Living in America — especially Western America — is like living in a giant fishbowl. Spend an hour on an airplane and you might end up a few counties over. Drive for hours, and you’re lucky if you leave your own state. And everywhere you go is the tell-tale twang of the American accent. You can run, you can hide, but unless you’ve got thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket and a whole lot of vacation time you can’t escape being surrounded by your compatriots. Such is the pitfall of living in a country that straddles a continent.
But while I spent the last few months living in London, I was introduced to a whole new concept — the idea that I could take a weekend trip in an entirely new country.
I was obsessed. My wanderer’s soul squealed with joy.
And I was lucky enough to be able to see three countries in a week — the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary.
Prague was an absolute dream of a city, and the first stop on our Spring Break adventure.
After a long night of traveling, we finally reached our hostel, Hostel Mango — and I’d highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Prague on a budget. There were four of us, and we stayed in an eight person room, so shared with four other female travelers, and Hostel Mango ended up being the cheapest accommodation out of all of the cities we visited (and my personal favorite.) It is in this old building quite literally down the street from the world famous Charles Bridge and a very short walk to Old Town, and the hostel itself is bright, sunny, and spacious.
We made the trek from the hostel to Prague Castle, which apparently holds the Guinness world record for being the largest castle complex in the world, but the castle’s crown jewel (pun definitely intended) had to be the Saint Vitus Cathedral.
I’d never heard anything about it before, so I had no idea what to expect, and I pity anyone reading this article because I think that my ignorance made it about a million times more magical.
I was the last one of my group to make it to the square in the middle of the complex, because I was too busy photographing the winding medieval streets and storybook buildings to keep up, and the beauty of the cathedral hit me full force. I nearly cried.
I keep a (fairly) regular journal, and I think what I wrote that night speaks for itself:
The cathedral was grand and gothic, more breathtaking than Notre Dame or St. Paul’s. It stood, bold and unapologetic, at the center of yet another courtyard and was surrounded by a stately sunny building that I can only assume was the palace. The cathedral felt more alive than inanimate, as if the uncharacteristically gentle-faced gargoyles perched on its parapets would just soar right off into the sky.
Another thing that I would highly recommend to anyone going to Prague would be to take a car tour. I don’t know the official name, but they line the streets of the old town. Renting one runs anywhere between 50-100 euro, depending on the length of the tour, but splitting the price between a group of people makes the price more than reasonable.
They’re these vintage-inspired convertible cars, almost like a carriage. Not only were we being chaffeured around in the most stylish ride in the city, but we also learned a lot of interesting facts about Prague. Our driver was just the absolute best — I wish I remembered his name.
Other highlights included seeing floating men, a witch on her lunch break, and a lion (!!!) roaming the Czech streets.
And even if you don’t make it to Prague Castle, even if you don’t soak in the views from the Charles Bridge, or zoom through Old Town in the coolest car you’ve ever seen, take this one piece of advice:
Try a chocolate chimney cake — you can thank me later.
Here’s my Prague vlog: