Prague, Czech Republic


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Europe » Czech Republic » Prague
March 3rd 2012
Published: March 9th 2012
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Prague


While checking out of the Blues Hostel, the receptionist put a roll of paper towels right next to a candle and while she was giving me directions to the bus station, the paper towels caught fire. Luckily for everyone in the hostel, I kept my calm while she was running around looking for water. I jumped into action and was able to tear the part on fire from the rest of the roll and finally she dumped a glass of water on it. Once out of the hostel, I took a 9:30 bus to Prague. The bus was over 30 minutes late and by the time it got there, I was just about frozen.



A short 4 hours and 20 minutes later I made it to Prague, Czech Republic! I took the bus cause it was about 75% cheaper then a train and was actually 10 minutes quicker. Took the underground to my hostel, St. Christopher’s Inn. Because this is my last hostel after a year of hosteling, I thought I would try and get the best. St. Christopher’s was ranked in the top 5 large hostels in Europe just the week before by Hostelworld. I am going to go out in a bang, or so I thought. Right away I could see why its rated so high, the facilities were amazing, one of the best of my trip. It was actually better then any hotel I stayed in, as I can remember them. But my luck wouldn’t let everything go to plan, just not my style. Hostels are great for the social aspect, this hostel didn’t have it. Looks like I will have to get to know my roommates in my eight bed dorm, but the first night I only had one, a Romanian who I thought was going to kill me.



I don’t know what I did to this guy or why we got off on the wrong foot but he did not like me. He argued with everything I said and kept trying to insult me often in sly ways. If he saw me in the room, he would just come in for ten minutes and leave again saying something like, “Unlike you, I can’t waste time.” I’m sorry, I have been backpacking for a year, seen many many cities and I’m a little to worn out to walk 10 hours a day through the cold. 4 hours through the cold is long enough for me cause I have 5 nights here. I know this doesn’t sound bad but when he kept saying stuff like that it got annoying. He was generally a weird guy with no social skills, but the creepiest thing was he wouldn’t go to sleep until everyone else has. I swear I thought he was going to kill me in my sleep one night. Luckily, I got a cool American guy, Tim, in the room the next night. Tim is on his first big trip by himself and it was refreshing to see his excitement for his trip.



Besides my first night there, the other four nights turned out to be interesting too. One night, Tim and I walked into the room after dinner and we had a new roommate... and he was having sex in my bed. He and the girl he was with were embarrassed enough that we caught them having sex but when I came in and said, “Dude, thats my bed” he busted out laughing and the girl could have died of embarrassment. Turns out he didn’t realize which beds were taken already and just happened to pick my bed to have sex in. So I had to switch beds but I only had two nights left. Well the last night I went out with Tim and when I finally got back, wouldn’t you know it, we had a new roommate and she was already asleep in my bed. Luckily, I had a flight back to London in a few hours so I just chilled in the lobby for a few hours. As a last story about the hostel, we also got three Argentinian roommates and it didn’t take long for one of them to bring a girl back and start going at it while Tim and I were getting ready to leave one morning.



All of these stories so far might give you an idea why Prague is so popular. The best way I can sum it up is a beautiful city with tons of old buildings each with its own type of architecture and the streets filled with tons of drunk, horny groups of tourist, most on bachelor parties or stag weekends. I thought the city was going to be cheap as thats what most backpackers were saying but I didn’t find it to be that cheap. The beers were about the only cheap thing in the city, but I guess I am coming from many real cheap destinations on my trip but its cheap for Europe.



I would spend most of the days walking around the different areas. One of the days was “Free Tower Day.” Basically there are like seven towers throughout the city that charge people to climb. But on this day, they were all free! I somewhat took advantage of it and climbed three or four of them, some with amazing views of the city and some more of a museum then view. But by the end, the lines were so long I just didn’t care to do anymore. Another day I took a free walking tour which lasted three hours and we had a really good guide. Besides showing us all the locations of hollywood movies that were shot there (i.e., XXX, Eurotrip, Casino Royal and MI:2), the most interesting story he told us was how the Czech president was caught on camera stealing a pen after an official signing in Chile. He made fun of the grin the president did when he thought he got away with it, only to be busted later. Youtube it, it was funny.



The section of the city I found most interesting was the Jewish Quarter. This section which is located just about in the center of the city started as the Jewish ghetto but today is the wealthier section of Prague. Before WWII, there were roughly 120,000 Jews living in Prague, however due to the Ghetto being in place already, most were sent to concentrations camps, particularly the Terezin camp. After WWII, only about 3,000 remained. I debated going to the Terezin camp but since there are many camps in these areas I want to see, I will make a separate trip for them, hopefully my next trip. My free walking tour took us to the main sites like the Old-New Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, and the old Jewish Cemetery. So the next day I went back to actually go into these sites. I paid for a pass that includes everything, but the most powerful and interesting was the Pinkas Synagogue and the old Jewish Cemetery. The Pinkas Synagogue was turned into a very powerful museum. When you go in, they have the names of 77,297 written throughout several rooms in very small writing. I think I have a family history from around this area and I saw my last name written several times on that wall. It gave me chills and left me speechless, not an easy thing to do. The next section is an exhibit of school children’s drawings. A teacher told the kids in the Terezin camp to draw to help deal with everything they are going through. She gave different assignments so not all the pictures are gloomy as some drew of memories of family dinners and stuff like that. It was sad to read that almost all of those children didn’t survive the holocaust. The teacher didn’t survive either but she managed to hide the paintings in a suitcase which was found several years after the war. Very emotional. The Old Jewish Cemetery is where all the people had to be buried for hundreds of years. There is an estimated 12,000 tombstones and about 100,000 burials in this small little area. After the area was filled, they would put a layer of dirt and then start again right on top. There is over 10 layers of bodies packed on each other.



Most of the nights were spent going out for a few drinks. They love their beer here. Tim went to school with someone who is now studying abroad in Prague and we met up with her one night at the Iron Curtain and one of her friends another night for her birthday party. Good times!



In general, Prague was one of the top cities I have been to. The buildings, bridges, castle and towers themselves are worth going to the city for. But in addition, it has good nights out. Probably a few too many Americans for my liking, as I like to travel the world to meet people from as many countries as I can. I love going to countries where freedom and independence is new to the people like in Argentina and here in the Czech. The younger generations are really making the most out of what the older generations have fought for. Also the McDonald’s in Prague have these amazing cheese balls I went back for several times.



Now I am back to London to see Nicci again for the next few weeks and then I fly home and start work again. Only a few entries left...


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