Well…we’ve answered our question. The transit agents in Prague do in fact check for valid tickets, unlike Rome.
We found this out the hard way, en route to the Prague Zoo. Let me clarify that, Erika found out the hard way on a detour after arriving at the Prague Zoo, to the last bus stop we were at because my oldest forgot her sunglasses there.
It was only a few minutes away and, in all fairness, Erika did think that she had a new pubic transit ticket. My oldest, only being nine, took the used ticket Erika had in her purse, and timestamped it a second time at the automatic kiosk found on the bus. Regardless, it was literally our first use of the public transit and Erika managed to land an 800 Koruna fine, roughly $35 USD, the same cost of thirty-five 30 minute passes, or roughly what we would use in a few weeks for the 6 of us as the kids travel free. Lesson learned and since then, we have seen many random checks on the public transit system, a big change from Rome where we only saw one ticket agent check in a month of non-stop public transit use. So…not that we wouldn’t buy a ticket, but if you think it is just a short trip or what are the chances…buy the ticket.
Before we get any further into that day, lets rewind to the previous day where we went to Prague Castle.
After a few days of getting our bearings we were ready to make the trek up to the top of hill where Prague Castle resides. We weren’t really concerned with directions as you can see the Castle from our front doorstep and it dominates the skyline from just about any corner of Prague. So after getting the kids up and dressed we made our way over the Charles Bridge where there were numerous musical street performers. We spent a few minutes with a couple of groups, one playing pop music on a string quartet, the other a group playing some pretty fantastic jazz. After a few songs from each we started working our way up the hill. It is a fairly continuous climb, but the kids did great and before to long we were rewarded with fantastic vistas of the city.
We got through the security quickly and once inside the castle we found a map that had numerous routes to choose from. Since we are going to be here for so long we decided to take it easy and just focus on one or two palaces and then come back at a later date to tackle the rest of the sites. We wandered past St.Vitus Cathedral, which is an imposing and beautiful church found front and center upon entering the castle. It was a bit mobbed with the normal tourists and a handful of brides that were clearly visiting for their destination wedding.
After navigating past the crowd at St.Vitus it seemed inevitable that the younger half of our group was now hungry and had to go to the bathroom. There was a great little stand in the courtyard behind St.Vitus that was selling kielbasa, with the option of either spicy(with paprika) or not, and páreks, which are Czech version of hotdogs (way better than ours). Easy, fast, and tasty food for kids!
We then made it down to the Lobkowicz Palace Museum, which was rated as the top place to see inside Prague Castle.
Youngest two kids were free and the cashier said we could count Erika as part of the family, which we already do, for a discounted family pass. The entry included a free audio guide, one for each of us, which we were happy to have. Once we got to the exhibits, both Lua and I were amazed at just how much our middle child enjoyed it. She thoroughly listened to each and every audio presentation in every room. In all fairness the production quality was top notch and the pace of the audio was perfect, holding even my attention span. Probably our favorite room in the museum was the music room, which had numerous instruments as well as original scores of composers including Beethoven and Mozart. We all liked it and would recommend it, even to little kids.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the castle grounds taking lots of photos of the city, eating ice cream, and finding more bathrooms. We made the best attempt to try and see The Old Royal Palace, but our energy levels were dropping and we decided it would be best to work our way back to our place before our kids started loosing it. We took the Old Castle Stairs, which was lined with street performers, back down to the Charles Bridge and back to our home.
The next day it was time for the Prague Zoo
It was a little further than we would like to walk so we needed to take the public transit to get there. We did a little research and tickets were purchased at Tobacco Shops, think little convenience stores similar to what we found in Rome, or at kiosks, which can’t be found everywhere, or the Sefj App, which discovered later. After getting enough 30 minute tickets to get there and back, we looked at our Google Maps to figure out where our tram rides would start. Our pickup was literally right in front of our apartment, have I told you how great our location is. Our trolly took us most of the way there, where we then had to cross the street to take a quick bus over to the zoo entrance.
This is where mistakes were made…
During our five minute wait at the bus stop, the girls decided to practice their cartwheels. In order to do her cartwheels my oldest decided to take off her sunglasses, which had some sedimental value as we got them on our daddy/daughter ski trip, off and set them on the bench so they didn’t fall off. Next thing you know, bus was there, we were on it, glasses were left on the bench, and my oldest was pretty upset. Five minutes later we were at the zoo and Erika graciously volunteered to return with my oldest to the bus stop in hopes to retrieve the sunglasses.
After about 10 minutes, my oldest dashed off the bus, sunglasses in hand, grinning from ear to ear. It wasn’t till a few minutes later that we were informed that Erika had earned a ticket. Apparently my oldest had used a previously used ticket and it was double timestamped…Oops. Even though we had been traveling as a group everyday, I had luckily given Erika a bit of cash the day before for “What ifs” as we found out if they couldn’t pay at that moment they would be held, a ticket would be administered, and it would be an even greater fine. Those sunglasses just became a lot more expensive.
The Prague Zoo was a fantastic zoo.
Lua and I have seen many zoos over the years and we both agree, this is the best zoo we’ve ever been too. The price was more than fair, costing less than one ticket back in the US for our entire group. Unfortunately there was a 150 year flood about a decade ago which put much of the zoo underwater. Because of that, most of the exhibits had been newly rebuilt within the last ten years. The animals were in great shape, the exhibits were large and clean, the layout was great, and even the food was tasty. We all had our favorites, but the top for us were the big cats, gorillas, and the elephants. We had a full day there and fully intend on returning again.
After a big day at the zoo we returned to our apartment area and decided to grab some authentic Czech cuisine where we enjoyed goulash and dumplings before we passed out back at home.
Next is Český Krumlov, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, which we are taking a multi-hour train ride to get there. Wish us luck!