We have been in Prague for over three days now and the one thing we can both say is we have learned so much in such a short time. We have eaten delicious Czech food, had our ups and downs with the Czech language, figured out the bus, metro, and tram systems, and seen many beautiful sights. It feels as though we have been on a mini city vacation, and we are both exhausted and ready to rest up on this chilly Sunday night in preparation for our course starting tomorrow.
Thus far, we have both really enjoyed most of the food that we have eaten here. When eating out, we are trying to eat only Czech food to get the true effect of this new culture. It is obvious that the main meal here is lunch, because we have gone into restaurants for dinner and have been the only people eating! The meals are so heavy and decadent that you really only need to eat one main meal a day. It is strange to see people smoking inside restaurants where it is allowed.
The first night, we were both starving after hours of travel, so we headed down to the only restaurant that is within walking distance from our TEFL house. It was called Klamovka. As we were soon to learn, restaurant patrons should pick whichever table they would like to sit at and make themselves at home. You do not need to wait to be seated by a hostess as you do in some US restaurants. We found a table to sit at and sat down. Our first real experience talking to a Czech person was quite interesting. After asking our waitress in Czech if she spoke English, she said, no not much and brought us the one English menu that they had in the entire restaurant. We were able to point at the food we wanted and figure it out. That night Jordan had roast beef ribs with corn on the cob.
The ribs were quite salty, but enjoyable. I had a pork chop with pan fried potatoes, mustard sauce, sautéed onions and bacon. The mustard sauce was delicious, and the potatoes were cooked to perfection. The pork was also quite well seasoned.
While wandering around on Friday, we grabbed some fruit from a small outdoor market in the old town. It had fresh cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and we paid by the kilo. It came with a tiny fork, and I found it really irresistible!
On Saturday, we had dinner at a restaurant near our school in Prague 1. During our walking tour, our guide told us that Svíčková is the only true Czech dish, and all other dishes that are considered Czech food are actually stolen from other countries. Hence, the first meal after our tour, I ordered Svíčková right away. It is sliced meat (the meat I had was roast beef), cream sauce, cranberry sauce, and whipped cream with bread and potato dumplings on the side. Oh, it was SO good!!! That was my favorite meal I have had so far.
Jordan’s meal, as you see on the top of the picture was three meat kebabs with bacon and onion with dumplings as well. Jordan says he gives it a 7.8 out of 10!!
Tonight we had food from the food stands in Old Town Square. I got Palačinky with ham and cheese, which is like a crepe that they make right in front on you on a hot griddle. Jordan got a sausage which is served just with a slice of bread over it, but the seasonings were great!
As we expected, thus far, the language has been our biggest obstacle. We have interacted with Czech speakers at restaurants, and stores. Sure, we have found a few people who can come right up to us and say “Hi?” as a question basically guessing that we are English speakers. We went to a post office within the Prague castle, and they could wait on us in English, and so could the young man working at the Vodafone cell phone store. Other than that, we have been interacting with solely Czech speakers (or at least, not English speakers).
One of our hardest Czech experiences was in the Tesco supermarket where our cashier didn’t speak any English and began trying to explain a loyalty program to us. We were required to go get stamps from the information desk to put into a pamphlet before we could buy the towels that we had selected. Thankfully, the man behind us spoke English, so he could help translate. They were adamant that we get the reduced price; they wouldn’t let us purchase the towels for their original price, nor just walk away with no towels.
I have found that my greatest downfall is in my listening skills. The best Czech language experiences that I have are when I speak in Czech and the person to whom I’m speaking responds in English. Once they start talking to me in Czech, I am totally lost.
The public transportation here is really extensive, popular, and timely. It seems like a ton of people ride the busses, metros, and trams. We have a monthly pass that we got through our school. It works for all three forms of transport, although you do not need to pull it out to ride. Someone may ask you to see your ticket at some point, but otherwise, you just need to have it in your pocket. Our course advisor said she is asked for her ticket about once per year.
We have seen some of the main sights of Prague already! Friday we went to Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) which has a lot of shops and restaurants and is kind of like Prague’s Time Square.
From there, we wandered onto the Charles Bridge to see the city lit up at night.
Saturday, we explored Old Town Square and took a walking tour through Old Town, New Town, and the Jewish Quarter. We took our tour with New Europe Tours and our tour guide was great. She gave us all of the little details that you usually want to know during a tour, but have to ask. For example, we learned all about the showing of the clock and what each of the pieces means. We also learned that one tower is smaller than the other side because they lost the building plans half way through the process.
Today we went to the Prague Castle and explored within it. There is a great view of the city near the main entry gates. We used our lonely planet book to navigate throughout the castle, and I highly recommend it because we were able to get some of the history behind the castle without having to pay for a tour. We saw the changing of the guard at noon which was pretty impressive (third picture), and the beautiful stained glass window is inside of the St Vitus Cathedral.
After the castle, we headed back to the old town square, a short 20 minute walk, which sent us down some famous steps in Prague. I recognized them from photos on Pintrest! We went up into the Old Town Hall tower with the astronomical clock on it and got a great 360 view of Prague. It was like standing up in the empire state building, except cooler because of all the red roofs instead of industrial skyscrapers.
Then we watched the clock’s hourly show, and after learning what everything meant, it was actually pretty cool!
We are excited for more adventures to come!! We start our TEFL course tomorrow and are really looking forward to it. Thanks for reading!!
Caitlin & Jordan