December 13, 2017 - Our 2017 Christmas Markets River Cruise assignment begins with an all-night flight ending in Prague. The last thing I want to deal with after an all-nighter (with no sleep) is trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the hotel. Haggling with taxi drivers in a foreign country is just not my thing. That is why we pre-arranged a private transfer with Best Trips Prague.
After arriving in Prague and making our way from the gate through Customs, it only took a few minutes for Stanley, our driver, to show up with a sign bearing our names. Stanley grabbed our hand luggage and escorted us to the VW minivan waiting for us in the parking lot. The drive into Old Town Prague took about 30 minutes. Along the way, our driver was eager to point out various sights in Prague that he recommended we take the time to see. When we arrived at The Emblem Hotel, Stanley helped us with our luggage, and he stopped for a quick photo before departing.
Our experience with Best Trips Prague was only beginning. After breakfast on our second day in Prague, Best Trips Prague arranged a private walking tour. Our local guide for the morning, Albi, was actually waiting for us in the Reception area when we 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 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 for 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 to us 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/).