I arrived in Prague at a sleepy 7.00am after taking my first European night train. I was in a ‘couchette’ for 6 people but luckily there were just two of us as it would have been very snug with 6 people! (One of the perks of travelling in low season!) The girl I shared with was English and also travelling solo so we had a good chat and then managed to get some sleep, the bed wasn’t overly comfy but compared to sleeping upright on a bus or plane it wasn’t bad.
Prague has been on my radar for a few years, it suddenly became ‘the place to go’, I guess as its further East so something different and not in the Euro so a cheaper option, therefore I felt Prague had a lot to live up to, (and let’s be honest this is never the best mind set to arrive in a new place with)!
On the currency note, I was told that the Czech Republic have said that they will convert to the Euro when the UK does and if you know about the British opinion of going to the Euro this basically means.. Never! Which I found pretty amusing.
I walked from the train station to my hostel which was about 15 minutes away and although I couldn’t properly check in I left my bags, used the wifi, and had a look at a map. The hostel had great reviews online and it was certainly like nothing I have seen before but more about that later.
I walked into the old town, got a well needed coffee and had a random walk about, I reached the main square which is surrounded by churches and some incredibly beautiful buildings, and followed some narrow streets where I came upon the river and the famous Charles bridge, because it was still fairly early (9.30am) the bridge wasn’t tooo busy and I had read that in the middle of the day it gets ridiculously busy (and indeed it does!) so I made the most of that and then went to meet for a free walking tour.
Like in Kraków, it was the best first activity to do, on the map Prague has so many landmarks so the guide (an American guy who had lived in the Czech Republic for the last few years) gave us lots of history on the city and the country including how the Czech Republic used to also contain what is now Slovakia. It took about 3 hours and we visited the Jewish quarter which used to be the ghetto and an extremely poor area but is now one of the most sought out areas (it always seems to work out like that!), we also went into the main square to watch the Astronomical clock do its hourly performance and although the it’s apparently rated the second most overrated tourist attraction in Europe (!!) after he explained the reason behind it it became a bit more meaningful.
As we got into the day I really noticed how busy it got! There were crowds of people doing tours everywhere and I can honestly say that if this is what it’s like in low season I wouldn’t like to visit in high season!
That afternoon I walked over one of the many bridges to explore the other side which was a lot quieter and gave a different view. It was a beautiful warm spring day so I sat in one of the many parks for awhile and finished by visiting the John Lennon memorial wall. I read that there’s not actually a reason behind this wall, I don’t think John Lennon had a big connection with Prague but it’s cool to see, when it started the police kept trying to paint over it to cover it but eventually couldn’t keep up and it is now a big attraction.
I went back to my hostel and checked in and as I said it’s nothing like I’ve seen before, it was in the new town, just a 10 minute walk from the old town and I paid £8.50 for a 6 bed dorm. It was in a traditional town house building over a couple of floors. All the rooms and corridors and public areas where decorated with leaves and lots of wood, there weren’t any bunk beds in my room and each bed had a curtain around, it’s own lamp and plug socket and as any backpacker knows these 4 things really help make a stay.
The hostel was called Artharmony and was indeed very chilled and even better than I have explained.
On my second day in Prague I took a walk up the big hill that overlooks the city. The walk up wasn’t as bad as I thought (although the ‘comfy’ shoes I brought for the trip were rubbing!), it was through a nice park and once at the top the view of the red roofs and church spires was really worth it! I then walked back down the side where the castle is and one of the biggest and strangely built castle I’ve ever seen! Apparently every queen or king wanted to add something extra to it so it’s became a huge mix of architecture styles.
The Czech Republic doesn’t seem vegetarian friendly when it comes to their local dishes (they eat a lot of sausage) and as I’m on a mission to check out what veggie restaurants are about I went for lunch at Lehka Hlava (and translated into English means Clear Mind) which was recommended by my favourite blogger World of Wanderlust and it definitely didn’t disappoint, I paid £5.50 for a really nice and well presented main meal and the building the restaurant is in is one of the oldest in Prague and has been home to many things including a black smiths.
I headed back to my hostel where I took it easy in the afternoon before heading back into the old town to see the sun go down but on the way I visited the infamous ‘Dancing house’. A building built by two men in a..lets say different fashion from the rest of the city and indeed anywhere else in the world. I read that at first the locals didn’t like it and called it the ugly house but like most things it then became an attraction and is now known on the map as the dancing house!
I left Prague the following morning and headed to a town 3 hours south called Cesky Krumlov. I took a bus for £5 with a company called Student Agency which I booked online. I had to catch the metro one stop to the bus station from my hostel which cost about 80p and was incredibly easy.
Overall I really liked Prague but I’m still not sure if it lived up to the hype for me (going back to having high expectations of places before visiting and it not being a good idea). I wouldn’t be in a rush to return but saying that i would like to go at Christmas as from the photos I’ve seen it looks beautiful in winter.
It is a very pretty city with something to look at around every corner and down every street, even when you get out of the ‘toursist’ area which I would suggest.
Prague isn’t one of the cheapest cities anymore but definitely not expensive. There are a lot of tourist attractions and tours that are available so these could soon add up- I only did the walking tour which I paid a tip for and the rest I just saw for myself so actually only paid for accommodation and food while there.
I can certainly see why so many tourists visit as it is a must see and maybe it’s a city that I will appreciate even more after leaving and seeing more of Europe.
The hostel I stayed in was Artharmony and the company I did the walking tour with was Free tour of Prague and I would recommend both.