Czech Republic

The Rainy and Charming Prague

My alarm was set for sunrise even though the chance of a sunrise was slim. We got dressed, grabbed the tripod, and walked out to Charles Bridge. The street was nearly empty and so peaceful that the only noise I heard was from the pigeons. The colorful houses under the Lesser Town Tower’s arch are one of my favorite photo spots in Prague!

Prague is so beautiful even though the gloomy sky couldn’t cover its colors.

It was a huge difference between early in the morning and last night; I really enjoyed the peacefulness of it.

We were not the only ones who got rewarded by getting up early, a couple was having their prewedding photo session! There is no way to take a photo without photobombed except for the sunrise hour. The bride-to-be’s red dress really stand out especially in a gloomy day like this.

Locals were started to set up their booths.

Charles Bridge, one of the most beautiful and famous bridges definitely lived up to its name. However, it is smaller (shorter and narrower) than I had in my mind but as charming. The view facing the Old Town Bridge Tower:

The view facing the Lesser Town Tower, which view do you prefer more? Personally, I like the view facing the Lesser Town Tower (below) more because of the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral dominated the background. Doesn’t this look like out of a fairy tale book?

The street that we walked through multiple times each day, it is one of my favorite photo spots as well, aren’t the houses looked lovely?

It started to drizzle again and we walked back to our hotel to have breakfast. The breakfast selection was okay with some cold cuts, scrambled eggs, sausages, and pastries.

Despite the coldness and the rain, it didn’t stop us to go out and enjoy what Prague has to offer. Their houses and shops’ exterior are so cute that I stopped every few steps for a photo. This pastel green building is an example of the cuteness!

And this…looked like someone drew it in a storybook.

We found an open space that heads out to the river and walked in to check out the view….ahhh we found another top photo spot that I have seen many people taken photos in with Charles Bridge on the back. However, not many swans hang out there at that time; they were all the way down at the river.

Many more pretty streets on our walk to Prague Castle.

We took this long flight of stairs all the way up to the castle where we went through a quick metal detector scan and then the awesome view of Prague!

Originally, I wasn’t planning on purchasing the admission ticket to enter the castle complex as I read that the most beautiful spots, the castle ground, are free. However, since it was raining, I changed my mind and wanted to check out the indoor. We went into the information office to purchase the admission ticket….”Circuit B” which include: St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower for 350 CZK. Also, in order to take photos inside, we need to pay for the “Photo Pass” for an additional 50 CZK. I found that in Prague it is common that they charge extra for taking photos inside!

Also, right next to the information center, there is a post office where we went in to check out if they have the collectible stamps and mail the postcard to Jason’s friend. Surprisingly, the post office sells postcards cheaper than outside souvenir shops! They were like 6 CZK each only whereas in souvenir shops around 20 CZK! If you want to buy postcards, definitely check out the post office! Unfortunately, they don’t have those collectible sheets of stamps.

St. Vitus Cathedral dominated the center of the castle complex and this is when Jason said we should’ve bought our wide angle lens!

Even though we got there just before 9 am, groups of bus tours were already there yikes! The details were incredible!

The interior is just as beautiful with colorful stained glasses everywhere.

This 3-D craving of the Old Town and the Lesser Town with Prague Castle on the right looked amazing.

The one thing that really stands out in the cathedral is this:

St. Wenceslas Chapel:

After the cathedral, we walked around the castle complex where they are many beautiful buildings.

The groups of bus tours finally left the area so I did get a photo with the cathedral eventually.

Next, we went into the castle hall where it looked empty but with nice ceiling and hanging lights.

The castle interior wasn’t impressive at all; there are barely any decors.

The crown jewels:

The rain finally took a break and we were out again to explore the complex.

Another building we went in and it was as plain.

The last section we went in with our Circuit B ticket was Golden Lane……a street filled with cute colorful houses and a medieval armory musuem:

Those little houses are displays of the lives back in the old days, there were glass walls so it limited the space that probably only fit a few people in each house at once.

Don’t let the photos online fool you, it’s only one street and I felt like it was a tourist trap to charge to get in this place.

This is the cutest house of them all and it’s a souvenir shop.

More houses, I think this is the famous one that depicts the lives of Alchemists

A mini theater with many old film cases.

After that, we walked out to check out the views of Prague from above the castle.

The Starbucks where it offers great views but too bad it was rainy that day, otherwise, I’ll have a cup of green tea latte to enjoy the views.

The views from the Starbucks’ roof.

We spent around 2.5 hours (mostly to kill time due to the rain) in the castle complex and I concluded that people are right, the most photogenic spots in the castle complex are free, it wasn’t worth paying the admission fee except for St. Vitus Cathedral.

Right outside the castle, this cool looking building – Schwarzenberg Palace (a museum of Baroque paintings). We are not museum people so we didn’t go in to check it out.

We continued walking and once again streets of colorful houses!

Jason saw this beautiful bell tower and decided to check it out and we accidentally discovered this hidden gem! This is Loreto Prague, a place of pilgrimage.

The entrance fee was 150 CZK per person and another 100 CZK for the “photo pass” again but totally worth the price. We were able to take some beautiful photos with the amazing paintings on the ceiling; we almost have this place to ourselves!

The “photo pass” sticker to signify that we are permitted to take photos inside 😉

The architecture is pretty incredible with so many statues carved out of the wall:

The most impressive and surprising find is the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord; this small size church is all covered by paintings! I really like the pink and greenish colors, it is very different than other churches.

Although not huge like other famous cathedrals, it’s one of the most beautiful churches I have ever visited!

On the 2nd floor of the main building, it hosted a collection of jewels too.

There’s a deck that you can walk out for beautiful photos of the building’s architecture.

We spent more than an hour in Loreto and it was time for lunch….we did not want to waste time to walk down the hill because we have an appointment to the Strahov Monastery Library at 1:30 PM so I looked up restaurants nearby. I found Malý Buddha around the corner that is Asian cuisine. On our walk there, we saw many nice buildings.

Malý Buddha looked like inside a “cave”, it was very dark and limited windows.

Jason ordered a beef stir-fried dish and it was pretty tasty.

My Vietnamese noodle soup (Pho) was different than the ones we had at home. The beef was not thin sliced but those were very good quality beef nevertheless! The noodle was flat noodle instead of the Vietnamese noodle but I guess can’t expect much since we are in Prague. However, the broth was full of flavors without MSG as I don’t feel thirsty afterward.

Our lunch was decent given that Prague cuisine is too salty for us and cost us only 500 CZK – nice and cheap! After lunch, we walked to the Strahov Monastery Library right on time at 1:30 PM. I walked to the ticket counter on the first floor and told the lady that we have an appointment at 1:30 PM. She has a sign of my name on her table with “1:30 PM” and she told us to proceed upstairs. There is another lady checking ticket upstairs which we don’t have and I told her that we have an appointment with Erika and showed her my email confirmation. She went to check and told us to wait there…..we were a little bit confused as to what’s going on but within a few minutes, another lady came and escorted us! She doesn’t speak much English but she is super nice and tried to show us everything!

So for your information, there are two beautiful Baroque style libraries in Prague. The one I originally planned to visit was Klementinum Library which is the most famous one but later I found out that no photo allowed so I was disappointed. Upon further research in TripAdvisor, someone recommended the Strahov Monastery Library where there’s a special tour if you make a reservation in advance (they allow limited people to go in each day) where you can actually get inside the library to take photos. Immediately, I contacted via the email on the website:

I received the response in two days and super excited to have our reservation confirmed, the special tour was 400 CZK per person. For the general public visit that cost 120 CZK, you can only be at the entrance of the library to take photos like them, see the wooden bar that blocked entrance?

The view will be like this:

The lady who escorted us lifted that wooden bar and let us two in, at that point, I felt like a super VIP lol!!! We were nonstop taking photos of every corner; it is that incredible! Where else can you have photos without other tourists in such a beautiful library?

They do have really old books there:

The library has two halls and this one is The Theological Hall:

Those globes were from a long time ago….

…that Australia hasn’t even discovered yet to be on the globe!

This door looked like from a Harry Potter book, doesn’t it?

What stands out when I first saw the photo of the library online is this stunning white ceiling with paintings:

The super nice lady who showed us everything from very old books to those cabinets.

See all those people who tried to have a peek in, they must be thinking “who are those two people?” and super jealous of us haha!

She showed us this jewelry cabinet which has so many hidden secret slots!

Then, she walked us into The Philosophical Hall, a totally different architecture of two-story high with this massive painting on the ceiling! The painting includes Adam and Eve and Greek philosophers. The lady gave us an English brochure that has a photo of the whole ceiling and short summary of the figures in the painting. I didn’t even know about this The Philosophical Hall prior to the visit so I was very shocked by the grandness of it!

Once again, a robe at the entrance to block people from entering and I probably photobombed all their photos haha!

This is only one small section of the ceiling!

She also showed us this table which brilliantly designed so you can fold the chair and slide right into the table.

If she didn’t point this out, we would’ve never noticed it… of the corners is actually a painting instead of a real bookcase that is actually a doorway to the 2nd floor. Sadly, we were not allowed to go upstairs 🙁

Ahhhh…I was mesmerized by the library!

Can you pick out the bookshelf that is fake?

It’s the bottom left most one haha!

I kept telling Jason “take pictures!”, absolutely love the architecture!

She didn’t rush us at all and we have all the time we wanted to take photos. We finally have to say goodbye to the beautiful Strahov Monastery Library! Outside the halls, they have some displays as well:

After the exclusive VIP treatment in the library, we walked out to the exterior of the monastery for some photos.

I love the patterns on this door!

We are finally done exploring the castle area and walked down and many more colorful buildings.

A look back of the Strahov Monastery:

Another super cute door:

I have seen Tuks-Tuks in many tourist cities but the first time I see those vintage cars used as tour cars and quite popular in Prague!

A gingerbread shop, look at the ones hanging on the wall, they are too cute to be eaten!

More beautiful streets in Prague:

The old trams are still running but since all the tourist attractions that we interested in visiting are so close by that we did all by walking. I enjoy more of a walkable city rather than spending time in transportation to get from one place to another.

St. Nicholas Church – another Baroque church.

When we reached Charles Bridge, it was crowded…..see all those heads? It was a completely 180 degrees different than what earlier in the morning!

Even with some wait, this is the least amount of people in the photo that we can get:

Street vendors on Charles Bridge:

River cruises:

Of the 30 sculptures on the bridge, the most famous is the statue of John of Nepomuk where it is a tradition to touch it to bring good luck and to return to Prague in the future. I told Jason to give it a touch haha!

Street performers on the bridge, this group of grandpas are the most popular 😀

Self-made microphone?

Street performers are everywhere but extra special on Charles Bridge with the beautiful backdrop of Prague Castle:

I sneaked in a corner for a photo and a brief moment of no tourists at that corner.

Then, we walk along the riverbank for a different view of the skyline and tried to scout out the locations for night photos. This side is where the cruises board.

Rudolfinum Concert Hall:

The streets in the Old Town are more bigger blocks like these:

We made our way to the Old Town square again and it was packed with people.

Street performers of course and this was one giantic panda!

Sadly, the Astronomical Clock was still scaffolded so only a little angle can see the clock.

We went into the Old Town Hall tower as I heard the view from the top is amazing.

Inside the Old Town Tower where I think the building interior looked very modern instead.

I purchased the one-time admission for 250 CZK. They also have a combo ticket “Town Hall Pass” for 350 CZK that’ll allow you to visit ascend the tower twice and another town hall, Novoměstské. If you have time to visit both town halls then the Town Hall Pass is a better value. The tower is very accessible, you can take the elevator all the way up to the viewing platform so no climbing stair required if you want to save some energy. The views are beautiful as told! Prague is filled with orange roofed houses and metal domes.

This roof’s windows looked like eyes!

The street beneath the Old Town Hall:

The panoramic view of the Old Town Hall Square and Church of Our Lady Before Týn that you see in many postcards:

After the 360 degree views, we took the elevator back down and took more photos of the incredible building exterior of the Old Town. Look at this building!

This could be a postcard angle without the scaffold!

We have a reservation at one of the most famous restaurants and a Michelin starred restaurants in Prague – Field Restaurant at 6 PM so we followed the GPS to walk through the town to get there. On the way, more buildings:

We arrived 15 minutes early and they haven’t opened yet so we waited outside. As soon as they opened, we went in and was seated. I chose the a la carte (an appetizer, main, and dessert) while Jason chose the Ten Course Degustation menu for 3,500 CZK (we splurged for the experience). The bread was interesting with many different spreads.

The first free Amuse Bouche was a roll of some fish.

The second free Amuse Bouche was a lobster meat tart and the texture was very interesting.

The third free Amuse Bouche was something I can’t describe…..texture like a chocolate but salty.

This is where it gets interesting, the 10 courses that Jason chose, they put the menu on our table so we can track the progress and the waiter/waitress was very good at presenting each course to describe it. However, with so many dishes, I lost track what is what, sorry! Each dish looked like an artwork with so many flavors that I never had before so I couldn’t even tell what it is! Even though I only ordered 3 dishes a la carte, the kitchen gave me some free dishes to fill the time during Jason’s 10-course extravagant so super thoughtful of them doing that!

This is one of the dishes I was given for free, it shaped like an egg but inside filled with some semi-sweet cold cream that tasted like foie gras.

My main was a pork and the sauce was a little bit salty for me…Prague cuisine is on the salty side!

I asked Jason how are his dishes – he described it as he felt he has eaten a lot of different sauce LOL! Then, we got this box to mimic a picnic which is very creative of them. I am not sure if they make two pieces so we could share or does it come with two pieces:

A cold drink on the bottom with redcurrant as caviar. The drink was interesting that it has a minty after taste which reminded me of cough medicine haha!

Our desserts:

The 10-course meal took more than 2 hours which took longer than I thought so we missed the blue hour! Our dinner cost 4555 CZK and the only thing I don’t like about the Czech Republic is that their tipping etiquette is 10% unlike other parts of Europe where only a few Euros. The tip then became 500 CZK which was the cost of our lunch yikes! To be fair, it was a great experience and superb service! However, when we chatted about our favorite dish, we just couldn’t identify any….all the dishes are unique and full of flavors (so much that we felt like we were eating sauce LOL) but none stand out as extra special and memorable.

We walked to the riverbank on our way back to our hotel and got some night photos of Charles Bridge:

And the castle complex:

Since we missed the blue hour so we decided to head back to our hotel to get some rest as we had been walking the entire day! Prague is beautiful despite the rainy and cold weather and has plenty of incredible indoor sites that you can visit like our favorite Strahov Monastery Library, make sure you reserve the “private” tour!

2 thoughts on “The Rainy and Charming Prague

  1. Hi Lisa, ever since reading this blog post many months ago I have been obsessed with going to this library and taking the private tour. May I ask how many months in advance you booked this?

    1. Hi Lisa, I contacted them end of June and my trip was at the end of August so two months. If you are going during peak season like June-July, probably the earlier the better. But then again not much people know about this 😉

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