This blog consists of 4 parts, focused on Prague, Vienna & Bratislava, Hallstatt & Krippenstein and Budapest respectively. Feel free to jump to the section of your choice.
The capital cities of Prague, Vienna & Budapest are often referred to as the Golden Triangle. And while little Bratislava often passes under the radar, it deserves attention during any visit to this area - for the welcoming people, if nothing else. In 11 days, we covered all these cities, AND a fascinating Austrian gem a.k.a must-visit, even though it took us beyond the triangle. Here is how to do it all right.
Part 1: Prague: The sheer medieval beauty of this city is nestled within the vast central area that we covered mostly on foot.
Day 1 – We arrived in Prague in the afternoon, to the classic issue of misplaced baggage that forced us to return to the airport in the evening. I noticed a somewhat ordinary setting for most of the journey past the outskirts and outer zones to our B&B. So Mr. Fly used that disruption to give me a glimpse of what Prague was really about - not the castle, nor the bridge, but a walk through the old town streets and past the Old Town square bustling with a fair that beckoned us to try an ice-cream filled chimney cake. Once properly settled with the luggage safe and sound, we returned to this square to truly begin the journey. It turned out to be a great place to start (and why you should try to stay close to the area as well) for 3 reasons:
Day 2 – We woke up late & headed out for a very Czech-start to our morning: the Beer Spa! Yes, you read that right. The Beer Spa is just as awesome as it sounds. Click here to read more about this unique beer soaked spa experience!
With the spa and unconventional breakfast behind us, we took a streetcar across the river to the Prague Castle area, getting off near Malostranska. The thing about this area is that it is its own walker’s paradise, just like the Old Town square on the other side of the river. We realized this in blissfully ignorant fashion once it was too late to head to the castle.
Our lunch stop was at Secret Garden Cafe close to the Charles bridge. Find it and don’t miss it, if the idea of escaping in a beautiful quiet little courtyard appeals to you. Their sandwiches are worth trying, though you will get your fill simply by being in the moment there. Once out, head to the nearby Vojan Gardens for three things: the garden itself, a curiously & almost eerily beautiful Dripstone Wall, and the peacocks!
From the gardens, we traced our step backwards to explore the rest of Mala Strana, taking a pit stop at the Gingerbread museum store on the Neurdova street and then at the cutest little streetside patio crowned naturally by leaves just a few steps further ahead. This was our Spritz Aperol stop. As we walked further, we finally arrived at what would turn a non-vegetarian like me into a Vegan food lover. Keeping any biases aside, I’d strongly recommend the restaurant Vegan’s Prague, not only for deh-li-ci-ous-ly unique food but also the gasp-worthy view from their terrace seating of the Prague Castle. Once again cozy, once again secretive and once again mesmerizing, it stamped more and more why Prague is simply lovely.
We walked rather aimlessly through the streets, trying to soak it in as we made our way to the river side, almost pretending we were in Paris. The feeling couldn’t be more contrasting, Prague having more of a medieval charm, romantic in the way watching spooky movies cuddled in your beau’s arms is. Mr. Fly testifies that the experience doubles if you visit in the foggy fall season, though I can now vouch that Spring is no less amazing.
Take a moment at the riverside once you reach it to admire the Charles Bridge from underneath as well as the brightly lit opposite bank. We spent the evening walking across the bridge again (it was equivalent to our treatment of Eiffel Tower in that we just kept coming back to it), along the eastern bank until the Narodni crossing, which feels like the edge of the old-and-beauty this city has to offer, and eventually back to our base.
Day 3 - This was the day of Prague Castle. It’s a good idea to head to the Letna hill and explore the Letna beer garden and the towering Prague Metronome first. From here, you can hike up to the Prague Castle. Our plan was to save time for some shopping, so we skipped it and a streetside breakfast aside, made our way up the hill and bought one of the shorter packages at the ticket counter that allowed us to see some of the high points, including the main church, the castle halls with a grand balcony view of the city, the mini township as well as the medieval torture prison, armoury, chemist lab, and some crossbow shooting. The walk back from the other end of the castle goes past a little vineyard if you’d like to splurge a bit. The next few hours went by shopping in one of the city malls far away from the touristy Old Prague, before making our way to the last stop - the stretch of Wenceslas Square with Narodni museum at one end. If you time it right, you can catch a semi-private concert in the museum. Alternatively, just walk the length of the square, visiting the many shops and munching on this-or-that.
Prague has a ton of other things to explore - the dancing building, the sex machines or the beer museum (both of which sound more hype though) and the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, and Lazne na Lodi (or Sauna in a boat, open seasonally), to name a few. If you have a day to spare, you can also consider visiting Cesky Raj, which makes for a beautiful day trip to the other end of Czech Republic, worth visiting. For us, it was time for the next phase of the trip - Austria. Click here to find out how we explored the Austrian Alps with Hallstatt and Krippenstein.
Who are Mrs. & Mr. Fly?
Mr. Fly is a central character in the ongoing Kalki Evian series of books. Originally conjured in the fictional narrative to describe an unbiased view of our everyday world, he was soon joined in real life by a jolly Mrs. Fly who taught him how to truly discover pleasures in little things often missed while living out fast-paced lives. As they began exploring, this blog took shape with a view to share what they saw.