Prague, you vixen, you have enchanted me with your attention to detail. Every time I look up I see some hidden engraving or molding, some change in the colour of the paint that is so subtle yet so thoroughly considered.
This is the way to seduce me, to keep me captivated in this city with so much character.
My great grandparents are official Bohemians which is a special thing to say as an American in 2014. No one in my family, as far as I'm aware, has been to the motherland. For my part, I felt very safe there the entire time. Having travelled the world independently since I was 14, I know what safe looks and feels like.
It was also refreshing to see good looking women around. I am not being biased of my sex, but I can see why German stag dos happen here. There is a purity to a young Czech woman that's striking; I caught myself staring quite a few times. I often make Random Traveler Friends, kindred spirits if you will, on my travels which has been the case since I was fourteen, and as a new RTF said to me on the airplane, "there seems to be a Y chromosome missing with the Czech".
I arrive at my hotel at 7.30pm on Saturday of Easter holiday weekend and jump on the tube to town at about 9pm. I exited Muzeum tube station and walked along the main stretch to the Old Town Square and clock tower, grabbing a Pilsner en route. After eating the local ham dish (served as street food) I walked through the Lesser Quarter and the Jewish Quarter.
The following morning I headed east from Muzeum square stopping by the Mozart Church and marveling at all buildings before hitting the river and walking north towards the Castle and St Vitus Cathedral. The weather could not have been more beautiful. My only regret was not having the time to fully appreciate my surroundings.
After, I took a tram towards Old Town Square where I grabbed a Prosecco (or two) and a super delicious bratwurst with mustard and bread before starting my tour of the Astronomical Clock. The scariest part was the tour of the dungeon below when the lights suddenly went out in some momentary power failure and it was pitch black. It was time to go home after that.
Let us speak about my mission #12countries12months. The aim of this mission is I have to hit bucket list/heavily promoted landmarks in just a few hours instead of taking a couple days to do so. I am confronted with tourism commercialising history when all I want is a feeling of authenticity. Thus, on day two, I took a 3 ½ hour bus ride to the border of Bohemia/Austria/Italy to visit a UNESCO protected town which is credited with being one of the best examples of how a medieval town can be modernised. It feels part Game of Thrones and part Disneyland (hundreds of thousands of people visit every year). Nonetheless I feel very lucky writing this bit from an adorable café situated directly where the castle bridge lowers, listening to some form of music that is meant to sound feudal against a picture-perfect sky and countryside.
To get to Kumlov, I caught the 9.30am bus from Florenc Station. You MUST get the Student Agency bus. I am incredibly down to earth, I go against pretty much every perception there is of me in the press, but what I've learned after taking the "local" bus option is that there is a limit to what I can endure. I will never take a long-distance local bus journey in a foreign country ever, ever, ever again. Ever.
Cesty Kumlov is picturesque. I walked down through the town square, and as it was the Monday after Easter there were lots of little stalls run by local artisans. The castle and grounds were amazing, leave yourself plenty of time to roam the back streets. Tip: the bus stop you get off at is the 2nd one not the 1st. The 1st seems too small because it is! More importantly, be very sure to pre-book the return trip as they usually sell out on the day! I almost didn't get back like some of the Japanese tourists I met!
On my way back I hit St. Vincent Church to say a quick prayer to St Anthony, patron saint of travelers. I always do and don't plan to stop whilst I'm on #12countries12months!