Other delights I’ve experienced this weekend: the beautiful city of Prague. My friend Rima and I went for roughly 36 hours because a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do and these babies had a small amount of time to see Prague but gosh darn it we were going to see it. All of this was shocking to the especially chatty man at the Swiss Air Heathrow check-in desk. “What do you mean you’re only going for a day?”
Continuing with the things that made this weekend delightful: not flying Ryanair. Though I did read somewhere that now Ryanair is allowing two pieces of carry-on luggage which is amazing.
The flight attendant also just spoke to me in German which is a wonderful feeling because this usually means I don’t look like an American. Personal victories!
When our Swiss Air flight landed in Prague, the lady sitting behind me started clapping like they do on Ryanair flights but there was nothing novel about her clapping since I wasn’t expecting to die on this flight like I have every time I’ve flown Ryanair.
Anyway, Prague was exceptional. In a weird way, it was everything I expected to see somewhere like Rome–beautiful cobblestone streets, colorful and ornate buildings, all chock full of historical significance. Prague was all of that with only a fraction of the touristy nonsense that you’d get in Rome. Of course there’s vendors all over the place selling the same 15 prints of watercolor paintings, but you’re not nearly as worried about pickpockets.
We decided to visit Prague this weekend to see the famous Christmas markets and they did not disappoint. We knew of two markets but only found one, which was fine because after a while markets can all blend together. The market was in the same square as the astronomical clock that happens to be freakishly old.
No one told us that the clock was located at essentially eye-level, so we were wandering around the perimeter of the square, looking up at all the buildings and this big clock tower, thinking that we misread the map or something. That was also partially influenced by the large quantity of hot wine and mead we consumed at the market, though we did our best to off-set it with langos, fresh potato chips, sausage, and lots of pastries.
One thing we never did figure out was where Prague Castle is located. Apparently our hotel was right at the steps of the castle, but we just never found it. We don’t really know how that happened. But it was still awesome.
Additional shout out to Europe’s apparent obsession with funiculars. Prague is now the third city I’ve visited this semester to have one of those rail cars that slide up and down a steep hill with what I imagine to be an epic lever and pulley system. I’ve taken to calling them “up machines.”
The Prague up machine didn’t disappoint and was our last stop before heading to the airport. This one took us up to this 60 meters tall replica of the Eiffel Tower. No joke. It’s hilarious. It’s visible from all over the city and the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend it.
I suppose the replica Eiffel Tower visit is the best way to prepare Rima and I for our next trip. We’ve got 36 hours in London before our next destination: Paris.
As published on the Daily Free Now abroad blog Dec. 1, 2013