Of Kafka and Cobblestone Pavements

A WINTER WEEKEND IN THE GOLDEN CITY OF PRAGUE

First things first: if you’re planning a holiday with children, you’ll need to be flexible. Anyone who dares to take a city break with two families in the winter is truly living on the edge. In line with this, it felt as if the itinerary for our weekend in Prague was almost changing by the hour over the last few days before our departure. Sick children, sick parents and freezing temperatures did their worst, and halved our small group from six to just three. So we got on the train early in the morning one Friday, and arrived in Prague a few hours later, where the Falkensteiner Hotel Maria Prag was waiting for us just a few minutes’ walk from the train station.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast wasn’t entirely on our side. We were greeted by temperatures nearing zero, snowfall and rather persistent fog. The programme was designed around this weather – a mix of outdoor and indoor activities. Something for everyone, with culture, sightseeing and, of course, fun for Nora. Because the most important mantra on holiday is: if the child’s having fun, we’re all having fun! So we relaxed on the first afternoon, ate traditional cake and explored the city. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the main attractions and the old town. As a walk in the fresh air made us quite hungry, we needed to refuel: with even more traditional cakes, goulash and, for the adults, a cold Czech beer. After all, we were in Prague.

A MORNING AT THE ZOO

Prague Zoo is located in the Troja district. From the Falkensteiner Hotel Maria Prag , it is only a short subway ride followed by a bus transfer. We had covered the distance in 30 minutes. In the summer, there is even the possibility of taking a boat tour directly to the zoo, but yes – that’s just in the summer. Admission to the zoo costs 200 CZK for adults (that’s about 8 euros), while children under 3 are let in for free. Although some animals couldn’t be seen due to the cold weather, the Prague Zoo was one of the most beautiful we’d ever been to.

The area is very spacious and the enclosures are designed to offer truly all-encompassing experiences. The many themed buildings and cafés offer plenty of opportunities to warm up in between.

Unfortunately, the small chairlift was out of service. But instead, we enjoyed a wintery interlude with the polar bears, along with a cheerful tour of the gorilla family. For me, an absolute highlight at Prague Zoo was the enclosure for the Indian elephants, which even has temples and all sorts of interesting facts about the relationship between humans and pachyderms, along with the many, lovingly designed children’s playgrounds. Here, your offspring can let off steam to their hearts’ content.

MALÁ STRANA: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF KAFKA

Crossing the Charles Bridge, you come straight to Malá Strana (Lesser Town). In my opinion, this is also the most charming of Prague’s districts. Small alleys and old houses, which were around when Mozart was in Prague, somehow make you feel that at any point, Kafka

might be coming round the corner. The small, winding streets invite you to discover them. The mix of stylish restaurants, small boutiques, churches and galleries line up next to tourist hotspots like the John Lennon Wall (pssst, it’s an Instagram spot par excellence) or the Kampa, home to the Museum of Modern Art.

My personal highlight in Malá Strana was definitely our visit to Café Savoy. The tea is served in silver pots and the dumplings with butter, quark and gingerbread crumble are worth every single calorie, really! In the cellar, you can also take a look at the in-house patisserie and watch the experts at work. The cafe is always very busy, so it’s definitely worth booking a table.

ANYTHING ELSE?
We took advantage of our three days in Prague and managed to create a good combination of culture and family activities, I think. Here are three tips for a weekend in Prague:

A boat trip on the Vltava
In summer and winter, a boat trip is a nice way to explore a city. We chose the “Venice” tour. This sets off from the old town side of Charles Bridge and takes about an hour. On board, you learn a lot about the history of the city, and the historic boats are also very pretty. A ride costs about 350 CZK

A visit to Hamleys
The British toy retailer has also opened a branch in Prague. Over three floors, there is everything a child could wish for. There are a host of activity corners that invite you to play with the toys and test them out. On the ground floor, there is a huge vintage carousel that would even make Mary Poppins excited, and in the basement, there is a Lego museum. So, it’s definitely a place to spend an hour or two.

A visit to the Czech National Museum
The Czech National Museum is at the top of Wenceslas Square. The impressive building has just been renovated and can now reveal its full splendour. The exhibition deals with Czech and Slovak history, but is quite manageable. As a result, it is definitely worth getting the combination ticket with the new museum building located next door, which is pretty bizarre. The old communist parliament building was redesigned for the museum. However, the transformation was superficial. This gives you the feeling of wandering through an abandoned administration building. It’s a really successful experience.

VISITING PRAGUE WITH TODDLERS
Prague is a very child-friendly city, and it is also focused on children and their interests. At the tourist office in the old town, there is a city map with lots of tips for even the smallest guests. In cafes and restaurants, there are high chairs and usually also something for children to play with. Many restaurants even provide a small play area.

Even in the hotel, nothing is left to be desired. Children’s beds, cots and child-friendly buffets at breakfast make the little ones happy and in the room there was enough space for the pram and everything else. Speaking of prams: the streets of Prague are mostly paved with historic cobblestones. They’re beautiful, but our travel pram has revealed its limits…

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