This weekend, I traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic. It was an awesome trip, and it was my first time flying out of Copenhagen for a short weekend. I learned a lot not only about Prague, but also about how I should consider packing a little differently for future weekend trips. (I definitely did not need my sneakers only for the plane, but that was an oversight.) Warmth should be my biggest priority, and it also does not matter what I wear for the night(s) out; I’m traveling, so I think even snow boots would be acceptable—especially if I’m tight with space.
We had no problems on our flight there, arriving around 9:30p.m. We had looked at Ubers in advance and knew that they existed in Prague, so that’s how we got to our hotel. Fortunately, we booked a hotel in the very center of many tourist attractions, so once we got there, we were able to walk to all our destinations.
After settling into our hotel room, we went to explore the nearby area, and we got drinks at a bar. We also bought snacks at a stand on the street, as we had eaten small dinners from the Copenhagen airport. We fell asleep pretty early, and we also wanted to get an early start to our full day on Saturday.
We woke up at 8:30 and ate a free breakfast at the hotel. Usually, I am picky with eggs, but I ate what they had because I didn’t want to be hungry. Then, we headed to the Old Town Square, only a six minute walk from the hotel. It was a beautiful area! It was supposed to rain, but we got lucky and there were only clouds. First, we went into a grand-looking building that we learned was the St. Nicholas church. The architecture was neat. Out on the square, we saw these statues that we later learned were just people dressed up in gold and silver. After googling them, we realized they were actually street performers doing magic tricks. Nevertheless, it was a bit disconcerting at first to stand next to a so-called statue that moved suddenly. There were also musical performers in the square, and there were thousands of people roaming around, taking in the scenery. We realized it was 10:40, and we had gotten a suggestion to climb the Astronomical Clock Tower for the top of an hour. For a discounted student price, we took a long elevator ride plus several flights of steps and ramps to the viewpoint at the top. It was incredible to see the city from that angle, and we took many pictures.
Then, we went to explore some of the streets near the Square. We explored the area with the Jewish quarter, and along the way, we stopped at the Franz K statue, which has a missing head. We ended up walking all the way to the water, and we walked over the Charles Bridge. The view of all the water on the bridge was very pretty, and there were cool buildings in every direction. We consulted our list of things to do and realized we were relatively close to the John Lennon wall, so we crossed another little bridge with locks on it and visited the big tourist attraction. The wall is very colorful, and people often graffiti the wall or write their names on it. Unfortunately, none of us were traveling with a pen. We had fun at the wall.
It was 1:00p.m. and we were getting hungry at this point, so we began searching our recommendation list for nearby lunch places. It started to rain a little. Two of the places we found only took customers with reservations, and another cafe had limited lunch options on weekends. We ended up heading back towards Old Town Square where we planned to spend part of the afternoon anyway, so we stopped at a place close to the water. It wasn’t authentic Czech food, but it was still filling. Also, food in Prague is way cheaper than it is in Copenhagen. On the way back, we also passed the Crawling Babies statue and a skyline view with little penguin statues.
We wanted to go to a bakery we had passed that morning, but we got distracted by a place called Captain Candy, which we later learned is a big thing in Prague. There were several locations of it. Intending to try a couple pieces of candy each, we all walked out with more than a few different chocolates and gummies, and we snacked on these for the next hour while we walked outside. We also stopped inside the Chocolate Shop to see what the museum was about, but we decided to prioritize outdoor activities while it was still nice out. The sun ended up coming out during the late afternoon, and we got great golden hour pictures back on the square. We also tried hot wine, which is another Prague-speciality. It was delicious, and we were able to enjoy that in the warmth of a heated tent. At 5:30, we needed to rest before dinner and a night out because we had been on our feet the entire day. I didn’t end up sleeping, but lying down still felt nice.
Next, we had dinner at Pasta Fresca, which was an emphasized recommendation from someone at school, who said that the pasta changed her life. I had stopped inside earlier when we passed it, and they said they prepared their gluten-free pasta in a non-contaminated way. Adina, Goldie and I all had different pasta dishes, and we were happy with the meal.
After dinner, we decided to go to a bar before going to Karlazy Lazne, a club that is five stories high. The bar was fun, but at this point, the exhaustion of the day was starting to hit me. I felt so tired, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay out too late. If we had an endless amount of time in the city, it would have been cool to see a Prague night at 2a.m., as we have learned that that’s the time Europeans are out and about. We still went to the club and walked around, looking at all the cool rooms. It’s a themed bar, and there were rooms with different lights and concepts. For example, one room had an ‘oxygen bar.’ After a half hour, I could barely keep my eyes open, so we headed back to our hotel. It was only a five-minute walk.
We woke up on Sunday morning to a lot of snow. After consulting the weather forecast, we worried that our flight later that day might not get out, so we checked if there were other options. It was the only flight to Copenhagen for the whole day, so there was nothing we could do.
After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to look into museums to occupy our time indoors. Prague is filled with all types of museums, so we settled first on the special effects museum. It was all about how movies are made with things behind the scenes to add to the presentation. Next, we went to the Jewish Museum, which ended up being a ticket to go to several sights in the Jewish quarter. We spent the most time in the Spanish Synagogue, which was architecturally beautiful. It was neat to be in a city with so much Jewish history, and I felt lucky to be with friends who appreciated this as well. By the time we finished, it was 1p.m., and we headed to lunch at Kavarna Slavia, which was at the top of our recommendation list for “authentic” Czech food. I was excited because we hadn’t really had that yet this weekend. Staying true to my goal of being adventurous and trying new things, I got a buckwheat bowl with root veggies in a curry-flavored sauce, which was delicious and interesting.
We went to the airport around 3:00p.m. because we wanted the uber driver to take her time in the snow; the roads were pretty slushy. At this point, we were still supposed to depart on time at 6:30p.m.
I bet you can’t guess what time we actually took off. Spoiler alert: 1:45a.m. We quickly learned that traveling is not only exhausting but is also unreliable, and not at all glorious—at least at times. Throughout our 9+ hours in the airport, we experienced several phases of trying to figure out what was going on. The first thing that was weird was that we didn’t learn about the delay from the airline or anyone at the airport. Instead, we looked up our flight on Google when it wasn’t posted on the board, and we saw it was delayed until 9:30p.m. When we left the gate area to explore for food, we exchanged numbers with some other girls on our DIS program, and we spoke with them for a few minutes. We tried asking the information desk about our flight after the original take-off time, and they said they didn’t know what was happening, and they also didn’t know how or when we would receive an update. Very helpful.
After changing gates two times, watching several flights board and arrive, and eating several snacks, we finally got onto a bus at 11p.m. The bus was supposed to take us to the plane. At this point, we reasoned that we would be sleeping by 2:30. However, this was not the case. Instead, we stood on the bus for a half hour while they tried to find someone named Sue. They also suffocated us with heat, trying to squeeze the entire flight onto this tiny shuttle bus. It was fairly uncomfortable. Then, they opened the doors and told us to deboard the bus. Adina, Goldie and I looked at each other: what now? Upon re-entering the airport, I learned that we now had to wait for four flights to take off ahead of us—not exactly sure why. Adina and Goldie had gone to reserve us seats while I was at the attendant desk.
Then, something crazy happened. I gave my friends an update at our chairs, and a woman nearby asked if we were Americans. When we said yes and told her we were studying abroad, she told us she was an American also, and she had moved to Denmark 10 years ago. Intrigued, we began to talk with her. It turns out that she had QUITE an interesting story of what brought her to Copenhagen, and I quickly remembered my assignment for my Travel Writing class this week: find someone in Denmark with an interesting story to tell, in a place that adds to story. I think the fact that we were all stuck in the airport at this point contributed to this woman’s openness.
I decided to go for it. I asked her if I could record a conversation of her telling me her story again, and she was not only flattered but also honored. It happened to be her birthday, and she said that I made her day for caring to listen to her, and for making her story the subject of my writing. She really wanted to talk to me. We spoke for a half hour, and I am proud of myself for initiating that. Perhaps I’ll have more to say in a future blog post once I write the story for my class.
At that point, they told us we had 40 more minutes to wait, and although I was annoyed and sleepy, I was very thankful to have Adina and Goldie’s company. We have a long week ahead of us, and it would have been even more stressful to have this experience alone.
At 12:30, we boarded the bus again, and at 1:45, we finally took off. We got home around 4:20, and I was asleep by 5:00. It will definitely take a few days to recover from that night. But, all in all, we had a fantastic weekend, and it only made me more excited to see other parts of the world.