Copenhagen 2012: Disney and Creepy Collide in Prague

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Prague. Before I embarked on my own little weekend odyssey, I heard that this Czech capital was cheap, accessible and friendly.
 
But despite all I’d read and heard, I was burdened in the days before I took off with a sense of impending shadiness. I’ve never been to Eastern Europe, and even though I’ve never seen Hostel, I felt like something creepy was waiting on the horizon.
 
As usual, I freaked out about nothing. My group of three girls stayed in a super new, super clean hostel that was both nicer and cheaper than any I’d bunked at before. The drinks were cheap too — I’m talking a dollar for beer, which beats my college town by miles.
 
After visiting larger cities, walking came as something of a relief. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say we strolled. Strolled over the Charles Bridge. Strolled through Prague Castle. Strolled around Old Town. Really, if you haven’t taken a European stroll, just go ahead and put it on your bucket list right now.
 
And of course, on our strolls, we ran into no less than 20 other people that someone in our group knew, also studying abroad and also visiting Prague’s Disney-like sites.
 
That’s probably the best way to describe Prague’s sites: a little like Disneyland. Of course there are real people and real history that shouldn’t be trivialized.  
 
But aesthetically, portions of it definitely had that Disney feel. I couldn’t believe how completely beautiful everything was. Colorful buildings, impressive architecture and these crazy cool skylines were all mashed up next to each other.
 
It’s hard to believe spots like that still exist, but at least in the tourist districts we visited, Prague had them to spare.
 
So for those of you I’ve now convinced to visit, I should probably mention that I didn’t find it to be exceptionally cheap for food or shopping. Meals ran me a standard 7-10 USD, and we carried a calculator around with us because the exchange rate is pretty confusing.
 
Prague is also one of those cities with a bevy of touristy food places. You can find good stops as well, but even though I try to make it a personal rule to avoid places with pictures of food and an English menu, I was forced to break that rule most of the time.
 
Also, far as I could tell Czech language bears absolutely no relation to English. It’s definitely not one of the romance languages we’re used to learning in American schools, so if you’re staying for more than a couple days a phrase book might come in handy.
 
And finally, when you go, don’t be confused by the vendor selling cat-related memorabilia, the scary streetcars that pass dubiously close to the sidewalks or the constant presence of extremely creepy puppets. Just go with it. Like it or not, that’s Prague, and the Disney feeling just wouldn’t be the same without a little creepy cartoonage and some cheesy souvenirs.
 
Photo: at http://www.voyages-photos.fr/prague/eprague1.htm

Claire Wiseman

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