This was the best decision I ever made. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else as I learned, traveled, and grew throughout this past semester. I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t sure how I would like Prague. I had spent my whole summer away from my friends and life in New York, and a month in Paris. I remember feeling scared the day before my departure in August, dramatically begging my mom to not make me go. Then she pensively asked, “Is it too late to change your enrollment?” I thought about it. “Yes. I have to go.”
I was nervous for two reasons. One, I had excruciating FOMO and didn’t want to miss out on anything else in NYC. Two, I mistakenly had not researched the Czech Republic. I ignorantly believed it was similar to Russia simply because of its place on the world map (which isn’t even that close to Russia…). In light of the recent world events in terrorism I thought any European country was prone to some sort of attack. My biggest piece of advice would be to do your damn research.
The one thing people tell you about the Czech Republic is, “beer.” They’re pretty much right. Beer is literally cheaper than water, and you can get it anywhere, any time. Most places even brew their own beer in-house. If you see that a restaurant calls itself a microbrewery or spy a tank in the corner, just ask for “pivo z tanku” and you’ll get a huge mug of freshly brewed beer with foam from heaven. One thing to note is that if you don’t specify you want a malé pivo (small beer), you’re getting a velké one. Oh, and don’t forget to say na zdraví (cheers).
What goes better with beer than pork? Don’t try to answer that, Czechs will tell you you’re wrong. I don’t even know what to compare pork with in American terms, because there’s just no comparison. You can find it on every restaurant menu, usually prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite is klobasa papriky (red sausage). It’s served on a paper plate with a dollop of mustard and a slice or two of žitný chleb (traditional Czech rye bread). Street pork is the best (usually called Old Prague Ham), but try to stay away from the stands in touristy areas — they’ll overcharge like they’re going out of business. I promise you, they’re not.
Unlike most metropolitan cities, I think the street food is better than the restaurants in Prague. This may be unpopular opinion, but to me, the general experience is just better. The woodfire grill gives the meat a better flavor, and street vendors are always happier to serve you than waiters. Potatoes are also a staple here. If they’re not spiraled onto a stick, or mixed in with cabbage and ham, you’ll be sure to find them in dumplings made of potato flour. So beer, pork, potatoes, and bread. Those are the specialties here. Sorry, vegetarians. I was even trying to be gluten free before I got here. That went out the window the first week.
If you can’t tell, food has been a huge part of my experience here. But I also discovered some pretty amazing places.
Favorite restaurant: Mlejnice. Get the pivni guláš.
Favorite cafe: Probably Silencio. It’s in the same building complex as my dorm, Osádni. (The biggest, nicest one, though it is furthest from the town center).
Favorite bar: Hemingway Bar.
Favorite club: Radost. Don’t ask.
Favorite museum: Narodni Galerie. They have a great selection of French and Czech art, as well as Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic currently on display.
Favorite Czech dessert: Medovnik. It means honey cake, and it’s basically just layers of gingerbread cake with buttercream in between. Heavenly.
Favorite beer: Gambrinus. It’s a delicious pale ale brewed right in the CZR.
So these are a few of my favorite things. If you or someone you know comes to Prague, I’d be more than happy to elaborate on these tips and provide a few more. Na zdravi!