Well… I have completely failed in my goal of catching up on blogging. I am now woefully and intimidatingly behind. Three weeks behind in fact. I am not sure I will ever be able to dig myself out of this blogging hole, but if anyone reading is ever curious about where we ACTUALLY are, feel free to ask via comment or email. After discovering Krakow we headed to Prague, one of the most popular cities in Central Europe for American tourists. And man, do Americans love Prague. Up to this point in the trip the majority of background conversations around us was in whatever home language we happened to be in (Polish in Poland, Italian in Italy, etc.). Not so in Prague, where everywhere people we speaking English. The Airbnb we stayed in was owned and run by two Americans living in Prague, neither of whom needed to learn fluent Czech as nearly everyone you meet speaks English (although sometimes reluctantly so). Our free tour was solely made up of Americans, our castle tour was almost all Americans, and this was the first city we were in where the American flag was printed along with the British one on the front of English menus. So, as Americans, how did we find Prague? Eh. It was fine. We had just come from Budapest, which we found far more beautiful than Prague, and Krakow, which we found to be far more interesting than Prague. And the people!! There were times it was impossible to even move because of all the people around (for example, watching the Astronomical Clock or crossing the Charles Bridge). We spent four full days in Prague, with one day trip out of the city, but three days (or even two) would have been enough. As I have mentioned before, we are not into art museums, so that always cuts our “days needed” in each city by at least a day. We also are not so into partying, which probably affected our experience in Prague, as it draws a huge amount of visitors with its amazing nightlife.
We took a shuttle/train combo through a company called Student Agency (which is a great company to travel with) from Krakow to Prague. At the train station we treated ourselves to our first Czech beer. Czech beer is literally cheaper than water. We never paid more than $2 for a pint of beer the entire week we were in the Czech Republic (except for the “Holy Beer” we bought from a monastery in Prague, which is made by monks). We arrived in Prague to rainy weather, so we headed for the store to get some groceries, and had sausage and sauerkraut (less than $1 for a giant jar!) for out first meal.
On our first morning we took a free city tour (which we happily discovered in Krakow and have now taken one in pretty much every city we have been to. They are great intros to each place we are visiting, and for only the 5 or 10 euro tip we leave at the end, very cheap). Our guide for the free tour was wonderful, and had a very interesting accent, as she was born in the Czech Republic but grew up in Australia. We saw the famous Astronomical Clock, which was pretty but overrated, the Charles Bridge, Jewish Quarter, Powder Tower, and Wenceslas Square. After lunch (and beer) at a local place recommended by our guide we went back to some of the places we had walked by on our tour but did not go into. The highlight of these two or three churches or synagogues was The Spanish Synagogue, which was beautiful (no pictures allowed, unfortunately, but you should google it!)!
We ended up taking another tour the next morning to the castle with the same company (Discover Prague), mostly because it was cheap and our guide from the day before sucked us in by highly recommending it. This tour was a little less interesting, and the castle is pretty lame, but church and views were amazing. After two mornings of touring and trying to push our way through the gigantic crowds that seemed to accumulate in all parts of old town, we were ready for a little break and made it back to our room for some R&R, just in time for the rain to start.
On our third day we were feeling pretty sick of sightseeing, so we made our way up the hill above the city for a delicious lunch (I had spinach salad with smoked salmon and avocado and Logan had shrimp and asparagus risotto) and a beer at the beer garden on the hill. After leisurely sucking down our $1 beers and making our way back down the hill we decided to keep our amazing food day rolling and walked down the river to the non-touristy part of town for sushi (YUM!!!). We eat sushi far more than we should when home (it is a very expensive obsession) and we get cravings, so it was great to find a (good) sushi restaurant so we could get our fix. We walked back along the river, getting to admire the castle lit up against the night sky. We learned on our tour that the lighting of the castle was funded by Mick Jagger, who came to Prague right after the fall of Communism and thought that it was a shame that the Czech government did not have to money to install the lights themselves.
We were happy to take the train out of the city to the town of Kutna Hora on our final day in Prague. Kutna Hora is famous for one thing, its Bone Chapel, which contains thousands of human bones from plague victims. The chapel is a little creepy, but really unique and cool as well. The old city center of Kutna Hora is pretty and ended up taking us about an hour to take in. The Santa Barbara cathedral located in this town is spectacular, and sits on a hill looking over the surrounding countryside. Every tour company in the city offers tours to Kutna Hora, but getting there by public transport is pretty straightforward, and a lot cheaper.
After we got back to the city we headed down to the riverfront to one of the beer stalls right on the water. We sat on the ground, with our feet dangling over the water, drinking pints of beer and taking in the atmosphere. Sitting there, I could understand why people may fall in love with Prague. The beer is cheap and good, and away from the city center, there is a more relaxed and calm atmosphere. But, overwhelming crowds, lackluster sights, and tourist prices ensured that there are at least two Americans who don’t love Prague.