Welcome back to my to my blog! Some time has passed since my last post but I was lucky enough to spend the majority of March traveling. Fortunately, one of those visits included Prague, Czech Republic. Prague’s beauty coupled with it’s rich history absolutely intrigued me!
A little lesson in geography and history: The Czech Republic lies in central Europe surrounded by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Poland to the northeast. Prague is the country’s capital and largest city. It’s more than 600 years old (established in the 14th century), but it’s beauty and old architecture remain as Prague is one of the most well-preserved cities in all of Europe. It’s hard to imagine how it remained in tact during WWII considering its location… Lucky for Prague, it was Hitler’s absolute favorite city. In fact, he loved it so much that he wanted to make it the capital of his Aryan empire. He even wanted to preserve the city’s Jewish quarter, in memory of all the lives he took (how nice!) So yes, Prague’s history is quite twisted but interesting nonetheless.
What we did: Prague is divided into 10 districts and various quarters. My roommate Carrie and I spent most of our time in the city center- Old Town Square. The square includes a large plaza surrounded by two beautiful churches, various old-style buildings, a historical town hall which houses the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world, and a somewhat misplaced Andy Warhol (modern pop art artist) museum. We were also lucky enough to visit during Prague’s Easter market, which takes place annually in the square. The market had a renaissance feel mixed with various Czech foods and intricate Easter trinkets and memorabilia.
During our solo touring, we also visited the John Lennon Wall. The history of the wall is quite unique- during the 80’s the wall was used as a form of artistic expression against the communist regime. Today, the wall has the same purpose of artistic expression and is covered with various phrases and paintings.
Aside from solo touring, we also participated in more formal tours led by trained guides. One was of the city in general that covered Old Town Square, New Town, and the Jewish Quarters. This tour was history heavy and I learned a lot. The second tour was of the famous Prague Castle- the largest castle complex in the world! The complex houses a beautiful Cathedral, several legislative buildings, and is also home to the Czech president Miloš Zeman, who I learned isn’t widely liked by Czech residents on account of his frequent public drunkenness. The tour also covered the iconic Charles Bridge. I would definitely recommend going on one or both of these free walking tours because they teach you a lot and give you greater understanding and appreciation for your surroundings.
Because we were to be in Prague for five days, we also decided to take a day trip to Karlovy Vary, a small spa town about two hours outside of Prague. The town is so beautiful and colorful! I would venture so far as to say that there isn’t an ugly building in sight. It’s historically famous for its hot springs and spa treatments. Hot spring mineral water flows freely from several fountains throughout the town and the water is said to have ~healing effects~ capable of curing various diseases and improving overall health. We acted as typical tourists, bought porcelain mugs (sold at many street carts), and tried the healing water for ourselves. It was a bit salty, and I saw no immediate effects on my health but I’ll keep you posted if anything changes!
A lesson in Czech gastronomy: Beer, stew, beer, potatoes, beer, and more beer. Czech people LOVE their beer. That brings me to the title of this post- “Dobrý den, pivo prosím” which literally translates to “Hello, beer please” (An important phrase I learned during the city walking tour). Beer is almost a religion in Prague. It’s cheaper than water! So it’s no surprise that the Czech Republic is the #1 consumer of beer in the world with 160 liters consumed per person per year. I have to admit, I was a fan of the beer I tried while in Prague- the signature Pilsner Urquell.
I really enjoyed my time in Prague and am thankful for the opportunity to visit. Western and eastern Europe have many differences and I’m glad that Prague was my first real taste of eastern Europe. Someday when I am older, wiser, and richer (Prague is quite expensive to get to) I hope to return!
Until next time,