We flew from Dublin, Ireland to Prague for our next stop, and were elated to travel with our found luggages. We had our coats back! And toiletries! And skincare essentials! And clean underwear, lol!
I booked a rather unique and intriguing activity for us on the first day, and that was a class on falconry! The wiki definition of falconry is “the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey.” This form of hunting was very common “back in the days” and was also considered an ancient sport. Surprisingly, it still exists in many countries today. In fact, falconry is legal in all U.S. states with the exception of Hawaii, although you do have to get tested to obtain a license.
In falconry, the the birds of prey are called hawks, but they could really be hawks, eagles, or falcons. They hunt in their natural state and the skill of the falconer is to harness this natural hunting ability by training the birds of prey to hunt in partnership.
This falconry class took place at a rescue and breeding center where an animal loving couple, Petr and Jana, looks after 100+ animals, including owls, hawks, eagles, vultures, and more. Petr has been mastering the art of falconry for over 40 years, and belongs to the most renowned falconers in a country with an old falconry tradition, which has been recognized as a living human heritage by UNESCO. We were so excited to learn from him!
Upon arriving to Petr and Jana’s vast property, Petr gave us a brief classroom style lesson on the history and art of falconry. He then took us on a tour to see some of the rescued animals, which included sooooo many different kinds of owls. We were so smitten by their cuteness and wished we could take them home!
The highlight of the class was ofcourse, to learn how to call these birds of prey to you as a true falconer. After Petr’s patient and thorough teaching on the skills and techniques of a falconer, we took turns calling different birds of prey to us. Bridge was super excited and remained so calm and confident when she called a ginormous eagle to her. Remaining calm and confident was important, because you don’t want the bird to sense your fear. While I understood that, the moment I saw the huge bird flying at full speed towards me, I completely panicked and freaked out. Fortunately, Petr was right next to me and held my arm up while reassuring me that I was fine.
I’ll admit I never mastered the skills needed to be a falconer, but Bridge can certainly add this to her future resume, lol.
While in Prague, we also had the good fortune of meeting two wonderful local guides that taught us so much about Prague’s history and culture. In addition to visiting some of the famous sites like the John Lennon wall and Charles Bridge, they took us off the beaten path to experience Prague in a different way.
Bridge and I also spent a lot of time just wandering by foot everywhere, exploring on our own. We probably crossed the Charles Bridge several times a day, and while doing that, we noticed that there were a number of panhandlers, many of them with dogs. One day, we were moved to go buy food for them, so Bridge and I went to a local grocery store and stocked up on sandwiches, drinks, and dog treats. After we stuffed everything into our backpacks and went back to the bridge, we realize several of them had left already. We distributed the food and dog treats to the ones that remained, and then spent a couple hours circling around town looking for others to share the food with. While it was exhausting, it was definitely a memorable experience for us.
Prague is probably one of the most beautiful countries we’ve visited, and we were constantly in awe at the beauty around us. Though it was still really, really cold in March, at least for us California girls, we did not let the frigid weather stop us from being outside all the time. We didn’t even let is stop us from indulging in chimney cakes!
Other noteworthy places we visited included the Museum of Communism and the Old Jewish Quarter. I’d recommend allocate at least 2 hours for the former, and at least half a day for the latter because there truly is SO much history to learn in both places. It can feel very heavy for sure, but it’s history that should definitely be learned.
As for food, we did not plan any of our meals ahead of time and just found random cafes and restaurants to dine at. I don’t recall being disappointed with any of our meals! We did, on our last night, stumble upon an amazing restaurant that gave us a truly spectacular fine dining experience–La Degustation. Not only was the dining exceptional, but service was impeccable too. The staff actually warmed our coats up right before we finished! How’s that for customer service??
Prague is a place that Alan has been wanting to visit, but he didn’t get to join us on this trip, so we hope to bring him back in the near future and share all of Prague’s beauty with him!