Published: November 9th 2007October 25th 2007
Hi guys!!! Well, after Berlin we certainly needed some cheering up, not that it wasnt a really fascinating city, but were on holiday and if youre budget backpacking around Europe there is no beter place to be than Prague. If you havent been there then go - go now! And if you have been then you know exactly what Im talking about, cheap, cheap, cheap beer....There is more though, incredible medieval architecture, friendly people, great food and awesome nightlife. We have never met so many travellers who had already permanently moved to Prague or where seriously considering it, I think everyone that goes there just knows theyve hit gold, not surprisingly it is actually known as the City of Gold.
We arrived in Prague at 5am after a horrible nightbus, (where Sion got dragged off the bus at 3am for a random security check) to find a pack of drunken Aussies still downing the Budvar (the real Budweiser) in our hostel, Hostel Elf. It was nice to be greeted by some familiar faces and accents as we hadnt really bumped into any fellow Australians, but the novelty quickly faded as we realised the next morning that the hostel was literally
The view across the river towards Prague Castle
swarming with them. After a quick kip we joined the throng, and if youre after a good time then Hostel Elf is the place to go, every night the common room would be full of fellow travellers, enjoying their Budvar, discussing philosophy (we actually found another philosophy major, hi Tom!) or just talking shit and hanging out. The staff were awesome as well, definitely encouraging our exploits by keeping the fridge nicely stocked for us and for 25 crown (an aussie dollar) for the best beer in the world you cant go wrong!
Anyway, when we did manage to emerge from the hostel, we were far from dissapointed, the city is just one big museum. You can spend days getting lost in the myriad of cobbled lanes or wander through breathtakingly beautiful squares gawking at the stunning architecture that towers above you. Prague is a unique city in that it was one of the few major cities in Europe not completely levelled during WWII. Coming from Berlin the contrast is incredible. On every corner there is an ancient church, clocktower, castle, or bridge dating as far back as Medieval times. Coming from Australia where there is no permanent structures
older than 200 years that is pretty hard to comprehened. And the beatiful thing about Prague is that the city still looks incredibly old. It hasnt yet had the facelift of Paris or London, so the sculptures and buildings still maintain that original quality that makes you feel like youve stepped back in time. The most impressive structure is Karlow Most (Charles Bridge) which has an almost eery beauty that even the thongs of tourists cannot detract from. One can still feel the same effect the looming religious sculptures would have had on the citizens of Prague hundreds of years ago. Its spooky man!
Prague Castle is also incredibly beautiful, especially the Cathedral with its stunning stained glass windows and amazing viewing tower, up a winding staircase of 300 steps. The history behind the castle is incredibly dense, Im not going to attempt to go into the complexities of Czech royalty. From what we could tell, they liked to murder each other so they could be sainted or seize power. A bit like Macbeth or King Lear maybe? Death is a very powerful theme in the history of the Castle, it is where kings and queens where buried for
centuries. There is also a skeleton of a fourteen year old anonymous girl encased in a glass coffin in one of the smaller cathedrals, not to mention the elaborate torture devices on display in the castle dungeon, scary shit. Anyway I guess you can tell Im not very well versed in Czech history, forgive me.
Another interesting sight definitely worth a look is the Franz Kafka museum. It is the most stimulating exhibition Ive seen yet in Europe. It is subtitled as an Existential Space, where light, sound and installations are employed to demonstrate Kafkas state of mind, as well evoke the themes and sensations of his novels. The exhibtion also takes you through Kafkas life using his novels, journals, letters and photographs to give you a glimpse into an incredibly talented, but tormented mind. A pretty horrible fact is Kafka actually died of starvation after an inflammation of his larynx caused by TB.
Speaking of illness, me and Sion both managed to get incredibly ill in Prague, I actually lost my voice for a good three days, which really sucked, as it was one the first times we had some people to hang out with. I could
The Six-fingered man
Tommy ´Wittgenstein´six-fingers and his circular counting methods. Funny shit.
squeak a little, but people would cringe in pain if I tried to make real sounds, it was that bad. Anyway, we soldiered on and tried to make the most of our time in Prague. It was a great place to relax and just soak up an incredibly beautiful city and friendly culture. The exhange rate definitely makes enjoying yourself easier on your wallet and therefore less stressfull. We took advantage indulging in dinners on the main square, river cruises and irresponsible, excessive drinking. But yes, I would definitely reccommend Prague to anyone thinking of backpacking around Europe on the cheap. People say it has been spoilt by tourism, but I wouldnt agree, this city has so much to offer travellers and whilst you do have to jostle for space at times, the people of Prague seem genuinely happy to have you there and dont mind sharing their little paradise. Cheers guys!
There are more photos below