Traveling in Prague


Here are some tips for those of you traveling to Prague! First, we arrived by plane and we decided to take an Airport Express shuttle to the city for around 60 CZK. In Czech, they have their own currency, although we found that some places would accept euros. We just took out some money from the ATM machine at the airport, and the rate wasn’t too bad. Anyways, the Airport Express dropped us off at a location close to a metro line, but we decided to walk the rest of it to our hostel. We got lost along the way, so it took around 30 minutes by feet.  For accommodation, we stayed at Mosaic House, which I swear was one of the best and cheapest places I stayed on all my trips. I believe I paid around 5 euros a night, which is unbelievable. I still remember when K told me that we would be paying around 10 euros for 2 nights, I gave huge doubts on whether K had chose a sketchy, dirty hostel. Not at all. It was basically a hotel or even better than some hotels I’ve stayed at. The only difference is that you don’t have queen beds, but bunk beds, which is totally fine with me. I can tell you for a fact that I’m a clean freak and hostels are not my thing, but Mosaic House was perfectly clean and I’ve never been happier. They’re also Eco-friendly, so they had really cool technology in the rooms with lights shutting off with sensors and such. For around 5 euros a night, we had a 4 people room with a private bathroom. I swear the bathroom was better than the one I had back in Barcelona… I’m not sure if the rooms are still as cheap now, since when we had visited, the hostel had just opened for around a month so everything was brand new. Also, it’s located in a great location in Praha 2, and we basically were able to walk to tourist spots. We didn’t take public transportation at all during our trip, since Prague is actually quite a walkable city! At night, we went out to see the Christmas market, which was only around a 10 minute walk from our hostel.


The next morning, we decided to take a Walking Tour. If you’re lazy or just don’t want to fuss about planning where to go, these free walking tours are a really good option! They have these tours all over Europe and basically a local will take you around the city, teaching you a bit about the history and also provide you with local tips. All they ask for is a tip at the end of the tour and as students, 5 euros is already a good tip. Our hostel had organized one these tours, so a group of us, mostly young adults were led by this young woman to tour around Prague. I wouldn’t say she was the best tour guide I’ve had, since she was fairly quiet and shy, but she knew a lot about the history of Prague. It’s always great to go one these tours, since a lot of times, unless you have a tour guide book, you won’t really know the history or significance behind some tourist spots. First, she took us into the Old Town, where the Astronomical Clock was located. It was built in 1410 and is the third oldest clock in the world. What’s even more significant is that it’s the oldest clock that is still running in the world! Impressive! Other must see sights were the Tyn Church and Powder Tower also in Old Town. We then went to New Town, where we saw the Wenceslas Square, the National Museum and National Theater. The tour was great, but the fact that we often stopped so she could talk about the history of the landmark was a problem since it was very chilly that day!


She also took us to the famous Charles Bridge. Named after Kings Charles IV, this bridge crosses the Vltava River and connects the Old Town and Prague Castle. It was an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.


The bridge is decorated by statues on the side all along. After the tour, we walked along the bridge, which is actually a short walk. We were going to go visit the Prague Castle!



Along the way, we came across these colourful buildings. It was at a uphill slope too, but wasn’t too bad to walk on. The sidewalks are paved, whereas the road is still cobblestone.


We had to constantly go into souvenir shops to warm up a bit from the cold. One of the shops was named the “Gingerbread Museum“. I’m not sure if it’s really a museum, since it seems more like a gingerbread shop with a huge variety of decorated gingerbreads. Some of them were super intricate, but they were also quite pricey.


We just wanted to get a taste of the gingerbread, so we bought these mini ones, that weren’t decorated as nice, but were much cheaper. Not bad!


Finally, we got to the top of the castle. The view from here is beautiful! Love the orange-red rooftops. Extremely windy up here though, since it’s pretty much open space at the top of the hill.


This was the entrance to the castle. I didn’t know that they also had guards here, similar to what they have in London. The Prague Castle is the residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. It’s also the largest ancient castle in the world! We decided to pay for a guided tour since you get to learn more about the history and also enter some areas which aren’t open to the public for free. However, we went on the last guided tour of the day, so the tour guide seemed to be in a rush. Apparently, the security people try to clear the buildings as quick as possible when they close.


This was St. Vitus Cathedral, which is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Prague. It’s owned by the Czech government and dates back to 1344.


The interior showcases the beautiful Gothic-style architecture. It also houses the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.


We were then taken into the Old Royal Palace where the Vladislav Hall is. It’s a large room used for public events, such as banquets, receptions and such for the Bohemian monarchy. Another room in the palace held reproductions of the Bohemian Crown Jewels. I believe the real ones are stored in St. Vitus Cathedral. The jewels include the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, the royal orb and sceptre, the reliquary cross and St. Wenceslas’ sword. The gems on the reproduction look pretty spectacular and I could only imagine how beautiful the real jewels look!


Near the evening time, St. Vitius Church looks beautiful!


One tip when traveling in Prague during winter months is to plan most of your sightseeing early in the day. By around 5 pm, the city was already dark and many tourist attractions that have specific opening times are often closed. We found that we had to squeeze most of our activities in the day time to make the most of it, and for the evening, we could explore the city on our own and go to the Christmas markets. It was also very cold, and although it’s similar to Vancouver weather, it’s not as ideal. In Vancouver, we wouldn’t be walking around the city for hours. However, when traveling, we want to walk around to see everything, so staying outdoors for hours in the cold isn’t the best feeling. The Charles Bridge is beautiful at night though, and I would advise to see the bridge during both the day and night. Here is a statue of John of Nepomuk on the bridge at the spot where he was thrown into the river. He is known as the national saint of the Czech Republic and you will spot him with a halo over his head with five stars.

Overall, I felt like Prague was a city with such deep history and you could really get a sense of the medieval feel. Beautiful bridges, castles, and architecture. The views you get from the top are breathtaking. I would highly recommend just walking to the sites as you get to really see the whole city. As for language barriers, we actually didn’t find it difficult to communicate. Although their official language is Czech, everyone seemed to understand English and was able to speak it well.


Na Zlate krizovatce (Closed?) – Prague


I was responsible for looking up places to eat and within our budget. Since Europe doesn’t use urbanspoon, I’ve been relying on Tripadvisor. I found this top rated restaurant that was at a reasonable price range called Na Zlate krizovatce. No idea how to pronounce it, once again. The interesting thing was that the restaurant was well known for being gluten-free. I’ve never really had gluten-free food other than gluten-free bread, but my friends were excited to give it a try. I mean, it sounded like a “healthy” meal! The restaurant is located pretty far from where we stayed. It was dark at night and the streets were pretty quiet. The restaurant wasn’t situated in a lively area, and it was a little hidden, especially in the dark.


The interior is very fancy looking and very quiet. There were around 2 other tables of diners when we arrived. It’s definitely more like a place to bring your date to since it’s got a bit of the romantic ambiance to it. Actually, we found a table later with a couple meeting the parents which was interesting.. So yea, that type of setting. Well, we were a group of friends and we kept our voices low and it wasn’t that awkward and bad after all. The prices are actually quite reasonable too, which our whole meal being under CAN$20. But then again, the cost of living seems to be substantially less compared to Vancouver.


Zatec Beer

Again, U and I decided to try out some Czech beer. Whenever we go on a trip together, we seem to be determined to try some local beer. Zatec is an old town in the Czech Republic and apparently this beer’s brewery is now situated in the Zatec Castle. Pretty cool! Anyways, I’m not a huge beer person, so I don’t know much about beers, but to me, it wasn’t very bitter. That’s basically all I care about.


 Complimentary Bread

Again, we got complimentary bread, and the owner said it was their homemade gluten-free bread. D didn’t really like it since she thought it was too dense, which is true because it’s more difficult to get soft and fluffy like normal wheat bread. It definitely didn’t taste as good as wheat bread, but I wouldn’t say it was terrible. The texture is a bit gritty too. Again, it came with two spreads – a butter and some sort of fat mixed with herbs. I guess using fat as a spread is really common here! K and I actually really liked this herb spread, although I don’t know how healthy it is…


 Roast Pork with Dumplings

I wasn’t sure which entree to get, so I asked the server for suggestions. He suggested the Roast Pork with Dumplings. This was average. The roast pork wasn’t super moist and I found it a little dry. The sauce was really good though. The dumplings were good at first, but after a while, I found that they were really dry and I really had to dip them in the sauce to moisten them. Not sure if it’s because they’re gluten-free, hence that texture. It’s sort of like eating bread pudding, or those German bread dumplings. A little chewy, but I found these much more gritty.

To be honest, I found that most of the food on the menu was gluten-free anyways. Like if you order the roast pork or duck or chicken, the meat is gluten-free. Only the sides have a chance of having gluten. So basically, I felt like I was just eating typical food and nothing too special. On a side note, I visited their website, and it says that they have closed due to some health concerns. Not sure what happened, but it sounds like they’re permanently closed.

Amade – Prague


We were looking for some dinner after a long day and I didn’t a little Tripadvisor searching and found Amade Restaurant. It’s located at the old town of Prague where you can see the Charles Bridge since the restaurant is at the edge of the water. The building is apparently the renovated Patcha Palace, which they claim was where Mozart spent a lot of his time here when he visited Prague.


The interior is actually really fancy. However, prices are actually quite reasonable. Perhaps CAN$15-20 for an entree. We arrived very late at night, around 9pm, but they still welcomed us. I don’t think service was amazing, but I didn’t feel annoyed and wouldn’t call it bad service.


Pilsner Urquell

U and I both had the Pilsner Urquell. It’s crafted in Pilsen, which is a city in the Czech Republic. A pale lager beer with a golden colour since it’s bottom-fermented. It’s actually the first pilsner beer the world, which is pretty impressive!


Complementary Bread

Then we got some Complementary Bread. It was actually pretty good! Crispy on the outside. The interesting thing was the condiments that came with the bread. First, there was the typical butter, but it was salted with something similar to bacon salt? It was a little smoky but salty. Pretty good! The other one was a little bit of a shocker. It was duck fat mixed with some herbs. It seems like duck fat is pretty common to be used with your bread as a spread. It actually wasn’t that bad! Very smooth and flavourful.


Slow Baked Pork Belly in Ginger and Honey with Potato Puree and Roasted Radish

I got the Slow Baked Pork Belly and it was so delicious! It wasn’t a huge portion, but enough to make me full. Plus, it was under $15 I believe. The pork belly had a little bit of fat but not too much which I liked. The meat was so tender and you really didn’t have to chew much! The sauce was light and wasn’t overwhelming. The potato puree was perfect with the sauce. I mixed it with the sauce for some flavour and it was extremely smooth. The roasted radish were julienned thinly and worked well with the dish to give you some veggies.


Country Salad with Poached Egg, Roasted Bacon and Buttermilk Drsesing

U got the Country Salad since she loves her healthy meals. I’m not sure how healthy this was since it came with tons of crispy roasted bacon! It also came with a poached egg with the yolk slowly pouring out. Mmm that’s always a good egg! She said it was delicious!


Roasted Salmon with Saffron Risotto and Ginger Vegetables

K had the Roasted Salmon. Although it was a small piece, it was cooked beautifully with a light crisp and the meat flaked off nicely. Still was moist instead of being overly dry. It also came with a small bowl of Saffron Risotto. We thought it was a little odd at first when it came since it was green, but it tasted pretty good!

All in all, the food was pretty good at reasonable  price points. The atmosphere is a plus since it’s very cozy and modern looking. I’m not sure if I was exactly eating traditional Czech cuisine, although they do have a section that’s dedicated to some traditional dishes. I found it sort of similar to German food with schnitzels and such. I guess if you’re a meat eater, you’ll enjoy Czech cuisine.

Prague Christmas Market – Potatoes, Trdelnik, and Old Prague Ham


After saying farewell to my friends, the next morning before the sun even rose, I was out heading to the airport. K, U, D, and I were off on one of the longer trips I’d been during exchange. We were to attack 3 cities (and 3 countries) in around 6 days. Actually, we ended up going to 4 cities and countries really, since we made a transfer stop in Milan. We had around 3 hours of transfer time, which now that I think about it, was terrible. Obviously we didn’t leave, since it takes around an hour to get in the city. We literally napped at the airport on these terrible chairs, and it was not a comfortable experience for sure. Cost over comfort. Sad life of a student. Anyways, by around noon, we were able to take our next flight and from Milan, we entered Prague in the Czech Republic. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Prague, but it seemed like a city most exchange students visited. Now that I’m back, I can say that Eastern Europe is quite different from the rest of Europe. I find it very medieval with lots of history and the culture is generally quite different. Oh, and one huge change was the weather. It was freezing during December, and although Vancouver can get to the same temperatures, I guess I was just used to the warm, sunny weather in Spain. By the time we found our way to the hostel and dropped our bags off, it was already pretty dark. We got lost on our way too, so we spent more time than we should’ve. Christmas markets were everywhere in Europe now, and the one in Prague is known to be pretty good! We went to the one in the Old Town Square which is the main market. Just around 5 minutes away, is also Wenceslas Square, which we also checked out.


The Old Town Square was filled with people and a giant Christmas tree stood in the middle. Other than food, crafts, and souvenirs to buy, there was also a performance stage and children were singing carols! It was really cute and the square itself had such Gothic styled buildings that the scenery just looked so much more spectacular.


You MUST get this when you’re in Eastern Europe. It’s called Trdelnik (no idea how you pronounce it) and it’s a traditional Hungarian cake and sweet pastry. We also found  this in the streets and Christmas markets in Prague and my friends had recommended that I try this. For us, we refer to it as the “Chimney Cake”. We smelt the cinnamon smell and immediately went over to purchase one to share between us. It’s pretty interesting how it’s made. Essentially, it’s rolled dough that’s wrapped around and grilled on an open fire while it’s turning. Then, they roll the dough on sugar that’s often mixed with cinnamon or other flavours. They slide the dough off the stick, and it’ll have a hollow hole! It’s extremely fluffy and soft! So addicting with the sugar on the outside. I love how you can just rip pieces off since it’s rolled around continuously. A must try!!!


At the market, there were tons of food I wanted to try, but I had to be careful in selecting since I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish all the food. We ended up sharing some potatoes at this stall that had pans of different seasoned potatoes. This one was Bacon and Potatoes. I liked this one a lot, but I wouldn’t say it was amazing. Plus, I’m sure I could make this at home quite easily. It wasn’t very special, although it seems like a traditional type of food they ate here.


We also got a portion of Potatoes with Sauerkraut and Sausages. This wasn’t as good as the Bacon and Potatoes. The main reason was the sauerkraut. I’m okay with sauerkraut, but I like it when it’s with soup. I can eat it as a side too, but not too much, so I found this overwhelming. Sauerkraut seems to be eaten a lot in Eastern Europe. The other problem was that these potatoes weren’t exactly warm. I’m not sure if it’s because we were in the cold and it cooled down, or just simply because the pans weren’t being heated underneath. Also, be extremely careful with the people selling these potatoes! They sell by weight, and their per pound pricing is pretty cheap, but it adds up. Remember that potatoes are extremely heavy! These people were just scooping as much as they could onto your plate, and unless you say less, they won’t budge. You had to be really persistent on how much you wanted. We ended up still paying quite a lot for just potatoes… Apparently a lot of tourists get scammed by this so be very careful and be clear what you want. Not worth your money in my opinion.


It was getting pretty cold so we hid inside the Kingswood Apple Cider House for a while. It was this wooden lodge in the market and they sold Apple Cider of a few varieties. You could get it with alcohol or without and some other variations. We chose the most typical one that had some alcohol in it. You could barely taste any alcohol, and the sweetness of apple was very apparent. A really good way to warm up!


Then K got hungry again and he decided to try the Old Prague Ham! It was being sold at various stalls and was turning on a rotisserie. This ham is known to be traditional delicacy and basically the grandmother of today’s hams. It’s fully cooked and also smoked. The ham is also boneless although there is often some fat attached to it. It was very tender and I didn’t find it too salty actually! Again, you need to be very careful with stating how much you want to the vendors. Unless you speak their language, they can pretty much assume you’re a tourist and it seems that many vendors have been ripping tourists off by cutting a huge slab of meat, hence a ridiculous price. I think K was pretty careful in telling them how much, so he got a good portion to just try. I’m not saying every vendor will do this, but I did a quick search and many tourists have fallen under this “Prague Ham Scam”. I guess it works for the potatoes and any other food that’s sold by weight. Just watch out so your trip doesn’t get ruined.

All in all, the market was very nice and festive. I just wish the weather wasn’t as cold. We weren’t able to stay out in the cold for long and had to go into souvenir shops and such to warm up. Also, I wasn’t aware that Prague was known for pickpocketing (like how Barcelona is), but my friend did almost get her wallet stolen. The man was reaching in her bag while she was looking at souvenirs at the market, and luckily a woman screamed to my friend to watch out! Such good people out there, but you still need to be careful!