You know how most years I do a nice, leisurely, drawn-out recap of my European holiday, letting you know day-by-day details of what I saw? That is not going to be the format this year. I was gone for a full month and I don’t want to take a full month (or more) to share my favourite bits with you all. Some places will still get the full, excruciatingly detailed recaps (*ahem* the Lake District) while others will be breezed through. Today, we begin with the breeziest of all: my time in the Czech Republic.
If you’ve been reading the blog for the last few years, you’ll know that all my European holidays begin in the Czech Republic. No matter where else we are going, we start here with our family. This year we spent a full week there, first in the country and then in Prague.
*Note: this year, “we” refers to both of my parents and me. It had been eight years since my father’s last trip to Europe and we dragged him along to prove to our Czech family that he still existed. They will have to remain in suspense about my brother, who stayed home to work.*
Our time in the country was quiet. We slept, we saw family, and, for the first time ever, we took advantage of the extensive hiking trails in the area. It is the perfect place to ease into a holiday state of mind.
Prague, on the other hand, was just as beautiful as ever but rather overwhelming. We visited during a heat wave and the air was dense with humidity and pollution the entire time we were there. We stayed at my aunt’s apartment, which is well away from the tourist crowds but only a pleasant walk through a park away from the castle and my beloved Malá Strana. Though the heat undoubtedly slowed us down, we still managed to see and do a lot. We did all of our favourite walks, visited the castle, and, to my delight, saw a charming production of The Marriage of Figaro at the Estates Theatre.
The real highlight of this visit to Prague was touring the Vrtba Garden (Vrtbovská zahrada) for the first time. It is a small terraced Baroque garden on the slope of Petřín Hill. From the entrance on the street, you have no idea of the beautifully sculpted garden that is hidden behind the buildings. It is such an unexpected space, so large and airy, and the views from the top level were some of the loveliest that I have ever seen of the city. (See the photo at the top of this post)
For the first and hopefully only time, I was relieved when our time in Prague came to an end – but only because the heat had become so oppressive. I was ready to escape to cooler climes and happily boarded the train to Dresden.