I’ve lived in Newfoundland for 20 years now, and attending The Gathering Festival in Burlington, NL last weekend...
WHERE TO STAY
CHARLES BRIDGE ECONOMIC HOSTEL
I LOVED this hostel. This is a quiet hostel. There’s no bar downstairs and I barely saw my dorm mates, let alone other people staying here, but it was exactly what I needed after a couple of ‘happening’ hostels. I had a regular bed, so I revelled in the fact that I could easily get to the washroom in the middle of the night without having to climb up and down a ladder. I also had an entire dorm to myself my first night there.
The only downfall of this hostel is that it’s difficult to find. The hostel doubles as a Tourist Info Centre and the lobby is located down a long hallway that doubles as an art gallery of sorts. But once you get into the lobby, you are treated by the nicest people who offer you free beer (!!), introduce you to the resident cat (named Segway), and help carry your luggage up to your dorm. The service here was unbelievable, seeing I only spent $30 a night to stay there.
Other key points:
- offers a free walking tour
- free beer on arrival
- hostel doubles as tourist info centre – super helpful for newbies
- right next to a great grocery store
- pretty much on top of Charles Bridge
- did I mention the free beer?!
*I was so busy drinking beer and sightseeing that I forgot to take photos of my room/other hostel amenities, hence the borrowed photos.
WHAT TO DO & SEE
1. WALK ALONG CHARLES BRIDGE
Charles Bridge was my first stop. I happened to arrive in Prague on a very warm, sunny day, so the bridge was packed with tourists. In a city known for classical music, even the buskers were top notch. Stroll leisurely up and down the bridge and rub a few statues as you go along — it brings good luck.
2. GO ON A BEER TOUR!
Prague Beer Tours offers a Daily Beer & Breweries tour and you have to go. This was the first beer tour I joined on my trip and it was so much fun. We had a small group with us and we visited four microbreweries throughout the night. The cost of the tour is 600CK and you get at least one free beer at each stop. I got to try Oldgott Barique, Pražský most světlé 12°, Richter Pražský Hefe 12.8° and Gambrinus Excelent throughout the night. Boy do Czech beers have a punch. I was more than a little tipsy by the time I got my kickass “Czech Beer Diploma”, that I now hang proudly on the wall in my home office.
Solo traveller tip: Prague felt really safe for me and I had no problem walking back to my hostel, even late at night. If you stay in the touristy areas near Old Town Square and Charles Bridge, the streets are busy all the time, so no creepy late night walking all by yourself.
3. VISIT THE JOHN LENNON WALL
I ended up getting a private walking tour of the Charles Bridge area because I was the only person that signed up. The tour guide, a really friendly fella, looked at me and said: “You don’t want to see the old people boring stuff, do you? Let’s see cool Prague!” So he brought me to the John Lennon Wall. This wall might be the single most beautiful collection of street art I’ve ever seen. And all the art in these photos had been created in one weeks. My guide told me that they paint over the wall every few weeks, but it only takes a day or two until it is completely covered again. To make the moment even better? There was a busker singing “Imagine” while I took these photos.
*My tour guide also showed me various filming locations from major, recent movies. See the “other cool stuff” section for the photo of the park bench Jason Bourne wakes up on at the beginning of the Bourne Identity.
4. WATCH THE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK IN OLD TOWN SQUARE
Old Town Square is the hub for tourists and buskers alike. There are restaurants, cafes, market stalls, and gelato stands (my personal favourite). But the main reason you visit Old Town Square is to watch the Astronomical Clock at the top of the hour. While in the square, buy yourself a Trdelnik (a cinnamon sugar pastry cooked over a pit of coals) and watch the buskers. Just don’t buy a beer and drink it in public. I witnessed an American couple get arrested for drinking in public here.
NOTE: Drinking in public is generally legal all over Europe, but has recently become illegal in certain high traffic touristy areas of major European cities like Prague.
5. TEST YOUR BRAVERY ON A GHOST TOUR
This is a pretty cool tour if you enjoy folklore and/or the paranormal. Ira, our tour guide, walked us around Old Town and we stopped along the way so she could show us where gruesome murders took place and where ghosts are still claimed to haunt homes and alleyways. One of the coolest moments on this tour is when Ira brought us to the Museum of Alchemy. Prague was (and still kinda is) considered the hot bed of magic and when construction in the area began on a new building, a massive collapse of the street revealed the once hidden alchemists laboratories that were housed underground. I love stuff like that!
- Operated by McGee’s Ghost Tours
- Cost: 12 euro
- 7pm and 9pm (take the 9pm tour when it’s actually dark outside)
- Just over an hour long
- Take in Old Town Square and Charles Bridge at night following the tour.