Spring Break Part II: Prague
Morgan, Karen, and I had three days to spend in Prague. It was my second time in the capital of the Czech Republic, as I went with my family five years ago. As previously noted, we stayed in an AirBnB flat a ten minute metro ride from the center of the city. It was my first time using AirBnB, and it was an incredibly positive experience. Since we split the cost of the flat between the three of us, it came to about $10/night for a really nice space to come home to at the end of a long day of being tourists. Because the flat came with a kitchen, we were also able to save money by preparing our own meals when necessary. Our first night, the primary concern was finding a quick and cheap dinner, so we went to the food court at the shopping centre across the street and grabbed some Thai. We then spent the rest of the night planning out the next three days.
After a getting a solid night of sleep, we left the flat and took the metro directly to the centre, getting off at Muzeum, a stop pretty much right in the heart of the city in Wenceslas Square, or Václavské náměstí in Czech. The Prague metro was really easy to navigate and relatively clean and fast, making the journey quite painless. After walking around the historic square (which is now mostly stores and Starbucks), we navigated towards Old Town Square. Because we were traveling shortly after Easter, the Easter market was still set up, so we were unexpectedly surrounded by stalls selling delicious foods and various crafts. We decided to do an early lunch comprised entirely of street food. Highlights included trdelnik (dough that is grilled and then topped with walnuts and copious amounts of sugar) and a spiral potato on a stick. By the time we left the market, we were kind of convinced we should just live off street food for the next few days. The next stop was the river and Charles Bridge, which according to most travel guides is a must see and therefore unavoidably always super packed with people. It wasn’t too bad while we were there, probably largely because a) it was a weekday and b) though the weather was incredible, it still technically wasn’t the height of tourist season. The bridge was full of buskers and people selling artwork and other souvenirs and provided amazing views of the river and city on each side. We then attempted to head towards the palace, which was somehow much more difficult to get to than we realized, and at a certain point the streets got a bit windy and confusing. However, we somehow magically appeared there without realizing exactly how and were greeted by another small market, violent statues, lovely palace grounds, and an impressive view of the city below us. We then took a break on a bench outside a cathedral near the palace before going back towards the river to relax along the water. Dinner that night was at Grosseto Marina, an Italian restaurant on a boat. It was pretty reasonably priced with decent food and allowed us to watch the beginnings of the sunset from a boat. We decided to call an early night and went back to the flat to watch Czech television (we found a movie channel with Harry Potter in Czech – ‘Prossim Severus, prossim’) and hang out.
The next day was the lovely Karen’s 22nd birthday. After a small breakfast celebration, we went back to Wenceslas Square to meet up with Lenka, a family friend who lives in Plzen, a small town about 90 minutes from Prague by train. She was our tour guide for the day, starting by taking us to a farmer’s market along the river. Then we got take-out from a small Mexican restaurant near Letna Park and had a picnic. Letna Park is built on a hill that overlooks Vltava River and the Old Town, and after eating we braved the steep hike to the top to get yet another panoramic view of the city. Lenka then led us back to the palace and down through the city, across Charles Bridge, and towards Wenceslas Square where she made her way towards her train home and we caught the metro back to our flat. It was really cool being shown the city by someone who’s kind of a local and who speaks the language. She was able to explain things to us and answer our questions. And it was also really nice seeing her again after five years. After collapsing in the flat for an hour, we walked to Mozaika Burger & Co. for dinner where I had probably one of the best veggie burgers ever. Since it was our last night in the city, we decided to go back into the city center to see Prague at night with the buildings lit up and the streets slightly less crowded.
Our flight to Amsterdam was at noon, so we left the flat the next morning and headed directly to the airport. Though we cut it a bit close, we made it on the plane and were soon on our way to Amsterdam, the final destination of our trip. Despite the fact that initially none of us knew exactly what we wanted to do in Prague, it was actually a fantastic city. It was also particularly interesting for me to return to a city I’d been to before. I vaguely recognized and remembered places, but traveling with friends is vastly different from (and kind of preferable to – no offense Mom and Dad) traveling with family. Prague was very affordable, the weather was perfect, and everything was so beautiful and colorful (at least compared to the Edinburgh grey that I’ve come to love so much). I’d highly recommend it as a travel destination, especially for students (or anyone) on a budget.