We'd heard several conflicting reports about whether Prague was worth visiting..
Stories of wonderful architecture and beautiful areas to explore....somewhat countered with tales of 'Stag & Hen' parties of biblical proportion! Despite the latter, the former seemed to be in the majority, keeping Prague very much on the list of 'must visit' destinations!
So when the chance of a 'job' came up there I jumped at it...adding on a few extra days for Di & I to explore. We needn't have been concerned... the city is indeed beautiful and full of wonderful architecture, and the atmosphere nothing short of jovial at all times..even at the required set-up time of 3.30am to catch dawn in June on the Charles Bridge, which I did five mornings on the run in a bid to photograph it in favourable conditions...(and without the thousands of people that fill it from early in the morning to late in the evening!)
When visiting a city for the first time..I prefer not to do any research into established photo spots so that I can just enjoy the place and shoot things that I think might work. I accept that this is not necessarily the most productive way of making the most out of a new location but it allows me to wander freely without concern for visiting a particular area or landmark.
The one area I do research quite extensively is the accommodation and we duly chose our particular hotel based on excellent reviews and ease of walking both to the bridge and the Old Town square. My booking of a 'river view' room was met with a stereo rendition of 'Wow!' from both Di & I upon entering as it was huge (5-a-side anyone?) with a lovely view of the traditional property opposite and the river winding it's way off to the left....perfect!
However, what none of the reviews or 'write-ups' had mentioned was that the 'traditional' property opposite was home to "Europe's 2nd largest night club"...a fact that continued to escape us until proceedings kicked off at 1am with a bass drum beat that could best be described as 'rib breaking'...the fact that it was able to make the crockery on our 'tea & coffee' tray physically jump was both fascinating and horrifying in equal measure! The cacophony continued to 5.30am whereupon I expected to see hordes of drunken revellers exiting said club (with ears bleeding)...but no, just the usual good natured behaviour that we were to witness for the rest of our stay! The complete lack of sleep did, however, result in a somewhat fraught exchange with the hotel reception later that morning which resulted in us moving to a room on the top floor overlooking the city on the opposite side of the hotel.
(NB My accommodation research now takes in properties within a 100m radius of my chosen provider to prevent this scenario being repeated!)
With the job completed Di and I had 5 days to ourselves to explore the city...
If you're a lover of architecture then you're in for a treat with a mix of styles from Gothic to Postmodern...if Museums are your thing, then you have ten to choose from...alternatively, there are an array of theatres that seem to hold (mainly classical) concerts every day of the week...which, having attended a few, are quite excellent and allow you to also see the highly decorative interiors of said theatres. If I could offer a tip though...don't be tempted to buy the higher priced tickets as there are usually spaces still available that you can move into once the doors are closed.
There are the usual open bus city tours which are grand and allow you to get your 'bearings' for further exploration on foot but don't miss the opportunity to see the city from the river from one of the many boat tours that traverse the Vltava on such a regular basis affording you views that would be impossible by any other means.
Another must in terms of viewpoints and modes of travel is the funicular railway that runs from the Lesser Town up to the top of Petrin Hill which is home to the Petrin Observation Tower...a great vantage point with a long lens.
My 'must visit' list would include; ('In no particular order'...to be read in an 'X-Factor' style voice!)
• The Charles Bridge
• The Old Town Square
• The Astronomical Clock
• St. Nicholas' Church
• St. Vitus' Cathedral
• St. Thomas' Church
• Lobkowiczký Paláce
• Prague Castle
• Strahov Monastery
• The Jewish Quarter
This is by no means an exhaustive list...instead, it is intended to be a starting point for any research you may wish to do for yourself prior to visiting, or even whilst you're there.
It may aid you in deciding where to base yourself in the city depending on your preference of landmarks and areas to visit...and your level of mobility. (Beware of the Segway users is all I'm saying!)
So, in summary, if you've been thinking about a city break and had any doubts about Prague being an option, be aware that it ranked 6th in the world for recommended destinations by TripAdvisor in 2016 and only London, Paris & Rome have more visitors in Europe...they're not going without good reason!!!