Prague: a city beyond time
Ellie Klein reminisces about her time in Prague and challenges the stereotypes often associated with the city.
Prague. The land of cheap drinks and stag-dos. At least, that’s what it’s known for, but there’s more to the city than those things alone. For a start, there’s the Vltava, the river that cuts the city in two. Visitors flock to see the famous Charles Bridge, but the river itself is just as spectacular. On my second night, my Czech tour guide – a friend from my first semester in Amsterdam who’d kindly agreed to show me around – took me to her favourite ice cream parlour, and, ice creams successfully acquired, we wandered along the river, watching the boats drift past. It was like something from a dream.
Then there are the bakeries, which are a great way to snag a cheap breakfast. I was intrigued by what looked like ‘sweet pizza,’ but was informed by the woman waiting behind me in the queue that it was actually some kind of dough slathered in jam and sprinkled with the kind of topping you’d find on a crumble. It was good, and my Czech friend later told me it was a specialty from her region in the east of the country.
Visitors flock to see the famous Charles Bridge, but the river itself is just as spectacular
There are also the various bars and cafes, most of which serve filter coffee that’s far too strong for my weak, uncultured palette – much to my friend’s dismay. Strangely enough, a lot of the bars we passed turned out to be Irish pubs. We went to one only once, after we’d been walking around all day in the roasting heat and needed somewhere to cool off. It felt wrong, somehow, to go all the way to Prague just to end up in an Irish pub, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
But my favourite part of the city was the Riegrovy Sady View. There’s a reason it’s colloquially known as ‘the cinema’: as the sun started to set, locals and tourists gathered to chat, drink, and enjoy the beautiful view of Prague, with the castle taking pride of place on the horizon. My friend and I split a takeaway pizza and ate it out on the hill. At one point, I noticed a woman who sat, smoking, to my left. When she shifted position, I saw she had brought her cat. It was curled up in her lap, looking pretty content, and I could certainly relate: the thirteen-hour bus journey to get there that morning had been pretty gruelling, but at that moment, I forgot all about it.
Prague is one of those cities that has so much to offer. Sure, the nightlife is great, and food and drinks are really cheap, but Prague would be a cool city even without these things. My main takeaway from my three days here was how much Prague feels like a place that exists outside of any fixed time period. The contrast between the cobbled streets and medieval Astronomical Clock and the techno music blasting from clubs is an interesting mix. It simultaneously feels like you’ve jumped back in time, and like you’re firmly rooted in the present day. This sensation alone makes this Eastern European capital well worth a visit.