This is going to be the first of a series about my travels through Europe. I don't know how long it's going to take for me to finish the entire series because I rarely get to sit at my computer and write. I can already tell that I'm extremely rusty because it has taking me forever to write this first paragraph. My plan is to take you through each city, one blog at a time.
If you have never been to Europe, I highly suggest that you make it one of your top priorities for the future. Chad Harris and I just got home from backpacking for two and a half weeks across Europe. Our original (slight changes were made) itinerary was to fly into Amsterdam, then head to Prague, Vienna, Venice, Florance, Rome, Interlaken, Paris, and then fly back out of Amsterdam.
Chadly and I both agree that Prague (Praha) was one of our top 3 favorite cities (probably number 2). If you are making any plans to visit Europe, make sure that Prague is on your list. I don't know if we liked Prague so much because it was our first city to visit, and we hadn't seen much of Europe yet. Or if we liked it so much because it was just an awesome city. Either way, Prague was a blast.
Located in the Czech Republic, Prague is one of the only famous European cities that still has a lot of its original architecture in tact. Only one building in Prague really suffered from the World Wars, so most of the old sculptures, buildings, and castles can still be visited. We did take the typical walking tours and saw the old town, the St. Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, and the square. But one of the coolest things about Prague is that any random street you walk down, you are bound to run into a huge, Gothic, elaborately sculptured building.
Another thing that puts Prague at the top of our list is the atmosphere. The friendliness of the locals, the insomnia night life, the safeness of the city, and the eagerness to attract tourists all contribute to making Prague an easy favorite to any one's experience. We never had a problem with language barriers because most of the locals speak English. Czech is only a language spoken in the Czech Republic, and if you only speak Czech, you are confined to the small republic, so most Czech citizens are bilingual.
I could write a book about the people we met and the memories we made in Prague, so instead, I'll just highlight one of our favorites. Isaac is a history major from California that started a very successful pub crawl (pub crawl - you pay about $15 and they give you free drinks and take you to a lot of popular nightclubs). He used to be a free walking tour guide that would make up stupid random facts about Prague and pass them as truth during his tours (look up "Isaac Prague Tour Guide" on YouTube, hysterical). Since they run a pub crawl every single night of the week, he rarely stays past the first two bars. Long story short, he liked Chad and me so much that he hung out with us until 6 am in the morning, taking us to random hole-in-the-wall "locals only" bars. We had to show ourselves around the Prague Castle because we missed our walking tour time, and you'll rarely see us smiling in any pictures of the second day (and I'm holding a Redbull in every 2nd-day picture), but it was definitely worth it. We had so much fun that we did the pub crawl both nights we were in Prague. One of our favorite memories of the entire trip.
I know this is getting long, so I'll end with what makes Prague so safe. While we were hanging out with some locals during our all night venture, we were given a little inside information from one of the bar patrons. He is currently a street magician, but in is youth, he was a gypsy; a kid who ran around pick-pocketing people and begging for money. You will rarely find any violence in Prague. The last shooting in Prague was somewhere around 3 years ago, but it didn't involve any locals. The worst crime that plagues the city is theft; mostly pick-pocketing. At it's core, Prague is run and protected by the Russian mafia. There's a very old agreement and understanding between the mob and the gypsies that allows the gypsies to continue there thievery, as long as, there is no violence during the process. If you catch the gypsy after they've stolen from you (unlikely because most are pretty fast), they are not aloud to fight you back and have to endure whatever beating is given to them. If violence ever occurs and the mafia finds out, that individual "disappears," along with his friends and family. Rumor is that the individuals involved with that shooting were never seen again.
I, obviously, don't know if any of that is true, but I can attest that one night while walking back to our hostel, we met two girls walking down the middle of the street without a care in the world. They were passing drug dealers (legal in Prague), random men, and homeless people completely oblivious to any sense of danger. They were Americans living in Prague and said that they've never had trouble, nor had they ever heard of any acts of violence caused by the locals. I thought that was pretty interesting.
Like I said, Prague was one of our favorites, so there is a lot of things I wanted to say about it. The rest of these won't be so long. Bottom line: go to Europe, and go to Prague.