I was not convinced that Prague was the place to visit in the middle of an abnormally chilly winter. In September when I bought the tickets, I did not choose it for the pretty holiday lights, cozy fireplaces or snow covered castles-I agreed to it because I was meant to have someone to keep me warm. But as my flights approached, I unflinchingly pulled up my big girl panties, packed my suitcase and took off alone.
My Airbnb listing was in Mala Strana, right at the foot of the despairing beautiful and famous King Charles bridge. The flat was luxurious and posh-I had to pat myself on the back because I’m so worth it. It was snowing hard the afternoon I arrived, and despite knowledge that the winter outfits I brought would not suffice for -10c weather, I wandered out to get lost on my first day.
If I were to summarize Prague in one phrase, it would be: SNOWY BUT MULLED WINE AND PRETTY BRIDGE.
Old town was indeed very pretty, and the Christmas market was still up in the town square. That’s where they sold Trdelniks (I still don’t know how to say it), these beloved Czech donuts made of flour and vanilla and cinnamon. I had a few and they were alright, but they were so much better with 40 czk ($1.60) MULLED WINE poured from every food stall. I hit most of the ‘must see’ touristy spots on the first day, partial thanks to a walking tour I joined and left when a local bar was featured in passing. Traveling alone has so many advantages, the top one being that you make friends everywhere you go, especially at bars! I’m not going to go into details of my first night in Prague, just to protect the mental state of my parents, but it was fun!
After I purchased a very warm down coat, I went through my stay in Prague in a state of contentment. It continued to snow every day, constantly, but I was basically walking around in a sleeping bag and taking pictures of churches and castles and stopping to eat at any cafe that looked enticing. To be completely honest, most churches and castles look about the same to me by now. They are impressive on the outside, you pay to get inside, and then you walk around inside where it’s drafty and everything is made of stone and you wonder how princesses didn’t freeze to death inside or get tired of having nowhere soft to sit. I feel bad for them and I’m grateful for my cozy warm little studio and so many pillows on my bed and my cute little cat to cuddle with.
My favorite part was the bridge. The Charles Bridge was built in 1357, and connects Prague Castle with Old Town. My first time walking across the pedestrian bridge at dusk, I couldn’t see very far because of the snow blizzard. Tall stone figures started to emerge from both sides of the walls as I passed, regal silhouettes 30 in total. The Disney-like nightscape of the other half of town lit up into view and that was when I realized that Prague was everything I had hoped it would be.