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When I think of Prague, I think of three things:
1) Majestic castles. Obviously, since Prague Castle happens to be the BIGGEST ancient castle in the world,
2) Peacocks—who strut around the castle like they own the place, and
3) Piles and piles of skulls.
Now, we’re going to get to that last part in a bit, but first, let me tell you about Prague Castle.
After traipsing around Europe, we’d seen our fair share of castles, (like The Tower of London , Edinburgh castle or Neuschwanstein) but in terms of sheer size and peacock-density (“peacocity”, if you will), this one wins, hands-down.
And not only that, this one is also the most well-preserved, having been spared from most of WW2’s bombs, since Hitler had earmarked it for his retirement. No, seriously, he came to Prague, laid his stupid racist eyes on its majesty, and declared Prague Castle to be his future retirement home. Guess when your head is THAT big, the only rooms big enough for it are in the largest castle in the world.
“So what do you think?” Wanderer asked. We’d been strolling around the palace garden for what felt like hours, and we hadn’t even gotten to the castle yet.
“I don’t like the way those peacocks are looking at me,” I told Wanderer, as a muster of peacocks started swarming us. The leader was looking at me suspiciously, eyes narrowed, and making strange noises.
Now to those of you thinking that being paranoid at a bunch of peacocks is crazy, I counter with the following: Shut the Hell Up. Also, I had a LOT of breadcrumbs in my pockets (long story, actually not so long story, the café we ate lunch in offered free bread crumbs.) So long story short, after we cautiously executed a tactical retreat (i.e. ran away screaming from peacocks pecking at break crumbs in our pants), we finally scrambled up the hill to explore the rest of the castle.
Where we saw this:
When I say this place is huge, I mean HUGE. It took us a several hours to explore the whole thing, and by that time we were done, we were using rock-paper-scissors to decide who was going to drag the other home. I guess that’s what happens when you’d walked the equivalent of 7 football fields, because that’s how big the castle grounds were.
We decided to refuel with one of Prague’s specialties:
“Pražská šunka”, or “Old Prague Ham”.
“890 Kroner, please”, the stall vendor told me, slapping down a hunk of Prague Ham the size of my entire head. I did the calculation quickly in my head. $50CAD?
“No, I don’t want an entire leg.” I said pointing to the sign that said “89KR”. “I want that.”
“89Kr for 100g. This 1 kg.”
“Then can I have 200g?”
“NO!” he yelled, glaring at me. “You pay 890Kr!”
I would later find out that this is what’s called the “Prague Ham Scam”. Apparently, vendors around The Old Town Square prey on naïve tourists by deliberately pricing everything in 100g portions, tricking people into paying $50 for a massive hunk instead of the $5 portion that’s advertised.
So once again, we bravely ran away screaming—from the Ham guy this time— and found ourselves having instead, a delicious Pork Hock for a reasonable $23 for 2 people in a nearby pub.
As it turns out, the “Prague Ham Scam” was the only rip-off we came across in Prague. Prices for everything else was ridiculously cheap.
From the pristine, modern, $50/night apartment, to the $12 meals, to the $10 long-distance bus ride out of the city, complete with leather seats, TV screens, and free hot beverages, Prague was an invertible Mustachian wonderland.
Despite looking just like Western Europe (fancy castles, swans, peacocks and all), Prague was surprisingly cheap. And after the terrifying prices in Switzerland and the UK, we were glad we finally found a place that didn’t scare us.
Until we found this:
Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to the Sedlec Ossuary, a.k.a. “Skull Church”. The only church in Eastern Europe made ENTIRELY of human bones!
You may recognize this as the WORST advertising tagline in history, and to that I would say you are ABSOLUTELY right. But DON’T worry children. The person who made the scary church out of skeletons is now also dead, and therefore HIMSELF a skeleton.
Wait, that doesn’t sound very comforting.
OK, whatever. I’m not good with kids. ANYHOO…
You see, once upon a time, there was this thing called the black plague. And that black plague killed millions and MILLIONS of people. So as a result, while people didn’t have a lot of food and water, what they DID have, in abundance, was decomposing bodies.
And in that environment, a simple, harmless, monk living in the Czech town of Kutna Hora had a dream.
And that dream was to build a huge fucking chandelier out of human bones!
Also, a shield :
And a entire oven made of bones…because BONES ARE THE BEST!
So yeah. Needless to say, we didn’t eat lunch or dinner for the rest of the week.
Cost Breakdown (in CAD dollars, per couple):
|Accommodations||$53.75||We stayed 4 nights in a super nice, clean, modern studio apartment right near downtown. Surprisingly, this sweet price point was actually pretty normal for Prague! I was so used to $80-100/night prices for Europe, this was a shock for me.|
|Food||$26||Eating out and groceries were actually LESS expensive than Toronto! This was the point where I realized Eastern Europe is just as good as Western Europe without the hefty price tag.|
|Attractions||$9||Walking around the castle ground was completely free! We could've paid for the 3 day pass to explore the museums inside the castle, but we were pretty museum-ed out at this point so didn't bother. So the only costs were the entrance fee to the Bone Church ($10 each) and tips for the free-walking tour ($8 each). Over 4 days, that's only $9/day/couple.|
|Transportation||$15||We were able to walk around for the most part, so the only transportation costs were the bus from Munich to Prague, the train tickets to Kutna Hora (a small town outside Prague) and the bus trip out to Vienna. What impressed me the most was the $10/person bus ticket out of Prague to Vienna, on a bus called 'Student Agency Bus'. So of course, I lowered my expectations, thinking this is going to be a bare-bones, plastic seats, and broken air-con bus filled with backpackers. Boy were we wrong! Not only did the bus have fancy leather seats, TVs with free movies, it even came with an attendant, offering your hot beverages throughout the trip! I will never doubt student buses again…PROTIP: For the best value, we used GoEuro (not an affiliate link) to find transportation. "|
RATING: 5/5 SKULL CHURCHES
Prague was the first Eastern European city we visited and we were pleasantly surprised at how far your money stretches here. And the best part? You get the quality without the hefty price tag. Of all the European cities we went to, Prague had the BEST value.
However, parts of it may not be suitable for all but the most heavy metal of children.
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