The entire time up to this point, I had heard just how amazing Prague is, and how it’s the true nicest city in Europe, not Paris. One of my friends had recently gone to Prague and loved it, so I wanted to get my share as well.
I invited a couple friends with me, but no one was down to go on this one. So, I decided it would be my first trip alone. Traveling alone was something that was also recommended to me a few times, however, I never really tried it. I very much enjoy my own company, so I thought this would be perfect for me.
Considering I would be alone for this trip, and didn’t have a car, I decided to turn to my handy dandy Facebook groups. I followed many pages and groups of local travel agencies and other guides that offered various trips around Europe for super affordable prices.
When I saw a Prague bus trip come up, I immediately went for it. Priced at around $275, I felt that was more than worth it for round-trip transportation and the opportunity to see a new city and country.
I asked a couple friends if they wanted to go, but they were either too busy getting their bachelor’s degree, or had just come back from a trip of their own and were holding off on spending money. Buncha’ losers!
I didn’t mind, I thought traveling alone would be a lot of fun, and that I was perfect for it. I’m an introverted guy who very much enjoys his own company, so being able to do whatever I want whenever I want sounded appealing, right?
I was wrong, traveling with friends is infinitely better. I had no one to tell jokes to, or to laugh at, or anything like that. I walked my 30,000+ steps alone that day.
Once I arrived, my first priority was getting some cash out of the ATM. I collected currency from every country I went to, and didn’t have any Czech Koruna yet, and I really wanted some. I made the decision that I would just withdraw about $200 worth of koruna and just use that for the day.
Now, I don’t know how, or what I was thinking, but I ended up withdrawing $1,000 worth of koruna. See, in my experience, $200 is always the max you can withdraw at one time. Since I didn’t have service, or any kind of currency converter on me, I just went ahead and withdrew the largest amount the machine offered.
Big mistake. Want to know why? The exchange rate the ATM used, and the exchange rate the currency exchange stand used were wildly different. At the end of the trip, I ended up converting my remaining “$800” worth of koruna back into dollars. However, do to the extreme difference in exchange rates, the $800 was now somehow worth $500.
Don’t do like I did, make sure you have a good offline, currency converter.
Now that I had plenty of cash to spend, and a dampened mood right off the bat, I headed to the Old Town Square to cheer myself up.
It worked, as the entire square was full of mystifying building and architecture; dominated by the Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock. However, another building not in the town square ‘towers’ over everything. The towers of the Church of Mother of God before Týn.
The Astronomical Clock was crazy. It was like it came straight out of a fantasy show. The clock has been around for a while, the medieval times actually. Dating back to 1410, the clock tracks certain celestial objects and their positioning. It is a complex clock, if you want to read more on how it works, you can find more information here.
The clock is mounted on the Old Town Hall. The town hall has a tall tower that you can climb up to get a beautiful view over the whole square.
After I left the tower, and the square as a whole. I made my way through the rest of the city. I looked up best things to see in Prague and started going down the list. This is where all the walking came into play. See, I didn’t plan this trip out at all, going against one of my biggest travel tips.
So the things I saw were on complete opposite sides of town. I would walk all the way in one direction, then all the way back to see something else, then all the way back to see a third thing. Each walk was about 40 minutes. It’s safe to say I got my exercise for the day.
I was criminally unprepared. I didn’t bring gloves even though it was the middle of winter, so I had to buy a giant pair that were way too big for me. I carried around everything I owned in the plastic bag they gave me for the gloves.
Combine this with a dark and gloomy day, and it was evident that I was having a rough go at it.
That is until I came across Hamley’s, one of the biggest and finest toy stores in the world! I had a blast in there, I have always dreamed of seeing toy stores like that, because I’d see them in movies as a kid, but to actually go in one was awesome. I was about the only adult in there that didn’t have a child with me, so it was funny to be looking at toys for myself alongside children. I did find some sweet spy gear, though.
After exploring this giant toy store, I had worked up quite the appetite. A coworker of mine who had been to Prague has recommended to me a restaurant called El Emir.
Now, I assumed it was just a normal restaurant. But a 30 minute walk later revealed that this place was upscale. I was definitely not dressed for the occasion. Either way, I took all my belongings in with me, and set them on the floor as I tried out this restaurant.
They had an English menu, so I was able to properly order. I got a big ‘ol piece of lamb that was covered in a delicious sauce and peanuts. Something I have never had before. While I was ordering, he kept saying different fruits, which I assumed was some sort of side or jam or something like that. Well, about 15 minutes he comes out with an enormous hookah and sets it next to me.
Turns out he was asking me what flavor I wanted.
Thing is, I don’t smoke; I never have. So here is this $40 hookah that I don’t want, sitting there collecting dust. I felt bad the whole time, they prepared this for me and it’s just going to waste. So I moved the coals around as if I knew what I was doing, just trying to make it seem like I didn’t let it go completely unused.
The food was excellent though, so I had that going for me!
My last stop was the St. Nicholas Bell Tower. During the communist era, it was used to spy on the nearby American embassy. If you know me, you know I’m a history kinda guy, so this place was awesome. They still had a urinal in there that was used by the spies, which I thought was really cool!
It provides amazing views of Malá Strana and Charles Bridge as well!
Coming back down from the tower, I was exhausted. See, remember how I said I walked 30,000+ steps? Well that was in brand new boots. So my feet were burning. Why I wore brand new boots when I was about to do all this walking? Because it went with the outfit.
I was too tired to see anything else, so I made my way back to the train station where the bus would be picking us up. However, when I finally got there, I wasn’t allowed to go into the lounge with all the warmth and comfy chairs because I didn’t have a train ticket. So I was forced to sit on the cold benches out in the elements for the remaining hour and some change.
I wouldn’t change it for the world, though.
Prague is a beautiful city, packed to the brim with wonder, excitement, and history. I will always recommend it to anyone considering taking a trip to Europe, because it truly was magical.
I recommend visiting in the spring and summer, as I went during winter and it was grey and depressing.
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