The fact that I even made my trip to Prague is nothing short of a miracle. As the friend known for her hangovers, was going out the night before an early flight and depending on an unreliable phone’s alarm to actually work my best move? Probably not, but this entire semester has felt like that moment when you tip a chair back too far and think you’re about to fall over and somehow manage to catch yourself at the last second, so why should the morning before my flight be any different? After a short Uber ride and a blur of a commute, I touched down in Prague (or Praha, if you will) around 2pm and met Christine, Pare, and Kat at the airport before hopping on a shuttle and then the metro to find our Airbnb.
Within moments of emerging from the metro station (after possibly the longest escalator to exist in the entire world), it became evident that Prague is one of the most beautiful places any of us would ever visit. Cobblestone streets and golden trim-accented buildings intermixed with medieval-esque structures sealed Prague’s status as the most photogenic city I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t hurt that immediately after dropping off our backpacks, we happened to find a square full of vendors selling chimney cakes, hot wine, leather belts, and stalls with meats that we opted to avoid (as a general rule, I tend not to buy unidentifiable meat; call me crazy). We all got chimney cakes and slowly made our way to the Old Town Square. I can’t speak for all of us, but I was genuinely in awe of how similar fall in Prague is to fall in New England, which is objectively the best place to experience the season.
After taking awkward tourist pictures in the square, we wandered over towards the river and took some more awkward touristy shots (not as bad as the girls trying to do splits on the railing, though).
There really is no way to describe how absolutely beautiful this city is, especially when you’re looking at it across the river while the sun’s setting. We stayed in that general area for a while, just leaning over the railing and watching the sky change until we set off to find dinner.
We chose a restaurant called Bohemia, which had an outdoor courtyard heated by fireplaces, and immediately ordered a cheese and meat platter to split. Christine, Kat, and Pare all tried hot wines while I went with a Radler, and our dinners included chicken steaks with vegetables, a caesar salad, and schnitzel. We spent all dinner playing “is our waiter nervous laughing at every single thing we do or is he just weird,” and after departing the restaurant we somehow found ourselves in a store boasting a massive supply of absinth (sorry, Mom). We figured we had to try it and settled on a nip bottle of “Prague Absinth” because the selection was too overwhelming, and after buying another drink to accompany it, we took off for our Airbnb.
Post-dinner and pre-going out time is always nap time, and we hung out in the room for a couple hours before getting ready and trying to make our absinth experience as authentic as possible. However, as one would expect, our supplies were limited, so we had to make do with a normal spoon and sugar intended for coffee and try to drizzle the lime-green battery acid-esque drink over them. All I have to say about it is that unless you enjoy the taste of gasoline and black licorice, maybe don’t ever even take a whiff of absinth.
We finished pre-gaming and started one of the weirdest nights of our lives. Our club of choice was Chapeau Rouge, which consisted of 3 floors full of what can only be described as the most angsty dancing I have ever seen. If head-banging and just kind of thrashing and flailing around is your thing, you cannot overlook this place (and even if it’s not, it doesn’t take long to give in and try out your own version of emo dancing). Drinks are priced as you would expect in a club and each floor offers a slightly different vibe: the top floor was primarily middle-aged men and relatively low-key music; the first below-ground level had a bar and a dance floor with what seemed like just one EDM song playing on a continuous loop; the very bottom level was where those looking to resemble a fish out of water thrived, complete with strobe lights, smoke machines, and an exceptionally pungent smell of sweat.
After genuinely exhausting ourselves trying to keep up with the apparent customary style of dancing, we headed off to McDonald’s. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the McFlurry machine was broken, proving that “ice cream machine broke” is truly a universal tragedy. While waiting for our Uber, we met a group of German men dressed in the full lederhosen get-up, whose only explanation for their outfits was that they’re from Bavaria (does everyone in Bavaria just wear lederhosen on a daily basis? asking for a friend). Our driver picked us up shortly after we directed them to Chapeau Rouge, and within 10 minutes of arriving back at our Airbnb we were all sound asleep.
Our Saturday didn’t really start until noon (shocker), but waking up with Café Savoy was for sure the way to do it. We devoured a basket of assorted breads and still managed to each eat two different breakfasts, so that should attest to how enticing the food at this Prague staple really is.
I went with a spinach, onion, and garlic omelette, with my second choice being a baked brioche bun with ham, cheese, lettuce (unnecessary, TBH), and a poached egg, while my friends ordered the thickest French toast I’ve ever seen to accompany their own omelettes. After spending nearly two hours attempting to finish all of the food laid out in front of us, we made our way over to the John Lennon Wall. Even the walk there from Café Savoy was beautiful, full of fall foliage, river views, and a solid amount of dogs.
The wall itself is incredible to take in, with a seemingly infinite amount of different contributions from passersby and street artists. The notes on the wall range from political messages to song lyrics with countless abstract drawings spray painted in between. With the amount of people frequenting the area and posing in front of the wall, I’m honestly surprised that we could see as much of it as we could, but it was definitely an image that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. We (obviously) took our fair share of pictures in front of the wall as well, and people-watching in areas that are particularly photogenic is always fun, especially when there are groups of boys taking squad pictures that you can already tell aren’t turning out well.
Our next destination was a pedal boat company on the opposite side of the river, so we walked across the Charles Bridge for what felt like an eternity due to the absurd amount of tourists swarming it, but despite how overwhelming all of the people were, the views from the bridge coupled with the art vendors and performers scattered across its span made it worth it.
I volunteered to start off in one of the pedaling seats with Pare, but quickly opted to switch off with someone else to sit in the back of the boat and just take in the views. With Pare’s “good vibes” playlist being broadcasted in the background and the feeling of the sun on our faces overpowering the crispness of the fall air, the hour that we spent on the river honestly didn’t even feel real. When we finally departed from our car-themed boat, we stumbled upon a group of people feeding muskrats, which are arguably one of the ugliest animals to exist, and after watching them eat carrots out of peoples’ hands for too long, we went back towards the town center to find someone working for one of the pub crawls that we had learned about on Friday.
A representative for the Drunken Monkey pub crawl group brought us to the starting bar so we could sign up for the night, and as an added perk we were given tank tops and beers for the road. We wandered through the area for a little before deciding on a pizzeria for dinner. I chose a pizza with red onion, spinach, mozzarella, and pancetta, which was as mouthwatering as it sounds, and we all inhaled our meals before returning to our Airbnb to get ready.
It turned out that we may as well not have bothered trying to look nice for the pub crawl as we had to trek through the rain to get to the Drunken Monkey, but at least within minutes of arriving, the 4 of us were posted up at a table playing beer pong. After an embarrassing performance on all of our parts, we scoped out the bar and met two of the greatest people I’ve ever encountered: 1 bartender from California and 1 from New Zealand who told us he came to Prague for a 2 day vacation and just never left. The 2 of them loaded us up with shots (sorry, Mom and Dad) and we spent the rest of the time at that first bar going back and forth between playing Jenga in the back and returning to our self-declared new best friends behind the counter. Even the bathroom of this bar added to our night, with the hallway leading up to it being covered floor to ceiling with wild confessions from previous patrons. The open bar portion of the night ended around 10, and we headed off for an 80s themed club, and let me tell you, I have never thrived more than I did there, despite the DJ ignoring my request for REO Speedwagon. This was followed by a return to Chapeau Rouge, and the night ended at an R&B club. I couldn’t tell you too much about the last couple clubs (I guess open bars will do that to ya), just that deciding to do a pub crawl was one of our best moves of the weekend and definitely worth the inevitable rough next morning.
Much like the previous day, Sunday “morning” didn’t really exist for us, and we finally made our way out of our Airbnb at 12:30, heading towards the castle. It did not take long for us to realize that climbing all of the stairs necessary to get there and then exploring the area on empty stomachs was a horrible idea, so we stopped at a restaurant just past the entrance to the castle featuring a panoramic view of the city. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to have just chicken and fries, and all four of us were entirely different people than the hungover shells of human beings that we woke up as by the time we finished eating.
Feeling revived, we strolled towards the St. Vitus Cathedral, stopping for “iced coffee” on the way, which is a generous term to use to describe the lukewarm coffee full of whipped cream and chunks of ice cream and cake that we received. The line to enter the cathedral seemed to be moving quickly, so we hopped in and soon went inside to see breathtaking stained glass windows and breathe in the classic musty smell that somehow every single church in the world has. Without tickets, you can only enter the front area of the cathedral, and when I tried to ask a worker where you could purchase tickets, I was immediately kicked out for having a drink in my hand, and that was the end of that.
The castle surrounding the cathedral was massive and as pretty as one would expect a castle in Prague to be (read: beautiful) and “seems like it would be super cool to live in if there weren’t so many people around” according to Pare, if that helps paint a picture of the area. The walk back through the square towards the town included a statue who you were supposed to “touch,” if you know what I mean, followed by a view of the entire Prague skyline.
After spending a few minutes taking in the view, we hopped on a tram to head for the square at the base of the Charles Bridge. What should have been a short ride became a longer journey for Kat due to delayed-opening tram doors, and we just stood on the side of the road watching her wave goodbye as the doors shut before she could get off at our stop. Honestly, it worked out for us (sorry, Kat) since we were in a sunny area with a perfect view of the Charles Bridge and the river while we waited for her to find her way back, and after we reunited we set off on the prowl for the perfect chimney cake to end our trip.
The move was definitely the cinnamon-sugar covered cake filled with strawberries, melted chocolate, and whipped cream, but I definitely do not recommend eating it as fast as we ate ours, unless stomach aches are your thing. After finishing our last taste of Prague, we went back to sit by the river for a little bit until we had to leave for the airport, which was a metro and bus ride away, and went our separate ways upon realizing we were departing from different terminals.
If you had asked me over the summer where I was planning on traveling to this semester, Prague would never have even crossed my mind, but as of right now this been my favorite trip that I’ve taken so far. As my mom said after I told her how much I loved my weekend in the Czech Republic, “the best adventures are the ones you did not expect.” Praha, you have my heart.
- Bohemia Restaurant
- John Lennon Wall
- Pedal Boats
- Drunken Monkey Pub Crawl
- As many chimney cakes as your body can stand