When the commute to the airport is longer than the international flight, and a plane ticket costs less than the petrol for a car trip from Canberra to Sydney and back, why wouldn’t you explore mainland Europe?
During the mid-semester break, I teamed up with some of my exchange friends to explore Prague. After spending 5 days in the historic city, here are 4 things I’d recommend you ‘Czech’ out.
- Free Walking Tours
One of the first things I try to do when in a new city is be shown around by a local, or someone who’s been there for a few years. There’s loads of people working for tour companies in the Old Town Square in Prague, offering free walking tours throughout most of the day (and night).
From taking you to the same places Czech-Jewish author Franz Kafka wrote about in his novels set in Prague, to the oldest synagogue in Europe – walking tours are a great way to discover the small details about a place that you’d miss out on otherwise.
- Lennon Wall
Not long after John died in 1980, someone painted a tombstone with lyrics of Lennon’s songs along a long wall on one of the streets in central Prague. Over the years, people added their own tributes to Lennon, until eventually it became a popular tourist attraction full of graffiti from artists all over the world…. Including yours truly.
- Monk Beer
When beer is cheaper than water – literally, $2 for half a litre of beer versus $2.50 for a bottle of water – how can you not? I probably consumed more beer in my 5 days in Prague than I have all year.
The food is great, too. I always find it interesting to experience a culture of a place through the food – going in the middle of Winter, the coldness of Prague is really reflected in the hearty food. Lots of breads, meats and soups – and goulash just about every night. Goes well with the beer.
There’s a group of a monks in Prague that spend their free time brewing their own beer. So we climbed the tallest peak in Prague to this monastery, and after a look around and a quick tour, we grabbed a pint from a bar in the monastery. By far the best, and the most expensive, beer I’ve ever had. The view wasn’t bad, either.
- The View from Charles University
There’s loads of stuff in Prague named after Charles IV – born in Prague in 1316, the dude went on to be the Holy Roman Emperor and undertook a tonne of construction projects in Prague and then-Bohemia.
The university named after him is placed on top of this hill in Prague that overlooks the Vltava River running through Prague. In the middle of the university is a statue of a woman pointing out to Prague Castle. According to legend, an ancient king of the area had 3 daughters – the youngest known for her wisdom and prophetic abilities. One day, standing on top of the hill that is now the site of Charles University, she pointed off into the distance to a farmer working on the other side of the river and said “on that very spot, we will build the greatest empire ever seen, and that farmer will be our King”. The site of the farm where she was pointing to is now Prague Castle, and home to the Czech president. Prague has an incredibly rich history and is full of cool little stories like that.
Prague was amazing – and I am glad we spent a good few days there to really get a feel for the city. If it wasn’t for the cold, I reckon I could live there! Moral of the story – travel with friends and new people as often as possible – they’ll drag you to things you never would have thought of, but will really enjoy!