After passing a few days in Prague during new year eve and walked over a dozen times on Charles Bridge , some interesting facts :
- Prague castle (Pražský hrad) is the biggest ancient castle according to the Guinness book. Built in AD 879, the main castle itself is not as big as Versailles , Buckingham palace, Bangkok Grand Palace. What they call Prague castle is the area ( 7.28 hectares ) surrounding it : St. Vitus Cathedral, Vladislav Hall, golden lane …. The neighbourhood Hradčany is composed of shop souvenirs , churchs, palace …
- Czechs drink the most beers per capita ( nearly 160 litres annual). Is it because local beer is cheap ( one pint costs 30czk ) and of good quality ? Maybe but not only. Ordering water in restaurant is more expensive than beer, so people generally tend to choose beer over water.
- Czech cuisine loves meat (pork by excellence ) and beer . In fact, it’s hard to find food for vegans. Even Anthony Bourdain is begging for vegetables . My favorite dessert : Trdelnika rolled pastry caramelized over charcoal . My Czech friend told me , Trdelnik just started a few years ago in touristy spots. The pastry originates from Transylvania under the name Kürtőskalács in hungarian.
- Tipping is expected in restaurants. But you have to know how to do it. In most culture , clients leave some money on the table after the server gives back the change. Czechs round up , so the server gets directly the tip into his/her pocket.
- The subway system is really deep. The escalator at Náměstí Míru station is about 100 metres long and is the longest escalator in Europe. The communists were worried that Prague might be targeted so they built the subway deep underground to doubly serve as a nuclear bomb shelter.
- Avoid Taxis. First the city is walkable. Second taxi drivers are rip off. According to my Czech friend, some used to be prisoners and others are related to mafia. If you don’t have enough cash , they will force you to redraw at the automatic teller machine.
- The christmas market is the best I’ve seen. But nothing really beats the atmosphere here in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí ). Shops with mulled wine , ham, Trdelnik again . Though this year 2011 , it didn’t snow . That’s what a Christmas market should be.
Last and most interesting, I met an expat in Prague. What he’s doing for a living ? Porn films : behind and in front of camera . Prague is second city after Budapest for making porn production . Men do love Czech female look . The country is open minded. As a former Soviet Union member , the cost of living is lower than western counterparts.
For more photos check my album http://www.flickr.com/photos/photosray/sets/72157628722439523/with/6662869763/