Prague - A 5-star holiday come true

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 14, 2012
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This summer, being our concluding one after four years of staying in Europe, made it a specially cherished and memorable one.

We were planning for our finale summer holidays and shortlisted three destinations: Lisbon (Portugal), Edinburgh (Scotland) and Prague (Czech Republic). Ultimately, we decided to have a relaxed vacation and dedicated a full five-day retreat to Prague solely.

Did we make the right decision? I'd like to think so because this vacation in Prague, well, it was like a dream come true.

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我就站在布拉格黄昏的广场     在许愿池投下了希望   
那群白鸽背对着夕阳     那画面太美我不敢看

Prague, capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth-most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin.

Lucky us, except for Madrid, we have set foot in all the top five. *counts blessings*


We were at the Copenhagen airport on a bright Saturday morning and waiting to board our plane. When I saw it, I simply had to photograph it because it was absolutely the tiniest plane I had ever sat in all my life! This Czech Airlines ATR-42 aircraft was miniscule yet self-contained, seating up to a maximum of merely 46 passengers.

One of the highlights of the trip was that we got to stay in our first ever 5-star deluxe hotel - Kings Court Hotel. Yes, 5-star! Something I had never imagined that I would accomplish.



Did we have to splurge? Not really, considering that the hotel cost 120euros per night, almost equivalent to what we had to pay for a 3-star stay in Monaco, Paris or Hamburg. We loved our quintessential room with the comfy king-sized bed, attic windows, swimming pool and most of all the luxurious shower head. Simply shiok.

It was also a rare treat that we got to eat like kings and queens at the breakfast buffet every morning. From yummy pancakes, freshly fried omelettes, crunchy bacon, wide assortment of delightful pastries and cakes, kid-friendly yoghurt to juicy smoked bacon, crispy hash browns, fresh orange juice and even soya bean milk, no wonder we felt so satisfied every morning.

A great breakfast makes a great start to the day, especially when you have a full day of sightseeing ahead, don't you agree?

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Day 1 - Na Příkopě and the Old Town Square




Nearly undamaged during World War II, Prague managed to retain the bulk of its historic architecture in true form and it has been a charming city of cobbled lanes, bridges, towers, cathedrals and countless church spires for more than ten centuries.



On our first day of exploration, we decided to explore the main shopping street, Na Příkopě, which was a stone's throw from our hotel. This main street separates the Old Town from the New Town and is a luxurious boulevard lined with boutiques, cafes, banks and restaurants.



At the market, I was intrigued by the laughing witches which gave off a rather sinister laugh whenever you clapped your hands. The hubby had decided to get two to display in our house from his previous visit, one was a witch sitting on a swing and the another was a witch on a toilet bowl. Well, I'm not a fan of wicked laughter because they give me the creeps especially at night, so I made sure they were turned off all the time. Which kind of defeats the purpose, but oh well.



The Old Town Square, with its ancient buildings and magnificent churches, marks a beautiful and historical sight in Prague. I love the feeling of simply standing in the middle of square, basking in the warm sunbeams, taking in the sights and sounds, admiring the charming architecture, and basically just breathing the joy of life.



Although I am not a professional photographer, that doesn't mean I am not an enthusiastic one and one of the things I love to do on a holiday is to go on night walks and admire the night scenery. Yes, it's a challenge to capture nice shots with our camera but the fun part is in the trying.




Two of the most outstanding buildings in the Old Town Square are the Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady Before Tyn above.

The Astronomical Clock, or Orloj, was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still functioning. Every hourly, a clockwork mechanism show takes place, which has become a major tourist attraction in Prague. Named "The Walk of the Apostles", during the procession, a small window opens, the Apostles march out and notably the Skeleton of death tolls the bell.

The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn has been the main church of the Old Town since the 14th century. It is impressive by day and even more striking at night when lit up against the dark sky. It has two asymmetrical towers that stand at 80metres tall and are topped by four small spires, which can be seen from around the whole of Prague.

Did you know? Prague has a nickname "City of a Hundred Spires" and as of today, the estimated number of spires is 500.

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Day 2 - The Dancing House, Prague Zoo and Wenceslas Square

Ever since Angel became a part of us, we have always made it a point to bring this little animal-lover to the zoo whenever we can on overseas trips. As of today, other than the Singapore Zoo, she has already visited the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland, Vienna Zoo in Austria, Reykjavik Zoo in Iceland, Ölands Zoo in Sweden and Givskud Zoo in Denmark. Yes, lucky toddler.

So, not surprisingly, we dedicated an entire Sunday to the Prague Zoo on this trip.


Listed among the world's best zoos in 2007 by Forbes Traveler, the Prague Zoo was opened in 1931 and it currently houses near 5,000 animals that represent 670 species from all around the world.

I can't even start to tell you how ecstatic Angel got every time she spotted a new animal. Seriously, she was on a natural high the whole day and couldn't stop screaming "There! There! Mummmyyyyy, LOOK!" When we entered a dark cave filled with night creatures, the timid mum was hiding behind the nonchalant dad while the curious girl didn't even mind real bats which would flap their wings and fly around us.


A highlight for Angel was that she went on the third pony ride of her life. Thankfully for just 20CZK, which is slightly over SGD$1. A 5-minute ride had the power to make her smile for 5-hours. Totally worth it. And yes, I'm jealous because I have not had the opportunity to ride on a single pony or horse yet. Whenever I told Angel that "Mummy also wants to ride", she would say "Cannot, mummy. Pony too small, you are too BIG."


We then took a train that took us to the other end of the ginormous zoo so that we could visit the tower and catch a panoramic view of Prague. There was a friendly tour guide who gave a lengthy description of the zoo on the ride but alas, everything was spoken in Czech and we didn't get anything other than friendly waves from passers-by.


For lunch, we ordered a really simple and traditional roasted pork dish with bread, along with fried nuggets and burgers. The pork unexpectedly turned out to be finger-licking good and the hubby and I were both scrambling to lick up its remains.



The grounds of the zoo stretch from a lush valley up a steep, rocky cliff to green, rolling meadows. While it was an arduous climb up to the summit and then more countless narrow steps to the top of the tower, hello I'm pregnant after all, the view was spectacular and well worth every effort. *phew*


This was one of my favourite picture and precious family shot from the entire trip.

Much to Angel's delight, we found a children's playground inside the zoo and spent another couple of hours there. She had already missed her afternoon nap but well, excitement and enthusiasm got the better of her the whole day and she didn't even yawn or rub her eyes. We are not really the sort of parents who enforce a routine, what's more this was a holiday for her after all so we pretty much let her enjoy as much as possible.


Inside the goat-feeding area, we saw this super pregnant mummy goat that I felt an affinity with.


Kids also get to go on a train ride which brings them around a track that surrounds rabbits, ducks and other small animals. Seeing how my girl could now be independent and how she obediently sat down on the train throughout, it just warmed my heart. This was one of the most unforgettable memories for Angel and even weeks after the trip, she would say "Mummy, can we take the train and see rabbits again?"


We finally bade farewell to the zoo at nearly six in the evening. When they were about to close. I was thankful that the girl had a blast and you know what, she had run, played and jumped so much that she didn't even sit on her stroller at all. Just when I wondered where her energy came from, she fell asleep once we got out of the zoo. For more than two hours straight.

At night, we hopped over to Palladium, Czech Republic's largest mall, which was conveniently located opposite our hotel for dinner. Guess what? They have ramen and KFC here. Two of the things that we are deprived of in Sweden. *drools*

Then we took a walk to Wenceslas Square, one of the main city squares in the New Town of Prague.


Wenceslas Square is in fact a boulevard, measuring 750m long by 60m wide. Behind us is the National Museum and just off to the left is the Prague State Opera.


The square is the nightlife and entertainment centre of Prague, which isn't really that suitable a hangout place for families with kids. So we took some pictures to prove that we had been here and bought a huge piece of fried chicken for supper which Angel was tasked to carry all the way back to the hotel on her lap as she sat in the stroller.

And she did so. Carefully and proudly. Before she dozed off.

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Day 3 - The Dancing House, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and St Vitus Church

The Dancing House is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building located on the corner of Rasinovo Nabrezi and Resslova street, alongside the Vltava River. The building is also called Ginger & Fred, referring to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair – the legendary dance duo.
 
It is said that you can actually see a couple – woman and man dancing together, holding their hands, with a skirt that sways to the music. Can you?

The building has a very unusual and non-traditional design, a fine example of a deconstructivist architecture . The “dancing” shape is supported by 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and dimension. It is a rarity and stands out among the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings that Prague is famous for.

Thus, it created controversy and stirred up debates when it was built. However, today, it is seen as a work of art adding value to the cityscape of Prague and is even featured on a gold 2.000 CZK coin, completing a series entitled “Ten Centuries of Architecture".





Charles Bridge, or Karluv Most, is a magnificent 14th century stone bridge linking the two sides of Prague and it is one of the city's biggest attractions. It is the main pedestrian route connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town and Prague Castle.



The Vltava River flows beneath the bridge and both sides are flanked by picturesque, elegant buildings, of which most outstandingly is the Prague Castle that towers above in its eminent location.


In the day, Charles Bridge is a bustling place with tourists and as you cross the bridge, you can see numerous street artists, musicians and vendors who sell all sorts of souvenirs.  



What makes the bridge even more striking are the 30 statues mounted to the balustrade, forming two rows on the left and right. Among them, one of the most famous is that of Saint John of Nepomuk, left in above picture, which depicts a man being thrown off the bridge when he invited a bishop to Prague who was the king's enemy.

Touching this particular statue is a Prague ritual, so be prepared to join the queue! It is supposed to bring good luck and to bring hope that you can return to Prague again.




Prague is renowned as a very "walkable" city. One can easily walk from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town Square to Charles Bridge to the Castle District. On one night, we decided to go on a late night adventure and we took the metro to Charles Bridge, where we started walking from here back to our hotel.

We armed ourselves with the stroller, some water and milk for the girl while her secret weapon was her flashlight. Was she thrilled? Simply so. Not every kid gets to walk on bridges and go in search of spider webs at 11pm, you know.

How long did it take? Probably over an hour, at the rate we were walking and stopping at every corner to shine her flashlight and say "Hello" to the night insects.






If Charles Bridge is glorious by day, it is even more striking by night when the bright lights illuminate the dark skies above. I guess I somehow preferred the serenity, nice breeze and simply the feeling of strolling alongside my loved ones.

Prague Castle, at approximately 570 metres in length and an average of about 130 metres wide, is the biggest castle in the world. According to Guinness Book of Records, it is the biggest ancient castle. That is no wonder it is Prague's most leading tourist attraction. Today, it is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and serves as the historical and political centre for both city and state.

The Prague Castle comprises of three courtyards, several palaces, a monastery, art galleries and the city's most recognised landmark, St. Vitus Cathedral.






While we are not fervent about palace visits, it definitely felt great to accomplish the steep, arduous climb up to the Castle and enjoy a splendid bird's eye view of Prague.



Our last stop for the day was St. Vitus Cathedral, a prominent building that dominates the skyline of Prague and has become the spiritual symbol of the Czech state.


Taking nearly six centuries to complete, St. Vitus cathedral is a Gothic work of art and is the largest and most important church in the country. Coronations of Czech kings and queens are held inside the Cathedral and it is also here where you can find the royal tombs.



The bronze door of the Cathedral is decorated with reliefs of scenes from its history and right above is a striking rose window. Visitors can enter the first part of the Cathedral for free and what caught my eye most was the beautiful, intricate stained glass windows in the interior.




What better way to end off a perfect day than some yummy crêpes and a smiling toddler?

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Day 4 - Petrin Hill and Krizik Fountain

On the last day before we departed, we decided to spend the whole afternoon exploring Petrin Hill, a hill covered with parks and rises 130metres above the left bank of the Vltava River. If I had known how long it would have taken us to reach the hill summit, I might have given second thoughts about it. 

Goodness, we must have walked for miles and climbed hundreds of steps up! Thankfully the landscaped gardens, beautiful scenery, playgrounds and apple orchards on the way made the walk more interesting. I felt proud to accomplish the long walk carrying a big belly, I felt proud of the hubby who had to lug a stroller, but mostly, I felt proud of my girl for proclaiming that "Mummy, I can do it myself" and so she did, step by step till we reached the top. I was sure she would give up halfway like how I wanted to badly inside and ask the hubby to piggyback me, but she didn't.

When your child is tired and needs incentive to keep going, juice is a pretty good option!







To reward her efforts, we also bought her a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Look at how it made her smile!

For lunch, we went for some Czech dishes including beef goulash - a yummy stew with tender beef, crispy roasted duck with red cabbage and dumplings, and lastly the traditional roasted pork knee which was rich in flavour and succulent.


Well, after probably two hours of walking, mounting and panting, we were finally at the summit. I'm not sure to love or dread the fact that it was scorching hot that day when the weather forecast predicted gloomy skies. But I guess the sun is always more welcome than the rain on holidays. Well, let's sweat it out then.

Looking somewhat like a miniature version of Paris's Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Observation Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition. It stands at merely 60metres tall but considering it is situated at the top of Petrin Hill, it overlooks the whole of Prague and gives visitors a great view.





We took a walk in the gardens and not surprisingly, insects and birds captivated my girl much more than lush greenery and blossoms. It's amazing how she can squat down to look at a ladybird with such fascination, watching it crawl and spread its wings. Well, I just need to watch more documentaries on Animal Planet so that I can answer her unexpected questions with confidence instead of stuttering in future.





I had promised Angel that we would bring along bread to feed the birds on Petrin Hill before the hubby told me "So high, where got birds come here?". Just when I thought I was going to disappoint my girl and the fact that we didn't see even a single bird after hours, we walked to this part of the garden where we saw not one, but several pigeons! Much to my girl's delight and mine, for being able to uphold my promise to her.


Did I ever mention how my girl loves to read maps nowadays and pretend that she's a guide? Seriously. She would point to the map, say things like "Now we are here. We have to go there, cross over this, walk through there and we will reach!" or "Come, I teach you how to read ah" or "No, not here. See, we should walk there!" and points smugly to the opposite direction of where we should be heading.

It's quite cute though so the hubby and I sometimes pretend we are lost and let our little guide show us the way. That said, you must always remember to get an extra copy of the map for her otherwise she will most definitely snatch yours away.



Finally, after more exploration and photo-taking, it was time to leave and nope, we didn't walk. Instead, we took a interesting funicular ride downhill. *heaves a sigh of relief*



On our last night in Prague, we decided to visit the Krizik Fountain, which offers a unique spectacle of music, water, ballet and colours. I love the purple skies in the scenery pictures above which were taken by the hubby when we were on a bus. Not bad, right?

The Krizík Fountain has 3,000 incredible jets of water, 50 water pumps and 1,200 lights of all colours hidden underneath the surface of its big water basin.



The show for that night was "Little Mermaid", perfect for my girl who now loves anything to do with dance, fantasy and fairy tales. Although she kept fidgeting before the show started and wailed "I don't wanna watch", once it began, her eyes were glued throughout and you could tell she was mesmerized by the story of the mermaid jiejie.


A breathtaking show of sensational music, wonderful lighting and water effects, it was definitely an eye-opener and fascinating experience for us to be able to watch a show at one of the biggest illuminated fountains in Europe.

All in all, we were definitely glad to have had the opportunity to visit Prague. This lovely summer holiday has left me with precious memories which will be etched in my mind for a long, long time to come. It's no wonder this city has been regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. So thank you, Prague!

To see more of the world, visit my Travelogue page here.

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Here is a video compilation of some fond memories and the beautiful scenery in Prague. Enjoy viewing!


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This post is part of a Blog Train hosted by Madeline at MadPsychMum. Continue your journey around the world through the eyes of Singapore Mom Bloggers!


Next up on the blog train will be Jennifer who will be showing you around Penang, Malaysia!

Jennifer is a full time working mum with a loving husband and a 6 year old boy. She's been blogging since 2007 with the initial aim of penning down her son’s every milestones & achievements. Jennifer wishes that she can relax while enjoying motherhood but instead she has to deal with her feisty boy who is constantly testing her patience. She writes about every thing that is happening around her at The Love of our Life, Little DinoEgg.


9 comments:

  1. Wa.... so nice to be in Prague together, my wife and I have each been to Prague separately, hopefully we could go there as a family some time in the future too.

    The mummy blogscene feels so vibrant, can a daddy join in? Haha.... anyway, my blog isn't focused on fatherhood, so I guess it doesn't fully relate to the theme of parenting and kids....

    Thanks for becoming Noah's Fun, hope u can have fun with him soon!

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    1. Hi Eddie, Prague is a really nice place, isn't it? I sure hope you can revisit it with your family too! =) Haha yeah I also realised this year that there are so many awesome mum bloggers in Singapore! =) Glad to see Noah growing up fast and healthy! =)

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  2. I just want to say that I happened upon your site through Bloggy Moms, and I loved this post. I have done very little world traveling, and Prague would be amazing! Thanks for sharing. Check out my blog any time:
    http://mydevotionalthoughts.com

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    1. Hi Ruth, thanks for popping by. Yes Prague is an amazing place and I sure hope you'll have the chance to set foot on it someday. =)

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  3. Angel is so lucky to be able to travel to so many places together with you! Oh jealous! Haha. Eastern Europe is definitely one of the destinations that I'll visit in future! =)

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    1. Haha oh yeah, she is SOOOO lucky. So am I. I think Eastern Europe is a great though not so popular choice. Prague was really awesome. Thanks for hosting this blog train!

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  4. Prague is indeed one of the best holiday destinations in the world! What a lovely family you have. I wish I could visit Prague in the future. Updating my bucket list now. ;) Thank you for that post. :)

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    1. You are welcome, Johanna! Thanks for reading!

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  5. What a beautiful blog. The picture of the ladybird caught my attention. Maybe your daughter would like to learn the Czech for that. In Czech it's Beruska but it's pronounced Berooshka. Little tips from livingprague.com.

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Yoohoo, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving your comment! I am feeling the love! (^.^)

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