A perfect family holiday to Prague

After a very busy Christmas, I started the count down towards our family holiday to Prague in April. We decided to go to Prague this Easter, as it is well known for great beer ( my husband is rubbing his hands with glee), and it is supposed to be one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
Prague didn’t fail to live up to my expectations. The architecture is absolutely amazing; it is not often that you get to see so many well-preserved beautiful old buildings in one city, as Prague survived the second world war without much bombing.
We joined Sandeman‘s 3-hour Prague tour (yes, Sandeman’s tours are the best), the British guide Brian is an interesting character, he was a university lecturer, also an actor, he travelled to Prague and fell in love with the city, and now he is a self-employed tour guide. All three of us, including my 11-year-old daughter, really enjoyed his guide; we loved all the history, the legends and certainly his typical British sense of humour. Did you know Prague castle didn’t have much light and was pitch dark at night  until the 1990’s, when the president of the country invited Rolling Stones band for a concert? The Rolling Stones said to the president that the castle would look great with better lighting; the president’s response was that they couldn’t afford lighting everywhere, as the country just came out of the Soviet Union and had a budget problem. So the Rolling Stones decided to offer the money to update the lighting for this over 1000-year-old castle! Wow, rock stars and history, an interesting combination!
As a notorious foodie who spends my life either eating or wondering what I should eat next, I did my homework looking at the reviews of lots of restaurants on Tripadvisor. We are big fans of small family-run restaurants where locals hang out. Part of the reason is because my husband and I run our own business, so we like to support the other independent family run businesses too.
Every single meal we had in the family run restaurants in Prague was fantastic. My favourite family run restaurant in Prague is St Martin;  it is located in the beautiful and less touristy neighbourhood of Mala Strana, and run by a lovely lady who wore a beautiful flower headband. She spoke in a very soft voice and had a very sweet smile; somehow she reminded me of a Bohemian fairy. Her homemade lemonade and homemade tomato soup were served in Mason jars, and tasted absolutely divine. The wild boar burger, duck breast and flank steak were to die for…….But when our dessert came, we realised she made a mistake; we ordered cheese cake, but ended up getting this little pot of mint!
Oh well, this was just another clever way of dressing up a cheese cake. The earth in the pot was made of chocolate crumbs!  The yummy cheese cake was buried under the earth, and a stalk of mint was on top of the earth! When good food was combined with innovative design and served by a beautiful Bohemian lady, what was not to love?
Now that I have finished talking about food in Prague, I can start telling you about the rest of the holiday. We thoroughly enjoyed the time when we walked across Charles bridge at night. After we had finished watching a classical music concert in Rudofine at 8pm, we decided to walk up the river to this gorgeous bridge. With the Prague castle and St Vitus Cathedral all lit up in the background (thanks to the Rolling Stones), this ancient bridge looked absolutely magical, just like the scenes of Disney movies ………we felt as if we had travelled back in time, lost in a medieval world……
A trip to Prague is not complete without watching the famous 500-year old astronomical clock in action at the old town square.  This ancient mechnical masterpiece features the solar clock, the lunar clock, as well as a 365-day calendar plate. Every hour the clock strikes and you will see the appearance of the 12 wooden figures of apostles and the animation of 4 characters representing vanity, greed, death and lust. We certainly enjoyed watching it in motion!
As we arrived on Easter Sunday, there was also an Easter market in the old town square, with live folk music on the stage, lots of food stalls selling traditional Czech food. All the trees and stalls were decorated with lots of colourful ribbons and Easter eggs.This was heaven for me, everything felt right, food, music, architecture, Easter decorations, glorious sunlight, time with my little family…………if you are there at Easter, please don’t miss the smoked pork leg, Tridlnek, Czech sausages and of course, the famous Czech beer!
On the last day of our visit, we decided to head down to Kutna Hora, a town about an hour’s train journey away from Prague, famous for its UNESCO world heritage site ”the bone chapel”. 
 This small bone chapel is made with the bones of between 40000-70000 people who died from The Black Death in the 14th century and also in the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. The minute you stepped in, you could sense a smell, oh well , how should I put it… of death…
There were 4 pyramids of bones in this chapel, just bones on top of bones…………whatever different lives those people had, now they have all turned into bones, piled into a little mountain on top of each other………
Some people called it morbidly beautiful, creepy, but I think this is one of the most moving churches I have been to. A church made with bones! A church that smells of death, a church that confronts you directly with life and death!

I must confess that I had been feeling a little bit low and stressed out recently. Sometimes things in life didn’t work out as planned, sometimes life threw up unpleasant surprises at you, but when I stood in front of the mountains of bones, it suddenly came to my mind that death was the same destination for us all, and in front of death, none of the ups and downs in our life were that important! Rich or poor, talented or not, whatever skin colour, whatever race,  in front of death, we were all equal…………loss or gain, it didn’t matter so much in front of death…………..

Then I lifted my head and saw the crucified Christ on the cross in this bone chapel! Aren’t we all laid bare in front of our creator, stripped off all our masks, just the same as these skeletons? He knows all our fears, all our struggles, our past, our present, and he is in charge of our future!  In the face of death,  he is RISEN, and there is hope, there is victory, there is life for us! I suddenly felt a heavy load had been lifted off my mind, I felt an inner peace, I felt content, I stopped dwelling on the past, or being obsessed with the future, I felt I was living in the present, I felt truly alive…..

So I wrote a little note to myself, ”next time when you are stressed out, next time when things don’t work out as planned, next time when you start comparing yourself to others again, think about Kutna Hora, think about that bone chapel, think about that mountain of bones.”
Life is short, travel more, spread peace………..
So I have come to the end of this blog now, and I am pleased to announce that we have discovered really lovely handmade Bohemian glass sculptures during our visit to Prague, and they are on the way to our shop shelf! So watch this space!
Happy travelling! Love Scape xxx
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