If you close your eyes and try to imagine the quintessential European city, then your mind will probably come up with something like Prague.
Praha—as the locals call it—is a great town full of winding alleys, beautiful buildings, and fascinating history. This place felt different from the other Central and Eastern European cities my wife and I have been visiting over the past few weeks (more on that below). Prague is a bit more touristy than I would have liked, but at least it didn’t feel too overpriced or artificial.
Here are some of the highlights from Prague:
5 years of marriage
Our visit to Prague coincided with my wife and I celebrating 5 years of marriage. It’s been wonderful so far; I hope that my wife will continue to put up with my shit for many more years!
To celebrate, we decided to blow the rest of our credit card points on a “five-star” hotel called Hotel Paris.
Just a quick pro tip for if you’re thinking about a Europe trip: When a hotel claims to be five stars, it’s usually not (unless you stay at the Four Seasons). Hotel Paris was nice, but the cramped rooms and snooty service didn’t make it five stars. We still enjoyed it, but being the spoiled idiot that I am, I was expecting a bit more luxury.
Don’t worry babe, I’ll book us the Four Seasons for our 10 year.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Prague is its architecture. Many buildings in Prague were built in the Art Nouveau style. According to Wikipedia, Art Nouveau “was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants, but also in curved lines.”
Personally, I think the style is weird (in a good way). I can certainly understand why it is appealing. It definitely has a modern feel to it, even though this style was in vogue from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. I haven’t seen another European city that has adopted Art Nouveau as much as Prague, and the stylish Prague people seem to be very proud of this architectural heritage.
Fun fact about Grand Hotel Europa, which is the picture you see in this section: this is a very important building in Prague. This building was right where the Velvet Revolution took place. Here in 1989, Communist rule peacefully ended and a parliamentary republic was formed. It was an impressive, bloodless political transition.
So many Koreans
One of the great privileges of being Korean is that I can make fun of Koreans.
There were so many of them in Prague. Like an oddly high number of Koreans. Why is that? The answer was told to me by my lovely wife of five years.
In 2005, a very popular Korean drama was released in Asia called Lovers in Prague. It was a huge hit, winning many awards. And most of it was filmed and set right in Prague. This created a sustained rush of Korean tourists who wanted to see Prague for themselves.
The Czech government must be laughing their way to the bank. Given the amount of Korean tourists I saw, I’m sure that my mother country has driven billions in tourist dollars to this city in the past decade.
I’m ashamed to admit that my wife and I did try the Korean food in Prague while we were here (we needed our kimchi fix). Remarkably, it’s pretty good. Thanks Korean tourism!
Prague was great, but we’re not quite done with Eastern Europe yet. Next stop: Krakow, Poland