I have the most incredible memories of Prague from a decade ago. I knew going into this month, the Prague of 2016 was most likely going to be much different than the Prague of 2006, but I was hoping I’d still be equally in love with the city. I’m happy to report that, yes, while some things have changed, it is still completely magical and if possible, even more gorgeous.
From the first steps on Prague soil, I knew it was going to be a good month…it was cool!!! I mean, it was still 80 degrees, but considering the mercury wasn’t hovering near 100 (ahem, 40, since I’m in Europe) and there was no humidity, we might as well have walked into the arctic.
Our next impression of Prague was equally as rewarding. Driving from the airport to my neighborhood, Prague 10, required us to drive right through Old Town. And as soon as we pulled onto the cobblestoned streets and the bright colored buildings along the Vltava River were visible, everyone in our bus had their faces pressed against the windows trying to take it all in. Yep, definitely still magical.
After quickly dropping off my stuff at my apartment, I met Jillian for lunch. One thing that 2006 Prague severely lacked was good food. There were not a lot of options besides traditional Czech food and what options you did have, were hardly satisfactory. Luckily, 2016 Prague is much different!
Jillian and I enjoyed a very traditional meal for our first lunch in the city…a hamburger and french fries. We made up for this with a lovely mug of Pilsner Urquell, the original pilsner beer brewed in nearby Plzeň. Enjoyed outside on a patio, on a beautiful, quiet street in Prague – I was in heaven!
Besides the more extensive (and much more enjoyable) food options in Prague, here are a few other things I noticed that had changed over the last 10 years:
- English is spoken on a much wider scale. While it was fairly common in the city center when I studied abroad, as soon as you got out of the downtown area, you were almost completely reliant on sign language. Now, almost anyone under the age of 50 speaks great English, no matter where you are in the city.
- Public transportation is much newer and cleaner. There are still a few nostalgic trams…
…but most are sleek and updated, with air conditioning! (Our initial fallish day was a bit of a tease. We had two more weeks of very hot weather before it finally cooled down and we enjoyed two weeks of truly cool weather)
- The city center is waaaaayyyyy more crowded. Be prepared to fight your way from Old Town Square over to Charles Bridge at any time of the day. Luckily, as soon as you get a block or two off the main streets, you ditch the crowds.
- Pretty much all of the stores in the city center are now just tourist shops. This part is actually a little sad as I remember finding a ton of cute, local stores around the river and Old Town. But now, they all sell the same cheap tourist crap.
- What Prague now lacks in independent stores, they make up for in independent coffee shops and bakeries. I’m a-ok with this trade.
I was worried my wonderful memories of Prague were going to leave me feeling disappointed upon my return. Thankfully, despite some expected changes, it’s still one of the most beautiful and storybook-esque European cities I’ve ever visited.