Monday, February 16, 2009

Praha, Czech Republic

The Prague trip was an opportunity for a “bromantic” weekend over Valentine's Day with one of my best friend visiting from California who I hadn’t seen since moving to London. It was successful in the sense that we caught up properly and shared in some good drink and food, but my impressions of Prague itself were as follows. I should add the disclaimer that we went in the middle of February, an off season time to visit Prague and for this reason it is possible that my perceptions are a bit skewed. My wife went a few years back during the summer months and absolutely loved it. I did love the architecture. The built environment of Prague is the main reason to visit, (Prague Castle, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, etc.). Prague was one of the only major European cities not to have been destroyed during World War II, so the architecture is well preserved and original, mainly in the Baroque, Gothic, and Neo-Classical styles, absolutely amazing.

We stayed just around the corner from the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square, so the location was perfect, within close proximity to the major sites, restaurants, and bars. It was bustling enough during the day given how cold it was outside, absolutely blistering cold in fact. I have come to find that I’d rather it snow if it’s going to be that cold. Something about the dry cold is so much worse (I felt the same when we visited Beijing in January). After a while of sightseeing outside you just want to head indoors to stay warm. If it snows, I feel it somehow warms things up a bit (might be irrational, but it’s just something I’ve discovered in my own experiences). Perhaps it is because when there is cloud cover, as there would be if it were snowing, it traps additional warmth inside. Notice how in colder climates, the sunny clear days are often times more freezing than when it’s overcast (this is always the case in London). So for this reason, we spent a big proportion of our time indoors and drinking in order to stay warm!

My only real gripe about Prague was the unsavory crowd that came out at night. I was a bit surprised to see this side of Prague and I’ll keep things G-rated for the purposes of this blog, but we saw some seedy things going on that we didn't expect. Again, it might be due to the fact that this was an off-time to go and that certain elements are more dominant with fewer crowds.

Overall, Prague is a must if you’re going to be in Europe, just be aware of the time of year you go. We had a surprisingly decent Mexican meal at a place called CzechMex. We also ate a ton of goulash which was a tasty, hearty way to stay comfortable in Prague’s blistering, windy February cold. Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge are the main sites and you can easily complete the whole trip in no more than two days. -- Keenan

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