You may ask why I love Prague. Really, it is a pretty simple equation... Great food (& Beer!) + Cheap Prices (buyer beware) + Amazing sights = pretty darn good trip.
I know, enough with the math stuff (I apologize, I have been working on corporate valuation and International Financial Reporting Standards for the past two weeks and, you get the point).
Anyway, I digress. We hadn't been to Praha in almost 6 years. Our first trip was spectacular and we had high hopes for this one as well.
I'm sorry to say, things change, and 6 years later Prague is not what is once was. However this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The city has come a long way over the last half decade, and it was apparent immediately when we arrived. The last time we were greeted by people who were looking for opportunity. This time, the same people were looking to make us their opportunity.
At the train station several taxis were sitting on the side of the street waiting on a fare. Then to their forture, two unsuspecting American tourists with a baby show up.
Jon: " How much to go to XYZ Street #11?"
Cab Guy #1: "For you, only 500 CZK!"
(Note 1: I live in Leipzig and know what a fare costs, and after international finance I can manipulate currencies in my sleep!)
Jon: "You're freaking crazy."
Cab Guy #1: "What you mean I am crazy? For you only 500."
(Note 2: XYZ St. #11 is only 1km from the station. 500 CZK is roughly equivalent to 20 EUR. For a 2.5 km fare in Leipzig when I have had too much to drink, I pay 8 EUR.)
Jon: "Thats 20 EUR. You're freaking crazy."
Cab Guy #1: "What you pay?"
Jon: (While doing the math in my head and looking for a discount) "How about 180 CZK?"
Cab Guy #1: "You freaking crazy!"
Low and behold, the negotiations had come to a standstill. No problem though, I just hop on the handy handi and call the place we are heading to get the number for a reliable cab company.
Meanwhile, the lady who also drives a cab, and has been sitting watching all of this for the last 10 minutes, is approached by Charmian, who cordially asks, "how much". We are told the Kinderwagen won't fit, so no ride. Charmian assures her it isn't a problem at which point I take notice to the advance Charmy has made and move in as reinforcement.
Jon: "It really isn't a problem, and will fit nicely!"
At which point I start to break down the stroller, only to have Charmy tell me I am doing it wrong, which I ignore. I know how to make this fit!
Long story short, Charmy is right about how to make the Kinderwagen fit, which causes the taxi lady and Charmian to become immediate "Girl Power Friends". Regardless, it pays off. The fare is now only 300 CZK and she'll take us to the place we get our key, and then afterwards to the apartment we are staying in (obviously these are in two different locations).
So after negotiating, and holding firm to our resolve, we made a good deal. A deal good enough that when we arrived at our apartment (which was in a spectacular location), Charmy gave A to the cab driver to hold while we unpacked the Kinderwagen and our bags from the back of the car.
We had made it, safe and sound, and the location and price were SUPER!! We were located 5 minutes walking distance from both the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) which was ideal. And as you can see from the photos, we had quite a nice view from our window! I'll keep this location a secret, but might be persuaded to tell you where it was if you ask nicely!
We arrived, made friends, moved in and went in search of food. Unfortunately for A and Charmy, Prague and my camera got in the way. Here are a couple photos from the first night while we were out looking for food.
Charles Bridge looking towards Old Town
Charles Bridge looking towards Prague Castle (St Vitus Cathedral)
Just a Cool Shot
So to close up our first day, we found a place to eat at. The food was good. The beer was good. But then the shady side of Prague came out to play. !!Please beware!! NO MEAL IN PRAGUE SHOULD COST 80 EURO
That is what we paid. We were taken. So things to be on the lookout for.
1. Prices on the Czech menu that are different than on the English
2. Being charged "Tax" on a food bill - tax is included in the line price
3. Offers in both Euro and Koruna. Take the Koruna price, it is always better!
Otherwise, Praha is still charming, it is still beautiful, the food is still great....the beer too. It is busier and more touristy, and while this may cause difficulties, you just need to look out for yourselves. Get off the beaten path when you walk the streets, talk to the locals (Czech or German are easiest) and find the "old", "real" Prague.