Giving Prague a Second Chance

Before I flew to Europe in the dead of winter, I was kind of regretting my decision to book a flight somewhere just as cold as Canada – why didn’t I decide to go to Nicaragua or Cuba or even Mexico?

It could have been because I wanted to see a winter wonderland, or because I enjoy travelling places when they are less packed with tourists, or because flights were cheap, but if we are being totally honest it is because I was meeting a boy in Europe.

Regardless, I DID more or less pick the cities we were going to, and I WAS excited about seeing them with fewer tourists, and they ARE better in winter wonderland mode. So, whatever. Let’s pretend it had nothing to do with the boy. We spent a magical and very budget-friendly 9 days travelling around three countries in Eastern Europe – here’s what we did in our first stop, Prague!

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Prague is one of my grandest misadventures. One of my first solo trips, at 18, saw absolutely EVERYTHING go wrong (see this post), but suffice it to say I have never been so ill. I still looked back at Prague with fond memories, but it also kind of felt like a fever dream, so I’ve been wanting to go back for 3 years. I finally made it!

Revisiting any city is always slightly jarring: some things are exactly as you remember them, some are totally different. I remembered the river in Prague being much wider, and the hills much taller, but the buildings were just as beautiful.

Last time my main activity in Prague was to climb every tower in sight (great idea while ill?), but this time we did a lot more wandering. From a first-day meander from the Old Town Square to the Jewish Quarter to the Charles Bridge to the Castle, we packed everything in without spending a dime. With the sunniest weather of our trip, I was complaining that I should have packed my lighter winter jacket – in the other cities I would be very glad I hadn’t!

The Old Town Square

Vineyard view from Prague Castle

Way more into taking photos than me

Found the best view of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle!

The next day, it was day trip time. We wanted to see the Bone Church in Kutna Hora. I had visions of a massive cathedral, 100% constructed from bones, and the reality was a bit of a letdown – I probably should have googled it first. Anyway, it was super easy to do independently: we just walked to the main train station and took an hour train ride to Kutna Hora, walked to the Bone Church and then headed into town for lunch.

We went to a fairly touristy place recommended by our hostel, but it was really yummy. I sometimes struggle in Eastern Europe to eat vegetarian while also trying the local cuisine – this place had a whole section for me to choose from! Yay. I got “Dill Sauce with Hard-Boiled Egg and Vegetable Dumplings” and yuuuum.

Now, for maybe the best part of Prague – the dog bar. We asked for some nightlife suggestions in our hostel and headed out to a place described as the “Dog Bar”. It’s actually called Vzorkovna, but dog bar is easier to pronounce. Anyway, it’s an underground and very maze-like nightclub with so much to see and so many different sections.

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Source: http://pragueoffthemap.com/drinks/vzorkovna.html

THERE IS ALSO A DOG THAT LIVES THERE. At one point Alex went to the bathroom and left me sitting, and my anxious little self was freaking out about sitting alone in a bar. And the dog came over to me and snuggled me!!!! I wish that happened everywhere. I don’t have a picture of the dog, nor do I know his name, but nevertheless we are now best friends.

Instead of a photo of the dog, you get a photo of a cemetery

The last thing I want to say about Prague is how good our hostel was. Hostel One Prague is in a different area than I’d usually choose to stay in, about a 15 min walk from the Old Town Square, but it felt much more local. Our double room was amazing, practically a suite, with a semi-functioning kitchen, a separate bedroom area, a balcony and a private bathroom. The hostel’s kitchen is also fully stocked and so lively. The staff are from all over and really actually care about their jobs, unlike a lot of hostels. They even cook free dinner every night!! The bar in the basement of the hostel seems really cool as well, we just popped down quickly for one drink.

Basically, stay here. It’s great. And go to Prague, maybe in the winter. It’s also great.

My 12 Favourite Hostels in Europe

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PREIKESTOLEN FJELLSTUE: NORWAY

I’m writing about the Pulpit Rock hike in Norway again?! Seriously Bethany, shut up about it already.

Anyway, in my post all about the hike I talked a little bit about where I stayed, but it’s just amazing. Sitting in the lounge, watching the sun set (which didn’t happen until around 10:30PM) and journalling about my delightful hike was worth the absurdly overpriced food.

You could use the word run-down to describe the youth hostel portion of the facility, but I prefer to use the words rustic and charming.

YOHO INTERNATIONAL YOUTH HOSTEL: SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

They play the Sound of Music every night. In Salzburg.

Enough said.

Read a little more about Salzburg here

HOSTEL ANDROMEDA: GHENT, BELGIUM

I stayed at this hostel on what is objectively the worst trip of my life – I got norovirus, I had the worst sore throat of all time, I hit my head, I broke my phone and I hurt my back. However, the trip still has so many great memories, and one of the coolest places I stayed was in Ghent, Belgium – my favourite city in Belgium!

When I saw that sleeping on a houseboat was an option on Hostelworld, I couldn’t pass it up. It was so cool to actually stay on one of the canals, and Hostel Andromeda has so many ecological initiatives that make it even better. I’ll admit the place was kind of creepy when I stayed there because it was the middle of off-season, but at least I got a whole dorm to myself! 10/10 for experience.

Read more about Ghent here

MOSAIC HOUSE: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Another highlight from the trip of mishaps. Honestly, I spent most of my time in this hostel’s bathroom (thanks norovirus) but let me tell you, it was the nicest hostel bathroom I’ve ever seen. Mosaic House is a dirt cheap hostel, but with the design savvy of a boutique hotel and a really nice bar that I didn’t get to experience. The staff here were so great – my mom emailed them to ask if they could see whether I was alive, and one of them very kindly did so – and I’d love to go back here and actually enjoy the facilities.

The entirety of the Charles Bridge at your feet

Read more about Prague here and here

PERUGIA FARMHOUSE: PERUGIA, ITALY

I’m currently writing an entire post about Perugia, which involves such dramas as being robbed. Most of it centres around the hostel I stayed at, which had the most amazing community feel and farm animals. The word paradise has never been so applicable, and every time I’m talking to someone who is travelling to Italy, I urge them to go to Perugia with the sole purpose of staying at this hostel.

Read more about Perugia here

VILLA FRANCESCATTI: VERONA, ITALY

Verona was a completely unexpected  highlight of my summer in Italy. I went to see an outdoor opera (it was amazing) but was blown away by everything else that I discovered. I even fell in love with all of the Romeo and Juliet-themed attractions. One of the best parts, though, is the fact that I got to stay in a sixteenth century villa.

The gardens are beautiful and authentic and the villa itself feels magical, so I spent most of my time in the hostel exploring and muttering to myself in Italian about how pretty it was, and probably seeming crazy to my fellow guests.

HOSTELSUN B&B: BRUNICO, ITALY

I went to this place because I saw a lake, Lago di Braies on Instagram, and knew I had to go. An au pair friend went before me and recommended this hostel for the friendly and outgoing owner, who had dogs. Obviously I booked it immediately.

I had been sweltering hot for my entire time in Italy, and getting into the mountains was the greatest relief I’ve ever felt. It was so perfect and quiet here and I sat on my private balcony drinking Hugo, my favourite Italian alcohol and looking out at the view. So peaceful, and that wasn’t even the best part – that was Lago di Braies! Highly recommend making your way up to the very unexplored Italian Dolomites.

LAKE COMO HOSTEL: MENAGGIO, ITALY

I booked this hostel because it was basically my only option. It was way above and  beyond what I expected! In my post about Lake Como I described what an incredible and luxurious time I had in this place. The view was more than I could ask for and everything about my weekend here was just impeccable. If you want to feel rich but still stay in a cheap hostel, look no further.

Read more about Lake Como here

CHEERS HOSTEL: ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Me and my sister fell in love with this place immediately and talk about it constantly. Obviously, the highlight is the fact that the sweetest golden retriever ever lives there – his name is Zaman and he has his own Instagram account (@cheerszaman). But the terrace with a view of the Blue Mosque, the wonderfully kind staff whose names I still remember (a rarity considering how many hostels I’ve stayed in), and the unbelievably central location are what really took this place over the top. We could have stayed for weeks!

Read more about Istanbul and this hostel here

GOODMORNING HOSTEL: LISBON, PORTUGAL

When my friend Erika and I got to Lisbon, we were tired. So to be honest, not much sightseeing happened here. We did a hop-on hop-off bus tour (#tourists), went out to the beach at Cascais, and walked around a little bit, but otherwise…a lot of lounging occurred. We were overjoyed to learn that the hostel had an extraordinarily comfortable movie room with tons of DVDs to choose from – we watched Juno one night and it was lovely to take a break.

The breakfast is what stands out most in my mind – I ate Nutella waffles every morning and we had spirited discussions about politics and life and travel with the staff and fellow guests.

KISMET DAO HOSTEL: BRASOV, ROMANIA

As another illustration that yes, I do have a problem, this hostel is on here because I liked the dog that lived here. Her name was Zara and we spent a lovely morning hiking up Mount Tampa. By spent a lovely morning I mean I was dragged up the mountain by a dog who didn’t speak my language or care to listen to me. But anyway, it made me feel very local to walk my dog up a mountain, enjoying the first sunshine in days.

Also, at this hostel you get a free beer every night – more if you walk the dog. The greatest hostel feature I’ve ever encountered.

Read more about Brasov here

PURA VIDA SKY BAR & HOSTEL: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

I feel like a lot of these hostels are on here because of one thing, while the rest of the facilities were just adequate. Note to self: if I ever open a hostel, it needs some  sort of fancy thing that people will remember and talk about. At Pura Vida, it was the Sky Bar – a rooftop bar with one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. I don’t have any pictures, because I’m an idiot, but here is one from the hostel website.

They had killer mojitos and the Australian girl from my dorm room who I forced to be my friend was great company. A rooftop terrace always seems to make a place stick in my mind.

Read more about Bucharest here

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The Ten Places I Most Want to Live

Sometimes I visit a city and absolutely adore it, but would never want to live there. Examples that come to mind are Goreme in Cappadocia (too small and remote), Dar es Salaam (too bustling, although I’d probably give it a shot), and Florence (too touristy for its size). On the other hand, there are the places that I visit, completely fall in love with, and immediately develop a burning desire to settle down and stay a while. There are so many places I haven’t been, and I bet there are hundreds of other cities that would give me this feeling, but so far here are the places topping my list for a sojourn. Realistic or not, these places are constantly in my dreams and wishes! Without further ado, here is an excessively long article detailing the ten places I most want to live.

BUDAPEST

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When I wrote about Budapest previously, I described my total lack of expectations and how quickly me and my sister realized that this was a special place. We still talk about Budapest an annoying amount, sometimes just texting each other ‘ugh I miss Budapest’ and spending a few minutes reminiscing. A girl who went to my high school also interned there for a summer, and I stalked her Instagram excessively to see her incredible photos of Budapest living. The cost of living is unbelievably cheap, the history and sights are amazing, and compared to some other places on this list its hardly touristy at all. If I ever settle in Europe, it just might be here!

VIENNA

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The instant I walked outside in Vienna I decided it was the most livable place I’d ever been. I still don’t really know what made me think this – maybe it’s just the combination of everything that makes Vienna great. It’s a little more modern than places like Budapest or Prague, but almost just as cheap. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen, with my favourite architectural cities sprinkled everywhere. There’s also amazing access to the outdoors (by that I mean vineyards) when you’re basically still in the city. There are so many cultural events and a famous orchestra to indulge in, it’s got amazing transport connections, and I speak a little bit of German. It’d be much easier to learn and communicate in German than it would in something like Hungarian or Czech!!

PARIS

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So typical. Every time I think about living in Paris, I imagine myself sipping a cappuccino in a cafe while writing a book, speaking French to handsome waiters and taking evening strolls along  the Seine. I know that Parisian life is less romantic than we all make it out to be, but it’s undeniably more romantic than a lot of places. I wouldn’t want to be in Paris long-term because it has its issues too, but I think for anything under a year I would love pretending to be a Parisian. And maybe I could finally become 100% fluent in French! Honestly I don’t even feel the need to tell you the other reasons I want to live in Paris because who doesn’t have the same dream?

SHANGHAI

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Ah, Shanghai. My solo trip to China was full of firsts so I look back on the whole thing as an amazing memory and experience in my life. Shanghai is my fondest memory, though – despite the rain and my total exhaustion while I was there. Beijing was too smoggy, Datong too….everything, Xian too touristy, but Shanghai was just perfect. I obviously love big cities, and this is one of the biggest, but it’s so easy to get that small town feel in areas like the French Concession. There’s access to every amenity you could want, but you also get the feeling of being somewhere so exotic and cool. It’s VERY high up my list to learn Mandarin, and what better place? The airport can get you anywhere, the public transit system is practically flawless, the food is one of my favorite cuisines, and I really just want to walk along the Bund and see that skyline again.

BRISBANE

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This one is kind of cheating because I have already lived there. To be fair, I was 3. I have always felt a connection to Brisbane despite my foggy memories of the city; my desire to go back and revisit my childhood stomping grounds has only gotten stronger as I’ve understood more about travel. A working holiday visa for Australia is definitely on the cards for me; it’s a place full of places for me to see again and places for me to visit anew: Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide, Perth…the list goes on. Now it would be great if flights to Australia would stop costing like $6000. (Just kidding, you can find way better deals than that. Promise!)

BUCHAREST

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I literally stayed in Bucharest for a night solely because I had a flight out of the city the next day. I did absolutely zero research, had seen absolutely no pictures, and basically had no idea what I was getting myself into. I arrived at my randomly chosen hostel, befriended an Australian girl, went up to the rooftop bar and basically had a heart attack because it was so beautiful. On some streets, I could have sworn I was in Paris. Bucharest hosts a very unusual combination of rundown, post-Communism buildings and absolutely architecturally stunning buildings. Walking around was a treat, and the nightlife was some of the best I’ve ever seen. The area I stayed in was buzzing and I could have stayed a week. I also knew absolutely nothing about Romanian history, and my free walking tour (with a very cute guide, which is always nice) was very illuminating and really taught me a lot about the hardships this country has gone through. Our guide was probably in his 20’s, and he still had stories to share about not having electricity and free access to media – absolutely unbelievable. It’s cheap, it’s got a language I could learn (Romanian is very similar to Italian!), it’s historical and it’s beautiful. It’s got it all.

NEW YORK CITY

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And yet another very typical response. I’ve been to New York four times now, and each time I remember why I love it so much. The hustle and bustle of this city makes you feel like anything is possible and it’s got the same reasoning behind it as Paris – it’s just so easy to imagine myself living that stereotypical 20-something life here, albeit with much less money than anyone I’ve wanted to emulate on Gossip Girl or Sex and the City. Even if it’s just for a month, I’d love to see what New York living is really like – I don’t think I could afford any longer than a month!!

TRIESTE

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This is also cheating. However, I only lived in Trieste for about a month and a half, and I’d like to experience actually living in my own apartment rather than feeling constantly uncomfortable in my au pair house and dreading the next day of work. Side note, I can’t believe I still haven’t written about au pairing! I’ve just added it to my to do list. My friend Pam, who blogs in Italian and English, lives in a gorgeous apartment in downtown Trieste and her life is basically what I would want to do next time. But about Trieste itself – what a shock this city was to me. When my au pair family said they were moving there I googled the location, thought, “Oh! Near Slovenia and Croatia! Ok cool!”, said yes, and then proceeded to move there. Trieste deftly combines Italian, Slovenian and Croatian influences into one melting pot of incredible coffee, a gorgeous main square, and the nicest people in Italy. This is where I learned Italian and the base I used to explore Venice, Verona, Ljubljana and more. Best of all – there’s only ever a fraction of the tourists that crowd the rest of Italy!

PRAGUE

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I have just noticed an interesting trend…four of these destinations (Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest are in Eastern Europe, or maybe Central depending on where you draw the line. I’d also consider Trieste pretty Eastern European. I had no idea I had even been to that many places in Central/Eastern Europe, much less that I wanted to live there!! Anyway, so Prague. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the numerous disasters that befell me on my January 2015 trip to Prague. It still shocks me that I’m able to look back on Prague so fondly, considering that I felt like I was going to die, but I guess that really says something about the city. Honestly, my main reason for wanting to live in Prague is pretty stupid. There’s the cheap cost of living, great transit, same good connections as Vienna, beautiful architecture….but what I’m really interested in is the fact that it’s a winter wonderland. I may complain about winter every single day that I’m cold, but as a Canadian I’ll take shivering in my parka over sweating in my shorts any day. It sadly didn’t snow when I was in Prague, but it was still magical, and I’d love to spend the winter revelling in the magical feeling of Prague in winter. (Told you it was dumb).

ZANZIBAR

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Ah, Zanzibar. I spent 2 days in Stone Town and 3 days in Kendwa at the end of my recent trip to Tanzania. When I was little, I thought that Zanzibar was a made-up place because the name was so exotic and it sounded so cool (maybe also because I was stupid). However, Zanzibar is absolutely real and absolutely perfect. Kendwa was legitimately paradise. There are not enough positive words in the English language to describe how perfect the water is. I swam, lay on the beach, went to a full moon party, tried scuba diving, watched sunsets, and basically died over how great life was. I am too high-strung to live on an island paradise for long, but I can’t imagine anything better than settling down on Zanzibar (maybe even in Kendwa?) for a few months. I would get so tan and so happy. To quote my Instagram caption from the following photo, “Messy hair, messy heart, messy life, but it’s okay cause I’m in paradise.” I can’t think of anything that better sums up how I felt on this incredible island with so much culture to offer alongside its beauty.

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Must Sees in Prague

Prague is an enchanting city straight out of a fairytale – just walking around in awe of the architecture could keep you occupied for days, but there are world-class sights and restaurants to be checked out! Read on for my take on the top 8 must sees in Prague.

1. Prague Castle

You can see Prague Castle from basically everywhere in the city, so it’s not hard to find. Prague Castle wasn’t at all what I was expecting as more of a castle complex than an actual princess castle, but it’s absolutely worth a morning (or full day) of exploration. I found out belatedly that you can explore the grounds for free, so I would recommend forgoing the steep ticket price as the interiors of most buildings are not that impressive! Make sure to go inside (the free part) of St. Vitus’ Cathedral and if you’re there in summer, the view from the Garden on the Ramparts is supposed to be spectacular.

My first real view of Prague was certainly incredible.

My first real view of Prague was certainly incredible.

Prague Castle is high up on a hill, so there are SO many amazing views to be had!

Prague Castle is high up on a hill, so there are SO many amazing views to be had!

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2. Petrin Tower

I already rounded up all of the towers that I climbed in Prague, but Petrin Tower was absolutely a must-do. Its vantage point on the top of Petrin Hill is unbeatable! Check out this post for more pictures and details.

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3. Charles Bridge

How can you visit Prague without walking across the Charles Bridge? I walked across the bridge at least 5 times, watching performers and artists and smiling giddily at the sweeping views of the entire city. I would have liked to make it here at sunrise – next time!

You should check out the towers on either side as well!

You should check out the towers on either side as well!

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4. Old Town Square

Basically every guide to Prague recommends watching the Astronomical Clock “show” in the Old Town Square, so  you kind of have to do it to say you’ve done it. I was unbelievably underwhelmed, but if I hadn’t watched it I would have wished I had – take three minutes and check it off the list!

The Old Town Square itself is stunning. I went at night and in the day and there was an amazing band playing in the centre. I felt like I was in a movie! The architecture is gorgeous and the atmosphere is buzzing.
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5. Dancing House

I walked to the Dancing House, took 1 picture and walked away. I also took it from the wrong corner of the intersection….this was the point in the trip where I felt like I was going to die and just couldn’t deal with being a good traveller anymore. Take some time to look at the building and admire the views of the river across the street!

I tried.

I tried.

6. Jewish Quarter

I planned to visit the Jewish Quarter on my second day, but I ended up throwing up for 8 hours. I definitely think the Jewish Quarter would have been more fun. I wish I could offer advice, but everyone says it’s awesome!

7. Hit up a classical concert

I actually bought a ticket to a concert the night I got sick, but quite evidently could not make it there. I was so disoriented and weak I don’t even remember what concert it was. I recommend heading to the Tourist Office on the Mala Strana end of Charles Bridge and checking out the concert flyers there to see what’s available. Alternatively, check websites to see where you can get tickets for cheaper concerts!

8. Lehka Hlava

One of my favourite things about travel is that it forces me to be less of a picky eater. Since I started travelling in earnest I’ve tried so many new things and restaurants that I would have turned up my nose at before – Lehka Hlava being my favourite of the bunch! This is an awesome vegetarian/vegan place close to the Stare Mesto end of Charles Bridge. I got cucumber pasta with sundried tomato pesto and admired the atmosphere and the Czech chatter as I got pitying looks from the wait staff! I can’t believe how cheap their food was – I went twice and didn’t pay more than 10 dollars.
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A Guide to Towers in Prague

I think I’ve said it a million times by now, but there’s nothing like the view over top of a European city. Prague is famous for its red roofs and my biggest priority for my 3 days in the city was to climb as many towers as I could. When I entered my first tower of the trip, the Czech attendant enthusiastically spoke French to me once he learned I was from Canada – it’s so cool to think that we were communicating in each of our second languages. He explained that I could either pay individually for each tower I wanted to climb or pay for a tower pass that gained me admission to 7: after some quick math to make sure it was worth it I purchased a student tower pass. I literally can’t find anything online about this pass, which explains why I had no idea it was an option! There’s very clear signage in several languages inside every tower, though, so just ask for whatever is the best deal for your plans. I visited every tower on my pass, so here’s a guide to towers in Prague!

Mala Strana Bridge Tower

Walking across the Charles Bridge is pretty much on everyone’s must-do list in Prague: it’s truly iconic. I’ve heard it’s crazy crowded in the summer, but as you can see it was relatively empty in January! This was the first tower I climbed, and I seriously took a ridiculous number of pictures….I think I have enough shots of Prague views to last me a lifetime (or at least until my next visit). One side of this tower has the Charles Bridge and the other has the Prague Castle. What more could you want?

The entirety of the Charles Bridge at your feet

The entirety of the Charles Bridge at your feet

Prague Castle stands out from almost any vantage point in the city

Prague Castle stands out from almost any vantage point in the city

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I took this picture because I just really want that balcony....can you imagine just bringing your morning coffee up to a rooftop in the heart of Prague??

I took this picture because I just really want that balcony….can you imagine just bringing your morning coffee up to a rooftop in the heart of Prague??

St. Nicholas’ Church Bell Tower

This one is just a short hop from the Mala Strana side of the Charles Bridge, so I walked over next. It has similar views but also provides a cool shot of the “New Town Square”. This was the site of me bashing my head into the ceiling – such fun. I would probably skip this one in favour of the Mala Strana Bridge unless you have it included on a pass – if you do, why not go up quickly!
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Petrin Tower

Now this is an absolute must-do for any visit to Prague. Petrin Tower is the Eiffel Tower look-alike on the big green hill (Petrin Hill) and I could have spent hours here. I recommend taking the funicular from Mala Strana up to the top of the hill – although if you’re more in shape than I am, the walk could be nice in warm weather. In any case, I am a child who finds funiculars endlessly amusing. Once you reach the top, just follow the view of the Eiffel Tower and you’ll be there in a jiffy!

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The walk up this tower was seriously challenging, made worse by the fact that I couldn’t stop coughing and felt like crap. Halfway up, I was feeling very bitter about my decision to make the climb, but believe me – the view was so worth it. Just look!

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My pass also included admission to the Mirror Maze next door, which was possibly the lamest thing I’ve ever done. It was basically just a pathway with mirrors on the walls. Most of them weren’t even funhouse mirrors…I spent maybe 3 minutes in there wondering why it was supposed to be cool.

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Stare Mesto Bridge Tower

If you’re going to go up the New Town Bridge Tower, why not check out the other side! More incredible views to be had here, especially looking toward Mala Strana

The approach to the tower

The approach to the tower

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 TV Tower

My second morning in Prague, I felt even worse but was still determined to keep checking sights off my list. I took the metro over to the ugliest building in Prague, the TV Tower, which was super out of the way, kind of expensive and not included on my ticket. The cashier told me one section of the viewing deck was closed for an event, but I’d get a discount, so I took her up on it. When I got up, there was actually only one section open – classic miscommunication! I only spent about ten minutes up there as my only views weren’t that interesting. It’s also hard to get good pictures through the glass!

See the crawling babies? So creepy.

See the crawling babies? So creepy.


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Powder Gate

By this point in the trip, I was barely functioning but I needed to make it to the last place on my list. When I was actually at the top of the Powder Gate, I was not super aware of what was happening, but looking back at the pictures is absolutely incredible! This one is pretty close to the Old Town Square, and as you can see has some stunning views.

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When Travelling Goes Totally Wrong

I knew my Europe trip this January had been a bit rough when it ended with me walking into airport arrivals and bursting into tears. Almost everything that could have gone wrong did, which is why everyone who asked about my trip got a very inconclusive answer…”oh, it was great, Belgium and Prague are beautiful, but I was really sick!” Here’s my take on when travelling goes totally wrong:

Cancelled Flight

Everything seemed fine when I arrived at the Halifax Airport, and it was fine until we got on the plane and sat there for half an hour. Then they told us we had to wait for some sort of mechanical check, and after endless waiting for that we were told to get off the plane…sending us back to the gate. We stood there for a while, as I started getting nervous that I was going to miss my connection in Philly. Rereading my travel journal, I seem very positive at the beginning, and then it quickly turns into trying to figure out my options. Luckily, the airline just rebooked me for the next day and I was given a free night in the nicest hotel at the Halifax airport! I did miss getting a day in Brussels, but all my pre-bought train tickets still worked – so no real loss. I also got an upgrade to first class for the short flight to Philly!

Worst Sore Throat Ever

I spent a few hours working on the biggest iMac I’d ever seen in the hotel lobby, then settled in to the massive bed to watch a few hours of What Not to Wear – living the dream. However, I quickly realized my throat was starting to hurt..I brushed it off thinking that it would be fine soon. Little did I know that it would quickly become the worst sore throat I’d ever had, making it so my eyes watered in pain every time I tried to talk. I spent the whole trip walking around cringing every time I swallowed, avoiding speaking and feeling bad for myself.

See how dead I look? I felt worse.

See how dead I look? I felt worse.

Broken Phone

About 12 hours into my trip, my phone started turning on and off and on and off over again, before turning off basically forever. I got a few minutes of use out of it every now and then, but it was pretty much down and out. For me, the biggest problem was not being able to Instagram (my life is so hard) and not being able to access my Lonely Planet PDF I’d downloaded, but my parents were NOT impressed that I was hardly ever in touch. Luckily, European hostels seem to mostly have computers for guests to use so I could let them know I hadn’t died yet.

My phone not working also made me extremely nervous when I had to wake up at a certain time to catch a flight…I spent the night before my flight to Prague running upstairs to check the time every 20 minutes. So restful!

Norovirus

Ah, the memories. Upon arrival in Prague, I had one perfectly blissful day exploring the city and enjoying the sunshine. The next day I woke up feeling worse but still went out to explore, even buying a concert ticket for that night. I went back to the hostel for a lunch time nap and started feeling slightly nauseous – 5 seconds after the first signs, I was the sickest I’ve ever been in my hostel dorm’s bathroom. I managed to message my mom that something was very wrong, and then spent the next 8 hours alternating between throwing up and shaking feverishly in my bed, completely out of touch. Sorry mom – I guarantee I felt worse than you! I’m just glad I was staying in such a nice hostel (Mosaic House) with such nice bathrooms.

I thought it might have been food poisoning, but my mom suggested norovirus and I would agree – apparently you can get it from basically anything, so I have no idea what the cause was!

Hitting My Head

On my glorious day in Prague, the only thing that marred the experience was rather stupid of me. I climbed about 7 towers that day, and on one of them I smashed my head SO hard into the concrete ceiling. Apparently, the sign saying to watch your head and the yellow caution tape weren’t enough for me…..I saw stars for a long time and had to hold back tears because of all the other tourists! I’m just glad I didn’t get a concussion…now that would be a story.

Hurting My Back

After leaving Prague, I was just excited to get home. Normally the last thing I would want to do is leave Europe, but after all of the above I was exhausted, weak, and had lost at least 5 pounds – not a good thing. I made it through my flight to Philadelphia thanks to a lovely Belgian woman next to me who fed me cake and asked if I was okay. In the Philly airport, however, I turned around to see something and felt something snap in my back. I spent the next 3 hours of my layover and the 2.5 hours of my flight holding back tears (which seems to be a common theme) and trying not to move. Waiting to board with my backpack on my back was excruciating, and the gate attendants probably thought something was seriously wrong from the expression on my face. (Hm….they should have put me in first class!)

When I got through customs, I walked as quickly as possible (not very fast with my back) to my parents and burst into tears. They were mad at me for not getting in touch all day, which I had TRIED TO DO. Luckily my mother was able to put aside her annoyance to comfort me for a bit, and I had never been happier to get back to my house.

Have you ever been on a trip where everything seems to go wrong? Have you gotten sick while travelling?