David Černý

All around Prague, you can find art by David Černý. The controversial artist displays his art in places all over the city so the public can view for free, and sometimes you will come across Černý’s art and not even realize it. Many of his pieces are startling, so be warned. You can take a tour of Černý’s public art, though you will probably end up coming across most of his pieces just by walking through Prague.

Babies (Source

Babies (Source)

butt

I touched the butt!

Stumbled onto this...

Stumbled onto this…

"Horse" (Source)

“Horse” (Source)

"Embryo" (Source)

“Embryo” (Source)

Yes, that is a fetus traveling through the drain-pipe…

"Piss" (Source)

“Piss” (Source)

“Piss” is interactive. If you text a message to the number next to the statue, the hips of the men will move as they spell out the message with their…pee.

"Gesto" (Source)

“Gesto” (Source)

I was in Prague when the middle finger was put up by Černý. It was a day just like any other day, except that there was a giant, purple finger in the Vltava River. Černý created the finger to protest political corruption and efforts made by the Communist Party to gain control in the upcoming elections (2013). The finger was aimed at Prague Castle.

Černý also founded MeetFactory, an art center located in Smíchov. The center hosts numerous concerts and art exhibits, and I saw STRFKR (origins: Portland, Oregon) perform while I was in Prague. It was very cool. The venue (an abandoned warehouse) is edgy and has a bar for drinks, though it is out of they way but worth the trek.

MeetFactory

MeetFactory (Source)

STRFKR

STRFKR

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STRFKR

Lennon Wall

Another place that Prague is famous for is the Lennon Wall. This wall represents peace, love, and everything that is good in the world. It’s called the Lennon Wall because of the John Lennon-inspired graffiti that filled the wall in the 1980s in protest of the communist regime. It was filled with grievances and oppositional art, and many students even proclaimed to have adopted “Lennonism” (anti-communist ideology).

John Lennon’s face is almost always found on the wall, but his original portrait has long since been painted over. The wall is always changing, so it’s worth a couple of visits. If you are lucky, you will see the man who plays acoustic guitar and sings Beatles tunes at the wall.

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On the way to the wall, be sure to check out Prague’s own love-lock bridge.

Café Louvre

#BECAUSEHOTCHOCOLATE

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POST YOU WILL EVER READ.

When you get to Prague, you must go straight to Café Louvre. DO NOT DILLYDALLY AT YOUR HOTEL/HOSTEL. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

I love hot chocoate. I don’t care if it is 92 degrees outside. If I can get a cup of delicious hot chocolate, I will. I try hot chocolate everywhere I go, and I have tried countless concoctions. Café Louvre has the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted (so far).

Café Louvre also has one of the best pieces of cake I have ever had (cake is my other love). On the menu, it is called Large Chocolate Cake, because it is a piece of large, chocolate cake. It’s the most massive slice of cake ever served, I think, and it is delicious. My friend and I always came to Café Louvre for hot chocolate and cake after a stressful school week to allow ourselves to fall into a food coma.

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Café Louvre’s hot chocolate

Slice of Heaven

Slice of Heaven

But if you don’t like hot chocolate (who doesn’t??) or don’t feel like eating cake (when is cake never a good idea???),

Café Louvre also has great coffee and delectable food options.

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Káva

 

Café Louvre gnocchi

Gnocchi with salmon and pesto

Back in the day, Café Louvre was frequented by Franz Kafka and Albert Einsten when he was a professor in Prague, and the restaurant so charming and elegant that you will feel like you are eating in another time period. Once, I saw a couple of guys looking over and discussing their clothing designs in Czech as they ate and drank, which felt so cool and as if I were living a very fancy life (LOL).

If you think you’ve had the best hot chocolate of your life, you are wrong. Café Louvre is where dreams come true.

I am on a quest to find the best hot chocolate in the world. I have traveled a lot, but not enough to know for sure that I have found the holy grail of hot chocolate. If you know of a place (anywhere) that may rival Café Louvre’s hot chocolate, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

PSA: Beware the Naked Man of Vyšehrad

THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  I have depicted the Czech as modest and quiet, but even they are not immune to crazies, and I was not prepared for what I witnessed at Vyšehrad. One night, my friend and I were walking home from school, and we decided go a different way so we could see the beautiful sunset from the top of Vyšehrad. When we reached the look-out spot, instead of turning and seeing a wonderful mixture of orange and pink, we saw a naked man standing before us (I won’t say what he was doing, though you can probably guess). It took us a couple of seconds to process what we were looking at, but once we realized what we had stumbled upon, we turned and sprinted down the stairs in shock. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP I’M TELLING YOU!! That was the last time we ever walked home that way.

At least you can be sure he probably hibernates during Winter.

Vyšehrad

Vyšehrad is one of my MOST favorite places in Prague, because it is so peaceful and hidden away from the bustle of the tourists. I went to school here every day, but I still don’t really understand its significance (oops). From what little I heard about the area, it is the oldest location in Prague and it is home to the Rotunda of St. Martin, Prague’s oldest building. I always saw people taking pictures and children on school trips at Vyšehrad, but I never knew why; it was always just the place I went to school. Vyšehrad is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there, and I probably would have never visited it if I hadn’t gone to school there. It is on a hill, but if you take the metro there, you can avoid the steep steps to reach the top.

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View of Vyšehrad from the Vltava River

 

My walk to school - not too shabby!

My walk to school – not too shabby!

 

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Vyšehrad also boasts amazing views from all sides.

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If you look closely, you can see Prague Castle!

The Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Vyšehrad cemetery can also be found at Vyšehrad. The cemetery is the resting place of many famous Czechs, including writer Karel Čapek and composer Antonín Dvořák.

Basilica in fog

Basilica in fog

 

Vyšehrad Cemetery

Vyšehrad Cemetery

Unfortunately, I associate Vyšehrad with the stress of school, so I hope I can go back one day and appreciate it again. I definitely recommend taking a stroll through Vyšehrad, especially during the Autumn when the leaves are changing color. Vyšehrad is Prague’s hidden gem.

Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square)

IMG_0342Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square is another famous location in Prague where tourists are in abundance. The lengthy boulevard is lined with shops and restaurants tailored to tourists’ tastes; you can find two Starbucks, a KFC, and a Marks and Spencer. It is definitely fun to walk along, though, and there is so much to see. Thankfully, unlike on La Rambla in Barcelona, no one tries to get you to come into their restaurant or try to sell you something (and knowing the Czech, they probably don’t want you there).The middle of the boulevard has an island that runs the length of the street with flowers and benches where people can sit and relax, and there are also a lot of hotels on the boulevard. During Christmas time, like Old Town Square, Wenceslas is decked with Christmas markets and festive ornamentation.

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My friend visiting from Italy!

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Václav Havel memorial

At the top of the square by the National Museum is a monument for St. Wenceslas that is commonly used as a meet-up spot by young people.  On the anniversary of Václav Havel’s death, the monument turned into a memorial for the first democratically elected president of the Czech Republic, who was loved dearly by the Czech.

Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square)

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I love the feel of Old Town in Prague. Even though it is a hot spot for tourists, Old Town Square is a fun place to go. Here you can find St. Nicholas Church, as well as many restaurants, food stands, and souvenir shops. Off of Old Town Square is Pařížská Street, the most expensive street in Prague where you can buy high-end fashion and luxurious jewelry. However, if you don’t normally shop at Cartier or Dior, there are numerous cobblestone alleys where commoners can shop for less expensive trinkets.

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St. Nicholas Church

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Old Town is also home to Prague’s astronomical clock (the third oldest in the world and the oldest working astronomical clock in the world).  Every hour on the hour, tourists crowd around the clock as four figures representing vanity, greed, death, and pleasure (four things despised at the time of the clock’s creation) come to life to tell onlookers that they have no intention of leaving. During Christmastime, Old Town Square turns festive with a large tree and Christmas markets, but I’ll elaborate on that in another post. I never like to spend too much time in Old Town, because the tourist groups become overwhelming after a while, but you can’t go to Prague without visiting Old Town Square.

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IMG_0367 Prague’s Astronomical Clock

Be sure to also check out Josefov (Jewish Quarter) between Old Town Square and the Vltava River. You will find the Old Jewish Semetary (one of the most remarkable of its kind in all of Europe) and the six remaining synagogues that were saved from destruction.

Pension Brezina: My Home Away From Home

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The Brezina!

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Hotel Brezina, Legerova 1821/41 120 00 Praha 2, Czech Republic. If you are looking for a place to stay that is close to the center of Prague but far enough away from all the tourists, Pension Brezina is the place to be. Brezina is right down the street from one of the main transit hubs in Prague, I. P. Pavlova, and it is a ten minute walk to Václavské Náměstí (Wenceslas Square). There are also many restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and clubs located near Hotel Brezina. In fact, the location of Brezina is known as the blackout bubble, because you can get drunk to the point of blacking out and still make it home alive!

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My room!

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My room faced the patio, so it was nice and quiet at night. I could have used more counter space in the kitchen for food preparation, but the common room was still spacious and bright. We weren’t supposed to eat the breakfast for the hotel guests offered downstairs, but one time my roommate snuck in and took a croissant. She was very pleased with herself. Though I was there for long-term stay, the hotel offers great prices for short-term guests, as well. Legerova 41 will always have a special place in my heart, and Pension Brezina will not disappoint!

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Be Cool, Nerd

Prague is like the cool kids’ table in the cafeteria: you want so desperately to sit with them, but you have neither the social skills nor the cool-factor to fit-in. Before I go on, I want to preface this paragraph by saying that the Czech are a lovely and humble people and I grew very fond of them the four months I lived in Prague.  However, they are not very welcoming to foreigners, especially loud Americans. Unlike Americans, Czechs do not smile unless they have a reason, and they do not understand why Americans feel they have a right to happiness (see the United States Constitution). Czechs will not be outwardly friendly to people unless they know them intimately, so don’t feel rejected if Czechs are cold to you on the street or in shops. Once you befriend a Czech, they are delightful and great company, and when they laugh, they laugh sincerely.

In Prague, it is customary to remain nearly silent on public transportation. You can spot foreigners a mile away on the trams or metro, because they are the only ones talking or laughing. You will get glares from the Czech if you are too loud, and Americans are definitely guilty of this. Also, be aware of the elders on public transportation. It is respectful in Czech culture to give up your seat to elders on crowded public transportation. Having witnessed the embarrassing repercussions of ignoring this rule, I suggest you give up your seat immediately or you will have an angry and aggressive woman yelling at you in Czech.

Prague, Czech Republic

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Prague Castle

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On my flight to Prague, I sat next to a language professor who was on her way to Croatia. She kept offering me the complementary airplane snacks that she didn’t eat, as well as Lindt chocolates she had brought from home. I politely accepted every offer, and by the time we landed in Prague, I had three granola bars and half a dozen chocolates more than when I left New Jersey. And God forbid I take any form of transportation without someone making a scene, a French woman got into an expressive argument with the man sitting behind her who had apparently been messing with her chair. They didn’t get anything resolved, though; there was a language barrier. I did get to enjoy Monster’s University and The Great Gatsby, but I stopped watching Gatsby thirty minutes in because I kept crying.

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My first Czech beer!

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When I landed in Prague, I was excited and overwhelmed. Prague, as many have come to discover, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It is full of art and culture, as well as wonderful sights to see and explore. It has been used as a filming location for many movies such as Casino Royale, and the capital is also famous for it’s beautiful architecture and good (cheap!) beer. Prague’s small size makes it easy to walk, but it also has great public transportation system. The Vltava River that runs through the city adds to the picturesque view of Prague Castle, and the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square are must-sees in the city. However, once you are able to escape the tourist areas and experience Prague as a local, the city becomes even more magical.

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My months spent in Prague were exciting and unforgettable. I will share with you my favorite places, things to do, restaurants, night clubs, and advice for navigating and understanding the city and its people. Before you say “Ahoj!” to Prague, take a walk with me through the city’s streets.