Welcome to part three of my European quadrilogy. If you haven’t yet read my previous Euro-voyage chapters , then check them out here:
Although France and Germany were fun and very beautiful, I wouldn’t want you to get stuck there and miss out on the rest of the trip. On a beautiful Wednesday morning, I hopped on a bus in Munich to head to Prague in Czech Republic. I arrived sometime in the late afternoon to the hotel and gorgeous weather. Meeting weather like I did in Prague is not easy to come by in May during Europe. The sun was shinning, the breeze was light, and the skies blue with marshmallow clouds.
Part III. Prague, Czech Republic
The name of the hotel was called Mama Shelter. Let’s just reflect on the name of the residence… Mama… Shelter…? Before arriving to the hotel, I was a little nervous and confused about our stay based off the name; I had never heard of or researched it. It sounded like we would be staying in a shelter for the homeless or for natural disaster relief.
After walking into the hotel, I realized how wrong I was. The hotel was beautiful, modern, trendy, and different from any hotel I had ever stayed in. With the many amenities inside the hotel I was very comfortable and did not have to leave as much as I did when at the other previous hotels.
One thing I realized about the hotel rooms was they had plastic face masks of cartoon characters such as the looney tunes and batman. I did not know what to take away from this, however, if you wanted to purchase them, they we 13 euros; This seemed a little expensive considering the plastic masks were cracking before even taking them off the lighting fixture.
I took the opportunity of the bar downstairs in the lobby to catch up on some blogging while getting a few drinks. Happy hour was only Monday through Wednesday; Full advantage taken as it would be the only happy hour for us to experience in Prague. Every drink I got was very good, but my favorite was the Mama Mule; London dry gin, lychee liqueur, lime, cucumber, and ginger beer.
Prague is big on partying, thank goodness. Later in the evening, the club went up on a Wednesday. Sadly, a lot of night clubs were not opened on weeknights, but, at last, we found a party zone called Epic. I had never seen a nightclub so advanced with high-tech security. When getting to Epic we were let into the holding room while being pat down and metal detected. After the security was done, we went to the booth to pay for entry and were given a wristband with a barcode. The barcode was used to scan on a pad attached to the door. Once your wrist band scanned you were allowed to push the door and go through. We were required to do the same process when leaving Epic.
The next day I had woken up to a missed call from my bank in the United States about unusual activity on my statement. Now, when I saw this phone call I assumed it was spam and ignored it. Even though I thought it was spam, I called my mother just to update her on the oddness of it all. Minutes later my mom calls me back to tell me she checked my account and I had $0.
My mindset: I have about what would be $100 left in Czech koruna (Czech Republic currency), a maxed out credit card, a hacked debit card, and more than a week in Europe… well shit. Now I am on a three way call with my mother and a bank representative recollecting all the times I used my card.
The only time I used my debit card in Czech Republic was when I was at McDonalds on the way to the hotel and at the ATM inside the hotel. I was really confused about this because many other people I traveled with also used their cards at McDonalds and at the hotel ATM. My assumption is that there was a fraudulent scanner inside the ATM at the time of my using and they sold my information to another person. BUT only wanted to sell my information and no one elses The fraudulent charges were made at a Road Ranger in Illinois?! This was the only real down fall of being in Prague, however, I was not going to let it get me in the gutter.
Fun fact: the next day the ATM was “out of order,” I wonder why.
Soon after the financial predicament, me and a small group hopped on the tram to what the Czechs call “Old Town.” We ended up in the center of town and began looking at the small shops, the beautiful architecture, a large clock, and a number of other things. It was hard to navigate our way through the town center with the massive amount of people no sense of direction. There were so many people around and there were so many different languages being spoke.
We made our way over to the Charles Bridge and looked at the statues planted amongst it. There was a saying that if you rubbed the gold part of a certain statue it would bring you good luck and a strong likelihood of returning back to the Czech Republic.
To cap off the day, we found a small restaurant that had outdoor seating. We were told by a co-travelers father that we absolutely needed to try goulash soup before leaving Prague. The soup came inside a bread bowl which was just as amazing as the soup itself.
The next day I had plans to have a guided tour of Old Town hoping to capture some information about things we might have missed without the guide. Due to being early, we saw a street concession that had ice cream and churro cones. What is a man supposed to do at 10 in the morning? When in Prague! The consession was called Staroprazske Tradicni.
Soon after eating the dessert the tour began. Our tour guide brought us all over Prague including the Old Town center, the astronomical clock, the Prague Municipal Library, cathedrals, and a Jewish cemetery. She explained to us that in Jewish cemetery’s the walls get so high because they let their grave stones topple down and then they will add another layer of dirt for the next generation. She took us to a street of luxury shops called “The Paris Street” which is named after the Champs-Elysées. Finally, she ended the tour in Jan Palach Square. Jan Palach was a Czech student of history and political economy at Charles University in Prague. He set himself on fire to protest against the end of the Prague Spring resulting from the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies; The square was dedicated in his honor.
More food for lunchtime. At a near by hotel I got a chicken and avocado sandwich which was also the first time I saw an avocado in Europe. Around 5 o’clock we headed to the John Lenon wall; This wall was nothing more than a tribute to John Lenon through graffiti.
To start June off a little rocky, I was expecting to leave the hotel to go to a tour of the Prague Castle; This is not what happened. What actually happened is we left the hotel extremely early to get to the tour guide, therefore, we had to wait until it arrived. Once the tour guide approached, we were told where the castle was, what tram to take, and what we would see there.
Long story short, it was not a guided tour and it confused me why we even met up with her. We took tram 22 to the top of “castle.” I was unimpressed by the architecture. We wanted to see the castle; however, we were never sure if we were at the castle or not. In general, I was rather unbothered with the tour. However, once we got to the top of the cathedral, the views were quite spectacular.
Since the next day was a travel day, I had a very low-key night. I got Mexican takeout for dinner (lol I got a burger), went to see the Charles bridge at sunset one last time, went back to the hotel to pack and shower, and went to sleep. Just before leaving the hotel for good we noticed there was stairs below the main bar. Come to find out there is a garden bar below the main level where younger people can hangout and watch televised sports. I WISH I KNEW ABOUT THAT SOONER.
And of course I couldn’t leave Prague without getting just one more ice cream and churro cone.
Prague is less expensive than most of the other European cities we had gone to. On the other hand, I spent the most money while in Prague which is ironic because it is supposed to be cheaper! The currency of Prague, the Czech koruna, was very confusing. The denominations were much larger than what I was used to: 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 2,000. For example, 100 Czech koruna is equivalent to $4.32. Even though the Czech Republic has their own currency, many businesses still take euro as a form of payment.
Czech Republic norms were very different from most of the European norms I saw in other countries. One of the biggest examples of this was the waiters expected us to tip when eating out. I guess it made sense considering everything was less expensive, but I assumed that there were certain norms to be carried throughout Europe. Speaking of similarities of the other European cities I have gone to so far, there was so much graffiti everywhere. People were doing graffiti in the broad daylight and not to mention that one of Prague’s biggest attractions, The John Lenon Wall, is made up of solely graffiti.
Traveling to Prague was my favorite part of my Europe trip. I absolutely loved being there and seeing everything it had to offer. Did you hear that? They said one more stop! Where to next? Destination: Probably Helsinki, Finland.