A follow up to my first post on Prague, this post will detail the rest of my time in the Czech capital.
Sights Around Prague
After pride, I was caught up in a lot of work-related activities (quick plug ahead). We had a major feature push to unveil the next iteration of Trove. If you’re looking for a better way to connect by tapping into the power of the social network right under your nose, check out what Trove can do for you and your company.
What I liked most about the Czech Republic and Prague is the emphasis on outdoors and nature. The copious sunsets, spacious parks, bicycling paths, and waterways offered opportunities for the fitness geek inside of every one a chance to exercise their spirit here. The fresh, crisp, refreshing air rejuvenates the soul and drives one to explore the surroundings to their fullest.
Beautifully arranged, colorful flowers line the pathways at Náměstí Míru (Peace Square) in front of kostel sv. Ludmily (St. Ludmila’s Church).
I made sure to take some snaps of these beauties as I made my stops to and fro the square. Peace Square is centrally located within Prague and offers a metro station as well as bus and tram stops. It therefore serves as a connection between various forms of transit across the city.
A Day in Little Hanoi
One interesting aspect of Prague is the large subpopulation of Vietnamese migrants. During the communist period, many Vietnamese were invited as guest workers by the Czechoslovakian government. To this day, Vietnamese continue to come for business opportunities or employment. A delicious result of this is there are many Vietnamese restaurants around Prague and a filling bowl of pho is probably within walking distance.
One of the tracks I signed up for had an event to explore Little Hanoi, a district on the southern outskirts of Prague that is comprised of shops and restaurants that are reminiscent of the Vietnamese city. Those who are migrating to Czechia from Vietnam are welcomed and helped along here by those who have come before them. There is a truly functional city within this district, with a Western Union, cell phone shops, and more. Those Vietnamese currently living here lend their help and wisdom to the new immigrants to adjust to a westernized city and commence their new lives in Central Europe.
Our track event took us on a tour of this enclave and included stops at several small restaurants sampling dishes such as pho and vegetable wraps. We also had some tastes of bubble tea and tapioca desserts. We tried on sunglasses in one of the market shops and walked through a traditional Asian market. The main group of Kublai had already been to Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, they were versed in a real Vietnamese setting. Nevertheless, this district stands in high contrast to the main districts of Prague, engendering a much more localized feel and reminiscent of the small streets of Vietnam.
We can manage to take at least one good group photo, right?
This was tracks weekend, so after sampling delicious eats, I had a quiet evening before the next day’s adventure: bicycling from the Prague urban enclave to the mountain valleys and forests just north of the city.
Bike and Beverage
Our morning started off just off the river Vltava. Our journey took us from the city center to a restaurant outside the city with all sorts of beverages (beer) and foods in an outdoor patio setting. We picked up our bikes at Richmond Cycles and made our way from the rental shop down towards the riverfront to start our cycling adventure. These bikes weren’t cheapies either! Solid, aluminum-framed, hybrid Trek bicycles carried us on our journey from Prague to the outskirts of the city.
I can’t remember the reason why there are so many baby statues in Prague, but they certainly make their mark around the city. Shortly after embarking on our bike ride, we stopped to see a park full of them. They can also be seen crawling up the Žižkovská televizní věž (Žižkov Television Tower).
Three not so great pictures for a … creepy set of monuments. Seems fitting.
Continuing along our journey, we rolled parallel to the river past some lovely scenery to admire and stare at while hopefully not crashing into our neighbors or someone else along the path. We found some spots along the river where a kayak course was set up and is used for competitions. These Czechs take their outdoor sports seriously! We also saw picturesque mountainside rock formations and vegetation that more than lend themselves to the geographic beauty found in this part of Europe.
After reaching our first stopping point, we took a break to quickly re-water and prepare ourselves for the final leg of our trip. A ferry took us across the river, where our trail continued in a more secluded fashion. Deviating from the river, we rode on paths that actually led us into forests that outlet into more suburban cul-de-sacs. Finally, after a constant and somewhat tough uphill ride through the trees, we made our way to the restaurant. A well-deserved meal was waiting for us, including copious amounts of beers. We shared conversation and stories and laughter before a short (and easier) ride back to the train station that took us back to the city center where we rode our bikes back to the rental shop.
Grind, Grind, Grind
I had gotten pretty involved with work and so did not explore as much the last couple of days in Prague. However, I did manage to spend some more time with sunsets, including viewing one from the TV tower. This was magnificent! While the observation deck was not nearly as tall as one of my favorite in the world (CN Tower), it still offered a comprehensive and panoramic view of the Prague skyline from high above.
Pedal Boat Ride: It’s Harder Than It Looks
One of the very last things we did before our time was up in Prague was to ride in one of the pedal boats along the river. It was in the evening, the conclusion of a long, warm day. Travis, a program leader for a previous Remote Year group, suggested this as an idea of something fun to do in Prague before we left. We got a rental and hopped on our boat and pedaled along with beer and snacks in hand.
A short hot take of our pedal boating experience (and feeding the ducks with potato chips!)
I think I underestimated the amount of effort it takes to pedal like 6 people even on a small boat. Even between two peddlers, we worked up quite a sweat. We took shifts so as to rotate and distribute the workload fairly! But it was a super cool and relaxing trip along the water, taking one last soak in of this pretty place.
Czech It Off: A Remarkably Pretty, Cosmopolitan, and Fun European Destination
Prague definitely ranks highly among the cities I’ve visited here during my time in Europe. With its refreshing air and cornucopia of vegan establishments, Prague should be on the list of anyone who is a fan of nature and food. Also, I must mention once again how lovely and picturesque the city is. Beautiful, historic buildings line the streets left and right. Despite communist rule, most of the history remains in tact and colorful facades deck the plazas and squares with a unique feel. I was sad to leave Prague and felt like our time there went absurdly quickly, even though we had almost a full month there.
The next stop on the Kublai itinerary was Sofia, Bulgaria. However, before transitioning to our next city, I deviated from the planned trajectory to embark on a solo side trip to Italy. I went to the boot-shaped country to visit some places I’ve been longing to see: more lovely, historic sites. I also met up with my aunt and cousin. I’ll chronicle this journey next time on The Intrepid Nomad™®.