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Prague

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  • Prague

    i am soon to embark on my first eastern european trip and am looking help, guidance or any tips for Prague.

    Other than some guide books to look through i know nothing, cost of eating drinking etc and would be glad of any info

    thanks

  • #2
    Re: Prague

    I hope that others will chime in with more info, Prague is well worth writing about.
    In brief:
    The minuses (don't let them stop you, it gets better soon!):
    Don't take taxis (not policed or regulated properly, drivers may fleece and threaten you - no joke...). If you have to take one, ask the restaurant or your hotel to call a driver they know personally. Then keep your bags on your lap so you can make a break for it if trouble arises, without having to give in because your stuff is in the trunk.
    Guard against pickpockets. That means no wallets in outside pockets, no wallets - period, actually. Nothing of value below the belt except for a zipper-and-loop pouch hanging on your belt inside of your pants. Or a pouch inside shirt or blouse, hanging from a neck strap. That's where you keep the passport, tickets, spare credit card etc. In your inside breast pockets etc. you keep smallish bills, and in a secure pocket on your body somewhere you keep the credit card that you use most often. No zippered handbags, purses, or backpacks with anything of value in them. Pickpockets are highly trained, you don't stand a chance - just don't give them a chance and you don't even have to think about it. On buses and trams, look for people who wait until the very last second to hop on or off, just as the doors close. That's often a give-away. If you feel under threat, do what Europeans almost never do - shriek, yell, holler - they'll think you're crazy, but you'll likely succeed in warding off trouble (other than providing for dinner conversations at many tables that evening).
    Pickpocket-proof goodies are for sale at places like www.magellan.com (or is it plural, www.magellans.com ?) and www.ricksteves.com and Samsonite outlet stores etc.
    Not everybody speakes English, and sometimes someone may pretend not to understand, to gain an advantage...
    Service, especially with a smile, is still not mandatory to get a job in a service industry. If you get what you asked for, in a reasonably timely manner, that's good enough. They don't think smiling is genuine, somebody once asked me "why do Americans always smile when we can tell they don't mean it? Is it because of Hollywood?" to which I had no answer...
    The railway stations can be confusing, you may not leave from the one you arrived in. Go by the full name of each, not the abbreviations which look similar, and get there early. You may get accosted by individuals who grab your luggage like self-appointed luggage porters, expecting a tip, of course. I had little luggage and no problems keeping up with "my" character the last time, so I let him lead the way after I told him what train and platform, and I actually had him fight for my reserved seat with someone pretending not to understand - "my" character told him in the native language to get lost - I got my seat, he got his tip. But it can be a bit disconcerting, to have one's luggage snatched etc., these characters don't take no for an answer, some even put on slightly official looking garb like a cap or something. I guess it beats unemployment insurance...
    The pluses:
    Too many to list here. Prague is one of those places that have survived the good and the bad (plenty of both!) of a long history, and much is still in evidence. It's thoroughly modern, too, with pizza joints and internet cafes etc. everywhere. But it's no longer cheap (I'm comparing to 1968...). Food can cost at least as much as you'd spend in the US, hotels are comparable also.
    Walk, walk, walk, only this way can you soak up the charm.
    After you've wandered around the castle area, find the walkway through the lower gates (stil up above but on the river side facing the city), walk down through the steep gardens, back down to river level - it's a nice descent with a nice view, and there's a quiet outdoor snack place next to a music school where you come out, perfect for a lemonade, maybe (like I had on my last visit) with a Liszt etudes piano accompaniment.
    Take the subway, it's very functional, even attractive. Take buses, keep a map on your lap, and if you think it's not going where you thought it might be going, hop off. Orientation is easy, the castle, certain church towers - you always know where you are.
    Before leaving from home, go to Target or such a store and buy a tiny compass (in the outdoors sports section), on an overcast day it helps in finding your way on the map.
    Get a good map - Borders etc have them here, moisture-proof if possible, one that folds easily to just a segment at a time. Then get a pocket dictionary E-C/C-E, and a slim phrase book (to point to when showing someone if a common sentence will do the job).
    Use ATMs in safe locations, they tend to give the best rates, but don't take out small amounts often, fees might add up.
    Try but beware of Slibovic (strong, almost colorless booze made from plums - other spellings prevail), unless you are liquor-proof, too many of them will put you under (it's a great chaser with the good local beers, though!).
    Have a great trip!
    O.

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    • #3
      Re: Prague

      O.,

      thanks so much for the reply, and for time taken to write it, it is obviously a place you enjoy, i hope i take as much pleasure as you do.

      And your words of caution wil be well taken.

      Thanks again

      vokeyuk

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