I’ve usually been able to meander around (except in Greece) on a means of guessing what words seemed identical to either those in the English or French languages; but once the train pulled into Prague’s main train station, on my birthday nonetheless, I knew that my “educated” guessing would come to an end for a couple of days, along with my use of the Euro (since the Czech Republic uses the Czech crown koruna, Kč).
So I met up with Krissy for the beginning of a week long vacation. Instead of staying at a hostel like the conventional college travelers, she managed to convince me to try out couchsurfing. Despite my skepticism at first, I can tell you that it is in fact quite a delightful experience. Of course, like anything you do online, you should be do some reference checks (which the website permits) before selecting your host. And it is perhaps having spent a couple days with the locals, Micha and Šimon, that makes me feel more comfortable in saying that I wasn’t as much of the city as I thought I would be.
To me, Prague just seemed a city needing to sprawl out more; its compact buildings and such standing next to one another with tourists darting back and forth. Albeit, there were the less touristy areas, but I seemingly found it hard it to distinguish as we wandered from one area with our hosts trying to find a bar and somehow found ourselves again on the main street, but now cleared of tourists for the evening, and now riddled with locals looking to enjoy the post-work hours.
Funny to say that our first stop on the trip involved meeting up with friends of mine in the city; one who is currently studying abroad (James) at the NYU campus (which is even smaller than that of Paris if you can imagine!), and the other who is a Czech native (Kamil) currently working in Prague. Unbeknown to the average tourist, a student bar can be found near the Tyn Church. When you one day find a set of doors that seem firmly shut, give it a nudge and a cloud of smoke will greet you, as will the steps leading into a lively atmosphere of cheap drinks and snacks. I simply thought Kamil had lost his mind when he started walking towards the wall and leaning against a small framed door.
Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough, but there didn’t seem to be many museums that you would normally find in other cities. In which case, the city is one that you would take more so by foot than by the walls of a museum adorned with its artists. But it is not to say, that there aren’t any; the Museum of Communism is worth a look (~4€ for students) with its many artifacts and detailed notes.
Museum of Communism
Na Prikope 10
110 00, Prague 1
Telephone: +420 224 212 966
And if you, dear reader, find yourself in Prague sometime soon, may I suggest a restaurant? Pick up the phone and make a reservation at Smíchovský Radniční Sklípek. I don’t mean to frighten with the idea of needing to make a reservation because the fanciness, rather, it’s quite the opposite; it’s quite a down-to-earth restaurant with cheap meals (with that said, many mains in Prague go for 4€ to 5€ and 0.5L mugs of beer for 1,30€) that just often finds its seats filled. I opted for 400g of duck – yes, they do mark down the weight of your meal on the menus in Prague – with an array of dumplings and pickled cabbage, and while I finished it, I was quite stuffed and content with the meal.
Smíchovský Radniční Sklípek
Praha 5 – Smíchov, 150 00
Telephone: +42 257 000 319
Images courtesy of Krissy Hunter