Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prague, Czech Republic

What a beautiful city Prague is! However, I don't think I've ever seen a place with so many tourists. And with that, quite a few local businesses in the central/tourist area seem to rip tourists off or cheat tourists all the time.

As I'd already been through Munich, Vienna and Budapest earlier, I thought Prague was a bit similar to those cities in terms of such great architecture and churches. Prague has a great cheap transport system and most tourist attractions are within walking distance of metro or tram stops. And, to me it seemed pretty safe. I wondered how many people actually pay to use these public transports because most people seemed to just jump on and off without their tickets. Probably, it's free!

I did another great free walking tour around the city to kick off my 4 nights and our guide was a Russian American was great with loads of information about the culture, the city and food. I'm so glad that I did the tour at the beginning of my stay. After the tour, we decided to change some money and we got so upset with the money changer (professional shop) as they charged us €10 to change €50. We didn't know the language and after signing the receipt, we found out and they refused to give the money back. This is very sad and apparently so common in Prague. We were disappointed but we put it behind us. I can't complain as this is probably my fault because I wasn't careful enough.

After that, we walked up to the Prague Castle for fabulous views of the city. After working up a hunger, we found a small restaurant full of people and we hoped it would be a great place. Waitresses were friendly and the food was acceptable, but we got ripped off big time again! We had to pay €78 for a simple meal for 2 with 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, a pork schnitzel and a Greek salad plus we have to pay 15% for VAT and a bread basket which we didn't eat. Some Prague people must think tourists can draw money out of the blue!!!! We had a totally bad day!!!!

Anyway, a great thing came up the next day as we found one of the best coffee shops in town (for me) where we noticed the owners and staff have passion about coffee, where they test their coffee, chat to their clients about the differences between their coffee. Surprisingly, no Vietnamese coffee in the shop, very disappointed (just kidding). We went back to this coffee shop two more times before leaving Prague. With recommendations from one of our clients who lived in Prague for two years, we went to a great Prague pub, Pivoparsky Dum, for dinner where we could taste different beers, including nettle, coffee and banana beer and an amazing meal. We were the only tourists in the pub and it was a huge place but filled up by 8pm. The best meal in Prague for me and I'm so glad we went there.

So, in general, I have mixed feelings about Prague. Not sure if I'd go back.


MizThreefivesix said...

As a foodie you should know to avoid tourist hot spots! i am sure you can get really fine food in Prague - where the locals eat.

Anonymous said...

We ate at Lokal restaurant, near the main square, food was really good and mostly locals. There's also a Vietnamese restaurant, Song Lam near old town, they have surprisingly good Pho Bo. Prague has some really good Italian restaurants as well. We enjoyed our stay in Prague and didn't feel ripoff at all.

suvro said...

We went to Prague and while we loved the tourist spots in the city, the food experience was NOT good at all.

We used the public transit system, but we did buy tickets at the tobacco shops and used them.

We had two Czech meals - one close to the place we were staying at. To sample a range of Czech specialties, we chose the farmer's platter. It was a big mistake - greasy meat with greasy starch dishes.
Then our conference's banquet dinner was in a cavern like old restaurant. Since it was organized by the conference hosts, there was not much choice - but I remember it was not memorable.
As a matter of fact, we found a Vietnamese restaurant and liked it sufficiently to go back once more.

The beer experience in Prague was OK but limiting. Most restaurants have contracts with one of the three main brewers, so they have limited offerings. Unlike in Belgium where most places will have a wide variety of choices. There are microbreweries, but off the beaten track.
Once was enough for us to visit Prague.