We crossed the Czech German border without even realizing it during our 4 hour bus ride from Berlin to Prague – or Praha, as it’s pronounced in Czech. We arrived sometime around noon, checked into a hilariously retro looking hostel, and decided we would take it easy for our first afternoon in the city. The place we chose to stay at was called Hostel Dakura, a quaint little building located in Prague 6 -Dejvice. Prague is separated into 10 districts, identifying different neighbourhoods and ours was conveniently located 10 minutes from the incredible Prague Castle.
We ventured into the centre of the city to “Czech-out” Old Town and the magical Town Square. If you’ve ever imagined yourself in your favourite fairytale, this is the feeling you get strolling the cobblestone streets of Prague – even more so at Christmas time with twinkling white lights, sparkling Christmas trees, and Christmas Market vendors surrounding the square. That magical feeling disappeared for a moment when we managed to spend 30 EUR on ham and bread served on plastic plates for dinner. In hindsight, we should have acquainted ourselves with the local currency a little better than we had. 1,00 EUR equates to about 27,00 Czech Koruna, which for someone who is terrible at math to begin with, is a real treat to figure out. Did I mention it began to pour rain at this point? Our luck had evidently run out for the day and we headed back to the hostel for a cozy, rainy night in.
Unfortunately, the poor weather continued for the majority of our Prague experience, but we made the best of it and participated in our usual free walking tour on the morning of our second day. We’ve been lucky to find free city tours in almost every city we’ve visited, which is great for the budget traveler. We now prefer to make room in our budget for private rooms, since shared hostel dorms have proven to be our nightmare. Our tour began in the Town Square, stopping at must see places like Old Town’s Astronomical Clock – the oldest operating in the world, Wenceslas Square – where the fall of communism was announced, and Prague’s Jewish Quarter with its beautiful synagogues and historic churches. Our tour ended at Charles Bridge, which we ended up exploring on our own. From here, we wandered to the John Lennon Wall – which quickly became one of my favourite sites to see. Street performers played classic Beatles tunes while visitors took in the colourful, inspiring art. The area felt full of positivity! We also stopped at the cutest little cafe, simply called “Bakeshop” along the river to warm up over coffee and dessert.
We saved our third day for the Prague Castle since a large portion of it was indoors on another rainy day. We were able to get admission tickets to every building for half price, being students. It’s always worth asking if museums or attractions have student discounts, as many of the places we’ve visited offer reduced rates. Our ticket included entrance to The Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, The Powder Tower, Golden Lane, and the dreaded Great South Tower of the Cathedral. I say that with contempt because Joey – being tower obsessed – dragged me up a flight of over 280 steps. I may have thought death was upon me by the time we reached the top, but I have to admit, the view was priceless. We could see the entire city from 100 meters above ground, which, despite the clouds, was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
We always like to try a traditional dish or two of the country we’re visiting, so we set out that evening to find a truly Czech dinner. We really wanted to try a restaurant around the corner from our hostel but quickly realized it was a hot spot for locals on this particular evening. We walked in the front door, through a curtain and into a smoke filled bar and dining room with what felt like a hundred glaring eyeballs staring back at us. We didn’t see any open tables, so naturally, Joey sent me to do the talking, which was nearly impossible given the language barrier. I can get by pretty well with the Latin languages, but this was a whole new ballgame. We were starving and didn’t want to awkwardly wait for a table we weren’t sure would ever come available, so we walked a little further down the street and grabbed a table in another smoke filled restaurant called Restaurace Bruska. I had to try their Czech Pilsner and their goulash and dumplings, which was delicious! Joey opted for roasted duck, potatoes and dumplings. The food was great, the bill was cheap, and the atmosphere was the true Czech experience we were looking for (although we could have done without the indoor smoking).
Our fourth and final day in Prague was finally sunny and beautiful. We took advantage of seeing some of the sites we hadn’t made it to and returned to parts of the city we wanted to enjoy in the nicer weather. We decided to hike to The Petřín Lookout Tower, which overlooked the city from another perspective. We did a ton of walking that day, in new boots I bought for the chilly, rainy weather, which I soon regretted. Don’t explore cities where you want to see everything in shoes you have yet to break in! We spent our last evening in Prague walking around the city centre, searching for souvenirs to add to our collections. We were also dying to try a traditional Christmas dessert called a Trdlnik – a fried tube of bread with a sugar coating and Nutella filled! If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a major sweet tooth that needs constant attending to. Although the weather wasn’t ideal, I would recommend this magical city to anyone wanting to experience their real-life, childhood fairytale fantasy.
It’s time for me to hit the sheets before our morning trip to Madrid!