I first visited Prague in 1992 on the tail end of my third and final interrail trip.
It was love at first sight, never before had I ever been so smitten by a place.
The rattling old trams up to the castle, the amazing views across the rooftops down to the serene Vltava River and across to Novo & Stare Mestos, the winding cobbled streets of the Mala Strana and the baroque & gothic architecture of Old Town Square.
Whatever it was, Prague left an endearing mark on me from those first eight hours or so. I had a pain in my heart when having to take the train away from the fairytale town.
I was to return 8 months later for a week long stay during the city’s Spring Festival. The love grew and grew thereafter from annual visits, as of course did the visitor numbers.
In my early visits, supermarket food was rationed, accommodation was only able to be booked through the state-owned agency Čedok and beer & opera were ridiculously cheap.
From 92-2007 I visited a dozen times on my own, with friends, with my parents, with a touring jazz band and from 2000, with my equally enthralled wife.
There was a time when I visited in 1997 with a jazz band from Devon and our bus caught fire on the way home, whilst when I visited with my parents in 1994 our accommodation was half a house, which the owners had split in half using breeze blocks!
2007 was to be a watershed moment. The crowds were hideously big, the British stag & hen nights unbearable, the locals intolerant, the prices had rocketed and prostitution advances had become in-your-face annoying.
Was the love affair over? I thought so for sure and I stayed away for the next twelve years, until such time as going on a couple of business trips in 2019.
I built in some free time to retrace old steps and just like the on-off Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor romance, my love was rekindled once more.
All over again I have been beguiled by the beauty of the majestic buildings, the absolute pleasure of aimlessly strolling and the amazing panoramic views on show.
The crowds remain, but maybe I have now got over the fact that ‘my Prague secret’ is out of the bag.
Prague will feature in my second Wilbur’s Travels book that I plan to release in 2020 and whose working title is ‘Travelling by Train Across the Former Iron Curtain.’
I will be chronicling my travels in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, East Germany, Hungary & Kaliningrad.
My first book details my travels throughout the Balkans featuring train travel in Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Slovenia, Greece, Croatia & Turkey.
You can purchase the paperback or e-book from Amazon by clicking BALKANS.
Like Paris, London & Barcelona, everybody knows the score with Prague, so I will just share some of my picture highlights from down the years.