The train to Prague took eight hours, and I made it to my hostel, Wandering Praha, at around 1900. Another traveler from America was checking in at the same time as I was, and as we were both starving, we went out for Czech food and beer at an inexpensive, local restaurant.
The next morning I took a free walking tour of Prague. (The tour really is free, but you are encouraged to tip the tour guide what you thought the tour was worth.) There are lots of groups which arrange these; my hostel recommended the Royal Walk Free Tour by Discover Prague. (Follow the yellow umbrellas.) Our tour guide, Callum, was a one-man comedy show, who interspersed four hours of history and information about Prague with witty banter. I could not have had a better introduction to the city.
I spent the next several days wandering around the city. I also had a great time at the hostel; one of the highlights was chatting with a student from Durham University about Galois theory.
The tour started in front of the astronomical clock in the old town square. Every hour, the clock puts on a little show which is cute but not nearly as impressive as the clock itself which not only keeps impeccable time but also tracks the movement of the sun and the moon through the signs of the zodiac.
These are the uneven towers of the Tyn Church in the old town square. The church may have been Walt Disney's inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Musicians were everwhere in the square, including one with very large bagpipes playing traditional Bohemian tunes.
The tour went through the Jewish quarter, where we stopped at the Pinkas Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue.
Despite having been born there, Franz Kafka was unknown in Prague until relatively recently.
This is the Rudolfinum, where the Czech Philharmonic performs, along with a nearby statue of Antonin Dvorak. There are statues of famous composers on the roof. Legend has it that when the Nazis ordered the statue of Mendelssohn removed (because he was Jewish), the people carrying out the orders deposed Wagner instead since they had no idea what Mendelssohn looked like.
Here are some of the colorful buildings which line the Vltava river.
The Dancing House was built in 1996.
The Cathedral of St. Vitus sits on top of Prague Castle.
Here are a few pictures of its interior.
These are some of its many gorgeous stained glass windows.
This is Vladislav Hall in the Old Royal Palace. It was used for banquets and has elaborate ribbed vaulting.
The ceiling of the Land Rolls Room in the Old Royal Palace is decorated with the coats of arms of the clerks who worked there.
After visiting Prague Castle, I headed to the Strahov Monastery.
It is famous for its old, lavishly decorated library.
The monastery has their own brewery, and I had this tasty dark beer after visiting the library.
This is the Petrin Tower, Prague's smaller scale version of the Eiffel Tower.
After climbing 300 steps, I was rewarded with impressive views of Prague.
Here are the bridges of Prague, first in early evening and then at night.
Finally, here is Prague Castle lit up at night. (According to our tour guide, the lights were funded by the Rolling Stones; the internet agrees.)