Czech Republic is a landlocked country in central Europe. It is a country with a very interesting history and was one of the few European countries which had minimum destruction during world war II. Thus country is able to preserve the older look along with modernization. Before this trip I didn’t understand what is meaning of admiring architecture of a city but after observing buildings in Brno and Prague, I now understand what it means. In addition to sightseeing monuments like castle or cathedral, the normal buildings like residential buildings have some beauty associated with them. I spent a couple of days in Czech Republic which allowed me to see the cities at a slower pace and introduce me to culture of country. I visited two cities – Brno and Prague in Czech Republic. Here are my experiences and observations during my stay there :
1. Czech people are slightly sensitive about being referred to as part of eastern Europe. They prefer it being referred to as part of central Europe.
2. Czech people have a false image of being unfriendly or rude. I got this impression when I read few forums where previous visitors had mentioned such remarks.. This is absolutely wrong at least from the tourist point of view. They might be a bit reserved but whenever you need help they will not shy away. It would be great if you greet people with Hello in Czech by “Dobrý den. (DOH-bree dehn)”. It is not easy to learn Czech quickly but if you can pickup few more words than great. People were friendly at most of the places and sometimes even came out of their shops and walked few steps with me if I asked for directions.
3. English is understood by many people in Prague and you will be able to carry out basic conversation without much problem. In Brno it becomes slightly difficult but presence of lot of students covers up for that. Chances of finding an English-speaking person is higher among younger generation crowd.
4. Finding vegetarian food is not a problem at all in cities like Brno and Prague. There are plenty of Indian/Thai/Mexican restaurants. Czech cuisine is primarily based on meat but they do have 2-3 dishes which are vegetarian. Trdelnik which is a rolled pastry sold on various stalls is one of the snack which I loved in Czech Republic. It is inexpensive, served a bit hot and tastes really good.
5. Brno and Prague are the cities which are best enjoyed on foot. They are not very big cities and most of the attractions can be reached by foot. I didn’t use any transport for sightseeing and took subways only when entering and exiting cities. The maximum you many need to walk is for half an hour and you can cover all major attractions.
6. And if you still do not want to walk then public transport system is available at affordable rates. Prague has both subways and tram but I found tram system a bit difficult to work out on first day.
7. Czech Republic is no longer inexpensive but still affordable as compared to Austria or any other western European country.
8. Beer is main drink of Czech Republic and most of the places it’s cheaper than water.
9. If you are not a beer fan then check out lovely cafes specially in Prague. I love open air cafes and both cities have plenty of them.
10. You can spot people playing music in many streets and expecting a small donation. Sometimes they are very good and you would wonder what they are doing in streets. I got to interact with one such person for a long time which was one of the memorable incident of my visit to an extent that it deserves a separate post.
11. Many streets in Czech Republic are cobble stone streets and thus you must have good footwear.
12. Overall I felt safe in Czech Republic even during nights on road. You need to be alert in areas around railway stations both in Brno and Prague as they are considered a bit unsafe after dark. Apart from this I didn’t notice any thing worrying. In city centers you can safely roam around till 10-11 PM .
13. If museums and art galleries interest you then you are at perfect place as there are plenty of them. Unfortunately I am not a museum person so I admired them from outside :).
I tried to give a glimpse of country but I know things are lost in translation from what eyes saw to what hands wrote :). There are few more posts lined up where we dive deeper into to the country and will visit major attractions in both cities as well as some tips to plan a trip there based on my experience. What else would you want to hear about? Take your pen and write into comments section below :).