Fly to Prague
Prague, the attractive capital of the Czech Republic (and historical capital of Bohemia) is situated in the north-west of the country on the river Vltava, long a source of inspiration for artists.
Explore the Czech capital a bit differently
Taking advantage of one of Adria's special flight deals for senior citizens, my mother and I set off to Prague to seek out those places that are usually hidden from view and frequently overlooked – though no less surprising and fascinating than the better known sights. In the city famous for the stunning Charles Bridge and the iconic view from Prague Castle, my mother Viktorija and I visit Old Town Square with its famous astronomical clock, wander along cobbled streets and admire the magnificent view from the riverbank, before ending our pleasant first day in a pub with glasses of pale Czech beer and a plate full of bread dumplings, a classic Czech dish
So here we are – mother and daughter, well-suited travelling companions – in a capital city that is today perhaps even more fascinating and enchanting, and certainly more elegant and inspiring, than at any time in its history. We experience Prague's rich atmosphere in an entirely new light and, just like the great Czech writer Franz Kafka – who wrote that "Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old" – we allow this pearl of Europe, full of Slavic soul, to enthral us.
In the footsteps of Franz Kafka – metamorphosis of a literary genius
We make our way through Josefov, the Jewish quarter where Franz Kafka grew up, and then cross the Vltava to Hradčany, the "Castle District" on the left bank that incorporates the largest castle complex in the world, and the famous "Golden Lane" (Zlatá ulička), where Kafka once lived with his sister. The modest little house at number 22 is today a souvenir shop, but Kafka's former study is full of bookshelves containing his works
More evidence that Franz Kafka is an important figure in Czech literature and the history of Prague is provided by the 11-metre-high recreation of Kafka's head consisting of moving panels that, lit by the afternoon sun, cast thousands of rays of light onto the square by the Quadrio shopping centre.
Walk in the footsteps of this literary genius, visit the Kafka Museum and then make your way to the tranquil New Jewish Cemetery, where a simple white headstone marks the great writer's grave.
Vinohrady and Žižkov – authentically local
Although Prague has in recent years become one of the most visited destinations in Europe, you can avoid the crowds if you turn off the usual tourist routes and head out of the city centre. With this in mind, my mother and I take our seats on a red tram and for just 24 koruna (1 euro) set off to visit the Vinohrady and Žižkov districts.
Visit the architectural masterpiece that is [Slovene architect Jože] Plečnik's Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, then get a bird's-eye view of Prague from the viewing platform of the 216-metre Žižkov Television Tower.
The two districts offer many charming cafés and galleries and a lively atmosphere. Their frank straightforwardness and friendly inhabitants will make you love Prague all the more.
Flea markets – little treasures for lovers of antiques
It is no secret that our travels always include visits to local markets and picturesque flea markets. And Prague can boast one of the biggest flea markets in Europe! At the weekend we set off early in the morning to the U Elektry Market to hunt down the most beautiful specimens of Bohemian crystal glasses, porcelain vases or antique garnet jewellery.
If you are looking for old postcards, photographs, books, albums and antiques, visit the Namesti Miru Flea Market. Enthusiasts will find beautiful wooden puppets, musical instruments and other rare specimens at the Friday collectors' market in Buštěhrad, a small town just over 25 kilometres from Prague.
City of sculptures – humorous modern art
While the city's magnificent buildings rise high into the Prague sky in all their splendour and create the astonishing cityscape, it is the incredible sculptures hidden in small gardens, pleasant courtyards and secret passages that give this city its true Bohemian character. The eccentric artist David Černý has had an extraordinary impact on the Prague art scene. His works are his own unique response to the world, combining stories and a deeper symbolism. He has given Prague a fresh new look and instilled a spirit of modern cosmopolitanism.
Looking up, we see the bronze figure of Sigmund Freud dangling one-handed from a pole that extends from the roof of one of the townhouses. Our journey then takes us to the Art Nouveau passage of the famous Lucerna Palace, where we particularly enjoy the statue of King (later Saint) Wenceslas riding an upside-down dead horse that hangs from the ceiling.
After strolling across one of the many bridges over the Vltava, we visit the giant bronze babies in Kampa Park and take selfies with the 34 yellow penguins guarding the riverbank. Later we climb the ladder to peep curiously into the, ahem, posterior of one of the two giant sculptures at the Futura Centre for Contemporary Art.