Making our way to the other side of the river, we passed through narrow streets, filled with stores selling their wares, pubs filled with happy tourists and locals having a morning beer, galleries displaying local art, and structures so old that you wish they could talk and whisper to you everything they've seen.
Before we got to the bridge, we each grabbed a mulled wine to warm our hands. I became a bit of a mulled wine connoisseur on this trip, drinking more of it in four days than I have in my entire life. Skip the stuff in the Old Town Square and get it from a restaurant or stand that serves it with fruit. Ideally it will also have cloves or star anise.
Our hands slowly warming, we made it to Charles Bridge. It was built in the mid 1300's and completed in the early 1400's under the order of King Charles IV. It crosses the longest river in the Czech Republic, the Vltava.
Atop the hill in the distance you can see Prague Castle, a must see and exactly where we were headed.
Once safely across, we met an archway which led us into another street filled with stunning buildings, cute shops, and winding streets.
Before long, we were gazing over the rooftops of Prague, each just barely touched by a fresh dusting of snow.
When we stepped into the square on the palace outskirts, we were flabbergasted by the line. Since we still had a few days left in Prague, we jumped in, but set our timer for 20 minutes to see how far we'd get. Luckily, that's all it took. We were in!
Inside the Prague Castle complex where the President conducts his business, we found Saint Vitus Cathedral (it's hard to miss). We paid for a tour which was well worth it and learned that this castle was founded in the year 930, but took over 500 years to complete!
The first Habsburgs are buried here as are Saint Vitus and Saint Wenceslaus.
Saint Vitus' tomb is made of one ton of silver!
After the Cathedral, we headed to the Old Royal Palace where we were shown the very window from which the Second Defenestration of Prague took place. Only two people were ever known to have survived the forced falls.
When the tour was over, there was still much to see, but first, lunch. There was a market inside the castle walls that served as the perfect place to eat.
These were the best sausages I've ever had.
Us in our happy place.
Filled to the brim, we made our way to the Golden Alley within the castle walls. This is where many 16th century goldsmiths lived and worked, hence the name. Now it's filled with shops and small reproductions of what the homes would have looked like inside.
We spent a few hours inside the castle walls, and when we left we decided we weren't ready to head back to the other side of the river just yet, so we kept on.
It was a good thing that we did because we came upon an old monastary and a restaurant with an unbeatable view.
We weren't hungry, but could do with something warm to drink.
While people walked down to the clearing for a picture, we bundled up in blankets and looked on.
It was the coziest place to sit and watch the city darken. We didn't eat a meal at Bellavista, a fitting name, and the service was really slow, but if you're not in a rush and just want a drink and maybe a snack, the ambience alone is well worth it (and my mulled wine was delish).
By the time we got back to the city center, our stomachs were speaking to us. We stumbled upon a great place called U Parlamentu which had a line (that's usually a good sign). We didn't have to wait too long before we were fed traditional Czech dishes, beer, wine, and rabbit pâté. Our waiter also insisted we try an aperitif "to help with digestion," he said. The food was delicious and the servings were generous.
We ended the night with a Trdelnik in the square. It's dough that's wrapped around wood and cooked over coals and coated in sugar and nuts.
It had been such a long day, but my favorite, yet. We made our way back across the river once or twice more during our trip, because it was too good to resist. There is so much to see in Prague and a lot of it is best found by accident. More tomorrow!