Praha

The city of a thousand spires commonly referred to by the locals as Praha rather the European name – Prague. Population is around 1.2 million which is about 15% of the total Czech Republic population.

We arrived early Sunday afternoon which was quite nice as we had a few hours just to relax before heading out to see the nightlife.

Prague is quite a beautiful city. The streets are lined with cobblestones and the buildings have nice straight-lined stones that are pleasing to the eye. Pickpockets are quite a problem here. I didn’t actually see anyone that looked ‘pickpockety’ but maybe I was just lucky this time. Another girl on the tour lost her wallet. She was a tiny bit drunk at the time so hard to say if it was actually stolen or just dropped somewhere.

As the next day was an early-ish start, I only went to one bar for my night out in Prague. The bar our group went to was really different to any bar I’ve ever been to. It definitely had a very Prague-vibe to it with big loungey couches and soft pillows, cocktails, along with this flavoured ?hubo gas stuff that I had never seen before, only heard of in movies.

I do like me cocktails
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The taxi drivers are a bit dogedy here with trying to rip off tourists by charging double the price for the fare. Czech Republic is confusing currency-wise in that the main currency is the krown, but euro notes will also be accepted with change given in krowns. I was ripped off by the taxi driver in that the fare was 300 krowns which would convert to about £11 usually. But the driver wanted £15 payment (works out to about $7 more in NZ dollars). I didn’t realise until later when I had a think about the cab fare. It was also a little eerie walking around the streets. During the day I felt really safe. But nighttime seemed to give the Czech locals a creepy vibe. They stared quite intensely and just didn’t give me a good feeling. I found the czech language really confusing. It made absolutely no sense to me.

Monday morning began with a walking tour. The sights included the Royal Palace, some cool gothic architecture, lovelock bridge, some inappropriate statue touching, the Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock tower. Check out some of my favourite photos.

Just loving the buildings here
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Inside a beautiful old church
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A bridge where you write yours and your lovers name on a lock, padlock it to the bridge, and throw away the key into the river so that your love lasts eternally
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It is said that inappropriately touching the statue will bring you luck in love
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Such an amazing view from the palace at the top of the hill
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Jumping with the Charles Bridge sorta in the background
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This was followed by an incredibly tasty gourmet lunch with the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the old town square and clock tower. It was a little expensive but me and Shelley decided to treat ourselves. It was totally worth it just for the hot chocolate drink alone I have to say.

Shelley then proceeded to find her dream handbag inside a mall so huge, I was quite concerned we might not be able to find the exit later. I don’t have a photo of her with it yet, but just imagine a white bag with black edgings made out of soft genuine leather. Can’t remember the brand but it’s pretty gorgeous I have to say.

The heat was getting pretty extreme by that stage. I think the temperature was in the thirties. Walking through the streets we were essentially running from shady spot to shady spot trying not to collapse from heat exhaustion.

The next activity was a visit to a Czech bunker buried deep underground ready for the next nuclear crisis. The best part about this activity was escaping the heat. It was the perfect temperature sixteen metres underground. Not to mention that the stuff down there was interesting too. Lots of gas masks, radiation suits, communist textbooks, and rooms with unclear purposes. The Czech people used to be required to study Communism and sit exams. If they didn’t get a good enough grade or answered questions in an odd way, they would get taken away by the police and never seen again.. This particular bunker could hold 2,500 people for up to eight weeks. Each person would have about half a metre space – so you’d have to pack light for your stay!! (I am talking to you Snazzy haha). The bunker was also set up in a way so that when the occupants got cabin fever after so long, there was no glass in the bathrooms that could be used as weapons. Hmmm!

Yum gas masks
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The final planned activity that evening was attending a very traditional Prague Blacklight Theatre show. These shows are quite odd. People tend to either love them or hate them. I loved it because it was so unexpectedly different to anything I’ve ever seen or imagined before. It basically involved being in the dark with neon lights and people dressed in black or white shaped costumes prancing and dancing around on the stage. It was very weird but I loved it.

Image from thequirkytraveller.com
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Then Shelley and I went and got ourselves quite lost trying to return back to the hostel. Definitely an unplanned activity. Basically we made a couple of dumb mistakes which led to taking a tram to the wrong side of the city, and we walked what felt like miles in completely the wrong direction after finding the correct stop for our hostel. It sucked and kinda ruined the night. We did make it back eventually with blisters on our feet, but it was well after midnight by then. I really miss being able to use 3G and navigate with maps on my iPhone. But oh well. You haven’t really travelled until you’ve gotten completely lost and close to tears in a foreign city so we did get the full experience that night. And learnt that reading tram maps is actually a good idea rather than just assuming the first tram you see is the right one. Whoops.

Overall I didn’t find that I liked Prague as much as Berlin and Amsterdam. The heat bordered on unbearable, and getting lost probably didn’t help my feelings. Public transport is very confusing. I still plan to return as it is a neat city with its own unique culture and sights but it won’t be high on my priority list.

Final Prague Verdict – okay!