Prague on a shoe string
Rough guide to the Czech capital
After umm-ing and aaah-ing for weeks about where to go for a few days relaxation in March, my sister, two friends and I decided on Prague.
We had heard from friends that Prague wasn't a very expensive place to visit and as none of us had very much money to spend we all agreed that it would be ideal. We saw a pretty good deal on Lastminute.com, packed out weekend bags and were off.
After a comfortable flight with 'CzechAir', we were in at the deep end of Prague Airport, with an immediate language barrier and baffling public transport system.
Very early on we figured out with no inspectors and no pressure to buy tickets on the public transport you have to be a 110% honest citizen to pay for the buses, trams and elusive underground system. Stamp your ticket or keep to the restricted time scale, it is easy to travel for free. We were honest though, and forked out the very cheap 25p, not really worth cheating the 'system' especially when we were used to crazy London underground ticket prices.
Considering it was March and we had just left a dank, rainy England we were pleasantly
surprised to find Prague both warm and summery and so after settling in at our
hotel we delayed no time in setting off to do some sightseeing.
Even though Prague is not a vast city we initially had some trouble getting our bearings and realised that navigating the little cobbled streets was going to be tricky. The language barrier has never been a problem for me before whilst travelling elsewhere in Europe, but no Czech words would stick in my mind and our two maps seemed to tell us two different things!! There were different spellings of the same roads and areas, at times this was a little frustrating.
When however in a new city you mustn't get stressed out, we were on holiday and our little navigation dilema was easily remedied by Prague's best exports - Pilsner Urquell and Budvar. Bars and pubs are everywhere and no matter how lost you are, there is always a tempting pub in sight. We had heard that the beer was going to be cheap but we were amazed to be paying less than 50p per half litre and there were plenty of types to choose from. *hic*
Prague is stunning, we walked from one historic square to another joined with Gothic palaces, with the imposing castle and cathedral up on the hill offering some amazing views. A river runs through the beautiful Baroque and Rococo structures, there's even a cubist 'dancing' building. The main tourist traps like Charles Bridge and the Wenceslas Square are definitely very pretty and as we went early in the year they weren't very busy.
Classical music is everywhere in Prague, with concerts in the tiny churches around almost every corner, excellent buskers entertain people in the streets while laid-back performers play in the bars. The music isn't just for tourists; walking through the back streets I got a definite feel of the locals' passion for their music as melodies escaped through open windows onto cobbled courtyards. This really was perfect, romantic and very evocative.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and the people are very calm and polite but speak little English. Although prices are ridiculously cheap in terms of food and drink, keep an eye on your bill. The first restaurant we went to charged us for fish by it's weight and I was charged extra for a salad garnish, for bread, and sauces I neither ate nor asked for. Also note that some vegetarian dishes may contain bacon and ham (but it's chopped up very small!)
Whilst writing, I really must recommend a bar. It is one of the most endearing places I have ever been to, a boho style coffee house decorated so individually and it was so unspoilt, we went back again and again. (The Narodni Klub right at the bottom of the steps going up to the castle), an absolute must.
There is plenty to see and do, wear comfortable shoes and visit Franz Kafka's house, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Jewish Quarter. The Museum of Medieval Torture is worth a miss but the gorgeous Botanicus aromatheraphy store is a girly haven.
I would recommend Prague to
anybody but make sure you get yourself a good map. After my trip I made myself
promise that I would never get lost in London again!