Legend has it that Princess Libuse, daughter of Czech’s early forefather, had a vision foreseeing the founding of Prague. “I see a large city whose fame will touch the stars.” She commanded workers to break ground on the city immediately. Praha was founded with that lofty goal in mind, and has been growing ever since.
Prague is FILLED with legends and ghost stories- they are as much a part of history as the actual facts. We went on a walking tour around Prague our first day there. Our guide Somarre, was awesome. Best tour of the trip. A freelance writer, politics major, and history buff, she told us stories of Prague’s legendary ghosts, funny anecdotes, and detailed description of the historical and political events that have occurred. We all immediately fell in love with Prague.
The history smacks you in the face when you walk through the city, especially if you know where to look for it. Certain signs on what you think is an average doorway indicate that alchemists once worked there. A plaque on the university that is seemingly for decoration commemorates a young boy who burned himself in protests during the fall of the Communist regime. Everything, it seems, has an alternate meaning or historical significance.
I haven’t really mentioned much of the nightlife, and Praha has a great one, so I’ll give you a few of the highlights. First some fun facts. Beer is cheaper than water here. It’s fantastic. Absinthe, a disgustingly potent alcohol, is hugely popular. Entire bars are devoted to it. The presentation is unique however- the shots are lit on fire, doused, then you down it. Quite disgusting, actually, but fun to order!
The ancient buildings alone can heighten the bar experience. My favorite, Usodu, is disguised as a small, quaint wine tavern. The bartender motions you to the back, down a tiny cramped staircase. Underground, you find a labyrinth of bars, with multiple cavernous rooms, and linked so confusingly together it’s a challenge to find the way back out. So much fun.
Staying in a city for so long (8 days), allows you to get a more in-depth look than the two night, all-inclusive Contiki style tour. It also allows us time to take day trips. One of those trips was to Terezin, a concentration camp.
Today, it appears to be an average small town adjacent to an old army fortress. That army fortress is Terezin. Terezin was a labor and transition camp- it was not an extermination camp and does not have the terrifying Auschwitz gas chambers. However, Terezin was known for some of the cruelest, most inhumane conditions of the concentration camps.
I’ll be honest- it was awful. You’ve heard the atrocities that were committed, and most likely seen some pretty graphic pictures. But to see it in person was horrible. Most of the time, I wanted to cry. I still do even writing this. Yet I am glad we went- I’ll never forget anything I saw there. That is the point to studying history- to commemorate, remember, and to learn from mistakes of intolerance and cruelty.
The history, the legends, nightlife, the beautiful fall weather- I loved Prague. it actually snowed while we were there! As a California girl, my version of cold weather gear is adding a sweatshirt with my flip flops. The changing leaves and falling snow offer just enough novelty so we don’t mind the cold too much.
Our last day in Prague, we made a wish on Charles Bridge. Legend dictates that if you make a wish while touching the statue, it will come true. You only get one wish though, so it has to be a good one! 😉
We’ve arrived in Amsterdam- I can’t believe it’s our last stop! Ill let you all know how it goes, much love!