Posts Tagged ‘Czech Republic’

Prague (Czech Republic)

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

August 27, 2010 (Friday) – September 1, 2010 (Wednesday):

Prague is a disappointment.  Let me qualify.   Prague is a disappointment because we had such high expectations (based on everyone always saying that Prague is such a great party city).  Prague is a disappointment because everyone says it has such a great nightlife; and we’re two (relative) old fogies who’s traveling for six months and not entertaining every bar/club we encounter in all the cities we’re traveling to on this trip around the world.   Prague is a disappointment because we were just in Budapest a week ago and because Budapest was such an unexpectedly amazing city with beautiful monuments along the Danube and surprisingly vibrant nightlife.

Having said that, I can see how Prague is such an attraction.   Alcohol is cheap, which to me is a plus.  Also, many parts of the city itself is relatively preserved to evoke a feel of its historical past.   The Old Town portion of Prague had great monuments and churches, not to mention the historic Astronomical Clock.   Meanwhile, walking across the stone Charles Bridge to the Castle District was also very scenic.   Prague had wonderful restaurants with surprisingly good affordable food.   One place (Kolkovna) we liked so much, that we went there twice for during our five and a half days in Prague.

The place we were staying was an apartment-hotel, which was perfect for our needs for the time.   After almost two months of travel – constantly staying in hotels, eating out every meal, doing laundry either at laundromats or in the bathroom sink – staying at an apartment-style hotel with our own kitchen and free in-house laundry facilities, was a much needed boon.   Staying here, we could go to the supermarket and buy local foods/ingredients and have a comfortable “home-cooked” meal.   We liked being able to relax in our “own apartment” that we extended our stay in Prague an extra day.

On one of the days during our stay, we ended up taking a free walking tour of Prague, walking through the streets of Old Town and heading over to the Jewish Quarter.   Overall the walking tour was very informative and gave us a chance to see many parts of the city that we may have otherwise overlooked.   And best of all, it was free! (of course tips were gladly accepted).   We should have looked for more of these free walking tours in the other cities we visited.

On a separate day, we took our own tour of the Prague Castle.   Having been to numerous castles already (I’ve lost count) on this world trip, Prague Castle didn’t seem very impressive.  More impressive, was viewing the castle from afar, and seeing it majestically situated atop the castle hill amid the foreground of the Charles Bridge.

As in Vienna, there were summer concerts held in the various concert halls around the city.   We chose the concert held in Prague’s grand Municipal House.   So on the night of the concert, we arrive and are seated in the concert hall awaiting the start of the 8pm concert.   8pm comes and goes and there’s no sign of musicians.   8:15pm, still no signs.   Now the natives are starting to get restless.   8:30pm (yes, we stuck around) comes and finally some movement up front….it’s one of the ticket agents who sold tickets for the concert – the musicians are “stuck in traffic” and won’t be able to make it, so the concert is cancelled.   He continues to say that refunds will be issued for only certain tickets, and other tickets (apparently sold by another ticket agency (our type of ticket)) won’t get refunds until tomorrow morning.   Of course crowd chaos and yelling ensues, since many people with those tickets wouldn’t be around tomorrow.  (Side note: I actually don’t mind confrontation, even if I’m not party to it and just observing from the sideline.  So I was secretly hoping to see fists of fury flying from the patrons and the agent.  Miriam, on the other hand, likes to avoid all forms.  But alas, no punches were thrown, only shouting.)  So, long story short, we were fortunate enough to come back the next morning before our scheduled train and get our refund.   But I’m sure other tourists were not so fortunate.  In order to salvage a disappointing, but somewhat entertaining evening (watching the crowd chaos and tourist vs. ticket seller shouting matches), we headed over to Celeste for dessert and drinks.   Dessert and drinks were nice, but the main draw for us, however, was just being in the building.   The building was quite unique – designed by Frank Gehry – two adjoining buildings were designed to evoke images of two dancers, a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.   The building was quite pretty when lit up at night.   And after the drama we went through at the concert hall that night, having dessert and drinks was a nice way to cap off the evening…and our visit to Prague.

To view more pictures from Prague, visit the Photos.