Overall cost of trip: $120 CAD
Time to cross my first major city off my 2016 bucket list!!
This weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Prague, Czech Republic with my roommate, Taylor to spend the weekend with my brother’s friend Joanna. Joanna is friend’s with my brother from university, and is currently living in Prague, teaching English to children.
So, I finished my very first week of class and headed off to Prague! It’s crazy that I can say things like that…”Just heading to Prague for the weekend.” Taylor and I booked bus tickets from Vienna to Prague, which was an hour train ride and four hour bus ride. “Misinterpreting” our train schedule, we missed our bus. Unlike the stress Toronto transportation gives me, Flixbus made it incredibly easy to pick a new bus time and refund your money automatically. We arrived in Prague to meet Joanna at around 10pm on Friday.
We took the metro and the tram to her flat which was relatively close. It was so hard to take in my surroundings right away because I was still shocked that in 5 short hours I was on the other side of another country. The metro in Prague was pretty similar to what I’m used to in Toronto, but the escalator to go down is actually one of the steepest in the world! In the midst of conversation, I realized really HOW far down this metro was going. I later learned that this was because it also served as a nuclear bomb shelter during the war.
That night, we also took money out. And JUST as I was getting comfortable with Euros, the Czech Koruna’s came in and totally threw me off.
1 euro = 1.5 Canadian dollar
1 euro= 27 Czech Koruna
1 Canadian dollar= 18 Czech Koruna
Just to summarize my confusion, here is the receipt for 2 beers at the local bar.
*Also, as a friendly reminder that yes, beer IS cheaper than water in Czech.
On Saturday, we woke up early and went to the Naplavka Farmer’s Market. This was the first Saturday it was open of the season. Right along the water, with the sun shining there was: live music, every type of pastry, flower, produce, coffee…it was so beautiful! It was so crowded and it was so exciting to experience something like that. I’ve been to farmer’s markets before in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Austria and now Czech- and the atmosphere was something I had truly never experienced before.
Joanna spent the day touring us around Prague: from old town, to new town, to Charles Bridge, to hearing the clock chime on the hour in old town, and then being able to go to the very top and see a full view of Prague! The travel experience is more rich when you have a local (ish) person showing you around. We definitely would not have seen some of the off streets or different views if this was an official tour. Also, Joanna is so happy and passionate about living in Prague, it made our experience more personable and unique!
I loved Old Town and going across the Charles Bridge. These two areas are huge tourist attractions and there were so many people. Usually being in a large crowd is annoying, but this atmosphere was so fun, I just soaked it all in. There were many musicians playing and I honestly had the biggest smile on my face walking through these areas. I just love being in such an upbeat and happy environment! It still amazes me that places like this exist and that hundreds of thousands of people walk in the same steps as you, with the same goal in mind. I also love having the luxury of time to just wander, not have a schedule, or even get distracted by the data on my phone. It’s a relief, really.
The architecture in Prague is beautiful. It is so well preserved and every building looks so unique, and a majority of them are a pastel colour. However, it saddens me how much vandalism is on these buildings! There is so much character and history of these buildings and they have been so well maintained, it’s truly annoying to see graffiti on the side.
ALSO, just want to mention the most delicious creation that is now an online phenomenon. Have you seen the Buzzfeed and Complex articles on the ice cream stuffed donuts? BECAUSE I HAD ONE. We were walking through old town Prague, and I noticed this HUGE line coming out of this bakery called Good Food. And honestly, if there are that many people waiting in the cold, the food has to be good. So, naturally we had to go in and try! Hope your mouth isn’t watering too much…
SO YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST
Today, we wanted to indulge in some traditional Czech food, take a walk to Prague Castle, and see the John Lennon wall. We walked through Old Town again and to the wall. This was surreal. There was another musician in front and this wall was covered in tourist’s signatures, song lyrics, nation flags, and pictures of John Lennon. Definitely have a stronger appreciation for him after seeing how inspiring he was to so many. We then to a restaurant called Lokal for some traditional Czech food which consisted of Goulash and potato dumplings. I had tried this in Krems during my first week and even though it was the same on the menu, they were very different! Following our lunch, we took a walk to the Prague Castle, which again had one of the most spectacular views. It’s amazing to see so many different perspectives of one city in such a short period of time. It really does give you a better appreciation for the structure and architecture of the building one you’ve seen it from many different angles and from different parts of the city!
So, my first weekend trip was such a good experience. I learned to appreciate getting past tourist traps, and going out of your way to find things that a local would. You don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money to have a good experience and see any city. Really, I’m no expert BUT I believe that by just being there and in the moment is how you will truly get to know a city. I’ve never done a blog before, or constantly documented a specific time in my life, but I hope I’m somewhat able to express how much of an amazing opportunity being on exchange is. I’ve been here for almost 3 weeks and I could not be happier.
Until my next adventure,