Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wow! There’s nothing better than visiting a new place and being blow-away by how wonderful it is. Not that we expected Prague to be unworthy of a visit, we had certainly heard a lot of wonderful things about this city, but it exceeded our expectations in every aspect.
Prague is perhaps the most beautiful city we have seen. It was not damaged during WWII, so has architecture from centuries of growth. Every view is colourful and varied. Art nouveau buildings surround a gothic cathedral. Spires and domes fill the skyline. The 14th century Charles Bridge is wonderful. This famous bridge is a highlight for many Prague visitors, but before seeing it, I could only wonder “what’s so great about a bridge?”. Well now I know. It provides great views of the city, especially when the castle district is alight at night. The looming statues of saints, the art vendors, the tourists and locals strolling along the cobblestone…magical.
The history of the Czech Republic is fascinating. We spent a morning with a local guide who gave us a crash course on Czech history. It is the first time we have visited a country with significant Jewish history and a communist past. Hence, we loved the historic sites in the Jewish district and the museum of communism. The bottom line is the Czech Republic is now experiencing a rare independence, and yet despite its past oppression, Prague is a thriving, lively, beautiful, and friendly city.
We always enjoy trying the cuisine of places we visit. As for Czech food, there was little worth mentioning of their hearty meals: sausages, meat, gravy, and strange dumplings. I always thought it would be difficult to be a vegetarian visiting France, but as a vegetarian I would certainly choose France before the Czech Republic! Regardless, for what they lack in food, they make up for in beer! Pivo, as it is called in Czech, is THE drink. Czechs consume more beer than any other country, and I believe this stat. It’s easy when a beer is 0.5 L and costs about 1 euro. Much cheaper and certainly more accessible than water. We tried many of the local brands and found favourites in Kozel (Gilles) and Krusovice (April). We also enjoyed the liquor Becherovka, and brought a bottle home.
If you are considering a visit to the Czech Republic, or any of the other Eastern European countries, go now before they convert to the euro and prices become sadly inflated.