Journal by Nicola Onions.
With its picturesque views and gothic architecture, Prague had been calling me for a while, I so desperately wanted to see this city and learn about its history. After a breakup and really wanting to get away from everything, I spent two weeks longing to get away to this City and then just decided to book it and leave. Once I had started my journey to get to Prague I felt such a sense of freedom and adventure; I knew this was going to be great.
This City is a good one to pick if you are travelling alone, it is easy to get around and is pretty safe. You can buy a travel ticket that allows you to use all the public transport including, trams, buses and the metro. Tickets for 24 hours of travel cost 110 Czech Koruna/Crown (£2.89) or 72 hours which costs 310 Kč (£8.14) for adults, you can get tickets for 90 and 30 minutes, but I think buying a whole day is worth it, you can just hop on and off and not worry about the time. It’s not expensive either. I mainly used the tram and walked just so I could see as much as the City as possible. You can’t see much underground!
Though my decision to go on this trip was quite spontaneous, after I had booked flights and a place to stay, I did spend the week planning what I wanted to do. I had originally planned on getting a hostel near the Old Town, as the Old Town was close to lots of other things. However, I ended up staying in a hostel near the Castle called 'Arpacay Backpackers’, at a total cost of 970.00 Kč (£25.62) and I’m really glad I did, the location was great.
The hostel was right around the corner from the Castle on an old cobbled street that was full of little restaurants, I did not go hungry! The WiFi was good and the breakfast was €3.00 (You can use either currency in the hostel, but not everywhere in Prague) a steal considering the buffet on offer. I filled up and made a sandwich for the day! Upon arrival, taking my bed sheets and towel into my female only room, I met a Canadian woman whom I immediately hit it off with. We spent the next day walking around the city and she showed me some of her favourite spots, some of which weren’t on my list. It was like a free personal walking tour, however there are free group walking tours, which are really good.
As with the nature of hostel travelling, people don’t tend to stick around for long and my Canadian friend was gone the next day travelling on throughout Europe. It was nice to be on my own again as well though as I could now spend ages wandering around with my camera which is what I love to do.
As a photographer I wanted to get some good shots and see some fantastic views so I researched good vantage points in the city. This lead me to two parks, Letná and Petřínské which were both up hills and in different areas of the City giving you good views at two different points of the whole city. I also ventured up the Powder Tower (at a cost of 90 Kč / £2.35) I climbed the very narrow spiral staircase and walked across a very creaky wooden floor and arrived at the top. The sun had come out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, I had a brilliant view of all the buildings in the City. I also found a nice quiet spot on the river front away from the tourists, here I could take some photographs of the Charles Bridge at river level. There were some local people hanging out by their old car playing music and I listened as I watched the Swans swimming down the Vltava River.
While in the Old Town I visited many historic sites including the Jewish museum and cemeteries. The occupation of then Czechoslovakia was an important moment in the months leading up to World War II. Hitler actually loved Prague though, and had wanted it to be his ‘Capital of Culture’. It really makes you wonder how different it could look today if he hadn’t protected it. Seeing the Jewish museum and reading all the names really hits home at what a dark moment in history this was.
Prague’s main attraction is it’s castle complex which started construction in 870 AD, therefore has many different architectural looks but I think my favourite is the Medieval Gothic cathedral, St. Vitus. The area is still the official residence of the President and you can watch the changing of guard. On ‘Golden Lane’ there are various shops which use to be houses. One of the houses used to be house of Josef Kazda, an amateur film historian during World War II; He saved many films that were intended to be destroyed by the Nazi’s. After the war was over, he organised screenings at his house and you can watch some when you visit the house today.
On my final evening in Prague I wanted to watch the sunset, I knew it would be a nice view from the river as the sun would go down behind the castle and the weather was great. I was not wrong! I walked from hostel, over the Charles Bridge and found a spot next to the river overlooking the boats and having the castle and the cathedral in the distance. I was joined by a few other people, also watching the sunset but we all watched quietly in awe of the beautiful sky. The cold air seemed cleansing and I had a moment where I felt totally at peace, time seemed to slow down and I felt okay again. It was one of those moments where you know it is significant. I realised that I could do this and I could do anything I wanted, it was the start of my life again. I hit reset and was ready to come home.
Travelling alone can seem daunting but I highly recommend doing it, it’s such a freeing feeling, I feel more confident and independent not just in regards to travel but in my whole life. You get to choose how you travel, when, what to do and only have to think about yourself. It’s the best feeling in the World. If you are looking for a place to travel on your own for the first time Prague is definitely a good choice. I love this City.
“I will walk by myself and cure myself in the sunshine and the wind.” — Charles Reznikoff