Prague was always a city that I knew I HAD to visit. Could it be due to my obsession with the Mandy Moore movie “Chasing Liberty” in which the first half was filmed in Prague? Quite possibly. But if that’s the case, I need to personally thank Mandy Moore for pointing me in Prague’s direction. Prague has quickly become one of my favorite European cities that I can see myself returning to time after time. The pastel-colored buildings and cobble-stone streets make you feel like you stepped straight into a fairy-tale. I got my first taste of Prague during my study abroad semester. I purposely booked a 12-hour layover in Prague on my way to Greece so that I could explore the city a little bit. I got a good sense of the city but I knew I needed to go back. Fortunately Prague fell perfectly on the route of our trip itinerary, so we made it our third stop!
After our experience of missing our bus to Vienna in Budapest, we made sure to leave our hostel bright and early to catch our bus to Prague. This was literally the best bus ride I’ve ever been on. No lie. The bus company we went through was Student Agency and they were awesome! Beverages were actually included with our tickets so I got a cappuccino (what bus has a cappuccino machine?!). Not only that, but each seat had its own tv like on overnight flights! I repeat, what bus has this?! There were too many good movies to choose from but I chose to watch The Story of Us with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer because it’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see for many years now and the bus just so happened to have it as an option.
Once we arrived to Prague, I was SO unbelievably exhausted. I’m not sure if it was because it was siesta time (oh, Spanish schedule) or if the previous week of no sleep and on-the-go lifestyle was finally catching up with me. Either way, I was in desperate need of some rest so after we had a delicious lunch at a nearby hotel (my first caesar salad in months! Mmmm), Lindsey and I went back to our hostel to rest. I was also very impressed with this hostel (like every hostel we stayed at on our trip). For only 15 Euros each a night, we got our own private room at the Florenc Hostel, and breakfast was included! We shared a bathroom with the other people on our floor but it was never a problem.
That night we walked around the Christmas market in the Old Town Square. That last time I was in Prague was during Easter break so I got to see all of the Easter festivities and this time I got to see its Christmas celebrations which was pretty cool. The dinner we had that night was my favorite meal of the entire trip. We ate at this underground, medieval-style restaurant which was awesome before we even got our food. I decided to be spontaneous and order something that I wouldn’t normally order but that sounded unique. It paid off! I had beef, dumplings, and cranberries in a tomato-cream sauce. It sounds strange but it was AMAZING. Not to mention, Prague also made me actually enjoy beer. I know, I never thought the day would come either. But I actually really liked the Czech beer Pilsner Urquell and I continued to voluntarily order it during our time in Prague!
We started our day off with the free walking tour around the city. Afterwards, we climbed the Astronomical Clock to get a nice 360-degree view of the city. We also watched the show that the Astronomical Clock displays every hour. It’s a very underwhelming show but apparently people used to come from all over to see this show back when it was first built in the Middle Ages. After that we had lunch where our waitress totally thought that Lindsey and I were a lesbian couple haha. I ordered Goulash that was a bit on the spicy side and was nowhere near as good as the ones I had in Budapest.
So, randomly enough, it has been on my bucket list for a long time now to see an opera in Europe. I assumed we would see one in Vienna since it was Christmas, but The Nutcracker was playing instead of an opera. So we walked over to Prague’s opera house (feeling completely under-dressed, I might add) and we were able to buy decent seats for the next night for only 18 euros!
That night was a ton of fun. We paid to go on Prague’s pub crawl that most travelers choose to go on since they normally don’t know where to go out in the city. We were taken to three different bars. At the first bar, the upstairs was super crowded so we ventured to the basement area where we discovered a full-blown scream-o concert. It was…..interesting. My poor ears, I’m definitely convinced I lost some hearing down there. Our last stop of the pub crawl was much more my style: a 5-story nightclub! It was called Karlovy Lazne and is apparently the largest club in central Europe. It wasn’t exactly up to Kapital standards (a 7-story club in Madrid) but it was possibly even more fun! Like Kapital, each floor had a different style of music. I just really liked the layout of Karlovy Lazne AND there was an oldies floor!!! Bet you can guess where we spent our night! That’s right, doing the Macarena 🙂
We spent our last day in Prague touring around the remaining tourist sites. We crossed the Charles Bridge to the other side of the Vltava River. We saw the John Lennon Wall, a wall that constantly undergoes changes but was first painted in the 1980’s with a portrait of John Lennon and lyrics to various Beatles songs. It is a representation of youth peace and love, especially against communism. Right past the wall was the love lock bridge where tons of lovers have “locked” their love to the bridge and threw away the key. These love locks seem to be found in most cities. It’s nice to see how much love exists on this planet.
Afterwards, we hiked the MANY steps up to the castle area for a beautiful view of the city and its red-roofed buildings. A Starbucks (of course) had recently been built near the castle since I had last been to Prague. It was actually a really nice Starbucks too with a rooftop area that looked out onto the whole city. I had some coffee and a cinnamon roll (I had my eyes on this for the whole trip because Spain doesn’t have them!) and we watched the sunset.
That night we went to the opera to see Il Travatore!! This time we were much more properly dressed. Lindsey made a hilarious comment the night before on the pub crawl. She said, “Take a look at how we’re spending our night tonight. And now look at where we’ll be tomorrow night.” Meaning we spent one night at an intense scream-o concert and the next night we went to the opera. Haha we’re just so versatile! The show was good. It was definitely an interesting cultural experience. The show ended with the majority of the characters abruptly dying. I would see another opera but preferably one that I am familiar with.
All in all, I am in love with Prague and it was my favorite city on our trip (though Budapest was a very close second). Prague has class similar to Vienna, but it still has a very unique, alternative side mixed in with storybook beauty. I could easily spend forever strolling down the winding narrow cobble-stone streets snapping photos of everything. My ONLY complaint about Prague is how touristy it is. Prague had my least-favorite Christmas market of the trip because it was full of trinkets that you could find at the cheap gift shop next door. And since it’s a rather tiny city, all of the tourists seemed to be clustered together in the center. They’re hard to escape and that’s a reason why there seem to be a lot of restaurants that are tourist traps. However, obviously it is possible to find good, authentic restaurants since I had my favorite meal in Prague! And clearly the tourists didn’t get in the way of me falling in love with the city and if you can look past the tourists to see Prague’s true beauty and culture, than I’m sure you would fall in love with it too!