Sunday, May 31, 2015

Prag // Prague: A Tour With an 80s Punk Rocker

Our second and final full day in Prague was cold and windy but was full of even better times than our first day. We spent the first half of the day across the river in the castle district, home to the world's largest castle (the title is a bit misleading as it's more like many small buildings strung together). We had a tour guide to take us around the sites - a hilarious Czech named Givi with wild hair and zero cares. His talking points of the historic moments of Prague's history were punctuated with comical negative opinions of the Czech Republic's president and federal security, and I don't know if I've ever laughed so much during a tour. I have done (too) many city tours, and Givi's was by far the most informative and entertaining one I've been on. 

After the tour, CB and I and some new friends from Mainz who were also on the tour walked down to the John Lennon Wall, which was surprisingly free of tourists. Up until a few months ago the wall was completely graffitied over, but late last year someone painted over everything with white with a simple "Wall Is Over" in the middle. The silence clearly didn't last long as it is again almost entirely covered in painted messages left by natives and foreigners alike. 

By mid-afternoon it was raining so we ducked into a jazz restaurant for a late lunch. The place served a three course meal for 240 CZK (about 8-9€) and half liters of beer for 26 CZK (1€), making Prague by far the cheapest city I've yet visited. We stayed for several hours, waiting out the rain and enjoying the new company.

Throughout the city we saw food vendors selling Trdelník, a circular dough pastry coated with cinnamon sugar and sometimes filled with chocolate spread. CB and I caved and each bought one, spending a full ten minutes trying to figure out how to gracefully eat it, failing, and getting cinnamony sugar all over ourselves. Tip for future eaters of trdelník: unravel it, don't try going straight for the middle.

When I initially planned to visit Prague, I expected a city much like Budapest - post-communism, a little rundown, full of local character. And while those are all true, it was far more beautiful than I had imagined, most likely due to not being destroyed by WWII bombings. The streets around the city centre are vibrant, lined with colourful buildings, and full of Czechs and tourists alike. Despite it being quite a large city, it had the intimacy of a small one. I adored what little I could see of Prague in two days and I would happily return anytime in the future.

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