Ever since my March of the Living trip to Poland senior year of high school, I had never been a big fan of Eastern Europe. It was cold, gloomy, and the people were kind of the worst. That was my impression off Eastern Europe, until everyone and their mothers decided to study abroad in Prague. So it got my thinking, maybe there is a reason people love the city so much. I was eager to finally Czech it out for myself.
When we first arrived, we were shocked at how cheap everything was. You could go into a convenience store and buy a beer for just 50 cents. Dangerous, or amazing? We then headed to our hotel to get settled and ready for the weekend. And yes, hotel not hostel. Normally, study abroad students would find cheap hostels to stay in for the weekend; however, my travel group decided to do something a little different. My friend Alex just so happens to be a platinum member at Hilton branch hotels. Casual, I know. So we were lucky enough to snag a deal staying in the Executive suite for a whopping $22 a night. Not to brag, but this fancy deal got us complimentary breakfast and all access to the executive lounge for the weekend, which meant free food and free drinks ALL weekend. And did I mention we got robes? I can already see why people love it here.
After getting settled in, we walked straight to the Old Town Square, and my jaw literally dropped. I had never seen a city so beautiful. The buildings looked like they had been up for thousands of years, yet were perfectly preserved. And they were basically castles straight out of a fairy tale. There were street performers at every angle of the square, with
people levitating, dressed up in weird costumes, and the usual European bubble making for tourists.
Now that we saw all the beauty Prague had to offer, we couldn’t help but notice a giant row of food stands. How could we ever fully experience Prague without indulging in their cuisines? We got the ever so basic chips on a stick and an interesting potato dish, but what we were looking for was so much more. Our friends who studied abroad here had told us that we absolutely had to find fried cheese. Apparently Prague is pretty notorious for that. A few hours of searching later and we finally stumbled by a little stand, hidden behind the ally ways of Old Town Square. We thought we had hit the jackpot, until our noses got a whiff of something sweet.
Naturally, we followed our noses and were led straight to paradise. This paradise was a little stand cooking dough over an open fire. As if baked dough wasn’t already good enough, when it was fully cooked, t’s taken off the fire and the inside is smothered in layers of Nutella. Was I dreaming or was this actually the norm? The people working the stand had such joy on their faces when they saw tourists jaws drop at these Eastern European delicacies. They thought it was hilarious, I think I was salivating. As if that wasn’t good enough, they added a scoop of vanilla ice-cream as the cherry on top. Now someone actually needs to get me a napkin because I couldn’t believe what was right in front of my face. I thought the fried cheese was bomb, until I tried a Trdelnik. Still no idea how to properly pronounce it, but it made a lasting impression on my heart (and stomach) for life.
After stuffing our faces, we were ready to meet up with some friends studying abroad here for our first night out. We went to a 5 story club, called Karlovy Lazne, with different genres of music on all different levels. I was pleasantly surprised with the nightlife Prague had to offer. After a night ending with pizza and french fires, we headed home to get a good night sleep before our next big day.
First on our list was to take a Segway tour around the city. We took the Segways all the way up a mountain to see Prague from a different angle. After gazing at the beauty for a half hour or so, we left for an authentic Czech meal. I heard Goulash was a must try when visiting Eastern Europe, so like the good traveler that I am, I obviously gave it a try. It was delicious, and I was now full (of excitement) for our next activity. If you can’t think of the only other thing to do when visiting Prague, I’ll give you a hint. Girls from all over America wait years for their perfect picture in front of the most basic wall in Europe. That’s right, the John Lennon Wall. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE Beatles fan, but this wall was kind of a disappointment. It was a wall, probably no longer than 10 feet, covered with graffiti. I didn’t understand what all the hype was about, but I sure did get my basic picture in front of it.
After the wall, it was time to go out for our last night in Prague. We went to a bar that might as well been called “Study Abroad Headquarters” because it was filled with nothing but Americans who are studying abroad all over the world. I knew this was the weekend everyone in Barcelona came to visit, but I didn’t realize abroad students from the rest of the world were hopping on the bandwagon. It was honestly so packed with people, we headed back early to hang out and get ready for our flight the next day. That being said, I was very satisfied with my visit to Prague. It was definitely a different Europe than most people traditionally see, but I now understand why people love it here so much.