We were excited to visit Prague, since it felt to us like it would be one of the more “exotic” cities we’ve visited since we’ve been here. Truth be told, the only reason we thought it exotic is because neither of us really knew a whole lot about the Czech Republic, except that it used to be named Czechoslovakia, it is the most easterly we’ve ever gone in Europe so far, and that the Czechs drink more beer per capita than anyone in the world.
Also, while most EU countries use the euro, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom join the Czech Republic in using their own homespun currency, which is the koruna, which sounds Hawaiian, but it’s clearly not because there is no documented evidence that any Czech has ever met any Hawaiian. Not that I’ve seen anyway.
The exchange rate for the Czech koruna is about .039 korunas to the euro, so when you turn 100 euros into korunas you end up with 2,566 korunas. Suddenly, we felt very rich!
We thought money might even fall from heaven for us, so we looked up to the sky hoping to see the korunas floating down toward our wallets, but alas, it was only rain. That and some rather scary greeters at the door of this residence.
After figuring out the math so we could get within 50 euros of knowing what everything cost, we discovered Prague was actually very affordable. Uber, our main mode of transport, was particularly inexpensive, with most car rides costing only a couple of euros, or 4 million korunas.
Just kiddin’. 2 euros is about 51 korunas.
Anyway, restaurant fare was reasonable, as well as the things we saw and purchased in grocery stores, etc. Suffice it to say, visiting Prague won’t break the bank like it does in London, Singapore, New York, Paris, or Sesimbra, Portugal. The latter is only because if you visit us, we pretend everything costs more so when we split the checks, so we actually make money on the dining experience.
Hey, 1.5 liters of bottled water costs 17 cents here, which used to seem damned cheap compared to that of the US, where marketing has become so sophisticated that they can even make water sound like the Elixir of the Gods. Just one more reason I love Portugal… they still regard water as just plain ol’ water. But now we’re used to the prices, so when I go into a store and see it for 18 cents instead of 17, I pitch a fit and scramble for coupons. Except Portugal doesn’t use coupons like the US does. But that’s okay, having senior moments means you forget what you were looking for long before you realize that what you were looking for doesn’t actually exist.
As an aside, it’s hard to make out the weird statue thing in the picture above, so to the right is the photo zoomed, cropped, and lightened in order to see it better. Seems like an odd way to greet people living there, or maybe it just creeps out would-be burglars, I dunno.
Anyway, Prague is statistically cheaper than any major city we’ve visited over here so far. It’s listed on one site as even cheaper than Lisbon. Prague comes in at 67th cheapest, while Lisbon is 78th. Zurich, Venice, New York, San Francisco, and Boston round out the top five most expensive cities to visit in the world. If you want to go cheap, head to Vietnam. Different sites give different results, and your own results may vary of course. Frankly, we know how to travel pretty cheaply, so even though Venice comes in at the second most expensive on that particular list, we missed most of that because we didn’t overnight in the city or take a 100 euro gondola ride.
The statue above is of a guy doing a Mary Poppins over the street. It’s a piece of art that serves the purpose of reminding you to look up while walking around Prague, because if there doesn’t happen to be any floating statues above you, there’s likely to be some amazing architecture instead.
Actually, the Mary Poppins Man didn’t even make this “Top Ten Strangest Statues in Prague” list. Out of that entire list, we only saw one of them in person (to be discussed later). Which makes me realize anytime we go into a new city now, we have to first Google “Top Ten Strangest Statues in (insert city name here). Which makes me wonder, what other strange things are we missing? At this rate, we’d probably overlook The Church of Elvis in Portland if we were tourists. We need to do more research on oddities the next time we go anywhere…
… like this gorilla made out of colored pencils. It’s the lead decor for a stationary store. Great. Now we have to Google “statues made out of pencils” everywhere we go.
Not content with making gorillas out of pencils, the Praguesters enjoy creating delightful artwork out of their food too. I’m sure it tastes a lot better than taking a bite out of a Van Gogh.
Here I’m tickling the chin of Louis de Funes, who is a famous French actor. But he was apparently so short he only got small roles. Ha ha! Maybe he’s there to show us how fleeting or regional fame can be, because I’m willing to bet no American reading this has ever heard of him, even though one of the films he was in was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1974. Of course, I personally have no idea who or what has ever won a Golden Globe. Until now. But it was the movie, not him. Which I don’t remember anymore. So I guess my comment is still correct. Wait, what was I talking about?
Anyway, I guess he’s famous in many countries including the Czech Republic and other countries in that area of Europe and even Russia, but he’s almost unknown in the English-speaking world. He’s dead now, so I don’t think he can improve his fame much beyond the above picture in my blog, which may double his current fame in America. This was in front of a candy store-slash-wax museum. Prague has no shortage of touristy places to visit, even if they have to use an obscure dead actor who was famous in one part of the world fifty years ago to promote their store.
They also have a famous piece of artwork of a bunch of sitting seagulls on the Vltava River, which is the river that runs through Prague. Oh. Carolyn just chimed in and said this isn’t artwork, these are real live birds. My bad. I think they’re waiting in line because, being birds and therefore stupid, believed a rumor that this is the line to get into the new Star Wars land in Disneyland. Stupid birds. We all know that line starts in Sacramento.
You don’t have to be well-read to visit Prague, but it pays to be, well, red. These exotic old cars trundle about Prague carrying shivering tourists, because even when it was close to freezing, they had no tops. Sheesh. We only go around topless in these big cities during the summer.
There is a mildly humorous story associated with this picture in front of a church. Unfortunately, we don’t have the funny photo to go with it, so you’ll have to settle for the story. As I stood up there to strike a pose, some people came out of the church and stood near me, pausing before going down the steps. Carolyn was trying to maneuver me into better position, so she was waving her hand and telling me to go this way and that and stop and whatnot. A gentleman standing in front of me thought she was telling him what to do, and lo and behold, he obeyed her commands, moving this way and that, and then dutifully standing still for the shot. I stood behind him chuckling, and even Carolyn didn’t realize at first that’s what was happening. Finally the man’s wife yanked him to the side with a laugh. After all that, we didn’t even get any pictures better than the above.
So we finish this first Prague Blog entry with a Door of the Day for Carolyn. But this was just a taste of what Prague had to offer. It is a truly magnificent city, perhaps mostly because it was pretty much the only major city in Europe that wasn’t extensively bombed during World War II, so the old great buildings still stand in all their original splendor.