Now it's time to talk about the second destination of my week-long excursion with my study abroad program: Prague, Czech Republic! If you want to read the first half of my trip to Nuremberg, Germany, you can find the post here.
I've never been to Eastern Europe before, so I was excited to visit the Czech Republic. For years, I've heard that Prague is supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, full of original medieval buildings that weren't destroyed in the world wars. The popular tourist destination definitely didn't disappoint.
My study abroad program took a five-hour train ride into Prague after spending four days in Nuremberg. The bits of the Czech Republic that I saw out of the train window looked exactly like how I pictured Eastern Europe. Cute little houses in need of maintenance were stacked together in tiny, broken-down towns set against vast fields and a few mountain ranges. The site was entirely different than what I've seen of Germany in Central Europe, but still pretty nonetheless. When we arrived in Prague, we had to lug our suitcases uphill for 30 minutes to our hotel, since the study abroad coordinators thought that squeezing 75 kids with luggage onto public transportation wasn't the smartest idea. My first glimpse of Prague, therefore, was seen with a sore back and sweaty forehead.
My friends and I paid a few Euro to go to the top of clock tower in the Old Town City Hall, and I'm so glad we did. The views of the city were vast and absolutely stunning. As we were gazing at the ancient buildings, we suddenly heard screaming and chanting below us. Startled, we looked down to see a few hundred sports fans screaming and chanting through the center of Prague with police escorts. The situation seemed very ironic – I was seeing modern-day sports fans marching between buildings dating back a few hundred years. I guess that's the glory of Europe.
My study abroad group also toured the ancient Prague Castle, which has ties to Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire. The Thirty Years War actually started in this castle, when a group of Protestants threw three Catholics out of a castle window. As the story goes, the men survived by falling into a pile of manure (one of the random facts that I remember from AP European History). Today, the Prague Castle is the home of the president of the Czech Republic. Since the Prague Castle is mounted on a hill, the views of the city are amazing! I couldn't stop snapping photos of the scenery. The church on the castle grounds was also amazing.
My favorite part of the castle was probably Golden Lane, a collection of 11 tiny houses in the Prague Castle vicinity. Artists and alchemists used to live in the beautiful but cramped buildings.
For our last night in Prague, my study abroad program booked a jazz boat down the Moldau river for all 75 students. We drank wine and ate nachos while cruising down the river, with the beautiful medieval city of Prague as our backdrop. Studying abroad is obviously tough work!
On Saturday, we hopped on a train back to Berlin. I absolutely loved Prague, but I don't think I'll be returning anytime soon. Four days was plenty of time to see the main sites and get a feel for the city. Also, I don't think there is much to do besides marvel at medieval buildings, shop, or scope out the best views of the cityscape. A word of advice if you visit Prague: watch out for pickpockets. Apparently theft is extremely common in all of the major tourist areas, like the Charles Bridge or Astrological Clock. My friend saw men pretending to take selfies on their phones, but they were actually using the front-facing camera to see if anyone standing behind them was an easy pickpocketing target. Scary stuff!
Overall, I couldn't imagine a better visit to Prague, and I couldn't be happier to check visiting the Czech Republic off my bucket list! (And if you read this entire post, thank you for sticking with me! I know this was a long one.)