I first heard of Prague in Season 1 of Gilmore Girls when Rory tells her grandfather how much she wanted to see Prague.
Clearly, I went through a serious teenage I-Want-To-Be-Rory-Gilmore phase in high school. So, that night in Berlin, I decided I was going change my route last minute and go to Prague instead of my planned trip to Amsterdam.And, was it worth it. 4 days is more than enough time to visit Prague. In fact, you can see all of Old Prague in a day if you wanted to. I spent more than enough time there and found myself wandering the same spots over and over again.
Arriving in Prague
There are two sections of Prague: Old Prague and New Prague. Old Prague is the majestic and mideveal Prague, with it’s stunning clocks towers, lamp post-lined alleyways and fantasy-like castles. Old Prague is the place you want to spend your time in. New Prague is a like typical busy, modern and slightly run down city. In other words, you can skip it.
I got off my train at Praha hlavní nádraží – Prague’s central railway station – and was surprised to find it FLOODED with homeless people begging for money. After waiting in line for 15 minutes with my heavy purple backpack at one of the tourist booths in the train station, I decided to forget the wait and march onwards to locate my hostel. I realized this was the best way to travel as I met and walked with fellow backpackers, eventually parting ways and waving friendly goodbyes and cheerful smiles to my fellow young travelers.
When I finally crossed one of three major bridges outside of Old Prague, I realized I was finally close to my hostel. One hour of walking later, and I arrived home: Hostel Mango. Hostel Mango was better than I expected and my favorite hostel up to that point in my backpacking trip. The hospitality was wonderful, they had free internet computers (where I would write my long emails to Alex), outdoor patios, a large kitchen and large rooms with beautiful windows overlooking the gardens and patio. The nice woman handed me a room key with my bunk number and locker number. I had the top bunk (yay!) right to the window How am I getting so lucky with these bunk beds? I wondered.
Prague felt like a medieval storybook. Spending my four days in Prague, I was instantly reminded by how similar Old Town Prague is to the classic Disney animated movie Sleeping Beauty. It truly feels like it came from a fairytale. The Charles Bridge, connecting the village where Prague Castle is to Old Town Prague, is filled with delicate carved stone gargoyles, ancient statues of Kings and Queens, and brick-stoned paths leading to the great arched entryway ahead. I walked across Charles Bridge maybe 17 times, and every single stroll reminded me of how much I appreciated the beauty and grandeur of Prague. I sat criss-cross on the stoned path and looked up at the young performers and musicians as they passionately played for the enthusiastic crowd of tourists. Every hour of every day, different performers take to the stoned sidewalk to greet and earn a living from these crowds. And it’s never to take money in a tacky way, like they do here in Manhattan. It’s all out of love.Every time I watched a musician or magician, I was always reminded of how selfless and generous these artists were.
Old Town Square
Moving ahead to the Old Town Square, I became mesmerized at the Astronomical Clock, the Old New Synagogue, and the life coming from the central square. I came across a ton of little asian spa shops where people pay to have their feet soaked in a glass tank with fish nibbling and cleaning their toes. As well as a lot of these yummy treats like Trdelnik – a traditional cake and sweet pastry made from rolled dough and covered with sugar and crushed walnuts. Delicious, indeed! I tried it both plain and also with whipped cream and berries, and I definitely preferred the one with strawberries.
Prague’s Free Walking Tours
During a free walking tour, I met a kindred spirit named Olaf! He and I clicked right away and found some neat spots around Prague. We discovered the Jewish area, filled with old synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. The Jewish areas have some really dark history and stories from WW2. We also came across a parade where religious monks were giving out free coconut treats and a farmer’s market filled with colorful fruits, beads, and decorative pots! Olaf got some strawberries, and we sat on a wheel barrow and talked as we munched on fruit! I found a cool fountain on the street where everyone would wash their fruits and vegetables before putting them in bags to take home!
Bar Crawl in Prague?
I set my stuff down and met a few backpackers, all of whom had plans to get seriously wasted at the bar crawl that night. They asked if I would join them. Shyly, I responded that I was going to have to pass that evening. An evening devoted to drinking and getting sick simply isn’t my cup of tea. I’d rather find a cute bookstore and coffeeshop. Maybe I’d meet a kindred spirit and discuss books at a bookstore! That would be lucky. And it turned out: I did! I met a kindred spirit, Olaf, the very next morning during our free walking tour. I arrived in the small group of people, sporting my new sunglasses, and came to the conclusion that the boy standing next to me was possibly around my age and was also a solo traveler. “Are you backpacking solo, as well?” I asked. His face brightened, “I am!” Thus, sparking a wonderful friendship and prague-buddy Olaf is a Scorpio, currently living in Amsterdam, and was traveling with a great interest and passion in seeing the rest of Europe. We had many wonderful conversations sitting on benches and grasses in the park, hiking up a mountain to see Prague Castle, and seeing some piggies on the cobble-stoned street.
The Globe Bookstore
At the end of the first day of sight-seeing, he showed me the coolest little bookshop: The Globe. This two-story little shop was filled with ladders and staircases, showcasing a wide range of fiction, history and travel guide books. Olaf pointed out Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love to me, and I impulsively (and intuitively) bought it without a second thought.
Inspiration from Travelers
Our free walking tour was guided by an awesome guy from New Zealand. He had longish blonde hair, had lots of cool tattoos and a fun sense of style. He moved to Prague about 10 years earlier because he fell in love with the city while he was traveling Europe and decided he wanted to guide tours instead of having an office job. When he told us that story, I felt such a deep sense of admiration and respect for my tour guide. How cool is it to give up your life somewhere simply because why not? Why not go move to a random city in Europe and become a tour guide? I met so many cool cats and characters while backpacking across Europe. There was the hippy meditation teacher from Ubud, Bali in Interlaken. The newly married couple who decided to give up their medical professions to go live around the world….just because. There was the young girl who moved to Germany after falling in love with someone after knowing them for 2 days. The chef from Iceland who was trying to find inspiration in Copenhagen and plenty of others I came across during those 62 days. If I had stayed in New York, cuddled in my comfort zone and decided to not explore Europe by myself because I was too scared (because I was definitely nervous and scared the days leading up to my flight!), I never would have met these beautiful souls. I never would have listened to their life stories, their journeys, and their advice and wisdom. I never would have grown.
My first evening in Prague, I discovered a really affordable and beautiful Italian restaurant tucked away in an alley. I sat alone, journaling and thinking as I slowly ate my pesto pasta. I smiled at this elderly couple sitting next to me, and we began a conversation of travel. From Australia, these two were celebrating their anniversary, and they exclaimed how remarkable it was for a young person to be traveling by themselves. Is traveling alone really that big of a deal? Is it really that scary? I assume it’s very common, especially meeting all the young backpackers I had seen and met along my journey, but according to these two, it was, indeed, a thing to be proud of. They inspired me, along with all the others I had met in Prague….as well as Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, and Monaco. They inspired me to think how gratifying and proud we should be to live during a time when a young, solo (especially female) can go out and see the world. That young women have the ability to adventure. Alone and completely fearless. It was the first time I realized how lucky we all really are. How grateful I am to be a woman during this time. At that little restaurant table in Old Prague, I sat alone and watched them get up to leave and I thought. And then I journaled some more and sat in silence, thinking again. I realized how inspired and affected I was by the kindest of conversations, the sincerest of compliments, and the warmest of regards.
Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it up with water as you go! You’ll save a ton of money traveling, and there are always tons of water fountains like this one all over Europe!
Buying from local Farmer’s Markets are definitely the cheap and healthy way to snack.
Prague is famously known for their bar crawl and wild nightlife. If you’re not in the mood to get wasted, tons of local bookshops, free tours, and excellent quite coffeeshops are available!
Keep an eye on your food in the hostel kitchens – my food was stolen!
Ever been to Prague? Did you hear any interesting historical stories while you were visiting? Tell us in the comments below! 🙂
21st Year Eurotrip: Prague
November 13, 2016
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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.
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