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PRAGUE: Living the City

27 December 2016
KEMAL HAMŞIOĞLU

KEMAL HAMŞIOĞLU

Prague:  read this news recently, about 700 kids from Istanbul seeing Bosphorus for the first time ever in their lives. Is it sad? Yes. Is it surprising? Well, it is probably not a situation to be seen only in Istanbul. There must me loads of people who live in capitals in the world and yet to see the famous symbols of their cities. Having said that, seeing something is not the most important thing in my opinion. How many of us walk through Galata Bridge on their way to work or how many of us go sit on the benches in Sultanahmet Square to have Turkish bagels and tea?

I had loads of time to think about these on my way from Krakow to Prague. Well, did I think about these though? Not really. Why would I get emotional think about these if I have a travel friend with me who I can make jokes with. I promise I’ll start talking about Prague in a bit.

prague

It took 6 hours from Krakow (we were happy we’ve been there) to Prague. We first had a bus journey to Ostrava (at Czech Republic and Poland border) and from there a train journey (with Leo Express) to Prague. It took about 20 euros.

Prague train station doesn’t look like a museum as our Sirkeci or Haydarpasa stations. It is very busy with trains all around Europe going through. We went from the station to take the over ground metro to our hostel. We checked on google before getting on the metro but apparently, it was the wrong one, so we got off and took the right one. We didn’t waste too much time but it is always best to get a map and travel guide as soon as you land on a city. The station and our hostel was like opposite ends of the city.

Well, if you ask how long did it take from the station to the hostel though; it is barely half an hour. I remember what we thought about in that half an hour: This city is massive! We realised later on though, it wasn’t that massive. The view on the tube was so mesmerising that we though we wouldn’t have enough time to see the whole city.

We made it to the hostel after a short walk from the station. A river cuts Prague in half just like Budapest (which I am going to write about soon). And again, just like Budapest, there is the castle on one side and the city centre on the other half. Our hostel was at the outskirts of that castle. We booked 2 bed in the dorm in order to “socialize” as two guys abroad. The outcome was disappointment, but I won’t go there now… The hostel was good, its name was “Little Quarter”. It was clean and central.

We threw ourselves outside after unpacking and changing our clothes. We found those maps we didn’t get from the station at the hostel reception. It was already past half a day so we chose a place called “Petrin Hill” on the map to start from somewhere.

prague

They wanted to make “futuristic” but it ended up being a wrought iron electric pole

Petrin is exactly like Pierre Loti Hill in Istanbul. Of course, it is a bit different then a tea café on a graveyard, but the motivation which makes people go up on that hill is the same: “The view”! You can go up there either by the funicular railway or on foot using the path made on the upper sides of the hill. It wasn’t too expensive so we took the funicular. There is a restaurant, a watch tower, and an observatory on the top of the hill. If you look up on the internet it mentions a rose garden but we haven’t seen any, like the Vienna Gardens -which I will talk about later-; although it was summer time.

We took the stairs up to the hill carrying a one kilo worth camera, just to catch a good view of Prague. I don’t know it if was a bit foggy or I was tired after the travel but I wasn’t that impressed. They talked about the hill like it’s a second Eiffel Tower. I laughed when I saw it.

I’m neither an architect nor a city planner but I’d like to meet those who think it’s aesthetically beautiful or is a masterpiece. The view was beautiful though, although we’ve seen better view from other hills in Prague. In short, if you don’t have much time to spend in Prague, I wouldn’t recommend to waste your time on Petrin Hill. Well, does my word really matter? Because, I think Pierre Loti is also overrated, you consider it yourself.

Are you one of those whom we can’t make Czechoslovakian?

After we went down the Petrin Hill, we walked to the other side of the city. There are few little islands over “Vitava River”. The beginning of the bridge we crossed over was near one of these islands. Apparently, there was few events going on on the island. There was a LGBT gay pride called “Petrin Pride” that day on the island. Not just the island but the entire seaside is an event area. Boat tours, water sports, cafes, bars… Which one did we try? None. Don’t say “then why are you talking about this?”, Prague is not a city in which you can do everything in just two days. In fact, we sat on the seaside and had couple of beers, we did not do nothing!

The heart of Europe… The golden city… The city of fairy tales… I noticed why they gave Prague all these names when we saw Old Town area. I don’t know if Czechs feared what would happen to Warsaw but they handed Prague over to Hitler and in return he made a promise not to do any harm to Prague. I don’t want to go into how this story politically correct but I think they did the right thing. Well, Hitler got what the deserves in the end but at least this beautiful city wasn’t harmed at all. I know I’m being shallow but I’d like to talk to people about this after they’ve seen Prague.

prague

Petrin Prague

A Tourist shaking method: Tipping

There are numerous advantages of where you are staying being close to where you want to visit. You can just pop in to change your clothes, leave the things you buy etc. That’s what we did before going out for the night, we went to the hostel quickly and went back to Old Town. There are a lot of bridges that connect the two sides of the city and the most famous one is “The Karl Bridge”. This stone bridge on which there are statues on both sides is one of the most important symbols of the town. It’s always busy with street musicians and tourists trying to take photos all day.

It is advantageous to plan every single detail of your holiday but I think it might be a little boring as well. I think I’d rather take a few important notes and then “wander around”. It is always more fun to get lost in a city, get away from touristic routes. Therefore, I tend to share what I had done in my holiday rather than recommending any places.

Where were we? We crossed the bridge and started to looking for some place to eat. We found a restaurant called “U tri ruzi” that brews its own beer. We went in to try their fresh beer but we ended up making a reservation for the following night and left. I guess others discovered the place before us… Anyway, we found another place a little further that plays live music, called “Live Jazz Restaurant Zlatý Dvůr”. Note this one down! It’s like a courtyard amongst some buildings. It was warm outside so we sat on one of the tables outside. We ordered our food.

First came the goulash, they served it in a hard-shelled bread instead of bowls. Mixed meat with sauce followed it… With cold beer on the side… Big portions, very satisfying taste. In the meantime, we are listening to the singer lady by whom a saxophone and an organ player playing. There are lots of tourists on the other tables, which I should have been suspicious

about (see: Krakow). Even so, everything was fine by then. Live performance finished, so did the food. We asked for the bill. We opened it, they added 10% of tip already. Okay, fine.

Giving a 10% tip is like an unwritten rule in Europe, that’s right. We paid the bill and they brought the change. We took the change and got ready to leave; we saw one of the waiters opened the lid of the box they put the bill in. He noticed that we did not leave any extra tips and I’m not sure if he said something or gave us a degrading look but we just froze there. My friend Onur (see: Krakow), couldn’t hold himself and said “What’s the attitude for? We already paid for the 10% tip you added on the bill”.

The waiter took a step back and mumbled something like “I didn’t mean that”. Don’t say “there’s nothing to moan about in this”. I dwell on things like this. If you wrote in the menu that’s fine, but they added it on the bill as “tip” and we paid for the “tip”.

Aziz Vitus

Okay, let’s say you didn’t that either, still, how can you embarrass your customers? I’m not going to go on about this but you’ll see I’m write if you google the place and read the comments underneath.

We didn’t let this ruin our night though. We continued walking the street of Prague. I must say, the lightings in Prague are perfectly placed. You see something in the day light and something else at night time. I forgot about it on my Krakow article, lighting wasn’t as good there and maybe this was what was missing the most. It’s a shame! I want to reach out to Polish authorities from here… By the way, I don’t know why I said that, just because the Krakow article was read by 80 people on the first day. What was I saying? City light and the castle looked amazing from Karl Bridge. We finalised our walk and the night in a place called “Jo’s Bar” near our hostel but I will talk about it later. I can connect the first paragraph with the second article later as well.

Kemal HAMŞIOĞLU

instagram/kemalhamsioglu

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