Five things you notice when you first arrive in Czech Republic
Czech Republic is probably one of the most underrated destinations in the world. It has beautiful landscapes, great job opportunities especially in the area of engineering, a quite large expat community and amazing entertainment opportunities. In this article I write about the first five things you notice as soon as you arrive into Czech Republic.
1.- Cobblestones everywhere
The first thing you notice is that all streets are made of cobblestones and it looks beautiful. I have to say that I am not 100% sure that all cities in Czechia do the same but this holds true for all mayor cities.
Image source here.
Prague in particular is architectural open book. Many times it happened to me that, while walking I would suddenly take a look back and see a beautiful scenery with castles and old buildings like taken out from a renaissance storybook. Many architectural gems from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era remain intact because the city was never bombed during the any of the World Wars.
2. A great public transportation service
Public transport runs flawlessly here. Not only that, it is also very affordable and it runs during day and -with some route exceptions- at night too. As in most of public transport systems in the EU there is no system to check that you really purchased a metro or bus ticket. A word of caution: Don’t try to trick the system like many travelers do! I thing I also noticed was the large amount of tourists using the metro without paying. Penalties for not purchasing the ticket go up to 1000 Czech Korunas. While 1000 CZK (around 50 USD) is not a huge amount of money, it is a lot for the usual price of a ticket (around 1 USD). So, trust me, and don’t even try it no matter how easy it is.
Prague’s subway metro system is interesting in a strange way. Many people find the announcement voices haunting-memorable for a some strange reason. Also, most people will get dizzy when going downstairs first-time. This happens because the pictures on the walls are angled, creating a strange affect of leaning forwards (when going down) or backwards (when going up). Here is a quick GIF of them which show more or less the effect:
GIF obtained from Prague Morning’s video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOiyDdtIbUY)
I hope they never align those pictures! It is like a Prague’s metro trademark.
3.- Really good beer
I am not a beer “connoisseur” but even with my limited good-beer/bad-beer tasting skills I could immediately know that Czech beer is amongst the best of the best. For those who know more about beer, they will enjoy the multiple choices and the fact that beer is actually cheaper than water here. The culture towards beer drinking is different from any other country, particularly when compared to America. Here, drinking beer during the evening, and even in the morning, is normal. However note that drinking beer is normal, being drunk is not. Being drunk is socially unacceptable across all Czechia. It is also very annoying for Czechs citizens, many of whom believe foreigners come to the city just to get drunk and cause troubles. Enjoy czech beer, within proper limits.
Image from Best Craft Beer in Prague Guide article.
4. Lots of graffities (although not the kind you think about)
It was really surprised to see a lot of graffities in Prague. However these graffities had a different feeling. They were not the usual “fuck off” graffities that you would see in a bad neighborhood. Don’t be scared about the amount of graffities you will see since Czech Republic is the 10th safest country in the world, even above Switzerland and its five things you notice when you first arrive. Graffities across Czechia feel more like “revolution” graffities. Some of them are really impressive and even “intellectual” to some degree. Considering that Czech Republic is a pretty young country since the fall of the communist regime, it really gives graffities a special feeling, you can feel the struggle of the people.
The best graffities/drawings belong to the walls of the National Technical Library (Národní technická knihovna or just NTK for short).
Image from NTK website.
If you are interested about the story behind the NTK drawings read this post about the National Technical Library.
5. A mix of cultures
Prague feels pretty much like New York City in the sense that it is a mix of many cultures converging into a single point at the same time. On any single day can easily meet people from at least 30 different countries. I may be wrong about this but I think there are even more diverse cultures in Prague than in New York City. This could be because of geographical reasons, being right on the center, Czech Republic is like the Central Square of Europe. Another reason for the huge convergence of people is the size of the country and the cities. Czech cities are rather small, you can pretty much walk whole Prague in 2 hours but that will feel like traveling to 10 different countries.
Image source by Ken & Karen go around the world’s post.
Czech Republic is a hidden gem, truly a place to never forget. I am looking forward to return back someday.
Aside: This is my very first article in gitblog written recording every change with my NPM module git-as-dropbox. Take a look at the top bar to see how this article was written.