Let’s say you want to visit Prague. First of all, let me congratulate you. You have made a wise decision, my newly made friend. Prague is beautiful, full of history and good cheap food. It is lesser-known than many other European cities, making it quite a bit cheaper. Before you come though, let me give you a few
warnings pieces of advice:
1. They don’t speak English here. If you speak louder or slower, they still won’t understand you. Most everything is in Czech, so pick up a translation dictionary. Try to speak Czech and they will love you (and then laugh at you and make fun of you in Czech). Some people do speak English but don’t count on that…if you stick to that tourist center, you’ll do fine.
2. Bring a converter of some sort. Some people (probably not you) are very obsessed with being on Facebook all the time and if you want your phone/laptop/iPad to be charged so you can stalk friends in America and pin some cool crafts on Pinterest… Buy. A. Converter. But beware of data charges.
3. If you have any vice of any kind, it is in Prague and it is cheap. Gambling – done. There is an Egyptian themed casino in this mall right next to a McDonald’s….and another one on pretty much on EVERY street (but not necessarily Egyptian themed). Drinking beer – do I even need to explain this one? There is a bar in the basement of every. single. building. Also, the Czech Republic is the number one consumer of beer per person. FORTY-ONE AND A HALF GALLONS per person per year. Let that sink in. Strip Clubs – (sigh) Yes. I see signs for them everywhere…and not the American “dark silhouette of a woman on a highway billboard advertisement for Cafe Risque”…and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Smoking – everyone smokes here. The other day I saw a father smoking a foot from his baby’s face. And apparently (according to a former classmate who lives here), if you know the right places to go there is another type of smoking that you can have access to. No, Mom, I don’t do any of those things. Advice Time: If you have a vice listed above, stay at home.
4. There is an abundance of weird people here. I am NOT saying that all Czech people are weird. I AM saying that there are a lot of creepy weird people who like to talk to themselves while they spin and scream in public places. On the same note, there are a lot of homeless people. And homeless people here do not have signs that say, “Let’s be honest. I just want beer money.” They are sad-looking people on their knees, face to the ground BEGGING for money – and they are everywhere.
5. There is this artist named David Cerny who likes to make a lot of weird and deliberately offensive sculptures. If you see anything remotely offensive-looking when you’re here…..like giant babies crawling up a TV tower “Alien” style. Or two guys peeing into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. It’s just art.
6. Don’t convert your money before you come here. Or bring any cash. That’s not very smart. And you probably converted into Euros anyway – they have a different currency here. And don’t “convert” it. Go to any ATM and just take out the largest amount you think you could spend. That is probably the cheapest and easiest way to pay for things. Otherwise, you have to pay for the conversion rate every time you pay for anything on your credit card.
7. Get sucked into everything touristy. Yes, I am allowing it. And yes, that is a word. Touristy things here are awesome. And really not that expensive. Just plan out your days and utilize the public transportation system.
8. Bring a very good pair of walking shoes. The roads and sidewalks here are cobblestone. As in individual stones placed next to each other one by one. It will kill your feet. Nevermind – forget walking shoes. Bring hiking boots. Your feet will thank me. Don’t be fooled by these women walking around in heels and flats made of wood/cardboard. They spend their nights soaking their feet in chamomile tea.
9. Be careful not to drink any open containers of alcohol in public while in Prague 01. It’s a 1000KC fine. (And the foreign police here are scary) There is also a prohibition of sorts…so, it is illegal to have any bootlegged alcohol/moonshine but beer and every imported alcohol is still available. Not really sure why it’s being called a prohibition…
10. Try some new food. Look under the “Traditional Czech Cuisine” section of the menu and pick something that sounds weird. It might just be awesome. Go into a random shop that has a giant skewer of meat spinning in the corner and ask for some of that on a sandwich. Make it your goal to go to every gellato stand to try to find the best gellato in Prague…and then try every flavor once you’ve found it. Go to those random food stands selling potato chips or pastries or “hot chocolate bombs” and just eat it. It will be so good. Be warned that there are no “special orders” here. What is on the menu is pretty much what you get. If you disagree, good luck trying to explain what you want or not getting charged extra for it.
11. There is always something going on in Prague. I hear fireworks outside our apartment practically every single night. There are street fairs and booths selling swords and delicious pastries and cheeses all the time. One day there was a giant parade of people representing different countries playing instruments in traditional garb marching down the street. One country was just holding giant platters of food. There are street performers everywhere and they can be so talented and amazing – or just ridiculous and hilarious. Just go for a walk. Get lost. And stumble onto something not in your Prague/Czech Republic/Eastern European Travel Book. Because it will be delicious and amazing. Deliciously amazing.
And that’s it for now…oh, the elevators here are very small and very scary. Just take the stairs. And don’t bring one of those “strapped to my body under my shirt” wallets…you just look ridiculous. Okay. Now I’m done.