Prague is one awesome city. There’s just something about the gothic and baroque architecture and the eeriness of the city that makes me feel strange, not a bad way but a good way. The cobblestone streets that looks like it’s plucked out of a storybook, the evocative Old World charm and just the plain romance of the place are enough to keep you wanting to come back again and again.
Prague did not disappoint during my stay, both financially and visually. The architecture is superb and the things to do/eat, very cheap. It was the first time I could really say I was in another Europe where I couldn’t read the signs and had no idea what people were saying. I had traveled extensively throughout western Europe and I also studied Spanish.
So the while the signs in French and Portuguese from my previous travels looked somewhat familiar, there was something about the consonants stuck together in Czech that I couldn’t figure out. It didn’t matter, I was able to communicate in body language and signs with my hands and in some cases found someone who can speak English.
Doin’ it on a budget
I stayed exclusively at a hostel to save money and in Prague, the prices were reasonably cheap. The hostel I stayed at is the Mosaic House (Odborů 4, 120 00 Praha 2). Unlike the horror movie, this hostel is clean and beautifully decorated. When you book, visitors get the chance to pick a co-ed room or a woman’s only. It’s a great place to meet young, like-minded travelers. If you’re socially inclined person, this is the best place to stay at.
Whenever I travel, the first five things on my list are always places to eat and drink, with the top two normally places where I can stuff my face local delicacies and booze. Prague is loaded with restaurants and bars. I was in hog heaven trying out different dishes at various places but did it on a budget. The food and prices at Osteria Da Clara (Mexicka 7, Vrsovice, Prague 10) was just right.
I try to sample the local cuisine, but sometimes you just need a taste of home. Cantina (Ujezd 38, Prague 110 00) does the trick. It’s not like the Mexican restaurants in California. But, Cantina is a great imitation and is also affordable. I got my usual chicken quesadillas. Not as spicy as I hoped, but the flavor was spot on and not like bad Tex-Mex.
Walking tours are free
I also like to do walking tours for as cheap as possible. Luckily most European cities have them and the are usually little to no cost, besides tip at the end. I chose Sandeman’s Free Prague tour (http://www.neweuropetours.eu/). I like Sandeman’s free tours because they are located in most cities and all their tour guides are know a lot about they city regardless of how long they’ve lived there and they’re always friendly and down to earth.
They take you through several areas you can easily see by yourself, like Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock, but the tour guide always tells stories to go along with the site. My favorite stop on the tour was the Jewish Quarter of the city and the Old Jewish Cemetery (Široká, 110 00 Praha). For several centuries, the Jews were not allowed to live outside of their permitted area and they were not allowed to expand. As the years went on, they ran out of cemetery space.
In order to bury the deceased, graves were piled on top of other graves. Today, the cemetery is part of a museum where visitors can walk through to look at the vast array of tombstones. No one knows how many people are buried here, but there are spots in the cemetery with up to 12 layers of graves. After the tour, I also went up to Prague Castle (Prague 11908). You only get a view of the castle from the tour so I wanted to be up close. After you cross the Charles Bridge and hike up the hill, visitors can tour the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral or any other part of the grounds. There’s a lot to see here so it can keep you busy all day.
Prague is cool
One of my favorite parts of the city is Kampa Island. Another stop on my tour was the Lennon Wall. Dedicated to John Lennon, people paint and write Beatles lyrics or their own words of inspiration. It continuously goes through changes and I’m sure it looks a lot different than when I went four years ago.
Purely out of fascination (I swear), I made a quick stop at the Sex Machines Museum (Melantrichova 18, 110 00 Praha 1). There are more than 200 gizmos and gadgets to suit any one’s fancy. Some contraptions date back to the 16th century, which is nice to know some people weren’t prudes. I highly recommend this place, it’s a trip out of the ordinary and a good change of pace from the traditional sightseeing attractions.
Tickets are a bit pricey but if you want to see something out of the ordinary, this is your place. All these might seem like it’s too much to do in a day. But you can come in at just before sundown the day before, take some sunset and blue hour pics, spend the next day exploring the town and hit up another sunset at the castle and more blue/nighttime hour shots. All possible within a day and it’s cheap enough to not put a big dent in your pocket.