The Trdelnik Trap

In The Art of Travel, 2. Getting oriented, Prague by Erica1 Comment

The streets are riddled with trdelniks. What is a trdelnik, you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia (the only time I will rely on this site as a “reputable” source), a trdelnik is “a kind of spit cake” and is “made from rolled dough… grilled and topped with a sugar and walnut mix.” All over the Old Town Square, and nearly every tourist spot in Prague, these trdelnik stands can be seen. Every few feet you walk, you can see another store selling trdelnik- another sign promoting these supposed “traditional Czech desserts.”

Quite honestly, I’m probably the worst person I know when it comes to directions. Even back in New York City, I can only confidently walk from my apartment to Washington Square Park and back. Ask me to walk to a new location, especially one I’ve never been to before, and you’ll see me constantly checking my Google Maps as I walk hesitantly in the direction I think is the right one. Heck, I’ll check my Google Maps even if it is to a destination I’ve been to before! I tend to rely on landmarks or certain buildings to help me get to destinations, so, when I first got to Prague and didn’t have service yet, I was terrified at the thought of having to travel without my trusty pal, Google Maps.

When exiting the metro stop near the Old Town Square, there are several different exits one can choose from. Each exit brings you to a part of the city that looks completely different from the other, and each exit creates a new route to walk on towards getting to the NYU buildings. Some exits are closer to the buildings than the others, so in order to figure out the fastest route to the buildings, my friends and I have tried to exit the metro station from different exits each time we got off at our stop. However, with each new route we take comes the risk of getting utterly lost and not being able to find our way back. But, whenever I walked towards the NYU buildings, I always saw one familiar item: the trdelniks. On the walk from the metro to the NYU Prague buildings, I would pass by a restaurant that had a giant trdelnik statue on a pole, assuming this to be a one of a kind statue.

So, when I decided to ambitiously travel to class alone, in addition to also taking a different route to class, I was flustered when I saw the trdelnik statue I had always passed by, but then realized I was in an area completely unfamiliar to me. I passed by the statue over and over again, yet I still couldn’t find our building. But, when walking past this statue, I walked past another one, and then when I turned the corner, I walked past yet another one. And soon enough, I was surrounded by different trdelniks, finally realizing, that my trdelnik statue was, in fact, not one of a kind.

Before I realized this trdelnik tourist trap, I walked around the area surrounding NYU Prague’s buildings and relied on these trdelnik to help me find my way back. So, you can only guess my confusion when, while discussing the quickest way to get to the buildings, my friend and I always mentioned the “trdelnik statue,” yet we never passed by each other on the way to class. Upon further discussion and clearing up a lot of confusion, we realized that the both of us had always passed by a trdelnik statue, but we were always passing by different ones.

So, in conclusion, there are a lot of trdelniks around the city of Prague.

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(Image: Old Town Square; Source: Erica)


  1. Hey Erica!
    I really enjoyed reading your story, and I think its pretty funny, yet interesting how as foreigners sometimes we orientate ourselves based on things that seem new and special to us, but are actually common and can be found everywhere, just that we don’t know it, like the trdelnik statues in Prague, which certainly can’t be found anywhere else. Well I hope you don’t get caught in a maze of trdelnik statues again!
    Or maybe you’ve become an expert on them by now that you can identify unique quirks of each statue to help you find your way around!

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