I confess I ended up going to Prague because of my mother. She came to visit me in April, and once she set foot here in Paris, she was obsessed about one thing only: going to the Czech Republic.
We were enjoying our first hot days in the French capital, after a long winter. My desire to go to the European East, where spring is not a synonym of high temperatures, was… let’s say… none. But when mommy wants, mommy gets. There we went, leaving the 20°C behind to face the -2°C in one of the most famous capitals in the Eastern Europe.
“Is it always freezing cold during spring?” I asked a waiter. “Actually, it is not cold. The temperatures do not go up because it rains a lot this time of year.”
The guy did not think -2°C was enough, can you believe it? But besides the valuable information about the ordinary spring rain – which disturbed our first two days in Prague – a huge amount of tourists crowded in groups wherever we were. And that was the main impression I had of Prague: an over the top tourist place.
Yes, the Slavic architecture is beautiful. Traces of communism are still very present, everything is different from Western Europe, the food is awful and you drink lots of beer for just a few Czech crowns – all the myths about Prague may be true. I thought I would know a more typical and traditional place. I was a little disappointed to see the way they mistreat the Czech culture, with street vendors forcing you to buy tickets for classical music concerts or puppet shows. Those damn souvenir shops in every corner selling all kinds of stuff and… even to go inside St Vitus Cathedral you have to pay. Hello?
I do not agree with the excessive exploitation of the tourist, neither with the false idea that only what is bought is authentic. Just because you bought a beautiful T-shirt with I love Prague on it and the face of Kafka, that does not mean you had the trip of your life. Tell this to my mother, who spent every koruna on the “traditional” Czech matrioshkas.
My advice: if you want and the opportunity comes, go to Prague. The city is beautiful and unique; it was totally worthy to yield to the insistence of my travel companion. Pay attention to the low seasons, try to avoid the exploitation to the visitors and, above all, do not do as the travel guide says. Our best findings happen when we get lost on the streets of the Czech capital.
Eating and drinking: we tried from typical to basic, from pretentious to quantity, but we did not have a good experience with the Czech food. The cheap beer surely helped our gourmet adventures in Prague, in that bitter-warm-European style. You need to crave it. What saved our meals was the typical roast sausage with mustard in a corner bar. Last but not least, the sweets – everything we expected.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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