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Monday, February 15, 2016

Prague on da blog {Florence Files}


Shelby and I left Thursday for an amazing weekend trip to Prague through Bus2alps. I honestly thought Prague was its own country until about a month ago, so needless to say I had no idea what I was getting into. I somehow managed to fit everything into a backpack and small tote (mom are you proud??) We left around 9PM on a coach bus with over 100 American students. The bus ride was 100% the worst part of the entire weekend, as I expected. 12 hours one way was brutal, going wasn’t too bad since I actually slept for most of it and I was so excited for my first big trip! We stopped at a gas station for a snack, which was probably the most chaotic thing I’ve ever attempted to do at 2 am with a crowd of 100+ people in a teeny tiny space. PowerAde and an Italian lunchable later (literally bread crackers, salami, and mozzarella- if I wasn’t so tired at the time I would’ve taken a picture) we were back on the road.

We got to the hostel around 9 Friday morning and had a couple hours to freshen up. The hostel was SO much nicer than any of us were expecting (it’s the Czech Inn- it’s a great great place!). It was honestly more like a 4 star hotel, just with bunk beds. The showers were huge and open and modern.. the windows were massive and the pillows took up half of the bed. We actually had to leave our personal pillows on the bus because apparently they have an issue with people stealing their pillows because they’re so nice (LOL). We had a super Euro breakfast (yogurt, cereal, & bread), but the crepes, eggs, and sausage stole the show.

At 12 we met up with our tour guide and started our walking tour. I usually hate walking tours and was dreading it to be honest, but Isaac (our tour guide) is easily my favorite human ever. He was vulgar, sarcastic, and made crude jokes, but he also knew what he was talking about. I actually learned a ton on the tour and love that I know a decent amount about Prague now. If it wasn’t for taking that tour I would’ve walked around, stared at pretty buildings, said “cool” and kept going. Traveling is pretty meaningless if you don’t take the opportunity to learn about where you are. If that’s you, save the money and go to bars at home. It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve seen a lot of people that do this. They come on tours and leave early or text the entire time and it is completely pointless to me. Stop acting like a millennial. If I paid for it, I’m going to go and I’m going to do everything on my end to love every moment of it.

The buildings in Prague were undeniably beautiful and it was interesting to see buildings from the communist era directly by old and historic gems. It was a true representation of what the city/country had been through and how far they  have come from those days. I was extremely grateful to have a little bit of Americana around every corner.. Starbucks, McDonalds, and Subway to name a few. Also, KFC is apparently super popular in Prague? I have no clue why, but more power to them. I legitimately ran from the tour to Starbucks when we got a break. I had a pistachio rose coffee (totes not a thing back home and it was the strangest thing I’ve ever tasted).. I can’t begin to describe the flavor of that coffee, but I didn’t want to be basic and get a caramel macchiato so shrugs. It was also 119 koruna (Czech money pronounced crown, but I called it corona the whole weekend it’s fine really) which is about $6 so I cried a little, but totally worth it.

Getting back home after the tour took every inch of logic. Let me just say that your 5 years of Spanish or 3 years of high school French will absolutely not help you decipher Czech.. It’s a language that I can’t even imagine learning if you didn’t grow up there. The tram in Prague is a really popular source of transportation and we couldn’t remember basically anything about how to use it. So we trekked the 2 ish miles back to where we got off (shoutout to Isaac for making things meaningful enough that I recognized them). Moral of the story, we got back fine and gained 10 IQ points. For dinner we had kebabs, which I was convinced I’d hate, but it was truly amazing amazing amazing.

That night we went to an old WWII war bunker that was converted into a bar. You walk in and there’s a bunch of tunnels connecting rooms and it goes on forever.. Probably the coolest thing I’ve been in since I’ve gotten to Europe. The ventilation was 0 though and smoking over here is 150% always a thing, but the scariest part is I’m getting used to it now. We headed off to a Czech club after that. It was 5 stories and every level had different music- hip hop, throwbacks, oldies etc. The strobe lights and just everything in general was insane. Came back at 2 and I definitely fell asleep in what seems like milliseconds.

Up at 9, breakfast, another day of tours.

We fed swans, saw some weird statues, and went to the Lennon wall. Aka perfect instagram spot, stayed there way too long, took more selfies than I care to admit, and got a crap ton of prof pic options. Definitely 10/10 recommend for you artsy souls. Basically, John Lennon’s portrait and lyrics were painted on the wall to protest communism and promote peace. Communists of course got pissed (saw that coming) and spray-painted over it. Today, there are some lingering parts, but a lot is just covered with rando writing and inspiring things people have written. My favorite was, “wherever you are, be all there.” The quote definitely hit home with me, just in general for the abroad experience and in Prague specifically.

*Off to a traditional Czech lunch that was amazing.*

I passed on the dark beer, but was totally into the mushroom soup. I’m borderline obsessed with soup and cannot find normal soup to save my life in Italy so this was exciting for me. We had goulash, which is basically bread dumplings and yummy beef stew. I was so happy to have some protein. I love you Italy, but..

I’m sick of pasta. I need meat.

We headed off to see the oldest medieval castle, which also included a view of the city. Then, we set off to H&M to get outfits for the pub-crawl we were going to and grabbed kielbasas hot dogs for dinner (thank gosh- I’ve missed hot dogs so much already). We got home much easier this time, shoutout to our brains, & started getting ready for the pub crawl. 10 minutes into standing and waiting for the tram to go to the first bar I ran up and changed from heels into boots.. actually an idiot. We paid 20 euros for unlimited sangria, wine, and beer from 9-10:30 then liquor until 11:30 and a free tshirt. The tshirt sealed the deal for the sorority girl in me. Another underground extremely awesome bar that just so happens to be owned by our tremendous tour guide Isaac. Transition to the next bar with free welcome shots, then another bar/club combo where we danced with a French couple that were arguably the two coolest people I’ve ever met. They taught me how to say “I love pickles and chicken.” J'aime les cornichons et le poulet- I’ll never forget it. J

They made me realize how incompetent we are for just speaking one language when they switched between English, French, and Spanish.. yep my kids have to be at least bilingual. It’s a growing feeling that just keeps consuming more of my thoughts. In my Italian class my professor went around and asked if anyone spoke any other language besides English. You guessed it, no one. It makes you feel inadequate because you know you are a smart enough person to be able to be at least bilingual. But the thing is, these people aren’t just bilingual.. They’re multilingual. The French couple we danced with said not to worry, that if you had to know a language it would be English. The thing is though, that’s why we only know English. We go abroad and expect the locals to know English. It’s a crutch that we have absolutely abused.

Ok, I’m done with my rant now. (maybe)

If you go to Prague-
1.     Stay at the Czech inn
2.     Go to the underground bars
3.     Skip the clubs if you don’t want to pay a cover- it’s nothing extremely special
4.     Eat goulash
5.     Take a walking tour. Otherwise, you won't know what you’re looking at.
6.     Know that Prague is a city in the Czech Republic
7.     Go to the Lennon wall
8.     Save money by getting a kielbasa hot dog at a food truck for like $4
9.     Take advantage of Starbucks, but don’t be the annoying American that only eats at American things
10. “Wherever you go, be all there.”

All in all, thank you Prague for a weekend of history, hot dogs, and hangovers. Thank you for giving a piece of American culture I was craving and reinforcing my thoughts on forcing my future blonde babies to be multilingual. Thank you for introducing me to a caring and genuine couple that reassured me that not (everyone) hates Americans. Thank you for allowing me to have a weekend with my amazing new friends and giving me a huge fluffy pillow. And, thank you for having Pringles.

Week 2 deets coming soon!


PS check out my video of our weekend in Prague on Facebook! :)


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