Prague is a picture-perfect postcard destination. Take a walk in the historic center along the cobblestone streets and admire the architecture of this incredible city. Prague is a place for history buffs and beer lovers. This is a fairy tale destination, with amazing architecture and important historical landmarks. The city has a combined history that travels from the Medieval to the Soviet. This historic city has found a way to put a vibrant modern spin on the European city. It’s like being inside of a time capsule. The city today lives on the cutting edge; modern Prague has emerged as a destination for intellectuals and tourists alike.
I had just spent a little over a week exploring Northern Italy and the Canals of Venice; a trip to the Czech Republic seemed like a logical next step. It was a short hour-long flight over the Alps arriving in Prague the same morning. As a Canadian, I’m always amazed by how small Europe is. This weekend would be a vacation within a vacation. Prague is an important city on the European map. It is a central location on the continent ensured that it has been both the capturer and the captured. It’s been the birthplace of many revolutions and protests. The result of these influences has created a time capsule with amazing architecture and many historically important landmarks.
I had local friends to visit and another good friend who lives in England came over to meet me. This kept me pretty busy with socializing for the first two days. We also went to watch a hockey game between Canada and Germany, who were playing at the O2 Arena as part of the World Hockey Championships. On the third day in Prague, I kicked into “tourist mode” and explored this historic masterpiece.
What makes Prague so Amazing?
There is a number of reasons why you should visit Prague. The city has its feet planted firmly in both the past and present. A modern leaning city with a strong history. A city at the literal crossroads of Europe, Prague has been at the geographic center of much of the continent’s storied history. Due to this strategic location, it has absorbed – and been at the forefront of creating – much of the culture from across Europe. The architecture, the museums, monuments, and people all attest to this. Feel free to find your own motivation to visit.
It is also has a history of creating/perfecting modern beer formulas and styles. My trip to the cultural capital of the Czech Republic focused mainly on the latter of these reasons. In the summer before, while planning my trip to Italy two of my Czech friends (who were in Canada on working visas) convinced me to stop here during my vacation to Italy. Another close friend from high school who had moved to England a decade earlier decided to plan a vacation around the same weekend to come to meet me. The long weekend in Prague was born.
Our final day in Prague was spent sightseeing and sampling some of the culture that the city simply oozes at every corner. We began our day in the central square and wandered the city streets of the old town. We crossed the Charles Bridge – the first concrete crossing in Prague, built-in —- – and wandered up the hill to Prague Castle, the center of Czech politics for centuries.
The World’s Greatest Sport- A shared love of Hockey
Another thing the Czech’s share a love for is Hockey. It is one of the few European countries that I would consider in the same conversation as Canadians when discussing their love of the sport. During the planning phase of this side trip, I noticed that the World Hockey Championship was being held in the Czech Republic that year. Canada would be playing games in Prague. It was a pretty easy decision.
Our first night in the city turned into quite the party. My friend Jan and some of his friends decided to make the most of a Friday night. They took us along for the ride. We went everywhere from the Prague Beer Museum – with over 20 beers on draught to a dodgy electronic music club called Crankworks. The latter was a run-down old apartment in the industrial district, straight of out of a movie about hackers from the 90s. If we weren’t with locals it might have been worrisome.
The second day was “hockey day”, and we conquered our hangovers in order to head to the rink. Day three was saved for sightseeing.
We bought tickets online and made our way towards the O2 Arena. Canada was playing Germany and we were offered quite the show. Canada put together a strong team for the tournament, which featured NHL All-stars such as Crosby, Seguin, Hall and Mackinnon. Germany never stood a chance and the Canadians easily won 10-0 to move to the top of the pool. This set up a huge game on Monday where the Czechs would be taking on the Canadians. It sold out fast and ticket prices were through the roof. We instead watched the game in a bar. Canada won. No one beat us up for cheering against the locals.
Where is Prague & how do you get there?
Prague is located in the middle of Europe. There have been many great empires and cultures who crossed this land on their way somewhere else. Often times they stayed, leaving a legacy behind. The city has been passed between rulers in the past. It was once part of the Hapsburg Empire and fell behind the Iron Curtain under the watchful eye of the Soviets. In my lifetime it has been Czechslovakia, the Czech Republic, and now goes by the name Czechia.
This also means that today, it is on the way to or from somewhere else, which makes it an easy place to visit. It borders Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. Most airlines will take you to Prague, and travel by train is always the best option in Europe. So lets just say it’s a pretty easy place to start your exploration of central Europe.
Like many cities with a history that dates far back into the medieval period, it is not a city that can be tackled in a day, a week, or even a lifetime. Three days was hardly enough to get more than a taste, but I feel that I made the best of it.
Hockey? Beer? Castles? Sign me up! Thanks for the amazing hospitality Prague, it will be a weekend I won’t soon forget. I’ll be back.