Princess turned sixteen while we were in Europe. Her request was to see Charles Bridge in Prague on her birthday. That was easily organised as it was only a three and a half hour train ride from where we were based in Germany. The in-laws lived very close to the Czech border.
It was just the two of us, off on an adventure to the Czech Republic. My daughter had her concerns about her first trip with mum, as I had only ever gone there with hubby – and he had driven me there both times previously! This time it was just me and my little girl, on a train to a beautiful place where we didn’t speak the language. Having been there before, I knew that most of them spoke English – well, at least they do in Prague! Still, I was a little nervous myself about having to be in charge!
Months prior, I had booked a very sweet looking hotel for our two-night stay. After entering the right dates into so many different hotels and booking sites, I somehow entered the wrong month when booking the selected hotel! Unfortunately the price of that wrongly booked hotel tripled for the time we wanted to go, but it all worked out well in the end and we found the perfect hotel – The Archibald. We were just meters away from Charles Bridge and there was a small Christmas market right outside where Jaclyn found some new favourite pastries – Baumstreizelei.
A train trip to Prague
The first part of the train trip was easy. We hopped on an early train in Marktredwitz to Cheb, the first town on the Czech border. Here, we had to find an ATM to withdraw some cash in the right currency and purchase our ticket to Prague. We figured out that it was a lot cheaper to purchase a ticket to Cheb, then get one for a connecting train from the Czech train station to Prague. Luckily (after venturing outside to look for one) there was an ATM right next to the ticket office.
The ticket lady wasn’t the most informative person when we asked her which platform the train would be on. She just instructed us to look at the train schedule board. Fortunately, a lovely Czech lady saw how lost we were and informed us that she was going on the same trip. Following a local was a good thing to do as we found out that if we boarded the train very early, we get window seats in a compartment! This makes the three hour ride a little more comfortable as you can lean on the window and sleep.
Christmas in Prague
Although I had been to Prague a couple of times already, it was special to see it lit up with Christmas lights and Christmas decor. There was a huge Christmas market in Wenceslas Square, where a huge Christmas tree stood. At night, the tree was lit up impressively! There was also a stage show each night, which we missed seeing. Wenceslas Square is a place which gets crowded all year round! The queues for the Astronomical Clock were always too long, so we skipped the trip up to the top of the tower. I had been up there on a previous trip during the summer and it would have been nice to take my daughter up, but the queues seemed longer this time. Anyway, we weren’t that keen to wait in the cold.
It rained on the first day we were there. We purchased an umbrella and walked around to the John Lennon Wall, which I had never seen before! This wall is, as you would have guessed, fully dedicated to John Lennon. The unique thing about this wall is that you’re encouraged to add to the artwork! We saw some tourists with spray cans painting away. The John Lennon Pub was nearby but, after reading some reviews on it, we decided that it wasn’t for us. The wall is definitely worth a visit.
The Perfect Birthday Gift – Experiences !!!
On the actual day of her birthday, princess was up at sunrise for a photo shoot on the fairly empty Charles Bridge. At that time of day, there are only photographers and a couple of runners along the bridge. No-one else is crazy enough to face the minus ten degrees which was what awaited us at dawn each day. After our lovely breakfast at the hotel, we were off to a fun-filled day of touring.
She had been on my back about going on a segway tour since we got to Prague, but I was always against the idea. Sections of the Old Town was off-limits to Segways during our visit, so I was hesitant to take her on one as that was my favourite part of Prague. Also, if I kept on saying “no” to her request, I’d have something up my sleeve to surprise her with. And that is exactly how it unfolded. After our breakfast, it was a brisk walt to a surprise destination close by and we were off on a four hour segway and e-bike tour of beautiful Prague. Segway were prohibited in the Old Town part of Prague but that area would be covered on the e-bikes, which were still permitted. The guys at Segway Point Cz were friendly and very informative.
Don’t make the mistake of not taking gloves on these morning tours! Young miss forgot hers and, as all good mothers do, I gave up mine so she wouldn’t suffer. My hands froze! Luckily I could warm them up during our breaks. The segway tour was so much fun. It was something I’d done while in Paris one year and absolutely loved it. My girl was not as keen on them as I was, but enjoyed it nonetheless. She was more of a fan of the e-bike, which she felt more stable on. Segways aren’t the hardest things to balance on and anyone from approximately ten years onwards can ride them. These two-wheeled machines are illegal here in Australia, otherwise I’d own one! They’re battery operated, so an eco-friendly way to get around!.
After two hours of a tour on the segway, we joined an English couple for a very entertaining ride on e-bikes through the busiest parts of Prague, including Wenceslas Square. We were so not accustomed to being able to ride bikes through hoards of people who totally ignored the load beeps coming from our -bike horns! We didn’t blame them really, as we were riding along on the pavements which rally should have been reserved for pedestrians. The tour lasted for another two hours but my fingers survived the cold as the sun came out. There were zero calories burnt on our lazy-person’s tour around Prague, but it was a great way to see a lot in a little space of time.
The day continued with some shopping and a dinner at a restaurant which was especially picked for the occasion. The restaurant, Mlejnice, had some fantastic reviews and customers raved about their goulash. When in Prague, you just have to eat goulash – especially goulash which is served in a bread bowl! This restaurant was booked out for the night we were there so we were glad we had a booking. As for the goulash, it got an ‘okay’ from us. Unfortunately, most of the goulash we tried during our visit to Prague didn’t consist of more than five little cubes of beef. The flavours were lovely but it was more of a soup than a goulash, filling if you eat the bread bowl as well!
The previous night was spent at the restaurant, Konírna. It’s a quiet restaurant which was more suited for a couple, but I had been there on my previous trip and remembered that they made a good goulash. We ended up ordering the giant kebab for two, which was more appealing visually than it was in taste. The pistachio créme brûlée was interesting, but not the dessert we had expected. The waiters were friendly and efficient and we left very full.
A Flying Visit
Two nights in Prague is quite sufficient to get around and see most of the landmarks in Prague. There’s plenty of shopping to keep shoppers happy, with lots of souvenirs stores if you want gifts for those who were not fortunate enough to be there with you! Jaclyn was very happy with a couple of birthday pieces from the very popular Pandora store. They made us wait outside in the rain as the store was busy, but I’m not the queuing up type so we went off shopping and returned later.
Before long, we were back on the train towards Germany to pack and get ready for our trip to Switzerland the following day. Our Prague trip will definitely be something which will forever be etched into my little girl’s memory. Her sixteenth birthday is something which will very hard to top.
It was our first trip alone together and it was a wonderful adventure.