Imagine booking a hostel and receiving an email right after your booking confirmation to warn you about the city, from the same hostel! Surely it was very kind of them to send us an email to warn us to keep our valuables hidden (or not take them into the city at all) and to be aware of pickpockets and other scammers. Yet at the same time it had me a bit more weary about Prague than it deserves.
We arrived at our hostel right around dinner time, we were hungry and tired from travelling all day from Salzburg to Prague. To our surprise we were greeted with a nice warm dinner, for free! The hostel organises free dinners a few times a week for their guests and we happen to arrive on such a day. Lucky us! We even got to eat and fill our rumbling tummies before checking in. Now that’s a big two thumbs up.
After settling in to our room (with no room mates for our whole stay, win!) we made our way down to the bar to try us some Czech beer. Lots of beer for cheap, what’s wrong with that? The bar was covered with writings on the wall and country flags, New Zealand and The Netherlands represented of course!
Being tired after such a long day of travel on not very comfortable trains we finished our beers and headed up to our room for an early night.
The next day we headed in to the old city of Prague. That’s the most beautiful part of the city. A lot of old buildings have been fantastically restored to the way they looked in their glory days. This part of the city also seems a lot cleaner than the rest of Prague we’ve seen, but maybe that’s because this is the most touristy part and it has to look inviting?
Crossing one of the many bridges to make our way up to the castle we looked to our right to the Charles bridge. A very beautiful bridge made out of Bohemian sandstone. It is protected by 3 bridge towers and has a lot of statues all along the bridge. A magnificent sight, which was unfortunately diminished by a very large purple finger, contaminating the view.
Little did we know the finger was not only our topic of conversation. Sarah and I were discussing the reason for the finger and how it made the view a little less attractive (and made it impossible to take proper photos without the finger showing up), when I turned around and found a microphone under my nose and a camera in my face. Brilliant, a camera crew for Czech TV. I was immediately asked about the finger, if I knew what it represented, why it was there and my feelings on communism and protesting. Thinking up the most politically correct answer I could in 3 seconds I got away as fast as I could, and I sincerely hope I didn’t end up on Czech TV.
After my 5 seconds of fame we made our way up to the Castle giving us a stunning view of the city while walking through the castle gardens. We had to walk up a lot of steps to get up there but it was absolutely worth it. Ironically enough you have to go down some more steps to get to the garden but I can really recommend doing so because the gardens are amazing, even in fall.
The one thing I really wanted to see in Prague was the John Lennon wall. Since the 1980’s this once normal wall has been filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti as well as Beatles song lyrics. In 1988 the wall was used by young Czechs to write their grievance on and it became a source of irritation for the communist regime. The wall has been painted over many times and the original portraits have been lost under numerous layers of paint. These days the wall represents a symbol of ideals like love and peace.
As you can see the wall has a lot of graffiti on it, and a lot of the lyrics and portraits are gone. I think it’s very unfortunate that most of the graffiti on it has nothing to do with the ideals of love and peace but are just spray painted names and phrases not connected to the Beatles, John Lennon or what the wall stands for these days.
The wall is located near the Charles bridge and although there are no signs (at least that I saw) you just find the John Lennon pub and it’s right across from there.
A long day of walking around the city exploring made these backpackers very hungry (Bratwurst for lunch is good though!) and we were looking forward to dinner. The hostel staff recommended restaurant Lavicka Zahradni to us, good food for a decent price. It was close to the hostel so it was an easy choice.
The food was perfect. It was absolutely delicious and well prepared. We both ate for around €20,- a person and that included a main course, a dessert and wine or cocktails. How’s that for cheap?! The cocktails I drank were the best I had this trip and prepared with real ingredients rather than syrup. If you’re in Prague, keep this place in mind. It’s not in old town, but located in the opposite direction about 20 minutes walk from the main train station. They have a tram stop practically in front of their door too and the trams go from old town straight there so no need to walk if you don’t want to!
Prague is definitely worth visiting, it’s a lot cheaper than most other cities in Europe (actually the whole of Czech Republic is) and it makes for an ideal city to spend a weekend in.