Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Break: Prague, Czech Republic// Praha, Česká Republika

So my first stop in this trip was my layover in Prague, Czech Republic. Being that this was my first time ACTUALLY traveling around alone and being in the Czech Republic I was pretty excited to head around the city. So I had looked up how to get to my hostel by public transportation and being that I got in close to midnight when the metro stops, I was determine to make my way and not have to pay for a taxi. Sadly, the machine at which you buy tickets at didn’t take bills- I found this out thanks to the man who asked me if I needed help in English after I foolishly tried to put the money in every slot I found on the machine. So I had to run inside and buy something in a vending machine to get change for the bus, and what was even sadder was that when I ran back inside the bus that was coming was the last one for the night- therefore missing my chance. I did end up buying a 24hr pass for the next day so that I wouldn’t have to go through this again in the morning. I then stood in the rather cold Czech night trying to figure out if another bus would come but sadly that was, like I said, the last scheduled bus.

So a taxi driver knowing that this was his chance came up to me asking if I needed a ride. The price he offered was what the hostel said would be an average price and having no other choices I decided to trust this elderly taxi driver, who was very nice and pointed things out of where I could visit near my hostel. One of the places was “Old Town” or “Staré Město” which I said to him and he asked if I spoke Czech but in reality a lot of words have a similarity to Russian because of the Slavic. So I got to my hostel, settled in, used the internet, slept and got up at 7am to go around and see as much as I could. With a map in hand and the few that I knew about the town I made my way to different sites such as: Karlův most (Charles Bridge) , Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) , Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square), Astronomical tower, Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square), Jewish Synagogue, among some other things here and there.

But there is always that one person! I went into an exchange office to exchange American money into the Czech currency because since I collect money from the countries I visit, I wanted to have actual bills. So I gave him a $10 bill and he asked doubtfully, “that’s it?” I told him yes and then he asked “would you like a map?” Now, I’m guessing this is a free map in the way that he asked. Not would you like to buy a map but rather would you like a map… I think there’s a difference. So he handed me the map and change in coins. I was confused as to why it came out to coins, but being that currency like the Euro has 2 and 1 Euro coins I guessed maybe there’s enough. After walking around Wenceslas Square and sat down to rest, I looked at the receipt I noticed that I was charged for the damn map, in reality I wanted it just as a souvenir being that I was leaving Prague in less than an hour. Thanks to Russian, I was able to figure out that цена in Russian, cena in Czech meant price. I learned to always ask Is it free when someone says would you like something.

Over all it was a very pretty, nice and since it was early everything seemed so quiet and quaint. I probably walked for about 4-5 hours trying to see as much as I could. Then I took the train to catch a bus to the airport, this time I didn’t need a taxi and accomplished what I tried to do the night before. Then I just did some more waiting in the airport for my flight to Madrid. It was interesting to be standing in front of a Chilean couple and then hearing two Argentinean women talking in Spanish about how their bags will go through some mix up in the Madrid airport in Prague; and it almost made me feel like I was in Spain already.

Hopefully one day I’ll be able to return to Prague and get to see some more of the city because 5-6 hours really isn’t too much to see a city but it was what I could afford to squeeze in. Now onwards to Madrid!

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