Of all the places we’ve visited, Prague is the city to which I’d most like to return.
We were working in London on a movie set and had two weeks of vacation over Christmas and the New Year. We spent the first week traveling in Italy. During the second week, we met up with friends in Prague. Before the trip, we were most excited about Italy. I’d like to say this was due to a keen interest in Italian culture and history, but let’s be honest. Food.
While we had a great time in Italy, we did not have great food. We failed to get off the beaten path and found ourselves in a series of mediocre tourist traps. There was one out of the way place we found in Florence on Christmas Eve. We had a phenomenal meal, from which I acquired a horrific case of food poisoning.
Merry Christmas to me.
After Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan, we found ourselves grounded by a blizzard. Our plane tickets were no good, so we hopped on a train heading north through Austria to the Czech Republic.
We had no preconceived notions of Prague, but ended up falling in love with the city. A few of the contributing factors:
- Affordable. Eating and drinking are less fun when you realize you might have to later sell a kidney to pay off your credit card bill (ahem, London). No such worries in Prague.
- Delicious. My husband grew up eating a dish (that I think of as glorified Hamburger Helper), which his parents made and referred to as goulash. How they associated their dish with goulash, I’ll never know. The ingredients were all wrong. In Prague we experienced real goulash for the first time and it was delicious.
- Walkable. A great city to explore on foot. Of course, we were there in late December and early January, so there were times when we used the metro even if we were only going a few blocks. Winter does not screw around in Prague. The metro, with just three lines, was easy to navigate.
- Friendly. Not “tourist friendly,” which is what I think of when people have fake smiles plastered on in the interest of increasing business, but genuine, down-to-earth, good will.
- Musical. When people shoved flyers at us, little rectangles of neon pink paper, I assumed I would find an ad for a strip club. Instead, these were ads for free, classical concerts. Prague is inherently and joyfully musical.
- Beautiful. Museums, castles, and an astronomical clock that was installed in 1410. There is so much to see in Prague, and you don’t have to know how to pronounce Vltava to appreciate the beauty of the river (click here if you want to know how to pronounce Vltava).
- Hot Chocolate Spiked with Rum. When you’re freezing your zadek off, you can stop at any number of outdoor stands and buy a cup of grog (hot water and rum) or hot chocolate and rum. After much research, I firmly attest that hot chocolate with rum is just about the best idea. Ever.
I hope to make it back to Prague in the next few years, maybe this time in warmer weather, maybe to other cities in Czechia. In the meantime, you know how I like my hot chocolate.