Prague (or “Praha” to the locals) is the capital of the Czech Republic and is known for its rich history, beers, beautiful architecture and beers. I had the pleasure of spending a few days in this magnificent city with some American and Czech friends for spring break this year. In my time there, I noticed a few things you just can’t get over in a week. So here they are, eight of those small, little things that remind you you’re just not in America anymore, Toto.
The Czech Republic consumes the most beer, or “pivo,” per capita of any country in the world (sorry not sorry, Germany). Beer is available at every restaurant or corner store at about 30 Crowns (1 USD) per glass. Although the Pilsner Urquell at the brewery in Plzen was as fresh as they come, my personal favorites were Kozel and Krusovice. Keep in mind the drinking age here is 18 before you go trying any of these beers in America. Na Zdraví!
Beer is cheap, but water definitely isn’t. You’d think with all the alcohol consumption this country would need to stay hydrated, but “voda” costs only slightly less than a whole glass of beer. You have to ask for it specially at any restaurant, and if you do they’ll either bring “sparkling” or “still.” The bright side is it’s some of the cleanest water in Europe!
After drinking all those beers, you’re going to have to make a few trips to the “water closet,” as they call it. But the toilet paper here basically just means paper towel in America. It’s brown and itchy and definitely not up to the higher standards of American butts. Pro tip: bring some Charmin Ultra if you’re planning on an extended stay.
Europe is miles ahead of America in convenient public transit (no pun intended) and Prague is no exception. Bus, metro and tram were the main modes of travel in this city, which, fun fact, has a population of only 1.3 million. What is a tram, you ask? It’s an above ground, electrically run trolley car fixed to a track by a series of hanging cords above. If you can get past looking through a web of wires between buildings, it’s a much cleaner and cheaper alternative to what we have here.
Eating healthy proved extremely difficult in a country where the main food groups are meat, bread and beer, and where fried cheese is considered an actual meal. The only salad options I could find were “salad” or, the occasional “spinach.” Chicken and fish were viable options when paired with a healthier side like lentil or cauliflower soup (although those were hard to come by). But you’re walking everywhere so it balances out (I hope).
Everywhere. Graffiti everywhere. But it isn’t the under-the-bridge street art that you think it is. Erase your American stigma against graffiti and appreciate the role of graffiti in individualizing a city once under strict communism. Think freedom, not felony.
Prague is one of the most dog-friendly cities in Europe. It’s a place where Lassie, Toto and the Tramp can go enjoy a game of poker at the bar or roam free anywhere they’d like. Collar or no collar, you’ll see all types of breeds in both rural and urban areas. Just try not freak out when you see them in fancy restaurants.
Chinese food? No. Vietnamese food? Yes. The largest immigrant population in Prague is actually Vietnamese. And I had better Vietnamese in Prague than I’ve ever had in America, so thank goodness Pho that.