Prague was pretty as a picture. It was the last stop on our 10-day holiday and I was really looking forward to it. BUT – I did not like it. There I said it. Gasp, breathe, gulp…and continue reading….
1) Super crowded and overly touristy
I am not saying Prague wasn’t pretty or that its history and architecture were not fascinating. The Old Town Square, which has remained untouched since the 10th century or the St. Vitus Cathedral with its gothic architecture, were marvelous. But when you add a hundred thousand tourists, milling around the same square mile area of Prague 1, seeing the same sights and walking the same streets, after a while you will have had enough! Pretty pictures aside, I was quite done with Prague on day one and we were there for three! Prague’s most touristy area is Prague 1 which consists of the Old Town Square with its Astronomical Clock (can’t even begin to tell you how over-rated it is), the Jewish Quarter, and the Prague Castle and Monastery which are separated by the famous Charles Bridge. The bridge according to me, also separates the madness of the Old Town from the sanity of Mala Strana.
Despite being located in Prague 1, I found the Mala Strana area to be much more nicer than the Old Town. Main reason being – fewer people. We could take a nice stroll down a cobble street without being overwhelmed by crowds. This area has fewer bars and night clubs which means a quiet night and great sleep for people who are not looking to a wild night out! So choose a hotel wisely if you do plan to visit Prague.
2) Everyone seems to want to make as much from the tourists as possible
When I first starting researching for Prague, the biggest tip I got was to be very careful while eating at restaurants and to be wary of people randomly offering to change money on the streets or selling tickets to anything. How true it turned out to be! In the first ten minutes of arriving at the Prague railway station, we were accosted by a man who offered to change Euros to Koruna for us! Moving on, my friend ordered a simple diet coke at one of the restaurants but was served regular coke. When she tried to tell the waiter that it wasn’t what she had ordered, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said it was! Later, they even had the audacity to add a 10% service charge to the bill. So always check your bill. If there are nuts or pretzels at your table,which you did not order, make sure you ask if they are free before consuming. Most likely, it will be charged! And be prepared for service with no smiles. we were lucky we weren’t thrown out after we finished our drinks and didn’t want any food at a local eatery!
And of course – do not change money on the streets! Most likely the notes will be counterfeit. when travelling on the tram and in crowded areas (which is almost everywhere you go), be careful of pickpockets.
3) Cobbled streets everywhere get PAINFUL after a day
Prague is synonymous with cobbled streets. In pictures it looks pretty amazing, even romantic and has the ability to transport you back in time. But when you have to walk these streets for hours every day and have to drag your luggage from the tram stop to your hotel and back, you will soon see the charm wearing thin. Do not think of wearing anything other than sensible walking shoes when in Prague. Even the smallest of heels will leave you feet sore for days.
4) Beggars on every corner
I get that Prague is cashing in on tourism and hence its crowded and a little dirty, But what I cannot get, is why are there so many ‘young’ beggars on every street and every corner? Surely there are other ways to earn money, especially if you are able bodied. It was quite painful to see so many of them kneeling (they don’t sit, but kneel over) and begging all over the city.
5) The city’s sights can be seen in a day
If you are interested in the sights and the museums, Prague can be covered in a day. The main things to see are the Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Monastery and the library, the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge (you will not be able to see much of the bridge unless you go before 6am or after 11pm), and the Jewish Quarter. The synagogues and the Jewish quarter are a must see.
TIP: Take some of the free walking tours that start from the Old Town Square, close to the Clock. We took a free walking tour of the city. Our guide Givi, part Georgian and part Czech, was really informative and very entertaining, so much so that we took a paid tour to the castle with him the next day! Do remember to tip your guide well if you enjoyed your free tour.