5 things to do in Prague
Astronomical Clock & Old Town Square
This is Hogwarts! I am not joking! Of course not from the inside. But when you see the giant clock and the castle in front of it all lit up, with its turrets emitting a blueish glow, I bet the witchcraft and wizardry school is the first thing you'll think of. And even if you don't care about Harry Potter (beats me why you wouldn't though!), you can't help feeling like you've been transported back in some historical time.
Located in the New Town of the city, the square, which is a World Heritage Site, leads to the neoclassical Czech National Museum. You will find curio shops, street vendors, selling food as well as souvenirs, and high-end restaurants in abundance here. Also, watch out for street magicians and musical performances. Well, yes, the magicians aren't magicians, but if you can't figure out how they did the trick, then, well, they ARE magicians.
This architectural weirdo's other nickname is Fred and Ginger, named after famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. On its birth certificate it's called the Nationale-Nenderlanden building. There is a lot of history attached to the plot where this building stands, and controversy attached to the building itself. Looking as if it wore a corset for years, this is quite an interesting structure to visit, both during the day and night.
This is a bridge unlike any I have ever seen. You might say then that I haven't seen enough, which is true, but taking a walk down here, which connects to the other part of the city, with more castles and old buildings, feels particularly wonderful early in the morning, when, if you are lucky and really early, you'll be the only one there, you and the 30 statues flanking you. This bridge over the Vltava River starts filling up with vendors, musicians and tourists around 10pm onwards, so go early for some "me time" and then get entertained or sketched/painted (for a charge, of course) once the daily artists set up shop.
If you're on a tight budget as I was and love shopping, these are your go-tos. For authentic 'made in prague/czech republic' goodies, head here rather than the tourist shops, all of which have the same stuff and are more expensive than the markets. And if you're really lucky (and search thoroughly) you might even find amber/garnet items in these markets at, I am sure, substantially less than what you'll pay in jewellery stores there.
PS: I don't have much to share on food as being a vegetarian and on a shoe-string budget I stuck to supermarket food with the occasional indulgence on dessert (a number of unique ice cream parlours/bakeries with traditional sweetmeats in the Old Town Square).
Article and images by Priyanka Dharwadkar.