Thursday, 11 May 2017

Exploring Prague!

So I thought I’d write an honest post based on my experience visiting Prague, Czech Republic. This post will contain the good and the maybe not so good. Disclaimer: I know that every country has it's own issues and that no country is perfect. However this is my experience based on my time spent in the country....
Let’s start off with the good. Prague is an absolutely magical city filled with beautiful architecture, a rich history and great touristic visiting spots. The ancient capital city is a captivating place to travel to and it has proven itself to be a popular tourism destination. For those visiting Czech Republic for the first time there are many popular tourism attractions on offer to explore.
The first place that was on my list to explore was definitely the Charles Bridge. It is an historic bridge that crosses the Vltava River in Prague. Its construction started in 1357 and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The Charles Bridge was the most important connection between the Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and various surrounding areas. The bridge can only be used by pedestrians and its total length is 515.8 metres.
As soon as I arrived in Prague along with a few of the others that had joined us on the trip we took to the streets of the Old town, Prague, this is thus an medieval settlement of Prague and notable places in the old town includes Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock. The Astronomical clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. I however I did not manage to get to see the clockwork strike on the hourly, but it is known to show figures of the apostles and other moving sculptures. It really is spectacular to actually see this gigantic astronomical clock on full display.
We also managed to get around to seeing the Prague Castle which dates back to the 9th century. According to the Guinness book of records Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world occupying an area of almost 70 000 square metre. The castle is amongst the most visited tourist attractions and when visually seeing the architecture and attention to detail it is clear why this is such a popular destination.
Another must see has to be the Lennon wall or the John Lennon wall as it is known. Since 1980 it has been filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from the Beatles songs. In the 1988, the wall was a source of irritation for the communist regime of Gustav Husak. Young Czechs would write grievances on the wall and in a report of the time this led to a clash between hundreds of students and security police on the nearby Charles Bridge. The wall continuously undergoes change and the original portrait of Lennon is long lost under layers of new paint. We were told by a tour guide that the amazing thing about this wall is that it is constantly changing, if you had to visit Prague a week later, the wall will look completely different. Also according to law this is now the only wall in Prague where it is legal to draw here and make use of graffiti.
So now I’ve given you a clear view on the great things to see in Prague, let’s talk about some of the perhaps not so great things that you could experience when visiting the magical city! If you are looking for a friendly welcome and good old hospitality it seemed to be quite a stretch. Asking for directions from the locals or even the cab drivers was an absolute mission, as they come across completely irritated and abrupt. We even experienced this in the local café whereby the waitresses was just plain rude. Asking basic questions was quite an annoyance for them and their faces clearly showed their frustrations. In the hotel we even had the experience when the guy assisting us with the bags got so irritated with us, talking amongst ourselves before instructing him about where we would like our bags to go. His body language openly showed how upset he was, which we found weird, as abruptness is never okay when it concerns customer service. However it seems this city definitely plays with a different set of rules. We were so relieved when we actually found a 1 in a million, that was actually polite and keen to assist.
So before clicking "publish" on this post, I thought to myself perhaps the Czech people was only rude to us and it could perhaps be a isolated situation. I then went to the trusted MR Google & typed in "Why is Czech people so rude? And crazy enough there were actually many articles written about it. Surprise Surprise!
On our final day in Prague we were at a tram station and had no idea how to buy a ticket, we asked for assistance from a person working there and they were so abrupt and just answered insert the money and walked away. We then needed to use the bathroom and inserted 5 koruna to open door, but the door ended up being jammed. We again asked for assistance and the guy merely shrugged his shoulders and refused to assist and walked away.
Getting ripped off by taxi drivers seems to be another trend within Prague, Czech Republic. We experienced this when taking a taxi to the Charles Bridge, and then when we took a taxi back we ended up paying almost double. The taxi driver swears he took the quickest route even though we knew that we were driving on the outskirts and in circles which meant an more Koruna.
I must say this horrid and unfriendly service received from the Czech people only dampen the city by about 20% and the remaining 80% is firmly held at the breath taking architecture and beautiful landscapes. Has anyone else experienced this when traveling to Czech Republic?

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