We got into Prague a little late. We grabbed our bags and went off to our hotel. After a lecture about not switching rooms, we were all assigned to random rooms, checked in and headed down to one of the conference rooms for our orientation. The orientation was brief but helpful, as many of us had never been to Praha.
A small group of us ate dinner in the hotel, and I went for a short walk with my friend around the area before heading up to bed.
Thursday morning, we could finally sleep in a little, so we made it to breakfast with just enough time to spare. I was still pretty tired, so I headed up to my room and got back into bed and worked on some posts. The internet was so spotty in the earlier cities, so I have been trying to catch up as quickly as possible.
We all met around 12:45 PM and got on the train to Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe for our second to last visit. The security at RL/RFE was extremely tight, and one of the girls had forgotten her passport (although they told us to have them on us at all times), so she had to go back to the hotel to grab it. RL/RFE broadcasts in many countries with corrupt governments of human rights issues in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We had a great tour of the facillities, and I was super stoked to stop in the Iranian bureau. The man who greeted us there was so friendly (it was good to be around my people again) and invited to chat for a little, but our tour guide kept speeding us along. We talked to a journalist there who seemed less than thrilled to talk to us and was not the friendliest with answering questions.
Back at the hotel, we had a short meeting to discuss the final exam -- surprise, I was actually in Europe for school, too! Our professor pulled through and gave us a take-home exam that just had to be turned in by Saturday morning. The questions pulled certain terms or concepts we studied when still in LA and asked us to apply them to certain visits from our trip. I really wanted to get this all done that night, so a few of us met to discuss everything and get to work. One of my friends sat in my room with me while we finished, and then we decided to head out to Old Town Square for dinner.
My friend's parents had been staying in Prague at the same time, so we met them at their hotel around 11 PM and grabbed dinner. Old Town Square was so cute and made me feel like I was in Disneyland or Busch Gardens. The attention to detail in all parts of the architecture was unreal, and I loved watching the clock tower go off at the hour. After we finished eating (we split a burger on a focaccia bun and truffle pasta), we moved inside for a drink. My friend and I ended up wandering the streets and walked down to a place called James Dean that was recommended by some friends. We went into check it out, but the bar/restaurant area was pretty turned down, so we went exploring in some of the other places to better know where to go on Friday night.
We wandered until 3 AM or so, when we decided to go home and chill on the hallway floor before going to sleep.
The final day of visits had finally approached, and today, we were going to the Prague Castle. The castle is tucked away in the northwestern corner of the city, so we had to take the metro and the tram to get up there. The weather in Prague is unreal -- nice and cool, blue skies and no humidity (!!) -- so it was a great morning walk over from the tram, even though it was a little chilly. We got to the palace a little early, so we went to look in the huge church there and I went into their post office to mail my parents and my grandparents postcards. Our visit started with a small meeting with one of the heads of communication, as he briefly discussed the Czech history and how its culture is a blend of many others -- they still hate the Flemish and Swedish, apparently. We then toured the castle, which was unbelievable. I think I was even more excited about touring because we never got to go into Versailles when we were in Paris. The palace very renaissance meets gothic, and everything was accented with gold. The aesthetic was unreal and I think I took and VSCO'ed about every shot I got. I was also very excited (and proud, I guess) that all of the rugs were Persian! I loved the big event halls that were all white with large windows and gold chandeliers and accents.
One of my friends and I wanted to go to Old Town Square to grab lunch, so we headed to a place called Meet Burger. Although we were pretty sure they over charged us to include "a 10% tip," the meal was still fantastic. We wanted a little desert, even though we were stuffed, so we found a little ice cream stand that made the tiniest cones -- the perfect little pick-me-up. The square was popping with visitors and street artists alike.
A different friend and I went to meet her parents at this shoe store called Leiser, who was having a huge sale. I left with a pair of super cute (and super uncomfortable, which I found out the hard way) flats. We grabbed a small snack and then got ready to go to dinner with some of the other girls. We picked a random spot in Old Town Square called Kamenný Stůl. The food was decent and so was the wifi so we were good. Two of the girls left, so the other three of us went to bar/club hop for the rest of the night.
Our path that night consisted of:
Double Trouble --> George & Dragon --> Fancy --> James Dean --> Harley's --> M1
We stayed out until about 3:30 before heading home to, again, sit on the floor talking before realizing how late it was and how we needed to go to sleep.
Meet Burger -- Hands down, the best burger on the trip. My friend got a double cheese burger, and I got the red and blue (cheese) burger, which was delicious. We also split onion rings, which came with a spicy little dip, and garlic fries. We got some kind of special lemonade was was super yummy. The burger was so good and huge that it was impossible for me to finish -- next time.
Kamenný Stůl -- Random place we stumbled into. We wanted to sit outside, but it had really gotten chilly, and there were not enough seats by heaters. We opted to eat inside and all got something to eat. I got the saffron and parmesan risotto, which I thought was alright but nothing too special.
Double Trouble -- We, both times we tried, ended up walking in and right back out. This is one of the places they always include on the Prague bar crawls. The funniest thing is that the club/bar is downstairs and the sign when you walk into the doorway on the street-level says "Double Trouble." During the day, however, they cover the stairwell and change the sign, so that it becomes a souvenir shop.
George & Dragon -- We got lured in by a guy who worked there that handed up a coupon promising that we would "all get free drinks with it." Turns out, that was a lie, as the coupon got one shot. The crowd was British and a huge group of obnoxiously drunk guys in a bachelor party were trying to get us to join them. We went outside to chill for a little before going on to the next place. The drinks were about $6 each with the conversion.
Fancy Lounge -- Small club that is probably no bigger than my kitchen at home. We were given a free drink, but only ended up staying for like 30-40 minutes because the DJ was hot. There were no more than 20 people there, so we definitely knew we had to go.
James Dean -- When you go in on the street level, the place looks like a fancy American diner with a ton of booths and a huge bar. We ended up sitting upstairs for a little and met some Danish guys that were staying at our hotel. Little had we known the night before when we were checking it out, there is actually a club downstairs. The club was small but packed and looked like a cavern inside. We didn't stay down there for long because it was hot and everyone was kind of ratch.
Harley's -- A friend of one of my friends on the trip said that this was "the place to meet boys." We walked down the stairs, all the way through to the back and then right back out. This was like a rock-n-roll Squid Roe, and it was super hot and steamy inside.
M1 -- Definitely more of a real club feel. While the club was still pretty small, it had a great atmosphere and played a lot of the big songs we would hear in LA. There was an entrance fee of 200 Koruna/person, and these two random guys paid it for us. We went in and ended up at a random table, where we stayed put until we left. Would recommend making a stop here.
The final full day in Europe had come. We wanted to be ambitious and meet my friend's parents early in the morning at this big market, but ended up sleeping until we had to leave for our brunch reservation. We uber'ed over to Café Savoy for a great (and cheap!!) little brunch, as suggested by a friend. We stayed for a while before mustering the strength the head to the John Lennon Wall.
I love The Beatles (this is my plug for MUSC 422, The Beatles course at USC), so I was really excited to see the wall. Even though George is my favorite (ugh, bae), I was still stoked to go to the wall. We read online that this past November, a group of art students painted over the way encouraging a new generation to contribute to the wall. We stopped and took photos -- I mean, collect content -- until it got packed with tourists. We then walked down the block and over the bridge to the John Lennon Pub. Although it was kind of smelly inside, we sat at a booth for two hours just decompressing and chatting (we even got shushed by some other group -- sorry not sorry).
Because the weather was nice, and most of our phones were dead, we walked over to the Charles Bridge and over to Old Town Square. I wore my new flats, which was a terribleeeee idea because they were so uncomfortable. We walked around the smaller streets around the Old Town Square and picked up some gifts and desert.
We had our final group dinner at a traditional Czech restaurant. The food was pretty subpar, but the fried cheese was bomb. Basically, you have to try the fried cheese in Prague -- anyone will tell you that. It's pretty much a giant mozzarella stick -- yum. We tried to get on the train and finally made it back to rally before going out.
Everyone told us we "had to go to" this five or six-story club in Prague, where every floor is a different style of music. We rolled up to the club, quickly examined the people that were going in, and left soon after. We went right to James Dean where we fought for a booth. We wanted to end up at M1, again, so we went to Harley's for a quick stop befoe the club. Harley's was even more ratchet on Saturday, so we went back to James Dean and had to pay 100 Koruna/person to skip the line -- dumb on our part. We never made it to M1 and stayed at James Dean until about 4 AM, while we harassed the guys who were there by yelling at them who was hot and who was not. #feminism
We finally uber'ed home around 4/4:30 AM and sat on the floor till past 5 AM, when we decided it was time to sleep before having to catch our flights home.