I wrote most of this days ago but didn’t publish because I was waiting on pictures. I’m just going to go ahead and post because I’m getting way behind. We’re home already and Rolo is off at Girl Scout camp! I’ve got to just suck it up and leave some stuff out!
This following is basically a stream of consciousness list of things we noticed.
Prague is still very affordable. You’ll hear people say how much more expensive it has gotten in the last fifteen years, and I’m sure it has. However, when you stack this beautiful European city up against some other beautiful European City in France or Italy or whatever, you are going to come out way ahead in Prague. We spent freely and still routinely came in way under our daily budget. Some nights we would use the farmers market to bring food home and make dinner. We could get 4 homemade specialty kielbasas and a handful of tiny hotdogs strung together for $2. We might have two cheeses, four types of beer, cider, bottles of water, three or four types of chocolate, and various other snacks and condiments on the table and come in under $15. Eating out was higher but you could have a great meal full of appetizers, mains, and alcohol for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. This is probably what led to the phenomenon of stag parties.
We noticed the stag parties (bachelor parties) early on. Evidently Americans are way behind the curve on how to do these properly. Every stag party we saw was themed with matching outfits. Some just had matching shirts with different nicknames on the back – I’ll spare you the examples, while others were more elaborate with bright plaid knee length pants, suspenders, white button downs, and signs inviting people to molest the groom. I can’t overstate how many lines of matching young men we saw making their way through Prague. I think it’s mostly the super cheap alcohol available to drink wherever you want, but the cheap and tasty food also helps. We stayed just slightly out of city center at Andel instead of right down in the tourist section. If the partying ever took on a raucous spring break quality then we never knew, but I kind of doubt it.
As an aside, I saw a few teenagers keeping detailed track of costs and you could tell they were on a strict daily budget. Prague is still a city you could backpack through and make it on very minimal money.
Another thing that made a very quick impression on the girls was seeing a man pee outside the metro station. Later on in the trip we saw no less than three children drop their pants and do their business right out in the open. As we were walking along one of the days Rolo looked at me and said, “It’s probably because you have to pay to use the bathroom here.” And of course it is. I was just impressed that my 7 year old got there on her own.
You can’t buy over-the-counter medicine at grocery stores in Prague. It shed a lot of light on the American opiate addiction when it took me several days, multiple types of stores, and counseling from a pharmacist to buy a box of aspirin. If you want Tylenol, Aspirin, or the like in Prague then don’t go to the grocery store. The best you can do there are band aids and feminine products. Don’t go to a “drogerie” either. Though it sounds promising, the best you can do there are vitamins, condoms, and, I’m not even kidding, clinical looking sex toys. Just right out there. It’s definitely one way to accidentally freak out your teenaged niece. You have to go into the pharmacy. It has a green cross above the store so you know it’s a pharmacy. Unless you are American and therefore associate green crosses with medical marijuana, in which case it confuses you and takes you days to check out that place for Aspirin.
I might still have some other Prague insights and thoughts later but for now I’ll move on to the rest of the trip. Bottom line – go to Prague! Stay a week! Rent a flat a little away and live as much like a local as you can! Use Google Translate when necessary. It works! We absolutely enjoyed everything about this destination.