I’m not quite sure what quite attracted me to Prague in the first place. Perhaps is was the sale that Delta was having, offering unbelievably low fare to select cities in Europe? Or maybe the central location within the continent where I could take my three-week holiday to any direction I choose? Whatever forces at work, I believe that we land exactly where we are supposed to. And so begins the first leg of my European tour, the capital of Czech Republic, the magical city of Prague. Have you ever dreamed of living in a fairy tale city with castles and rolling hills that also has trendy cafés and a vibrant nightlife scene? If so, then Prague is your place to go.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted with sunshine and pleasant weather. My first task was getting money exchanged to the local currency. Although the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, they don’t widely accept the Euro, so you definitely want to get some of their local currency, the Koruna, for your stay there. Though Prague is a very walkable city, their public transit is also convenient and easy to navigate.
Before leaving for my trip, I had read that Prague was one of the most vegan-friendly cities in Europe. This intrigued me, so I was excited to check out this claim a bit further. Upon arriving at my hostel, I noticed not one, but three vegan places within walking distance. Jackpot! It appears the claims are true.
The first I visited was called Moment, which ended up being my favorite. It was just a short walk from the hostel, up a hill and across the street from a park. It is a quaint café with wood tables, mismatched chairs, and bookshelves on the wall, the kind of place that makes you feel instantly comfortable. The all vegan menu had breakfast and lunch items all at affordable prices. The omelet made with chickpea flour was my favorite!
It was not just vegan restaurants I found, but booths at farmers markets as well. The first I found by accident during my quest to the currency exchange. I approached a stall selling breads and pastries–and what do you know, they have vegan items! It’s a good thing that vegan is the same in every language because that was about all I could understand. I tried one of the savory pastries and would have loved to talk to the vendor more had there not been a language barrier.
A few days later, I escaped the city to a smaller town an hour outside, Kutna Hora, which was once a silver mining town. After walking around the town, I came across a small market with crafts, food, and wines from the area. A booth of desserts caught my attention; they were colorful, looked delicious, and were raw/ vegan. My date-and-coffee dessert was perfection. What a happy surprise that even out of the big city, I was able to find some tasty vegan treats.
History and Culture:
Like many European cities, Prague is dripping with a varied and complex history, including ancient holy wars, Nazi occupation, and communist rule. All one needs to do is walk around the city to see the remnants of their past. Prague’s landscape is full of some of the most beautiful architectural styles including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque. My first day of sightseeing was spent up on the hill at the Prague Castle, which is the most famous part of the skyline. It is actually an entire district, the Mala Strana, which includes the presidential palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Strahov Monastery, among others. That area alone has enough to explore that you could spend an entire weekend there.
The next day, I headed to an even more historical part of the city, Vysehrad, which was the first part of the city that was settled. Perched on a hill over the Vltava River, Vysehrad was established in the mid-10th century and is believed to be the oldest seat of Czech princes. The fortressed area contains a beautiful church, cemetery, and park to walk around. It is a great place to spend an afternoon strolling the grounds, taking in beautiful city views and escaping the large tourist crowds.
After my stroll through ancient history, I headed to a more recent piece of history, the John Lennon wall. What appears to be just a wall of graffiti is actually a monument of freedom and voice of peaceful resistance against the Communist regime, which ruled until 1989. Upon arriving, I saw artists spray painting, musicians singing, and people taking photos, all of which exuded an energy of peace, love, and acceptance.
From ancient architecture to modern art and live performances, Prague has it all. Apart from all of the sightseeing I did, there were also several live performances I was able to catch while in town. My aimless wandering lead me to a small theater advertising a black light show. I was curious and it was starting shortly, so I bought a ticket. The show was unique, innovative and comical. I can say that I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. My favorite show I saw though was a burlesque show. Held at the Royal Theatre, the show featured an emcee and four women, each with different, unique themes, and oh, the magnificent costumes! It was a wonderful evening and a great chance to see a more contemporary, cutting edge side of the city.
Czech people might be some of the nicest that I encountered on my trip. They were friendly, helpful, and excited to share their country with me. It was rare when I was there that I felt like the “dumb tourist.” While out one evening, a couple sent me a drink just because they noticed that I was alone and wanted me to have a good time. We ended up chatting and dancing the night away. My afternoon in Vysehrad was spent enjoying a beer in the garden chatting with a local about what life is like in Prague. My trip was full of chance encounters and friendly strangers. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about traveling solo, you are open to the beautiful possibility of anything happening.
There were so many incredible sights and beautiful moments during my stay in Prague, and that was just stop one of my European tours. Stay tuned to hear all about my adventures in Vienna!
Also by Kathryn: How To Win At Vintage Shopping (When You’re Like, Over 22)
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Photo: Kathryn Farrugia