Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany
I believe one of my favorite weekend trips was Prague. I swear I’ve been waiting for this trip for at least a year. The city did not disappoint either. I fell in love with all the architecture in the Old Town and in the castle complex plus the hearty food was delicious as well.
We arrived Thursday afternoon and after dropping off our stuff at the hostel, we went to Old Time Square. We got to see all the sights at night then headed inside an art gallery because it was so cold. At the gallery, we saw an exhibit on Salvador Dali and I even got to see one of the pieces I studied in Spanish in person. Afterwards, we ran into some locals who recommended this traditional Czech restaurant. The hearty food was delicious especially after being in the cold. After dinner, we headed to a black light theater where they do a performance under black light which is apparently a thing in Prague. It was interesting to watch yet my friend and I were still confused at what the plot was afterwards.
The next day, we spent the morning on a walking tour around the Old Town. We learned so much about the history of Prague and the Czech Republic in general. We ended up seeing everything from the St. Charles Bridge to the art nouveau town hall to the Jewish quarter. Then after being in the pouring rain and cold all morning, my friend and I decided to head to a cafe for lunch to warm up. It took us awhile before we were willing to return outside and brace the cold again. After lunch, we headed to the Jewish museum since we wanted to be inside. The ticket included the cemetery, a few synagogues, and an exhibit that displayed artwork done by children imprisoned in Terezin. It was really heartbreaking to hear that most of them didn’t survive and then to see their drawings that displayed so much hope. Our last stop for the day was the national gallery where they had an exhibit focused on Asian art. They had a few pieces by Czech artists too that depicted similar themes. We even met this sweet, elderly lady who couldn’t stop talking about this one Czech artist and was glad to hear that we enjoyed the exhibit. Then for dinner, we went to another traditional Czech restaurant recommended by the hostel. It was delicious. I had beef goulash with some bacon dumplings and apple strudel for dessert. Then it was back to the hostel, to warm up for the night after being in the rain all day.
On Saturday, we headed out early to make it to the castle before all the crowds. The architecture was phenomenal. I especially loved seeing St. Vitus Cathedral and the cute, little houses on Golden Lane. Besides viewing the architecture, I learned a lot about the history of the castle and its different rulers. We pretty much spent half a day there and it was well worth the visit. After grabbing lunch, we headed over to the John Lennon Wall. It was nice to see they already had some dedications to Paris on the wall too. Then we went across town to Vyšehrad where we walked around the old castle complex and took in the views of Prague. Before it got dark (the sun sets around 4 here), we decided to see the astronomical clock show and grabbed a trdelník while we waited. The show was pretty short but I wasn’t going to visit Prague and not see it. Since it was starting to get dark, we headed over to another part of the national gallery near Letná and saw an exhibit on Czech modern art. I loved the earlier pieces from the late 1800s to early 1900s but then it got a little too abstract for my taste near the end. After the gallery, we went back near Old Town to have dinner at another restaurant recommended by the locals. I ended up having beer tartar with fried bread. In addition, it came with a clove of garlic which we assumed you sliced up and sprinkled on top of the meat and bread. Then we noticed the Czech guy next to us giving us some weird looks especially as I struggled to cut my garlic with a table knife. When he got the same thing, we realized you are supposed to rub the garlic on the bread. I ended up just burying my garlic in the beef tartar and continuing on with my meal, slightly embarrassed.
Our last day in Prague, we saw a bit more of the industrial side of Prague. We started by seeing the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, a postmodern-style church and the Zizkov TV Tower, which had babies crawling up the side of it. It was definitely different than the typical European architecture. On our way back into town we walked through Riegorovy Sady where we had another viewpoint of Prague. Then, we headed up to Petrin Hill to visit the tower there. Of course, when we arrived, the streets weren’t clearly marked so we ended up taking a wrong turn which led us all the way to the other side of the park. Then we had to try to find our way back to the tower. It was quite the adventure and we got pretty frustrated every time we ran into a fence or wall. Of course once we reached the tower we found a path that led us straight back to the tram station in less than five minutes. We laughed it off and decided we had to kill some time anyways. Back in town, we had lunch at another cafe and grabbed some snacks before it was time to head back to Mannheim. I really wish I could’ve spent some more time in Prague. I loved the city and I think it is by far one of my favorite European cities.