I’ve hinted several times that my husband and I had an opportunity for international travel, and even wrote about the carry-on I bought and my experience with international flights, but have yet to write about the trip itself.
Strangely enough, it’s been a little over six months since we got on the plane to Frankfurt and then to Prague. It took me an entire month to relax after the flights and then it was time for a first birthday, the holidays, and then a fourth birthday. Part of me still feels like Prague was just yesterday.
When we first returned, I wasn’t sure what to think about my time in Prague. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was about the city, and why I should convince friends to go there. It’s an old capital city, with some beautiful historic locations, and a great location within Europe. It took quite awhile for me to “get” it.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and the people primarily speak Czech, along with German, Polish, and English. The food is hearty meat and root vegetables served in a variety of savory ways. The Czech version of a German strudel and tart are found in every food place you visit, and coffee and beer are available on every corner. My husband and I both fell in love with Kozel dark beer, which is a lot like the brown ales my husband favors. I drank more alcohol in our 8 days in Europe than I had in the 8 months prior and was never drunk or even buzzed. Beer is cheaper than water at restaurants and stands and is always served with food.
The city is split into several districts – Old Town, New Town, Little Quarter, Jewish Quarter, and Prague Castle. We stayed at the 987 Design Hotel which was a stone’s throw from the train station, the university where my husband spoke, and city center. We were just barely located on the typical tourism map. It was a great place to be. We could walk or hop a bus, tram, metro or train and be anywhere in the city without issue. And we covered most of the city by foot while we were there.
I live in central Florida, home of Walt Disney World. And unless you are on WDW property, public transportation is nearly non-existent. If you want to get somewhere in this town, you drive. Not so in Prague. We could have taken the metro instead of hotel shuttle to the airport if we’d desired. The only city in the U.S. that I’ve been to that even begins to compare? Our own nation’s capital. Prague has far more history and connection to its culture than Washington D.C., but it the closest comparison I’m aware of.
Prague has wonderful parks and greenery on most street corners, and some of the more tourist-y areas have parks in the street median. Roads begin and end at museums, because there is just that much history. Nearly all buildings are a business at street level and then two or more levels of residences with parking hidden in interior garages and courtyards.
It feels as though every restaurant offers outdoor seating, and food carts are set up near the established parks to create seating. Everyone who works in the hospitality realm speaks English, although there was one location that didn’t like that we didn’t speak their language. I got the impression that they thought we were snobby Americans, but my husband and I both speak conversational Spanish, and if I had to, I could stumble through reading some Portuguese. Oh, and we looked up some Czech phrases before we went AND had a friend give us some German basics in case we needed help in Frankfurt. There just isn’t time for a standard short vacation to learn an entirely new language. Now, if you’re going to spend more than a month in any country other than your own? Put forth the effort. Otherwise, a few phrases go far.
I’m going to use the next few (Wordless) Wednesdays to post pictures from Prague. Words just don’t do justice to the combination of history and modern day that is found there. If you have the opportunity, I’d recommend it.