Czechin' it off the bucket list - Prague
I'll be honest - Prague is all a bit of a blur to me. I ended up falling ill as soon as we got there and spent the next 5 days loaded with meds and being dragged around by Brooke. But even in my hazy daze, it was clear that Prague is one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities I've ever visitied. Strolling along the cobble stone streets is honestly like stepping back into history. Even the most dis-interested person will be caught up by the fairytale-like enchantment of this medieval city. Basically, you HAVE to visit Prague. I have the urge to buy a plane ticket back just from writing this article. Hopefully I can convince you to love it as much as I can.
5 days was not nearly enough time, but here are some of the highlights of our time in the Czech capital:
Where We Stayed:
Czech Inn is part of Bohemian Hostels Prague and is a St. Christopher's Hostel. It is located on Krymska Street, an up-and-coming street that has been featured in the New York Times as a street to watch out for in the future and a favorite street in Prague. The Hostel was really huge with a cool common area and small cafe area near reception, with a bar downstairs. We ended up staying in a 36 person mixed dorm with ensuite male and female bathrooms. They offer many amenities like laundry and breakfast, and even host events almost every night in the bar. We went to a beer tasting that was super fun! We really liked Czech Inn and would absolutely stay there again.
What To Eat:
This is a traditional Czech treat that is really similar to the Chimney Cake we had in Budapest. The crispy bread rolled in sugar is the same. The only difference is, in the Czech Republic you can get FILLINGS!!! They took a good thing and made it better. You can get ice cream, fruit, pretty much anything your taste buds desire. We both went with strawberries topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate. This is the kind of food that is worth traveling halfway across the world for. Also, it's super instagrammable. #foodporn.
This is the kind of cafe that food / lifestyle bloggers dream about. It's got an ecclectic sort of aestethic with their mismatched plates and mugs and makes you feel like a hipster for the duration of your meal. I had a delicious ham and cheese omelette and Brooke had the French toast. Both were incredibly delicious. It was also served with freshly baked bread and I will never say no to more carbs. They also had a variety of fresh juices, lemonades, and teas that we ordered. This is a great brunch spot and we both reccommend it. We would go back over and over again if we could.
Okay, I know this isn't food, but when in Prague, you have to go to an absinthe bar! Absintherie had a super long menu of absinthe cocktails and absinthes from all around the world, but we went with the traditional Czech absinthe and ordered a fountain. It looks way more complicated than it is. Basically, they bring you a shot of absinthe in a cocktail glass. You place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon over top. The fountain slowly drips water, melting the sugar cube and mixing it all together in your glass. Once the sugar cube is melted, you drink up. Be careful with absinthe, ladies and gentleman. It is said to have hallucinogenic effects and can really put you on your ass. Even if alcohol isn't your thing, an absinthe bar is a cool and traditional experience.
What To Do:
Sandeman's New Europe Tour
Surprise, surprise. We went on ANOTHER Sandeman's New Europe tour in Prague. It's a little ridiculous how many we have been on at this point, but we are obsessed! We learned SO much about the history of Prague from our awesome tour guide, Sarah. She spoke about the long history of Prague with an emphasis on WWII for obvious reasons. She spoke so passionately and told amazing anecdotes that sucked you in and made you feel as if you were in 1940's Prague. We learned so many fun facts like that Hitler was planning on retiring to Prague, which is why much of the city was left intact, and that during the war, the people of Prague revolted and pretty much liberated themselves! Can you say badass? There are so many interesting tidbits of history to learn in Prague, and a Sandemans tour is a great place to start.
The Jewish Museum
This is one of the most popular museums in Prague and for good reason! It is one of the largest collections of Jewish artifacts in the world. This museum is made up of several historical buildings, each holding a different exhibition. The first synagogue we entered had the names of every Czech Jew who was killed in the Holocaust hand painted on the walls. It was a powerful visualization of the horrific time in history. One of our favorite exhibitions was one that showcased artwork made by children who were living in the ghetto. The art teacher would ask the children to draw pictures of life in the ghettos, their lives before the Holocaust, family traditions, what they want to do when they grow up, etc. It was so cool to see the children's depictions of the world around them. They say that children never lie, and that was definitely true in their artwork depicting the Nazi officers and their quality of life. Another noteworthy part of the museum is the Old Jewish Cemetery. The Jews in Prague lived in a small ghetto for 600 years before the Holocaust and they were only given a small area to bury their dead. They quickly ran out of space and had to start layering on top. In some areas the cemetery is now 12 layers deep and the museum showcases it beautifully! This museum offers so much and it is a must-do if you're visiting Prague.
Old Town Square / The Astronomical Clock
When in Prague, it's a given that you will go to Old Town Square. It's one of the most beautiful, quintessentially medieval European squares, ever. Each building tells so many stories and it is definitely worth learning the history of them. Our favorite building was the Old Town Hall. This building used to span the entire block, but at the very end of the Holocaust, in May of 1945, much of the building was destroyed in a fire. You can still see the jagged edge of the building. It's incredible. We stared at this for so long, imagining all the history this building holds. The old astronomical clock is also located in Old Town Square. This is still the original working clock from the 11th century that dispays astronomical information like the phase of the moon and the astrological season. It is so mind-blowingly complicated and you should find someone to explain it to you in simple terms like our tour guide did.
John Lennon Wall
This wall has been covered in John Lennon inspired graffiti since the 80s and, although a bit touristy, is a fun sight to see in Prague. During the time of communism in Prague, young Czechs would create politically charged, Lennon inspired graffiti and their movement against the communist regime therefore became known as "Lennonism." The wall is covered in layers and layers of paint now and there are some beautiful quotes and pictures to be found. Definitely take the time to wander over to this part of the city, which is beautiful in itself, and check out the wall.
As I mentioned before, I got super sick while we were in Prague. It got so bad that we both knew I needed to get anitbiotics or I would be miserable for the rest of the trip. In Prague, you can just go to a pharmacy instead of the doctor, so we searched for the nearest green cross logo (the international sign for a pharmacy, get on board America) and went in. There was an adorable old Czech woman at the counter who spoke exactly 0 words in English. Brooke and I proceeded to act out my symptoms; pretending to cough and making nose-blowing sounds, pointing to our throats and our chests. At one point I used Google Translate and wrote the sentence "I can't breathe" for her to read. It must have worked because she handed me a small box of pills, and although we couldn't read anything on the box, it had a picture of lungs so I knew it must be right. Later on, I had to ask the man at the front desk of the hostel to read the box and tell me the instructions.
Even though I was so sick, I had a keen sense of direction in this city. There were several instances when Brooke was getting out her phone to check a map and I knew exactly where we needed to go. I'm Czech, so Brooke was joking that the blood of my people was running through me and guiding me where to go, but I think a more reasonable explanation is that the Czech meds gave me super human powers.