Prague is ridiculously picturesque. When you stroll down Wenceslas Square, which is named after—you guessed it—St. Wenceslas, the layers of history and culture are on full display. And that’s just on the primary pedestrian thoroughfare. There’s also an amazing patina all across the city. It’s hard to describe—I’ll just call it “romantic grunge.” Nick and I must have subconsciously noticed the vibe all along, because in these photos we really fit the bill; Nick with a face full of scruff, me with the most wrinkled shirt you’ll ever see.
Praha, as it’s called in Czech, is the only place we visited during our 2015 EuroTour where we had to swap currency, from euros to crowns. It was a little bit crippling, and probably added to the frustration during our first meal where we were supremely ripped off. Our unusual spontaneity resulted in a late lunch, post-arrival, at a Czech-themed restaurant right off of Wenceslas Square. To be honest, the food was pretty decent and the people-watching even better. But when the bill came for our already overpriced meal, it appeared we were charged over 20% gratuity (based on what Czech I can read). Yet our waiter stated it wasn’t included and insisted we tip additionally. A quick Yelp follow up later proved we weren’t alone in the scam. Sometimes you pay a price for spontaneity!
The tourism industry does seem to be in conflict; some places are outrageously priced, others a total steal. Our hotel was a great example of the latter. We stayed at the Unitas, a former convent built in the 1700s that, in the last 10 years, was renovated into a four star hotel. We booked it as a middle-of-the-road option but our spacious, multi-room unit was complete with a spa tub, kitchenette, living room, and two full size beds. We faced the courtyard, were able to keep our windows open in the gorgeous weather, and had an amazing breakfast included each morning.
We only walked in Prague—not an ounce of public transit necessary. The only challenge on foot was the hike up to the incredible Prague Castle and grounds. If you’re not up for it, there are plenty of transit options up the hill. The church is obviously free, but there are varying entrance fees for different parts of the castle property. A bit confusing, but worth the adventure. That side of the Vltava River, across the Charles Bridge, was quiet and cozy and our spontaneous meandering paid off this time. On the east side of the river, we explored the lively Old Town Square, watched a bazillion people gaze up at the astronomical clock to see the “The Walk of the Apostles” and death striking the time, we accidentally walked through a movie set, and of course, visited Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, lovingly known as “Fred and Ginger.”
We relished in the “romantic grunge” and I think we’d go back. But we’d be skeptical and smarter. And I would iron my shirt.
(New to the blog, we’re trying a map of suggestions. Where we stayed, places to eat, and most importantly, things to do and see! Scroll past the photos if you’re interested.)