From the River Tyne to the heart of Europe
DH9’er on tour: Life in Prague through the eyes of a newcomer to the city
What on earth have I let myself in for? This was my initial thought arriving in Prague, the city was engulfed in fog and it had clearly being raining, it appeared I had brought the good weather from home. Obviously, with new experiences comes apprehension, this hit me like a shovel during my first days in Prague. Everyone gets feelings like this is some way or another even if they do not like to admit it, this is what I kept telling myself over and over. Slowly but surely I started to gather myself and find my feet here in Prague. In the beginning, getting lost was just another daily occurrence. Once you left the tourist strip that runs from Wenceslas square, through the Old Square and across the Charles Bridge it was easy to get lost among the buildings. This was no bad thing though as it gave me the chance to explore and unveil more the map.
Along with the four other English interns here with me, we explored Prague on foot in the first two weeks. This gave us a great overview of the layout of the city and so as time has passed it has become much easier to familiarise myself with the city. Initially when I stepped off the metro and got to ground level, I did not have a clue where I was (google maps came in handy!) but now it is almost as if I am on auto pilot. You do not even realise that you aren’t thinking about where you are going, you just go there automatically.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever walked around. The buildings are all breath-taking, looking up, you are blown away by the fine stonework and array of colours that bombard your eyes especially when the low winter sun touches them. No wonder tourists constantly bump into me, they can’t take their eyes off how beautiful the place looks. Turn almost any corner in Prague and you are going to be speechless by what you see. To anyone from Newcastle reading this, imagine Grey Street, only this is every street in Prague.
It took me a while to get used to what I was looking for in supermarkets here too. It is not like a home where you go in and know exactly where everything is and you are in and out in 10 minutes. The first time I went shopping it probably too me an hour to figure out exactly what I was buying. To my horror you cannot buy a proper block of cheese or a large pack of cooked chicken here, these are basic staples in England. I have definitely had to adapt my diet out here in Prague, once I am home there will certainly be a roast dinner on the cards. As for restaurants here in Prague, I was surprised by the amount of choice on offer. While you can get Czech national food in many bars and restaurants (which is very nice) there are also a lot of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants which are very popular as well as burger bars. The Czechs also know how to do pizza too, you can get big slices with all kinds of toppings for £1 or less, it is all fresh and you can see it being made in front of you. I have tried various Czech dishes which usually consist of very heavy dumplings, cabbage and meat, whether this be beef, pork, duck or chicken. They are all good options. I am not a fussy eater by any stretch of the imagination so I really am spoilt for choice in Prague.
Prague is like one big melting pot of nationalities, you rarely have a dull conversation because there are people from all over the world willing to talk to you and so you find yourself exchanging stories about different experiences you have had from country to country. One great example of this is on a night out. We recently held a party in our apartment before heading out to a nightclub. Crammed into our kitchen we had; English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Swedish. It is the perfect example of what to expect when you come to Prague. I was taken back by all of this and it really is just a pleasure to interact with so many different people and share these kinds of experiences together. Because Prague is very central in Europe it also means that people come and visit the city from the surrounding countries. I visited Dresden last weekend for the day, having so many other great cities so close to you when you are living in Prague is also brilliant as you can just hop on a bus and be in another country within two hours. In the weeks I have left in Prague I plan to visit more cities including Krakow, Salzburg, Munich and Nuremberg. These are all cities just a mere bus or train ride away from Prague.
I could not write this piece without also talking about my work as an intern here in Prague either. I have been very lucky to have been given a placement which I absolutely love. Being able to write articles on museums, culture, events and anything else we discuss at work really is an amazing thing. Before I came to Prague I can honestly say to you that I was miserable. I had very little in the way of drive, I was in a bad routine and could not find a career which interested me. This internship has finally given me a career which interests me and is something I shall pursue long after I have left Prague, it has instilled in me that drive and passion again and has given me the confidence to take on the next stage of my life after University. Prague has brought me back to life and I will be forever grateful for this.
After six weeks, I can honestly say I have no regrets on coming to Prague. The city and its people have opened their arms to make me feel very welcome, almost as if it is a home away from home. The initial feeling of being lost off in an unfamiliar city is not a permanent and soon disappears once you get stuck into city life. Visually, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been in, look up anywhere in the city and you will see stunning building in all kinds of styles and vibrant colours. It is nothing like any city I have seen in Britain. While the buildings are beautiful, it is the people that make Prague special, it is a melting pot of diversity seen though the nationalities you come across. From Czechs to Ukrainians, Austrians to French and who could forget all the Americans there is never a dull moment in Prague and someone always has a story to tell. I will be sad to pack my case and head back to England, but I’ll be back, mark my words I’ll be back.
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