beer garden right next to the park, so we walked over after the sun went down and got a couple of beers. It was open seating, so I asked a couple if I could sit on the other side of the table. Once Darius came back to the table, he made friends with them (I swear he could make friends with anyone, anywhere) and they turned out to be The Best. They were this super sweet, early 20’s couple and told us all about living in Prague and their favorite spots. They told us that their apartment was only 380 square feet, but they were moving to an apartment double that size on the 1st, so they were super excited. They couldn’t believe our apartment in LA is 1,200 square feet. Los Angeles is definitely blessed with spacious apartments. Anyhow, it was super fun to talk to them. Michael, the guy, has made his own beef jerky that day and was super proud of it. He’d offered it to Darius, who heard MEAT and immediately tried it and then ate almost the whole bag. It was still only our first full day in Prague and we already loved all the people we’d met. It was such a friendly city.
From there, we started walking towards a Czech food restaurant, but it was so late, almost 11pm, so we ended up walking in a tourist trap section of Prague, Wenceslas Square. I’m sure it’s nice during the day, but at night it was rough. There was literally a Hooters and a restaurant just called ‘Authentic Czech Restaurant.” Darius and both hate tourist traps and it seemed especially glaring and obtrusive after spending such a wonderful afternoon in a more local area. We were starving though, so we found a restaurant with outdoor seating and ordered a quick margarita pizza before heading home.
Day 3: Another early morning, another early morning walk. We went a new direction this morning and decided to see Old Town Square the Clock Tower, which was still under renovation. On out way, we found a coffee shop open early and grabbed Americanos to-go.
As we walked along the narrow streets that lead into Old Town Square, the church and buildings of the Square started to rise up and emerge. It was absolutely breathtaking. Everywhere you turn in Prague is beautiful.
We got to the square and walked around. There were a few people here and there, but it was mostly empty. As we walked over to the clock, we saw two of the street performers behind the clock tower spray painting each other gold as part of their costumes. A fun and random sighting.
We bought tickets into the clock tower ($20ish USD) and took the elevator up. There was barely any room to walk around the top and there were about ten other people walking around and taking photos. I can’t imagine what it’s like later in the day with the crowds. We walked around about four times, taking in the city from this unique angle. I said a silent prayer of gratitude, it was just so spectacular and I felt lucky to be having this vacation and experience.
We walked back to our air b and b and realized IT’S SATURDAY and we had plans to go to the farmer’s market nearby that closed in two hours. It was only a mile away, right on the Vltava river, but we hopped in an uber just to be safe. This market was food stalls and drinks (vs. shopping) and we dug it. I had a crepe with brie and sun dried tomatoes that was insanely good and bought a vegan quiche for later. These were two of the best tasting things I have ever eaten. Every bite was heavenly. Darius got MEAT and was beyond excited. He got a sausage dog first and the presentation was amazing. Then he got a sausage bowl from this giant silver cooking thing and said it was also incredible.
I started feeling nauseous again and we had both eaten as much as we’d wanted. The farmer’s market with the neighborhood locals was absolutely a highlight. We walked home and took a nap before….
THE BEER SPA. Our friend’s had gone to Prague the month before us and sent us all of their favorite things, which is how we knew about the farmer’s market. This afternoon, we had an appointment for a beer spa bath from 3-5pm. It was a giant tub, filled with dark beer and water, that they mixed hops and something else (I can’t remember) into right in front of us. There was also a hay bed (surprisingly comfortable) that you could put sheets on and nap. On the side of the tub, were two beer taps. You could pour yourself unlimited beer during the session.
We did 30 minutes of sitting in the beer jacuzzi tub, then slept for 20-30 minutes. I woke us up though, because it was not cheap to do this spa ($180 USD for two hours) and I didn’t want us to have a really expensive nap. I honestly would have cried if we slept through this by accident, which would have been totally possible with the jetlag. We sat for another hour in the tub and drank beers and talked, which was super fun. They have a shower right in the room. Two hours was the perfect amount of time. And honestly, a little bit too much time to be allowed unlimited access to a beer tap.
From there, we walked over to Letenske Sady park in Praha 7. There were amazing views of the city from the other side of the river. One of the cool things about staying near the National Theatre was that we could spot our apartment from anywhere in the city.
Not going to lie, we were in rough shape after two hours of acting like we were at a frat party combined with what was feeling like never ending jetlag. It was bed time. There was a pre Pearl Jam meet up that night, but I could just not meet new people at this point.
We went home, ate my quiche, and passed out around 9pm. Around 9:45pm, we woke up to the sound of fireworks. We looked out the window and sure enough, there was a giant fireworks show coming from the restaurant across the river. Since we were going to be abroad still for the 4th of July, it was kind of neat to get to see fireworks. Also, I’ve never been so close to fireworks before. We had the best seats! The show lasted about fifteen minutes and then we promptly fell back asleep.
Day 4: Well. Going to bed so early felt great, but it was now 4:45am and I was wide awake. So was Darius. We tried to sleep for another half hour, but it was useless. We were now awake.
I’d been reading a city guide book in bed while trying to fall back asleep and found that the Prague Castle opens at 5am for the grounds only. The buildings open at 8am, but the grounds and gardens are open from 5am until 10pm. This would be our (very) early morning walk.
Around 5:30am we set out for the castle. Surprisingly, there were a fair amount of people still walking home from the night, completely hammered. Ha! We couldn’t have been on more opposite ends of the spectrum.
We walked over the Charles Bridge again with it being completely empty (so spoiled) and headed up hill towards the castle.
It took us around 30 minutes for the mile and a half-ish walk and the views were absolutely insane the higher we climbed. 360 views of Prague, absolutely breathtaking.
We went through the security gate (those poor guards looked exhausted) and BAM. We were completely alone inside the 750,000 square feet grounds of the castle, which was built in the year 870. Let me repeat, 870. I have chills just thinking about this moment.
I can’t quite put the experience into words, but I will try. Standing and walking around such a vast and stunning space was one of the quietest, most peaceful, and awe inspiring moments of my life.
The only other time I’ve had this same feeling was the time I went kayaking with my dad. We were surrounded by seven mountains in the Adirondacks, where I grew up. This lake that didn’t allow any motorized boats, so it was totally quiet. We each had our own kayak and just paddled and floated and paddled and floated through the lake and I felt completely in awe being in that setting.
Being surrounded by a 9th century castle and church and being almost completely alone, knowing that in just a few hours this same courtyard would be packed with thousands of tourists, was absolutely incredible. Very awe inspiring and a highlight of the trip. I will honestly never forget the feeling, we were so blown away.
We walked through the grounds from the entrance on the higher side all the way to the lower entrance. I felt my travel/fear of the unknown swell up and I said “let’s walk back the way we came.” Darius, who is much more fearless than me said “let’s walk out this way and see where it takes us.” I can’t tell you how nice it is to travel with someone who (safely) makes you push past your fears.
We walked down the most beautiful and calm set of stairs with a panoramic view of Prague below us.
At the bottom of the steps, there was a building cross the street with a giant sign that said “I will close my eyes and put my finger on the map.” Such kismit, as the travel and wanderlust bug was biting us and this desire to see the world was exactly what I was feeling at the moment.
After this we walked back across the bridge to a breakfast spot that, at 8:30am, switched to techno music after we sat down with our espressos, so that really transported us from our magical morning back to reality quickly. Planet earth, party of two.
We walked back to our apt, decided to have a morning beer (when in Prague!) out on our insane wrap-around balcony and low-and-behold, a parade started to walk by. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a parade in real life. So fun! We watched it for a half hour or so then took a nap.
Tonight we were going to Pearl Jam, the tour that gave Darius the whole idea for the trip, and we needed to rest up.
When we got to the arena, people were hanging around outside, drinking in the open. Again, Prague feels like a chill version of Vegas in that way. While they were very casual about drinking outside the venue, oddly enough no alcohol was allowed inside the actual show. But…it was kind of nice to not get spilled on during the show! Prague does concerts right.
The show was insane. It was my first time seeing Pearl Jam live and the energy was amazing. We were super close to the stage, thanks to Darius being in the Pearl Jam fan club. I’m not as huge of a Pearl Jam fan as him, but I do love them and especially growing up as a teenager in the 90’s, they were really just such a huge part of the culture at that time.
Day 5: Travel Day. We woke up around 8am (finally) and got packed for the train station. It was our travel day to Poland, next stop Krakow!
We had a 90 min train delay in the station, which I feel is so rare with trains, but again I think was kismit, because it allowed us to talk with some other Pearl Jam fans who we ended up becoming friends with. Also, it allowed me time to shop for makeup at the drugstore inside the train station, yay!
We had such an incredible time in Prague. I would love to live there sometime for an entire summer. Have you ever been? What did you think of Prague? What city would you want to live in for the summer if you could live anywhere?
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As always, thank you for reading and being a part of the blog!
xo – Molly