Currency of the Czech Republic

Continuing my series of articles on travel, we move from America to the Czech Republic – Prague to be precise.

I have only been once, on a four-day excursion, but it was long enough for me to get a flavor of the country and the people. Two days before I was due to leave, I broke my ankle as I walked from the bank with my Czech currency!!! Luckily I worked for a wheel chair manufacturer and managed to take one with me, in order to get about – bad decision! I did not actually use it, and ended up hobbling every where! Prague is not a very wheel chair friendly place – due to its age, architecture, and design. I bought a phrase book a couple of weeks before leaving, so that I could learn some rudimentary phrases – I find this an excellent way to get the best from a foreign holiday, as the locals are always honoured that you have taken the time to learn some of their languages and attempt communication and therefore you seem to get better service.

The hotel was not in the smartest district, nor was it of high caliber. It was about 2 miles outside the city and very basic, but comfortable – although the breakfast was a gorgeous continental style, with more than enough to eat and set you up for the day. It was needed, as due to the lack of a regular bus service, the trip to the city and back had to be walked (or hobbled) on a daily basis!!

The city of Prague is beautiful – ancient gothic architecture, buildings topped with gold, cobbled streets lined with bars, restaurants, shops and market stalls, alley ways off the main streets with plenty to be discovered and explored. Many many unusual items can be purchased, and there is plenty of choice of unusual items too! Things to see, include the town square, the astronomical clock which is world famous and totally amazing (people flock to see it as it strikes the hour!), Charles Bridge which spans the river and has market stalls all across it and a bronze you must rub for good luck, the churches are all amazing inside, you can climb to the top of the towers on Charles bridge for incredible views, the amazing historic Prague castle and about 70 miles outside Prague, the church of Sedlec.

Whilst you are out and about in the city, you will find restaurants galore serving traditional Czech food – not only is this very cheap, but the local Czech beer is only 50p a pint!!! Wonderful. There are plenty of shops to keep you happy selling local crafty gifts – I bought some Russian dolls. The alley ways, if you dare explore them (don’t worry it’s impossible to get lost as you always end up back in the town square), hold undiscovered delights a-plenty – I found a gallery by an artist called Viktor Safonkin, who has been hailed the new Salvador Dali, and its true, his work is totally breath taking.

In terms of entertainment – you have bars, restaurants, clubs, theatres, all open ALL DAY!! Whilst I was there, I enjoyed the Black Light Theatre, which is a traditional Czech form of theatre using a black stage in a black box, using UV light and colorful marionettes in colorful costumes. Cheap to watch, intimate and very entertaining – a must see, because you won’t see it anywhere else in the world!

If you like the macabre, then the Czech Republic will suit you. It feels ancient, it feels like it could be scary, it feels darkly gothic and medieval – its a cool place. And what could be more macabre, more ancient and more gothic than the church of bones at Kutna Hora, in Sedlec? Sedlec is around 70 miles outside Prague and takes an hour on the train. A small unassuming town with little in the way of entertainment, but to see this incredible wonder of the Czech Republic, its well worth the trip and essential you visit. The works of gothic art were put together by a half-blind monk in the 16th Century, following the deaths of 30,000 people in the area from the bubonic plague – room was needed in the holy land surrounding the church and therefore the bones were moved to the ossuary to be stacked but were fashioned into works of art, including a coat of arms, a chandelier utilising every bone in the human body, skull pyramids. An amazing display gave the materials, and guaranteed to leave you astounded and amazed and with a memory of your holiday that will last your lifetime.

All in all I found Prague to be a fascinating and thoroughly relaxing place, full of friendly locals, giving good value for money and plenty to see and do. On the downside, it was not the cleanest place I have ever visited with human excrement in some places on the streets. Apart from that though, I enjoyed my visit and would happily visit again to find all of the things I missed. It is well worth the trip, although I would only stay for a few days, it is certainly worth Czeching it out.

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