My trip began with an early evening flight to Frankfurt. After just about a full day of work, I stopped at home just long enough to pick up my luggage and head to the airport. The usual plan was in play -- have a small meal's worth of food in the First Class Lounge and a late heavy dinner (for me) on the plane prior to sleeping most of the way to Europe. We departed just a little late, which put us into Frankfurt about a half hour behind schedule. We were fortunate enough to be able to disembark directly into the terminal (as opposed to a remote parking spot and a bus ride in), so that saved time, but not enough to allow for any significant time to be spent in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. The late-afternoon departure to Prague was on time, and with the flight lasting only an hour, I was on the ground in no time (even in that amount of time, Lufthansa still manages to serve a decently-sized snack).
I had only carry-on luggage, but before leaving the airport, i had to pick up my prepaid Prague Card. I decided to purchase this online ahead of time to save a little transaction time and get a small discount. Since April, the card now includes free public transport and the Airport Express bus. This meant I didn't even have to stop at an airport ATM to get cash. After a little wait, I boarded the next bus into Central Prague (along with several other people. Fortunately, it's only about 35 minutes or so into town. Inbound, the bus stops 3 times before reaching the terminus at the central railway station (Hlavani Nadrazi). The first stop was at the transfer point to one of the subway lines. Since my hotel was near the first central Prague stop, I stayed on. At Namesti Republiky, I got off the bus, pulled out my phone to orient myself, and headed toward the Hotel Hilton Old Town.
Of the two Hiltons in Prague, the Old town location is best for a tourist visit. It's at the edge of Old Town, within walking distance of many sights and on top of a subway station.
Next up, I wanted to take advantage of the free 1-hour boat tour. While the Prague Card booklet said that tickets needed to be obtained at a ticket booth near Wenceslas Square, the people at the booth redirected me to the dock where the boat would depart from.
The boat didn't cover a lot of distance in an hour, but it was still very scenic. From the northern edge of the older part of town, the boat went under the Charles Bridge, turned around and then went back to the starting point, passing under several bridges and near both shores.
Afterwards, I strolled back to the hotel, taking in more of the sights.
For my seconds day, with chances of rain still in the forecast, I decided to start off with activities focused indoors. First on the agenda was a return to Prague Castle and its many buildings. The #% tram took me across the river, and then the #22 tram took me up the hill (it is possible to walk up as well via stairs. I had free entry to the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Golden Lane and the Basilica of St. George. I also purchased a discounted ticket to the St. Vitus Treasury exhibition.
For my third and final full day, I had planned to start out by taking the 3-hour walking tour. But when I went to the designated booth to sign up, they told me that there was a mistake in the Prague Card booklet and that the walking tour was not included. I was a bit disappointed, but I moved on quickly, as there was plenty that I could do on my own.
My stops included a trek up the Powder Tower (Gothic tower marking the entrance to Old Town), Old Town Hall Tower, Old Town Hall chambers, and watching the very old Astronomical Clock strike the top of the hour, as well as visit to the New National Building Museum (the impressive Old Building is currently undergoing renovation) and the old Jewish section.
The Old Town Hall chambers are visited by guided tour only, with English tours given at designated times. The visit to the Tower is a separate entry, but both are covered by the Prague Card.
This is the oldest working astronomical clock in Europe. At the top of the hour, the Apostles make their appearance above the mechanisms.
|Old town Square|
|The Hilton Old Town from the Tower|
|The Apostles up close|
|The rooms underneath the Old Town Hall were actually dwellings at street level in olden times|
|A walk across the whole Charles Bridge|
|A section of the Jewish Cemetery|
Visits to nearby synagogue buildings are included with the ticket,
|The Old building of the National Museum|