I am currently writing from an AirBnB in Vinohrady, in the middle of Prague 2. At long last, and at the same time, all too quickly, I am in the Czech Republic, on a mission to drop my daughter off to begin her university studies at the end of this month. Indeed, there were times when it seemed that college was a long way off- from kindergarten twelve years ago to the Covid19 pandemic that caused time to stop and drag on. But it turns out that time is merciless in its passage, and my Emily, the first to leave home for school, is now set up in her dorm across the Vltava River in Prague 7. Kids really do grow up too fast.
While I confess that I am getting a bit sentimental at the thought of my babies growing up, I have to also admit that Emily chose a truly amazing city to spend the next several years working on her bachelor’s degree. Prague, known in Czech as Praha, is a beautiful city with historic architecture, ornate churches, and plenty of green spaces. As a medieval city, it also has a rich history, spanning from before the 900s through the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, and years of communism. The influences of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo, as well as tall gothic towers are evident in many of the city’s landmarks. It seemed that wherever we walked, there were points of interest. Prague is extraordinarily scenic.
We flew into Prague’s Vaclav Haval Airport after an almost 13 hour flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul and about a two-and-a-half hour flight from Istanbul to Prague. After a long day of travel, it was nice to finally arrive in the city where Emily would reside, and get to the flat to freshen up before dinner. We flew Turkish Airlines, and while we were treated well- the meals were actually pretty good- our long haul flight was just that, and the lack of leg room in economy was felt even by my short self. Because we had four suitcases packed to capacity and then some, as well as hand baggage and other items to help Emily as she moved in, we elected to call a Bolt, which is a ride-sharing service similar to Uber. This ride was quite expensive coming from the airport, as would have been expected, however since we needed to get a larger vehicle to get everything to fit, we ended up paying even more. While I was not too happy about the price, avoiding the hassle of public transportation with all our stuff after a long 21-hour day of travel, was likely worth it in the end.
After arriving at the flat, we opted for a trek to get gelato and our trusty American travel go-to, McDonalds. Even a simple walk for a simple dinner took us to some historic sites. We found ourselves in Old Town Square in Praha 1. Old Town Square, as the name suggests, is considered to be the oldest part of the city of Prague. From the 12th century, it was a trading center connecting the European trade routes. Its location along the Vltava River gave easy access to trade. Today, the historic buildings have been well-preserved. We walked by the Old Town Hall with the 15th century Astronomical Tower, the world’s oldest working astronomical clock. The historic St. Nicholas Church and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn also stand in Old Town Square. For those who know their Protestant Reformation, there is a statue of Jan Hus, the Bohemian preacher and reformer from Prague, who was burned at the stake for his views.
In addition to many sights within the city, there are great places to eat and hang out. Interestingly enough, we have yet to try anything advertised as ‘Czech food,’ opting instead for pho, taco bowls, and Thai cuisine. The few places that we’ve walked by that bill themselves as Czech food have expensive pricing that seems directed at tourists. We found too that as we moved away from Praha 1 and 2, the price of dining out decreased. We found a pho restaurant in Praha 8 that had good food and reasonable prices. A large bowl of Vietnamese pho set us back about $6 USD, which is a pretty good price for pho. Interestingly enough, alcohol was relatively inexpensive throughout the city. A pint of beer cost about $2-3 USD pretty consistently, something I took advantage of only once on this trip.
Thus far, it has been easy to get around Prague, thanks to the well-developed public transit system throughout the central districts in Prague. The tram system, an electricity-powered light rail system built into right into the busy streets in Prague, is our main method of transport, even when lugging bags of IKEA items. The system forms a kind of asterisk that goes across Prague and links the different districts. It was much faster to get from Prague 2 to Prague 7 by tram than by car, which seemed to have to go around the city center rather than through it. The city is also fun to walk, at least when we are not lugging dorm room essentials. There are so many things to do and see, along with great cafes to grab coffees and snacks, that walking is a fun way to tour the city.
This is just the beginning. For Emily, I hope that this experience will bring much adventure, growth, and learning. As much as I will miss my baby, this is truly an opportunity to expand her view of the world in an extraordinary city. As for me, I have only a few days left on my trip before I return home. I hope to see more of Prague, and will share these happy trails as well as what I’ve learned on the journey in the next few posts.
Prague for all. Prague | Prague for all. (n.d.). https://metropolevsech.eu/en/praha/.
Old town Square – the centre of Historical prague. prague.cz. (n.d.). http://www.prague.cz/old-town-square/.
Person. (2008, August 8). John Huss. Christian History | Learn the History of Christianity & the Church. https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/john-huss.html.