Czeching In

There’s not really a great deal of practical information I can give about my time in Prague, mainly because I was visiting there as part of my older brother’s stag do. We tried, we really did. We tried to see the sights and visit the major attractions but every time we did, a nice looking bar caught our attention or we realised we’d gone at least 10 minutes without a beer. As someone who is used to taking a more chilled out approach to travelling and, indeed, travelling alone rather than in a group of 9, it was certainly a different experience for me but it was still a good laugh.

Prague couldn’t have been more different to Wroclaw in terms of its status as a tourist destination. I think I heard more English spoken than Czech. The central area was filled with all sorts of nationalities and you really got the sense of this city as a tourist hub. I didn’t see a great deal of normal, day to day life which obviously must happen as it’s a capital city. Once you step into the winding, old streets of the centre, it feels like a mini city in itself.

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Prague’s Main Square

And I quickly realised why it’s such a popular stag do destination. Beer in Prague is cheap. It wasn’t quite as cheap as Wroclaw, or other Eastern European countries I went to afterwards, but I had to remind myself I was in a tourist centre of Europe and a capital city and I was paying £1-£1.50 for 0.5l of beer. There’s such diversity between the different bars too. We veered from sitting by the river to sitting in run down local pubs to visiting a basement bar which was dangerously close to erupting into a full-on brawl at any second. We promptly drank our drinks and ran before the madness started.

There’s a bar by the river alongside the Charles Bridge that half our group ended up sitting at for 8 hours because the weather was nice and it had a terrace. I’m not sure how we lasted so long but we got a shock when we were presented a bill with 43 beers on it. The beer museum is also worth a visit as they’ve got a good selection of different beers and you can get a taster rack where you sample a host of weird and wonderful flavours. Elsewhere, another good spot is Prague’s renowned 5 floor nightclub with a different theme on each floor. That’s just by the bridge too and was good fun. It costs 200 CZK (£6+) to get in (and you have to pay more to visit the Ice Bar on the ground floor) but the beers were around £1 once inside and there was a great atmosphere. We had a blast on the Oldies’ floor.

Without wanting to sound like a failed beer connoisseur, the interesting thing about Czech beers is the sheer size of the head on them. You don’t lose out on any beer because they give you a glass that’s bigger than 0.5l but you have to battle your way through a gigantic mound of froth to get to your drink. My other dabble in being an alcohol connoisseur was during our visit to one of the many Absintheries in Prague. They seem to take their craft really seriously, wanting to be more than just a doss for a load of drunken Brits (in which case, they’ve failed) and it’s true to say that sipping the Absinthe drink they give you packs a real punch. The jugs of water that accompany it were life-savers. I’m not really sure how anyone can enjoy it. It’s like drinking acid.

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A picture of the Vltava River in an attempt to prove that I didn’t just spend all my time at bars and pubs… though this picture was taken at a bar.

I did manage to see a bit of Prague. Obviously we walked through the Main Square every day, zig-zagging between confused tourists and irritating segways. The Main Square’s got the famous Astronomical Clock which everyone stares at in wonder despite not really knowing what it means or does. The famous Charles Bridge is worth a walk down too, especially at night when you can see Prague Castle illuminated in the distance. We did try to make it to Prague Castle on Day 1 but got… sidetracked. The rest of the party did make it there eventually but I had to leave to catch my train to Budapest so I didn’t see it. It’s supposed to be worth the trip though, if only for the view over the city.

So that’s the kind of brief, family friendly description of my time in Prague. The rest I’ll probably save for my best man’s speech at the wedding. It was definitely a different way for me to experience the city and I feel like I know as much about Prague now as I did before I went there. One thing it definitely taught me is that, after half an hour of aimlessly wandering between bars wondering what we’re going to do next, I feel utterly vindicated in my decision to travel by myself. I really don’t know how people travel in groups all the time!

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