In the Land of Swans (and other cool stuff)

Prague Travel Blog

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Spring break came to London with a flurry of flights-everyone leaving to cool countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, etc. Five of my friends and I stuck around for the first half though, partying it up with my roommate and her friends, the most memorable night being the one at Metra when we all got separated-Ash had my keys and phone, so, unable to get into my flats, I rode the night bus all night long (that’s like 7 hours on a bus all the way to Heathrow) where the bus driver offered to buy me a drink. Odd. (I didn’t accept). The real fun when we got on our plane to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.

It was a beautiful and sunny day when we arrived, and already impressed by the beautiful green landscape snaked with rivers and bridges we saw from the air. Out hotel was a bit out of the way on the far side of the river but we didn’t mind too much after we went to the river and saw all the swans (we even saw a few mating; it was like this crazy dance where at one point they arc their necks to form a heart shape between them), and the boats. I seriously have never seen a prettier city in my life and don’t think I will-so much color; on this hills, architecture, art, and graffiti that gave real character and spunk to a city that made me feel like I was in a fairytale.

I’d never felt like I was in such a foreign country as I did here, especially with our first dining experience. We were excited to find a cheap Chinese place, less excited to find that the cute little Chinese lady didn’t even know what the word ‘yes’ was in English-I tried to pantomime to her that we needed more time to decide and she showed me her watch. The food was delicious though, and we found our hotel to be beautiful-a 4 star hotel with the comfiest beds and renaissance decorations, not to mention the amazing breakfasts included. (Word to the wise, if your hotel serves a good breakfast...take some with you in a napkin-i promise i won't tell) After wandering the city we found that it was not as cheap as people told us it would be. What was interesting though was that a packet of ketchup cost about 75 cents, while a half liter of beer was only a dollar-I wasn’t complaining about the beer though-it went great with the pizza, kebabs, and anything else we got. I tried goulash for the first time in Prague, and while it sounds disgusting, this meaty/gravy/bread dumping combo wasn’t half bad.

*Random beer fact-that Budweiser people seem to think is soo American, is actually originally from Bohemia, and manufactured by the Budvar company, and is only allowed to be called Budweiser in America-I almost feel like we're ripping the Czech Republic off!*

To save money I went on-line and wrote down the history and location of all the cool stuff we wanted to see; I like to actually know what I’m looking at or every church, building, etc. seems about the same. We saw some really cool stuff, like the Charles bridge, which has over 30 Baroque, Bohemian statues that were mostly of saints and Jesus-all impressive in how huge and intricate they were. There were lots of really cool street performers with anything from puppets that played the guitar, to jugglers, to bands with a trumpet player who was smoking while playing…interesting. The Prague castle, which is the biggest castle complex in the world, sat impressively at the top of the city after a very long hike. We got there just in time to watch the changing of the guards, which was much like they do it in London as far as the marching, but on a much smaller scale. (Feeling as if I was a failure for not taking a picture with the guards in London, i proceeded to be ultra-touristy and take a picture beside one of the guards) Although we didn’t go inside, we got to see St. Nicholas’s Cathedral, which is known to be one of the most beautiful Baroque cathedrals in the world, home of an organ played by Mozart, and also a place of refuge for soldiers during WWII.

Basically, the whole time I was in Prague I felt like I was stepping back into history. We went to the old Jewish Quarter (which by the way is closed on Saturdays, not Sundays as I’d thought), where I was astounded to find out that out of 56,000 Jews that thrived there at one point, only 10% survived the Nazis. Besides having loads of history, Prague also had some replicas of the most beautiful features of other cities-a little ‘Eiffel Tower’ from Paris, canals in ‘little Venice,’ and the Lennon Wall, dedicated to John Lennon and the Beatles, with graffiti from hundreds of Czech citizens paying tribute and writing grievances as well, which I thought was interesting (sadly, after much looking, we never found the wall). One of the coolest pieces of art we saw was this series of 5 men on 5 steps, each one less fully formed than the last. The bronze man on the bottom step was barely even there-the whole thing was dedicated to the citizens who suffered under the rule of communists. Poverty was still seen though to this day, with beggars actually on their hands and knees, almost as if bowed down in humility before people. It was really heartbreaking.

I don’t think I’ve ever done as much walking as I did these few days, and we didn’t do much to discover the nightlife as we had no idea where any of it was or how to get back in the dark all the way across town, but this was one of the best weeks I’ve had here and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!

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photo by: vulindlela