Going through customs at Heathrow, I waited patiently for Lauren on the other side of security control. She was held up at the metal detector as she had set off the alarms and was ordered to go into the full body scanner. My mind wandered as I stuffed my pockets with my wallet, phone and passport. The dawning realisation became apparent of how unprepared I was for this trip. It was going to be a nice change landing in a foreign city, totally oblivious, and not knowing what to expect.
Leaving the terminal at Prague airport there were no signs that would benefit a unilingual chap such as myself. We walked around the bus stops and found a small indicator for the ‘Airport Express’. This sounds promising, I thought. There was an inconspicuous piece of paper stuck to a post with a section in English saying the bus would go to the city and the fee could be paid to the bus driver. Success.
We jumped on the bus and headed into the city. The landscape went through a metamorphosis from barren fields to construction sites, to crumbling buildings. After a tunnel we emerged with lush vegetation to one side and a historic metropolis on the other. Castle and church towers poked out from behind rustic skyscrapers. Any minute now the bus should stop and let us off. It did eventually stop. On a dusty road that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere.
Standing in 30 degree heat, no shade and what appeared to be the bustling city in the distance we were unsure of what to do. There was a lone glass elevator rising up from the ground that did not appear to have been serviced in a good few years. Let’s get in and see where it goes, what’s the worst that could happen? The lift descended and from the glass walls, we saw hundreds of people appear from nowhere. Hidden below the surface was an exuberance of human activity. We were at the main transport terminal that appeared to account for all the city’s buses and trains. Progress was stifled again when we realised all the signs were in Czech.
Being up for eight hours already, were we ever going to find the hotel? Fortunately, there was a tourist information centre nearby that provided some useful information on Prague’s transport system. There are little yellow and red machines to purchase tickets that can be used on all buses, trams and the metro. We bought the 3-day pass from the kiosk, which by the end of the trip proved to be extremely useful. There are three metro lines that run across the city and after a little practice are easy to navigate. With our tickets we ventured into the metro underground and only had to travel one stop to Florenc.
As we boarded the first train, we were approached by a heavy set man that showed us a large medallion, which was possibly identification of some sort. He started speaking Czech at us but what did he want? I flashed him my ticket and he lost interest in me and started speaking to Lauren who was rummaging through her bag. Turns out these were the ticket inspectors. Luck had definitely shifted back in our favour as we surfaced from the underground and our hotel was facing us from across the street.
After a short break, we made our way to the centre of Prague. En route I was feeling hungry so we stopped at one of the street vendors. It was a strange sight. Some type of pastry being twirled over a fire. It was a Czech/Slovak treat called a Trdelník that is covered in cinnamon and sugar. Lauren opted for the even sweeter version with chocolate spread. She struggled.
With our hunger needs sorted we progressed towards the heart of Prague. The Gothic architecture was beautiful and it seemed every lane we ventured down had its own story to tell. The square was grand with plenty of tourists and locals alike. There was a jazz festival going on that added to our own personal backdrop theme music while walking about.
The centre became a different world at night with the fusion of bright lights and exotic continental accents. We wanted to cap the night off with some cocktails so we started searching for an appropriate venue. There was a problem with finding that perfect place. It was either too crowded or too tacky. Then we stumbled across a hidden doorway. We peered down some steps that disappeared into classy décor. This was the place! We crept in and were abruptly stopped by a lady.
“Do you have a reservation?”
She looked at us with disdain and said we could drink at the bar. We passed rows of empty tables with reserved signs on them. No problem, the bar stools were comfy and it gave a great view of the room. This was an impressively fancy bar. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling but emitted a low glow to give the atmosphere an intimate feel. A group of guys nearby were all puffing on cigars. I reached for a complimentary sachet of matches to get the name.
Black Angel’s Bar Top 10 Hotel Bars in the World
“Oh, well played Prague. Well played.”
The city had much more in store for us.
TO BE CONTINUED…