After five days in Munich, we were ready for the next part of our adventure – Prague! I had been to Prague many years prior in 1999 and was very interested to see how this beautiful city had changed in 16 years. I had planned for us to take the train from Munich to Prague which is about a six hour train trip. I had read a little bit online on how to get train tickets from Munich to Prague but I was feeling a little iffy on attempting to get a ticket on the train with the potential language barrier.
We wanted to leave Munich on Monday. So, on Friday, we took the U-bahn from our hotel a few stops to the Hauptbahnhof (central station) stop to get our train tickets. It was a bit confusing because we weren’t sure which ticket counter to go to, but we ended up leaving the Hauptbahnhof and crossing over to the DB train station which is the railway for trains traveling to different countries in Europe. We waited in the long queues at the train ticket counter to get our tickets for 12:44pm on Monday, thankful that we’d taken the time to figure out where to go and had our tickets ahead of time instead of attempting to do this the morning of our departure.
Taking the Train from Munich to Prague
On Monday morning, we woke early and had a breakfast in our hotel room, packed up the rest of our belongings and bid our rooms adieu. We took the U-bahn back to the Hauptbahnhof and then had a early lunch of McDonald’s (hey – that’s how we roll) in the train station before finding our train in the DB station. I had packed sodas and snacks for the long train ride and we got onto the train and settled in. After about 10 minutes before the train left, a conductor came by to check our tickets and told us we had to move to a different section of the train for our longer journey. Luckily, the kids hand’t unpacked anything yet and we moved a few cars down and were able to find an empty car to settle into for the trip.
The kids really enjoyed the train ride as they were able to move about freely and play for the duration of the trip. J went to the bistro car and got us a couple of hot coffees and we napped and read while the children played quietly or read their books. It was much more relaxing than racing through the airport or sitting on an airplane; I would highly recommend it if you are travelling with school-age children.
After 6pm, we arrived in Prague and the temperature was noticeably more humid and hot then in Munich. Even in the evening air, we were sweaty and sticky as we left the train and headed out of the train station on foot. It was about a 20 minute walk to the self-catering Foerster apartment that I had booked online. By the time we had arrived at the apartments, it had started drizzling a bit and we were glad that Marcela, the woman who manages the properties, was quick to meet us when we rang her on the phone. She led us into a large doorway and we went up a flight of stairs to our apartment door. The apartment turned out to be spacious and comfortable with plenty of room for all of us – especially at the dining table! You’ve got to have your priorities! We quickly dropped our stuff off and then we left the kids in the apartment while J and I quick ran down to the corner falafel shop and ordered some wraps and drinks for dinner.
The Charles Bridge
The next morning, we allowed ourselves a slow morning to relax and sleep in and then we headed out for the day. Because the Czech Republic is not on the euro yet, we stopped at an ATM to get some cash out. Our agenda for the day was:
- to walk up to the Charles Bridge,
- see how far it was to walk to Prague castle,
- take the funicular up to Petrin, the hill in the center of Prague,
- to check out the Mirror Maze and the Petrin look out tower (supposedly like a mini Eiffel Tower)
- to stop and get some groceries for the apartment.
On our walk up the Vltava River toward the Charles Bridge, we saw the “Children’s Island” and people renting these lovely paddle boats all along the river. Some of the paddle boats looked like giant swans and others looked like Rolls Royces. It was a beautiful sunny day and right before we reached the Charles Bridge, we came across a sausage vendor alongside the river. It was impossible not to stop as the sausages smelled lovely and each of the kids enjoyed a large Czech sausage. We met a couple of very nice Canadian college students from Nova Scotia who said that they had been to the sausage stand before, but had returned again because it was so good! They showed the kids how to drop small bits of bread into the water and these large carp-like fish would come gobble them up.
After feeding the bellies, we passed through a small shopping mall before reaching the Charles Bridge which was busy and swamped with tourists taking photos of bridge tower and the bridge itself. It didn’t seem to have changed too much from my first visit in 1999 as we started to cross. There were still plenty of vendors selling cheap wares alongside the bridge, but luckily, our kids are fairly disinterested in shopping, and we were able to avoid it all.
After we passed the Charles Bridge, we could see that it was still a hike to get up to Prague Castle. So, we decided to save that for another day as we knew that would be a whole day’s worth of activities. So, we took a sharp left and started down the hill. After stopping for a coffee and potty break at a little cafe on the way, we made our way down to the base of Petřín Hill. Petřín Hill is a located in the centre of Prague, left of the Vtlava river, and is completely covered in green space and parks. We had planned to take the funicular up, but it was not working! So, we let the kids play in the small park at the base for a little while before getting some ice creams and heading up the hill.
The walk was decently steep but the kids were all up for it with only Liloux needing to carried here and there. Luckily, the trees shielded us from the hot sun as we got closer to the top. We passed the Hunger Wall, a medieval defense wall built early 1360s, along the way as well as passed over the funicular tracks.
At the top, we took a break on some benches while the kids ran around this little maze of hedges. We had passed the Petřín Lookout Tower which looks like a mini Eiffel tower, but after the hike up the hill, no one was very keen to climb up the tower.
Petřín Hill – Mirror Maze
So, we decided to check out the Mirror Maze which turned out to be a highlight of the trip. The kids LOVED it. It’s a very small maze, but the children spent a lot of time in there. For a small fee, you pay to enter a small Mirrored maze, then you pass through a small area, and then go to a room willed with fun house type mirrors that distort the image. The kids really had fun in this room and we spent a lot of time there taking funny photos and laughing. I had recommended the maze to another friend who went to Prague this past Christmas and found the maze a bit small, but she only has one 9 year old boy. For us, with all the kids playing off each other, it was great fun and I highly recommend it. For adults or if you only have one child depending on his/her age or temperament, it might not be as quite as fun.
Exhausted from the laughing, we finally convinced the kids to go home for the day. We still need to stop by the grocery shop and explore the Czech grocery options and make ourselves a dinner. We took the long walk down, which was luxurious in comparison to the hike up, and enjoyed the amazing views as we descended.