Sofie met us in the lobby of our hotel somewhat out of breath from traffic in Prague snarled by a fresh snow storm. Sofie was there to give us guided tour of Prague. Our tour was provided by OurExplorer.com as a way to try out their services. What OurExplorer does is connect travelers like us to independent tour guides like Sofie Milanova. Sofie would normally charge 100 euros for a tour of any size group and the way OurExplorer works, as she explained it, is that she would pay OurExplorer a 10% fee for referring us to her. The basic idea then is that we could arrange for a local guide at local prices but with the ease of internet booking.
This was actually Sofie’s first tour booked through OurExplorer. There was some confusion caused by this being a free tour and some unclear emails back and forth between OurExplorer and Sofie that I will chalk up to growing pains in their relationship.
We quickly hopped on the subway and a tram and went to Prague castle. Prague castle offers an audio guide for the inside of the cathedral, some of the palace rooms and the golden alley so Sofie focused on the history, architecture and grounds of the castle. She pointed out where the king used to store his lions and the foundations of the original church on this spot (church of Our Lady). She told us the complicated history of the Basilica of St. Vitus which was built over 6 centuries in various styles, by various architects. She taught us some of the Czech history including the roles played by Wenceslas, Maria Theresa and the Hussite Wars. For a history buff like me it was great fun. We had to scurry to keep up with Sofie which kept us warmer on a very cold December day. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Castle and later of the old town.
We came back the next day to the castle without a tour guide and did the audio tour which proved to be a disappointment. It gave us a lot of information without being particularly interesting much of the time. It did make me appreciate having a local guide and based on our experience with Sofie I would recommend both her and OurExplorer.