For Easter 2022 we decided to take a trip to Prague with the children by train directly from home in St-Cergue.
We love taking train trips and have taken a few epic ones over the years, so when we thought about a trip to Prague we looked to see if there was a way to get to there by train. It just so happens that there is in fact a direct sleeper train from Zurich to Prague operated by the Czech railway company. The tickets are only released 60 days before the journey and for popular weekends they sell out fast. Homepage | České dráhy (cd.cz) The train left from Zurich at 21:40 so we were able to get the train from home to Zurich with the kids and have time to have dinner at the train station in Zurich (we just went for the easy fast food options of Subway and Asian takeaway) before getting our overnight train.
The overnight train was a very nice and pleasant train, and the kids had a great time on it. We had two top tier cabins in the sleeper carriage which come with in-cabin ensuite and sleep 2 (or 3) in each cabin. We boarded the train as soon as it was available to board and found out that if you had cabins side by side you could actually open a dividing wall and turn it into a 4-person dual cabin. Unfortunately, the cabins we had booked were not side by side with the dividing wall. Thankfully, the train conductor for the sleeping carriage was really friendly and the people in the cabin next to ours were happy to get an upgrade to our extra ensuite cabin and allow us to have the two side by side cabins.
We opened up the separating wall and settled the kids in for the night. They got their toys out to play a little before we got the into the bunk beds for the night. The beds were comfortable and also had reasonable side protection to stop the kids from being able to roll out of the beds (kids were 4 and 5 at the time). The kids played for a bit and we looked out the windows while it was still light (which didn’t last long).
During the night the train made a few stops in Austria and other towns in Czech Republic. We woke up in the morning and were provided with a generous breakfast box and drinks. This box had rolls, meat, cheese, fruit and came with a fruit juice and a hot drink.
Unfortunately, around Easter this year there were works on the track and so our train didn’t go all the way into Prague and we had to get a bus replacement service for the last 45 minutes into Prague.
We arrived in Prague at 10:57 in the morning and made our way out of the station. It didn’t take us long to find a taxi and make our way to our hotel. The hotel was in a really nice old part of town and was in an old Monastery (Official hotel website (monasterygardenprague.com). As the building was not designed as a hotel it is a little quirky but makes for a really cool hotel. The staff were a little on the rude side, but the room was nice. After checking in we took the kids outside to play in a public playground just behind the hotel.
We then went for a walk down to the Jewish area with the hope of going to the “Museum” but it was closed that ay for easter so we booked out tickets for another day. We also went to the Smaltum shop for Vanessa and the kids to buy some souvenirs (find the address in the map at the bottom).
Next, we found a nice spot in the sun next to the river to sit at a café and have a couple of beers. Although it was a little chilly outside, it was still nice to sit in the sun and just enjoy the people-watching next to the river.
Dinner this evening was at PEKNY | bistro - Choice (peknybistro.cz) which served local Czech food and had a really nice cozy interior and was a close walk from our hotel.
The next day I started the day with a run out of the city mostly along the river and through some small villages around the city. I was still training for my Ironman and so needed to do this run while there. The run along the river was very nice. It had a good path all the way along and it was very quiet and a nice way to start the day. I actually expected to be going through the city, but Prague is not built up at all along this part of the river. Instead, there were a lot of fields (sports fields and unused land), industrial sections, a marina with lots of people living in boats. The path along the river is well defined with cycling and walking signs and the later section of my run along the river had nice high cliffs overlooking the path and river.
After the run we went for a walk around the city with the kids. We first walked over the bridge nearest our hotel and up the hill to the large park that overlooks the old city. It was a really pleasant park to walk through and there were a lot of locals doing exactly the same thing. We stopped at the playground in the park for the kids to play and spent some time there (you can find it on the map below). Having kids, it was not long until they needed to go to the toilet and to our delight, I have to say I found one of the nicest public toilets I have been to in a long time, and it was free (also on the map below).
We then continued our walk to Prague Metronome at the top of the hill. It is an interesting monument that can be seen from many parts of Prague. Also, at this area there were a lot of skateboarders using the flat areas and features to practice and perform tricks. The kids (and I) enjoyed watching this show of skill for a little before we moved on again.
We continued down towards the royal gardens, but they were closed so we walked around the outside and on to the Prague Castle. The castle was very large and full of tourists (I guess that’s the problem with going on a national holiday) But it was a really nice castle, with many open rooms and building to explore. There were loads of good statues, tapestries’, stonework and even a dungeon. We spent about 2 hours walking around the castle and while we didn’t see everything in that time, we felt like it was the right amount of time to be walking around with the kids through this castle.
After the castle we headed down the old steep streets around the castle towards to the river. This part of town was very nice to walk around, and we headed down to the Lennon Wall. It is supposed to be some sort of homage to the Beatles star and his fight for peace, but I didn’t really get it. There was a lot of graffiti and pictures and stories hanging and a lot of people there to take pictures (just like us).
We still had some time to kill before the theatre and the sun was out, so we went to a little café (S.P.L.A.V) on a boat on the river to grab something to eat and drink. It was nice just sitting in the sun.
For the afternoon we had booked tickets to go to the theatre with the kids to see “Wonderful Circus” (Wonderful Circus (narodni-divadlo.cz). This show was a long running show in the city but all of us found it very strange and the kids didn’t seem to be enjoying it that much either.
After the show we went to dinner at Gran Fierro | Argentinian Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar in Prague. This place was a little pricey but we did have some very nice food. After dinner we took a taxi back to the hotel. We found that the taxis were decently priced but that the prices seemed to vary quite a bit from one day to the next which made us think that the system is very open to scamming.
The following day we started the day by going to the “Jewish Museum”. It isn’t immediately obvious, but it is not so much a museum but the Jewish quarter of town that has a few sites you can go through. This museum is very expensive and could be a lot better for the price. There is very little information presented at the sites about the suffering or destruction that took place to the Jewish people and to their properties in the city. The sites were all overcrowded with little or no crowd control to direct people and allow for a smooth procession through the sites. It is a real shame as there is so much history for this part of the city and it was very expensive.
For lunch Vanessa had booked us in to a restaurant that served traditional Czech food in an old-school dining room setting that was almost hipster at the same time (Lokál Dlouhááá - Ambiente) and just so happened to be around the corner from our hotel. The food was very tasty and the place was definitely kid friendly with colouring placemats and a kids menu.
We later headed back over the river and over the hill to try and go to the agricultural museum. This museum was unfortunately shut due to the Easter weekend. We continued walking in this direction to the large park further away from town that I had run through the day before. There were a number of playgrounds and a nice park area to walk through with the kids. We also took to the kids to the planetarium (Planetárium Praha – planetum).
And the village over this side of the river was also of interest to Vanessa. It is a bit more run down and was originally populated by the poorer citizens who lived outside the city and commuted. We walked a bit around here and then we decided to get the tram back to the bridge near our hotel.
That evening we went to a nice restaurant across town that Vanessa had found that was kid-friendly. It had fantastic food and it was great for the kids; you could almost pretend you were on a date with the kids out of sight! They had a tv room, a play area, drawing stuff on the tables for the kids. It was a nice evening out for all. (vinohradskyparlament.cz)
On the last day we packed up and had to leave the hotel earlier than we had hoped. It was not possible to get a really late checkout and as we had a sleeper train home again, we had plenty of time to look around the city, but we had the kids and our luggage. We took a taxi to the train station, got a locker for our bags and then we went outside, grabbed a couple of electric scooters and with one kid with an adult on each scooter, we went out to explore the city a little more. The kids had a great time on the scooters, and we made our way through some of the new parts of Prague city while venturing not too far from the station.
The train journey home was much the same as the way out. We grabbed some food to eat on the train from the conductor in our carriage, this was not the meal we thought we would get because normally there is a restaurant carriage, but not this time because of the rail replacement. We played a few card games and the kids played with their toys and then we settled in to read our books and sleep until the morning.
We arrived in Zurich in mid morning and we didn’t need to get the train home until after lunch so we went to the Landesmuseum (landesmuseum.ch) which is right by the central train station in Zurich. It was a really nice museum with lots of excellent and interactive information about Switzerland and Europe. It was also quite interactive and done in a way that kept the children interested and occupied through the visit.
We then had lunch by the river in a rather touristy place but the weather was nice, so we sat outside in the sun and then we caught our final trains home.
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