Impressions of Prague

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We caught he train from Berlin to Prague – a four and a half hour journey. It didn’t quite go 100% smoothly, but more about that later, perhaps!

We had 3 and a half days in the city, stopping at a lovely little Boutique hotel just by the Charles Bridge on the Castle side. There’s no question that Prague is a lovely city, but there were so many tourists it was hard to move in some of the most popular places – especially on the Charles Bridge and the Old Town. But I guess we were part of the problem! We enjoyed our stay, but there were some aspects we didn’t like.  I think this blog post sums it up pretty well.

The City

  • Prague is a beautiful city with fantastic buildings and lots of things to see and do.

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  • The main tourist areas were absolutely heaving with visitors from all over the world – especially large tour groups snaking around the popular sights following a tour leader holding aloft an umbrella or some other means of identification so their group didn’t wander off in the wrong direction or attach themselves to a different tour group.

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  • We deliberately avoided Friday and Saturday night when the majority of the stag and hen parties arrive. Nevertheless there were still plenty of groups of young (and not so young) men and women clearly out to enjoy a “few” beers. There were a number of touts for organised pub crawls.
  • It was very commercial and touristy in the old town with lots of touts trying to force leaflets onto us, loads of tacky gifts shops and an incredible number of “change shops” .

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  • There was certainly a “rip off culture” with prices clearly massively inflated in the touristy areas. We constantly felt that people were out to make money out of us, not always fairly. When we visited the Castle on a very hot day and ran out of water, we found that all the food and drink outlets were charging extortionate amounts for water and other drinks. I reluctantly paid over £4 for a 750 ml bottle of water. Our hotel was good in providing advice on what to watch out for and where to change money at the best rate without getting fiddled and also had arrangements with Taxi firms (there appears to be a serious problem with taxi drivers cheating and exploiting tourists)

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The People

  • There seemed to be very few Czechs around in the main tourist areas. But the staff in our hotel were really friendly and helpful and made our stay there very enjoyable. The staff in shops, museums etc. were also friendly.
  • English was spoken everywhere. (Just as well – the Czech language is very difficult to get to grips with).

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Getting around

  • The city centre is relatively small and quite walkable.
  • There’s a good tram and metro system, and the tickets are cheap. So it’s easy to get around to the more outlying places of interest, especially when you’re tired and beginning to flag on a hot day!

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Eating out

  • There’s no shortage of restaurants, cafes, street vendors etc. Prices are generally low compared to the UK, but dear compared to the non-touristy parts of the the city.

Architecture

  • Lots of old Medieval and Renaissance buildings in the old town

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  • Art Nouveau / Secessionist buildings all over the place in those areas developed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s

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Museums and Galleries

  • There’s plenty of Museums and Galleries around the city – some out of the central area.
  • The National Art collection is divided between a number of different galleries spread around the central areas
  • The main National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square is closed for some extensive refurbishment work, but parts of it’s collection are on display at other sites in the city centre.

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