Prague – The Bohemian Capital of the world
PRAGUE, yeah, it’s the same place that mesmerized us in Casino Royale, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Hellboy and also The Illusionist. From the last few years, Prague has become a favorite spot for tourists, travelers, and travel bloggers. Everyone is set to pack their bags, look good and hit Prague with their cameras. Prague is an exotic location full of beauty and surprises. No words can ever do any justice to the beauty of Prague.
Prague is the capital city of Czech Republic. It is called the Bohemian capital. Prague is the largest city of Czech Republic and the 14th largest city in the European Union. It has a temperate climate. People here experience warm summers and chilly winters. This city is famous for its culture and art and is also a proud possessor of various museums, theaters and art galleries.
My trip to PRAGUE was all dreamy and filmy. I had read about Prague in books but had never really got the chance to know more about it. A few years back one of my friends had got an opportunity to join IT Company in Prague. Which is why in March, 2017, a school friend came up with an idea of reuniting old friends in Prague. He had done all the research and got to know that tickets for Prague were on a discount and that it would cost us only INR 35,000 (514 $), and that is where my love story with Prague started, that is to mean we started to plan for our visit to Prague.
We had made flight bookings and tentative hotel bookings were made too. Our friend in Prague applied for his holidays. We also have a friend in Scotland who wanted to reunite with us and so he too started preparing for the trip and booked his tickets. Here we too applied for visa, in April, approximately 20 days from the generation of the idea of going to Prague. BUT THE HORROR struck us, we were handed a rejection letter. That was one of the worst nightmares of my life. I was left all heartbroken. I already had an U.S.A. visa, so this rejection was neither expected nor accepted by me. I was really disappointed and thoughts like “Can I not go to East Europe?”, “And if not, then WHY?”, “What went wrong?” kept on haunting me. But, we did not lose hope and inquired the reason for the rejection. And that led us to a surprising fact: We hadn’t made a confirm hotel bookings at that time. CONFIRM FLIGHT AND HOTEL BOOKINGS ARE MANDATORY TO AVOID ANY REJECTIONS.
Now we started the whole process of applying VISA again taking care of all the things. Now that we knew what to do and what not to, we finally got our VISAS. We finally packed our bags in July (end of summer in East Europe) and as most of us Indians do, our bags had more snacks then our clothes. And trust me as pure vegetarians, that was our treasure as frankly speaking you get very few vegetarian choices in the budget you mark for yourself.
Istanbul was halfway and we had to change a flight from there. Istanbul’s islands and mountains were quiet a beauty to watch. From there we opted for Turkish Airlines for our further journey. One of my friend repudiated Turkish Airline, but we did not have another choice, as we had to show confirm bookings while applying for visa and only Turkish Airlines was the one that offered refundable tickets. And being an Indian and also having lost a few bucks with our first rejection, we obviously would never let an opportunity like this go away. But to my surprise the Turkish Airlines offered us great service and journey was totally fantastic thanks to the staff.
Finally we reached Prague. The airport was a bit smaller than what I had expected, but, was beautiful and well connected with the bus services and taxis.
As I had mentioned earlier, Prague is famous for its colorful Bohemian structures. People in India have now started taking Prague as one of their favourite vacation destination.
As you enter Prague the first thing you would notice are its IT buildings and their marketing. One fascinating rule of Prague we learnt was that the citizens were forbidden from changing the colours of their buildings in the old city. It is the Government there who decides which building has to be painted in what colour so as to keep the synergy in place. Like any other European countries, Prague too has a lot of flower decor outside each of their balconies. And most of the balconies have the same flower décor. Prague looks magnificent in evenings. All the flats, villas and complexes have gates which the owner will have to open from inside electronically. They do not have any security guards in buildings.
Local currency of Prague is known as Koruna. Exchange rate of Koruna is 1USD=21.89Korunas. Prague offers excellent transport service. A local would not really need a car to travel around the city, as they can go for transport services. One has to buy a ticket worth 110 Koruna (approx 6 USD). There are ground subways that come every 4 minutes, there are trams with WiFi that come every 6-7 minutes and then there are buses also that come every 4 minutes. Roads are smaller compared to the roads our Asian Countries have, still you should see how religiously they follow traffic rules and give respect to other commuters. The city had certain speed limit set which people follow blindly.
One can also not spit on roads or throw garbage/things from car window; otherwise, the owner of the vehicle will be fined. And the funniest part is that one of my friends has this very bad habit of chewing tobacco and spitting every now and then making his whole trip a tobacco free eventually.
Prague is famous for its love for beer. For the matter of fact, beer is rather cheaper than water which is why Prague might be called ‘The Beer capital of the world’. One can find a lot of beer parks, gardens and museums over there from where one can enjoy scenic view of the river side, old town and beautiful structures. Also there is this ‘Beer Music Festival’ that is being organized during the summers. Summer is a host to many other festivals. I would highly recommend you to gather as much information as you can about them before you plan to visit there, so as not to miss out on the cultural heritage of this beautiful city.
Staying in a hostel is a great idea while traveling alone or with friends, where you would be surrounded by young people. Air BNB and couch surfing are another good options for accommodation.
When it comes to Europe, it’s all about: Walk and Explore. Europe is famous for its heritage buildings and walks through the small thin lanes. People in Europe are fond of cafes and so you will find a lot of beautiful cafes. People here are fond of converting their terraces into open cafes. The true beauty of Europe lies in its countryside and lake side villages. One advice I would like to give to all those who travel: Try and explore the city by walking, instead of searching the tourist’s spots ask a local what is that they would love to show. And you’ll be amazed to see what you find.
Along with the ease in travel and enjoyable stay there is this one hinderance: People here only speak Czech language that is their local language. They do know English, but it is almost impossible to make them talk in English, unless, you prove that you’re a tourist. Yes, you have to communicate a little like “Hi” or “How are you?” in their local language, just to get their attention and then you can tell them that you are a tourist and that is why you require their help. Again all the sign boards on the roads (thankfully not highways) are also in their local language. Even the advertisements are in local language. The major and probably the only drawback travelling there would be the language barrier.
The following are the MUST SEEs of Prague (others to follow in coming blogs):
- PRAGUE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK / PRAGUE ORLOJ: The Prague Orloj better known as the Prague Astronomical Clock is mounted on the Old Town Hall. It is beauty to watch this medieval clock and its mechanism. To your surprise it is only one in the world to measure.
- TOWN SQUARE: If you are a night person, this is the place to be. It has a lot of pubs and clubs. It’s beautiful in the morning too with colourful buildings, cafes and lively atmosphere.
- LETNA PARK: If you love beer tasting, this is the place for you. It has a lot of beer gardens. Located on the embankment of Vltava River, it is a large urban park where you will witness a lot of kids and teenagers skateboarding, hiking, and it is also beautiful place for picnics.
- LENNON WALL: It’s a wall filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti and lyrics from Beatles’ songs. It is now also open for public to spray paint their thoughts.
- BEER MUSEUM: As Czech is famous for it’s beer, they offer beer sample platter with 30 different types of beer.
- PRAGUE CASTLE: An official office of the President of the Czech Republic. It’s a beautiful castle dating from the 9th
- CHARLES BRIDGE: A historic bridge over the Vltava River. You can find a lot of artists eager to show their talent here.
Stay tuned for my next blog to know more about my trip and the other countries that I visited.
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Me at Castle are