15 July 2011

Prague: do's and don'ts in 'the heart of Europe'

We landed on Saturday after our six am flight a little worse for wear but, never the less, totally buzzing for our six day long trip to Europe’s stag central.

Prague is possibly the most jaw-droppingly, gorgeous cities I have ever been to. The streets are cobbled and the buildings are archaic with such attention to detail.

Having just arrived home, with a fresh memory of everything we carried out over the past six days, I feel exhausted. Never have I seen so many sights and walked so far in such a short space of time.

Do buy a guidebook to take with you. Ours was our saviour; my friend became the ultimate tour guide, marching us around Prague until each evening we were ready to drop. Napping in the late afternoons certainly became an occurrence each day.

Do actually bother to do the things in your guidebook. There is so much to see. The Old Town square which has been a market since the middle ages. The square features the Old Town Hall, which has a beautiful astronomical clock. This clock can’t be missed as every hour, on the hour, the clock bell rings, cocks crow and 15th century statues dance to a mass crowd of tourists, gathered below.

Do walk across Charles Bridge and see the glorious views over the river Vitava and also the interestingly shaped pedalos; we saw swan shaped ones, car shaped ones (which funnily enough looked like they were actual cars sinking), and normal pedalos featuring deck chairs instead of the bog-standard, uncomfortable plastic seats.

Do go to the theatre during your visit, especially if you are there with children. There are Black Light theatres scattered all around the city which show amateur-like performances, which are interesting, simple, but worth a view. We saw ‘Studio Clip’ which was a sort of play within a play that also featured some weird, yet mesmerizing, dancing and lighting. It is, however, certainly unfit for anyone suffering from the mildest of epilepsy.

Do go to the top of Petrin hill where you will find an Observation Tower with beautiful views over the city, a hunger wall and a mirror labyrinth where we spent a good while ogling ourselves in all shapes and sizes imaginable.

Don’t however do what we did and walk up the hill. Get the tram which only costs 24kc (equivalent to just under £1) each way. You will arrive at the top of the hill without feeling knackered, without your make-up sprinting down your face and onto your chest and fully prepared to climb the 299 stairs that lead to the top of the Observation Tower. 

Do visit the John Lennon wall. Whilst the original painting on John Lennon is now covered up by various graffiti, there is no where else you will see a wall graffitied up to the max, as beautifully and legally as this one.
Don’t forget your student card if you have one. We saved a bundle on various activities all over the city with ours. 

Don’t get so paralytic that you spend your days in bed. You don’t want to miss all there is to see. Plus Czechs aren’t particularly lenient towards drunken tourists. It’s against the law there to be rowdy in the streets and the police won’t think twice about arresting you.

Don't always follow your guide book. We went to the outskirts of town in venture of Luna Park and a fountain display. What we got was an overpriced aquarium, a desolate and cordoned off fountain and a carnival park that was closer to the set of a horror movie than somewhere you would go to have a laugh.

Don’t let your adrenaline kick in and let yourself get dragged along the street with your bag with the person who is trying to mug you. My friend was very lucky that she managed to keep her bag and not come to any more harm then a few bruises after fighting with the person who tried to take her bag. No material item is ever worth your safety. Give it up and claim it from your insurance, no one wants to be Chuck Bass, getting shot over an engagement ring now do they?

Don’t forget to buy a tram ticket or validate your tram ticket. My same friend who almost got mugged somehow managed to not validate her tram ticket properly and the plain clothed officers were not to be swayed when we all showed them our validated tickets. She was given a hefty 700kc fine (£28) and that was that.

All in all, we learnt a few lessons but we had a fantastic time. Prague, like every city, has some dangerous aspects, but these are ultimately outweighed by the good times had and the beautiful culture you experience.

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