(So, I meant to actually blog while in all of these cities, but wifi proved to be much more tenuous than I planned. I hope you’ll forgive me. Without further ado, here are my recaps of all the cities we visited. This post will cover Prague, in the Czech Republic.)
I never thought I’d visit an Eastern European country. Communism only fell in 1989 here, in the aptly-named Velvet Revolution, boasted about by locals because the transition of power was as smooth as velvet. So when we landed in the Czech Republic, after flying from Detroit to Paris and Paris to Prague, it seemed like a medieval fairytale. There’s a freaking castle for crying out loud.
The first thing you notice are the houses on the outskirts of town. They look a little bit like industrial shoe boxes, in different colors and sizes, like things that a child hastily stacked and forgot. Of course I knew what Communist architecture looked like; but it’s a whole other thing to see it in person. Our guide mentioned that some older people would like to see Communism return after the prosperous 90’s entered a slower-growing 00’s that hit economic problems. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but then again, I’m also not Czech.
A majority of the streets are cobbled, and they’re all in Czech names that I couldn’t pronounce if I tried (I did). Goulash quickly became a favorite meal, with a nice cold Pilsner. Honestly? I could drink a Pilsner every day for the rest of my life. Granted, the first night I had one was the evening of our arrival, so jet-lagged, exhausted, dehydrated, very hungry Alise didn’t fare too well against the stronger beer. It’s a good memory though!
Favorite place: Charles Bridge. There’s nothing like standing in the middle and gazing up at Prague Castle or down at the Vltava.
Best Meal: Goulash and Pislner. Filling, meaty, and alcoholic. That, or the meat pie I had at the Christmas market. Absolutely heavenly.
Best Experience: Walking around Old Town Square at night. The Christmas market was still up for great shopping (I purchased a mug and some other cute things), and we got to see the famed Astronomical Clock chime.
Pet Peeve: Nothing! The exchange rate is good (hence this post’s title), the people are friendly, if a little wary of foreigners, and the food is phenomenal. Just stay out of touristy areas to avoid getting ripped off like we did at a suspicious restaurant (don’t let them charge you for anything you didn’t order!).
Journalism Activities: Visit to McCann-Erickson, which represents various brands locally like Vodafone, MasterCard, L’Oreal Paris, and local beers like Gambrinus and Kozel, as well as Bohemia Chips, a local brand. Then we received a lecture from an instructor at Charles University about the pre-and-post Communism media landscape.
Here are some photos!