Some time in April, my friend and fellow metal fan Diane (with whom I attended a LoG/CoB show in November) and I discovered that Iron Maiden, a legendary power metal band from the UK, would be playing at a festival called Rockavaria in Munich, Bavaria, in May. After realizing that tickets were not only still available, but were also incredibly reasonably priced, we began making plans.
We reasoned that since the day we would be attending the festival was going to be a Sunday, it was only practical to make a whole weekend out of the event. Within reasonable proximity to Munich lies the city of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, a destination that we both had on our to-visit lists. We spent some time researching transportation and lodging, and before we knew it, we were up at 5am boarding our bus.
As I’ve said before, buses are my transport of choice, as they are consistently affordable and decently comfortable. We chose an itinerary that would allow us several hours’ stopover in Nürnberg (Nuremberg in English), so that we could explore the former Nazi rally grounds.
(due to problems with my file of photos from Nürnberg, I’ll have to come back and add those in later. Sorry..)
We had a very short amount of time, especially because it took about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the rally grounds from the Hauptbahnhof (main rail station), so we just walked around the grounds, discussing how surreal it was to walk and stand where some of the most deadly humans in history once stood.
Our next bus arrived before long, and we continued on our way to Prague. We arrived in the early evening, and walked about a mile or so to our hostel. After we checked in and locked up our things, we took off to explore the city by foot.
Luckily for us, my sister studied abroad in Prague for a semester in 2014. She gave us pointers on some things most worth checking out in the short amount of time we had, so we followed her instructions to Vyšehrad, a fort built in the mid-10th century.
Inside the walls of the fort is something of a park, and we enjoyed the peaceful setting as we walked around the interior. There were great views of the city from atop the walls, which provided a fitting introduction to the city for us. We were able to consult our map and get our bearings for the next 24 hours of our visit.
Leaving the thousand-year-old remains, we headed to a nearby bridge to cross the river. We walked aimlessly, stopping for a pilsner at a restaurant along the river so that we could take in the sights and sound. There was an unexpected fireworks display, which contributed to the stunning ambience of the onset of our first night in Prague.
Our meal was a rabbit burger somewhere near the city center. I’ve come to enjoy rabbit quite a bit; although I’ve only had it in burger form, it has been consistently tasty at a reasonable price. Afterward, we trekked back to our hostel for a night of rest.
The next day, we checked out of the hostel and hit the Museum of Communism, which was awesome because it was very unique in comparison with other museums we have visited, and also provided a comprehensive overview of the Czech Republic’s past several centuries. This provided a nice frame of reference from which to view the city, as it has been a huge place of action throughout Europe’s social and political history.
Next, we went for a hike up Petřín Hill, where we obtained spectacular views of the city. It was actually a bit of a misunderstanding; my sister had directed us to a different hill for a view of the “creepy baby tower” (more details later), but we headed to this one by mistake. It was not unfortunate, as the hike up was refreshing and the top provided various types of entertainment. We did not enter any towers or other attractions, but headed down the other side in order to get to the Prague Castle.
One of the largest castles in the world, the Prague Castle was very impressive. Unfortunately, we only had time to dip in and check out the cathedral within the walls, St. Vitus Cathedral, which was also magnificent.
We had a quick snack outside the castle, and then walked down some intense stairs to visit Charles Bridge.
One of the most well-known parts of Prague, the Charles Bridge is absolutely worth a visit or four. Diane and I stopped here several times throughout our ~28 hour stay, and although it was almost always crowded, we enjoyed it very much.
Between the many statues that line both sides of this 700-year-old bridge, there are all kinds of artists that like to set up stations along the way, selling their work, from paintings to jewelry to wood carvings. There are also musicians at reasonable distances along the bridge, allowing for a myriad of atmospheres to settle around you as you cross from one side of the Vltava River to the other.
After eating some sandwiches that we had brought with us at the base of one of the many statues, Diane and I headed back through the Old Town. We spent some time in the Old Town Square, marveling at the astronomical clock.
The clock has an extensive history and an even more extensive description of form and function. We did not have time for a tour or a trip to the top of the tower, but I would highly recommend spending more time at this location.
We left the old town to make our way to the aforementioned creepy baby tower. Although it is actually a transmitting tower called Žižkov Tower, I prefer the title my sister bestowed upon it.
It was getting later and beginning to rain, so we rushed to finish the last few things we wished to do with our remaining time. We scooped up a couple souvenirs (mostly postcards, and some Kofola for my sister. At the end of the day, we grabbed a bite to eat before heading to the bus station for our overnight bus back to Munich.
We had such a short time in Prague, but I really loved this city. The history of this place is just incredible, with so many major protests and revolutions occurring or taking root here. The language is entirely foreign to me (the only word I know is ahoj – hello), which I find makes a trip more exciting and adds to the “lost” feeling that I love to encounter in this world.
The buildings in Prague were also very unique, which stems from the communist background of the country. Notable was the Dancing House and the many statues scattered about the city.
I don’t really know much at all about architecture, but the mood that the older structures leant the city really appealed to me.
Aside from these styles, I liked how the streets are laid out, and how most buildings looked overall. The aesthetic of the city really appeals to my taste.
You can see in the photos that there were tons of people everywhere, but that didn’t really bother us. We took public transportation I think twice, so we avoided or deterred people mostly by walking “with a purpose.”
The food was also great, although the absinthe we tasted was hardly palatable. We were able to spend a very small amount on food on this trip, which is always a plus for traveling students.
I really hope to visit Prague again one day, as there is so much we did not get to see. Overall, it was 28 hours very well spent.
Thanks for reading!