Ultimate Adventures: Dodging Through Prague
To me, Prague was a heady mix of everything I expected. It was picturesque, quaint, and full of museums, bridges, steeples, beer, beer gardens and everything in-between. However, it also contained something I didn’t fully expect: tourists. And boy were there lots of them–thousands–stumbling around in awe, snapping photos, eating overpriced food, frequenting souvenir shops more common than Starbucks, and just generally getting in the way of my own enjoyment of the city. Prague is a bit like an extravagant cake, filled with layers of history, decadent in its diverse flavors, beautiful to behold and even better to try–and then topped off by the thickest layer of tourists you ever saw outside of Paris or Venice. Definitely not the icing on my cake!
But seriously, no tourist was gonna get in the way of my appreciation for the city! It’s even possible to find hidden gems in the heart of tourist territory. For example, I discovered the Museum of Young Art, located between the two main tourist attractions of the city yet relatively uncrowded (probably because it just opened two weeks before my arrival). It features young artists from across Eastern Europe and around the world, and is probably one of the best museums that I have ever come across. I spent an entire afternoon wandering around and marveling at some of the exhibits. A few of my favorites included a stuffed-horse-rocking-horse, a Communist car in a Baroque ballroom, and four giant pistols facing each other, mounted in the central courtyard by David Cerny (an artist who also has a few other fascinating/provocative exhibits around the city). It was such a great museum that I was even joined by Farid, my Viator guide, when our bike tour got cancelled due to the rain.
There’s no shortage of things to see or do in the city. With Farid, I had a picnic and admired the views from one of the islands. With friends from my awesome hostel, called A-Z, I had breakfast in the Imperial Hotel. I strolled along the bridge and the waterfront at sunset, taking in the views and checking out the opera performed on a floating stage. There’s a five story club, paddle boats on the river, movies in the park, cafes to hole yourself up in, gardens galore, and even escalators to ride on (don’t ask me why, but Prague has the fastest and longest escalators I’ve ever seen. Check them out and tell me I’m not crazy).
who took me to a pub quiz night. We didn’t place too well (it’s been awhile since my Reach-for-the-Top days in high school), but we did win candy! This on top of making new friends, and finding out what it was like to be part of the expat community in Prague. All in all a fantastic evening, thanks so much Scott!
And then there was my Urban Adventures tour with Pavo. Pavo was an incredible guide who showed me the best that Prague has to offer and showered me in more information than I could possibly absorb. We saw many different churches and enjoyed Czech food and scoped out Czech sculptures and hiked up to the castle and wandered around rose gardens (ask him about the owls!) and even took a river cruise on a gondola-esque boat, complete with beer and accordian player. I learned that there used to be a Stalin statue almost as large as the Jesus one in Rio. I found out that Prague is one of the most Atheist cities in Europe but has some of the most spires per capita. I admired commemorations to the young revolutionaries of the Prague Spring of ’68, and tittered at the upside down horse that Cerny dared to display King Wenceslas on. Together we saw baby peacocks, complete with little tufts on their heads. We ventured over to an old industrial area and explored a cafe/bar that had an interior entirely made of recyclable material, from sewing machines to cogs to bus seats. We visited the John Lennon/graffiti exhibit and saw the “Lenin vs Lennon” wall. And we had great conversations about Czech and Czechians from past and present. All told, a marvelous tour that I can definitely recommend to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the city.
Long story short, Prague is definitely a city to check out (pun intended), and one that I would love to come back to. Until then, check back next week for my updates on Serbia!