My typical day starts early, and today is no different. By 5am I am up and looking for a cup of coffee and a place to do some work. Fortunately, our room at The Emblem Hotel was quiet last night and the bed was very comfortable, making for a restful night's sleep. I remembered when we checked into the hotel, Olga mentioned something about a club room on the lower level. With MacBook Pro in hand, I walked down the stairs from the Reception to find the Maharal Club. This is an interesting space divided into several multi-function rooms. An automated DeLonghi coffee machine is located in the foyer — exactly what I was looking for!
One of the rooms, The Salon, is a spacious and comfortable spot to relax and get down to work on my blog. This will be a nice space to come back to in the evening to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine.
On the weekends, the hotel begins breakfast service at 7am (6:30am on weekdays). Our room rate included breakfast so, after completing my daily blog, I decide to have a bite to eat. George Prime Steak is the hotel's only restaurant and is where breakfast is served. A tempting buffet greets guests with a choice of cereals, pastries, breads, fruit, meats and cheeses.
Once seated, I am presented an a la carte menu offering a choice of two eggs (fried, scrambled, poached or boiled) with bacon, Prague Ham or sausage; an omelet; Porridge; or, an American Pancake with cinnamon syrup. I opted for two poached eggs with Prague Ham. The eggs arrived perfectly poached and the Prague ham was really good. A pot of hot coffee was delivered to my table and there is a variety of fruit juices available nearby.
By 9:00am, Rickee is up and ready to join the living. She has just enough time for a quick breakfast before we meet Albi, our local guide, for a private walking tour of Prague at 9:30 am. Albi was actually waiting for us in the Reception area when Rickee finished breakfast. She introduced herself and asked us what we wanted to see on our tour. We told Albi that we would leave the tour up to her and after she showed us on a local map what we would be seeing, we were on our way. Our first destination is the Jewish Quarter, only a a couple of blocks from our hotel.
After our visit to the Jewish Quarter, we walked a few blocks to the Old Town Square, located between Wenceslas Square and the famed Charles Bridge. The square is bustling with activity on this cold November morning. Near the center of the square is the massive Jan Hus memorial statue.
The square is surrounded by typical Gothic architecture and two impressive churches.
Perhaps the most visited site in Prague, and certainly in Old Town Square, is the medieval astronomical clock. The clock was installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world.
The clock facade is undergoing renovation, but the mechanism itself is still in working order. Each hour, on the hour, tourists pack into the area in front of the clock to take photos and video when the clock chimes and various apostle figures emerge from the doorways. Albi gave us a real insider tip. If you want to get the best view of the clock without fighting the crowd, go to the second floor of Grand Hotel Praha and get a window table at Cafe Mozart. You can enjoy a cappuccino, a dessert, and watch the clock all at the same time!
Of course, no visit to Prague is complete with a walk across the famous Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The pedestrian bridge connects Old Town to Lesser Town. From the Old Town side of the bridge, you can clearly see Prague Castle on the opposite side of the river. There are 30 baroque statues of Catholic saints lining the bridge.
We walk across the Charles Bridge and down into Lesser Town to a more sedate, relaxed part of the city. This is the artsy, creative part of Prague with a noticeably more "laid back" attitude. This is where our walking tour came to an end. After explaining how to get back to Old Town, and our hotel, Albi said goodbye and wished us a safe journey. We can highly recommend a private walking tour of Prague. Throughout our tour, we saw several large tour groups huddling around various sights. We have been in those groups and MUCH prefer a private tour. For more information on a private walking tour of Prague, contact Best Trips Prague (https://www.besttrips.eu/).
Rickee and I walked around Lesser Town, slowly making our way back to Old Town via Mânes Bridge, which is north of Charles Bridge. We stopped briefly for Rickee to buy a gingerbread man cookie from a local bakery. Fortunately, they agreed to accept US dollars for a cookie!
Once back in Old Town, we head to our hotel for some rest and relaxation. In the early evening, we made our way back to Old Town Square so that Rickee could try some of the hot honey wine, a popular Christmas Market drink.
I had my eyes on another prize: the Prague Ham which is being roasted over an open wood fire. Three hundred grams of this tasty meat was enough for me and Rickee to share and it was even better than it looked. It was, perhaps, the best ham I have ever eaten!
This was another excellent day in Prague which is becoming one of our new favorite cities. Tomorrow, we will meet up with the rest of the Avalon Waterways group to join Avalon Vista in Nuremberg.