two days in prague
How I got to Prague
I took a midnight bus on Saturday from Budapest to Prague. My friend Kelsey who lived in Prague for a year, recommended Student Agency Buses. She said DEFINITELY DO NOT TAKE FLIX BUS. I listened to her. And the Student Agency bus was very nice. Similar to MegaBus, but nicer and more comfortable. Clean bathrooms. Very good Wifi. Each seat comes with a USB plug in, an outlet, and a TV. I haven’t taken MegaBus in years, but when I did take it regularly from Chicago to Detroit, I hated the check-in process and how the driver was in charge of everything. They were always overwhelmed and struggled with this part of the job. They would get mad if you asked about the WIFI. But Student Agency has someone doing all of the administration work. I don’t know her title, but I thought of her as a host. It made all the logistics go really smooth. She even offered to get you complimentary coffee or water!!!
I fell asleep in the first 30 minutes. The host woke me up at 4:00am to tell me that we were in Bron. I said thank you and went back to bed, unsure of why she told me that. She came back five minutes later and told me this is where I was supposed to get off. I explained that I was going to Prague (so was the bus according to the paper sign on the front of the bus) and I showed her my ticket on my phone. She pointed out that I had a transfer in Bron.
Uhh…holy shit. So I said ok and got off. I walked away, forgetting my bag. But they yelled me down and gave it to me. I had no idea where I was or what I was supposed to do next. We were dropped off in a hotel’s parking lot. I could tell from the ticket that the next leg of my trip did not depart from this parking lot. So first, I googled where I was. Bron is in the Czech Republic. I used the map on my phone (having a panic attack about all the data that I was going to have reimburse my mommy) and figured out I was going to the train station. It was just a three minute walk to the train station but I could not figure out where the Student Agency bus pickup was, which left in 45 minutes. There was a bar across the street still open, a lot of people hanging outside the bar and around the streets. Maybe I’m ignorant, but I did not want to ask these folks where to go. I had a vision in my head that I would ask and they would say, “oh, oh, let me just walk you there”; take me to an alley, beat me up and steal everything I own. So I had to figure this one out on my own.
Oh and I had to pee soooo bad! The train station was open, but nothing inside was open, including the bathrooms. I was about to explode. I looked all over their website trying to look for specifics, to no avail. Oh and my phone was close to dying. I walked around trying to figure out where I was supposed to go, freaking out, trying not to pee. Finally, I found a TV outside that had the train schedule, with the platforms. AND I SAW IT!!! Prague – Student Agency – 5:04am – Platform 4. IT WASN’T A BUS! IT WAS A TRAIN. I ran to platform 4 with about 10-15 minutes to spare. Found I had a business class ticket. Had a whole little room to myself. All the outlets I wanted. Super-duper WiFi. A server dude asking me if I wanted more Americano. Um, yes, always. It was a glorious ride to Prague. I was so proud of myself. For figuring out where to go. And for not peeing myself.
What to do in Prague
I arrived in Prague at 7am and dropped my bag off at my Airbnb, which was very close to the Old Town Square. It’s cool. It’s pretty. Its full of tourists; huge tour groups. It started to fill up by 8am. I was pleased to see an ambulance parked in the square. I assume they were helping someone in the group of guys, still drinking from the night before in the square.
I went to the Prague Castle. I took an Uber as far as I could but you have to hike up the hill to get there. The castle is almost worth it. What makes the exhausting climb (especially if you’re like me and smoke twice as much in Europe #wheninrome) are the view from the top #drake. At the top of the hill, there’s the castle and some other, probably very important, buildings. There are also kiosks selling food and souvenirs. Surprisingly, there’s a Starbucks up there. It was the most unique Starbucks I’ve ever been to. It had an amazing rooftop patio with gorgeous views. A patio on the other side, which was a little lower. Some tables inside were next to a window, which you could open all the way, overlooking the city. Normally, we like to avoid chain restaurants on international adventures, right? But this was too cool. I worked on my computer for a couple of hours there and I didn’t even have a good spot. If I got one of the window tables, or the umbrellas on the patio, I’d still be there. Because girlfriend loves a patio.
From there I walked back to my Airbnb, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I walked over the Charles Bridge. It was a very beautiful walk but also filled with street vendors.
A friend of mine lived in Prague 15 years ago and he worked at Bar and Books. I went there and have a few drinks. It’s a quiet bar, with romantic lighting and decorated with old books. There’s a tv at the bar always playing old James Bond movies. I went on a Monday and it was dead. But
I did have (several) the best gin & sodas I’ve ever had. I asked what gin he used and he said Hayman’s. I had never heard of it before – but I loved it. Does anyone know if I can get Hayman’s here in the US?
Overall, Prague was very beautiful. Similar to Budapest in its architecture. Everyone speaks English. Its affordable. But it was very “touristy”. Being surrounded by all the street vendors, kiosks, and huge tour groups made the experience feel contrived. Those folks have every right to travel there, sell stuff, do whatever. I am not hating on them. But for me, personally, it made the city less authentic. But I’m glad I went.
Quick facts about Prague:
They do not use the Euro. The official currency in the Czech Republic is the Czech koruna.
Getting around: Tram, Bus. Uber is available there. But its very walkable.