10 Ways to be a Better You in Prague
Rivers of beer, a massive castle, raucous nightlife and lard-laden food; every cobblestone in Prague leads you to a way to satisfy and stimulate. But one-too-many 500-gram pork knuckles and nights in the pub may leave you feeling greasy, gritty and grumbling for some clean living.
So why not slough off the vices? Spruce up a little. The Czech city of indulgence can be as refreshing as it is ostentatious.
Why you're grubby reason 1: Navigating around endless hordes of tourist groups with their umbrella-yielding guides can get the best of you, no matter how stunning the city's spires and palaces are.
How to be a better you: To avoid the vacationer crush and get a real dose of Czechness, head out of town for a hike. There is an extensive network of 40,000 km of color-coded trails throughout the country, with easy-to-read maps for every meter. See the Czech Tourist Club for more information.
Why you're grubby reason 2: Beer bottles from lovely Czech lager littering your hotel room? Suitcase too stuffed with souvenirs to bring all your clothes back home?
How to be a better you: Recycle! Czech shops allow you to return your beer bottles for a small few-kc benefit. There are also enormous recycling bins every few blocks. For clothes, make a donation to the Prague Thrift Store, which supports numerous nonprofits, including a homeless shelter and a program for addicted teens.
Why you're grubby reason 3: You've eaten pork knuckle until a sheen of grease is exuding from your pores. You may have even had dreams about turning bovine.
How to be a better you: Go vegetarian. When I lived in Prague 8 years ago, a "vegetarian" garlic soup would have bits of ham floating in it. This is no longer the case; meatless restaurants abound. Try Beas or Country Life for inexpensive buffet-style options; Maitrea for a mid-range spot right off Old Town Square; Lehka Havla for an upscale night; or Radost for a club/lounge feel. There are many more, too; Google is your friend!
Why you're grubby reason 4: Upon deriving great pleasure from the spoils of The Golden City, you realize you don't know that much about real Czech people.
How to be a better you: It may feel good to pay homage to the people who made Prague the jewel it is. Many Czech luminaries, from composer Anton Dvorak to artist Alphonse Mucha, have their final resting place in Vysehrad Cemetery. It's a peaceful, hauntingly handsome place with some of the best city views and a neo-Gothic basilica just a few meters away.
Why you're grubby reason 5: Walk past the main sites and read lackadaisically about some king or artist in your guidebook? Too lazy to enlighten yourself?
How to be a better you: Get serious about your history; Praha is packed with lesser known stories, about everything from defenestrations (Hussites) to an embalmed Communist on display for schoolkids (Gottwald) to an entire village razed by Nazis (Lidice). It's a paradise for juicy, as well as humbling, historical tidbits.
Why you're grubby reason 6: You've paid for the exorbitant coffee at a cafe right on Old Town Square so you could soak in all the extravagant architecture. Indulgence!
How to be a better you: Next, why not put that next slice of coffee cash toward a good cause? Kavárna Vesmírna is just off Wenceslas Square and it employs people with mental disabilities. The organization that runs it supports helping adults and children with special needs integrate into society.
Why you're grubby reason 7: Sitting for hours in the pub last night and the night before that is the impetus for super-snug clothes. No, the dryer did not shrink your pants (erm, dryers are extremely rare in the Czech Republic).
How to be a better you: Walk up the escalators on your way to and from the metro. For a real challenge, head to Namesti Miru, which is home not only to the longest escalator in Prague but also in the whole European Union. At 285 feet, it will burn some of that beer off.
Why you're grubby reason 8: It's easy to get starry eyed at the GucciCartierDior stores on Prague's Pařížská Street. But buying an Hermes scarf can be done in any major European capitol.
How to be a better you: Shop goods made by Czech designers for a particularly special souvenir to take home with you. Prague-stay.com has a comprehensive list of everything Czech-made from Cubist jewelry to edgy streetwear to hand-blown glass pitchers.
Why you're grubby reason 9: So perhaps you did hit up a black light show or classical concert... or maybe the most artistry you've seen is the tipsy British stag party try to board a tram without falling over
How to be a better you: Culture yourself. The art galleries are virtually endless, and the price is right for entrance fees. Want something in English? The National Theater sometimes offers English options, as do many art-house cinemas. And there are two major English-language theater companies in the city: Blood, Love and Rhetoric Theater and The Prague Shakespeare Company.
Why you're grubby reason 10: You're tempted to grab a Westernized KFC or McDonald's lunch while sightseeing because it'll be cheap, warm and quick. Avoid the temptation!
How to be a better you: Farmers markets have sprouted all over the city and they're a lovely thing to visit. If you want your food prepared versus fresh, try a lahudky for a quick Czech delicatessen option; they serve up inexpensive sausages, salads and open-faced sandwiches called chlebicky.
May you enjoy the Golden City with a clear head and stainless reputation. Or, at least try to scrub some of those stains out!
Grab a badge that links to this contest entry!
Contest Comments » There are 5 comments
Thanks for the tip on Cafe Vesmirna. Clever writing, as always! Xoxo
Thanks! This is a great reference to the hidden gems within Prague that go way beyond beer and parties. I will find that cafe when we travel there in the new year and I'm excited to research your suggestions for the off-the beaten-path suggestions to expand our trip.
I am so glad you are enjoying your time in Prague. We miss you and send our love.
Well written- humorous and informative. I love the idea of green tourism!
Oh, how I wish I would have had this information when we visited Prague a couple of years ago! BUT --- we do plan a return trip next April and it will be nice to be better prepared with the non-tourist alternatives. Plus we'll have family members as official tour guides!! EXCITED!!