By Troy Stiles, ISA Marketing Communications Manager
I’ll be honest. I didn’t have a great first impression of Prague. There was no real reason for it that I could pin down. Maybe it was the busyness of the previous week or so and just being worn out. Maybe it was the dreary weather. Maybe I was just in a bad mood. I don’t remember reason, I just didn’t.
With no train or tram going from the airport into the city center, I had to figure out the bus. There seemed to be two options – the local bus that would make multiple stops on the way, cost less, but take a lot longer or the express bus that would go directly to the bus station, but cost more. I opted for the express option. It was really easy. There was a ticket counter in the airport, but you could also just pay when you got on the bus (which is what I did).
I have an Android phone and had been using the Google Trips app for my journey. It stores records of travel and hotel reservations, gives suggestions on places to go and things to see in the city, and links up with Google Maps. When I stepped off the bus at the bus station, I was glad to have this tool.
Out of all the places I’d visited during the last week or so, Prague was the city that I’d researched the least, so I wasn’t sure where exactly I was and how to get to my hostel. I pulled out my phone, opened the app, and found my bearings.
I happened to be staying just off of Wenceslas Square, which was an easy 15 minute walk from the bus station. So I set off.
Wenceslas Square is one of the main squares in the New Town of Prague and is a center for business and culture. Now, if you think of the term “New Town” you probably think of a part of the city that’s maybe a few decades old, if that. Well, this is “New” in the European sense, where cities were established centuries and centuries ago. So when you think of the New Town of Prague, remember that it was founded in 1348! America wouldn’t even be discovered for another 144 years.
Luckily, it didn’t take me that long to find my hostel. I checked in, dropped off my bag, and spent the next few hours wandering around the campus for one of the universities that ISA partners with in Prague – the University of Economics, Prague (UEP) – and the surrounding neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday when I arrived, so I was unable to get on campus, but UEP is one of the leading universities in the Czech Republic in the fields of management and economics and had actually thought about going there for graduate school.
For the rest of the day I wandered around the city getting acquainted with my surroundings and my mood changed. While I started off the day in a bad mood, the history and architecture and overall beauty of the city quickly turned my mood around. I ended the day sitting in one of the city’s squares having dinner topped off with a traditional trdelnik and ice cream. You can’t go wrong with that.
Since I had admittedly not done much research about the city before arriving, my plan of attack for day-two was to actually follow one of the suggested day plans within Google Trips. I ended up combining a few days’ stops and was able to visit 16 different sites throughout the city.
Some of the sites included the Powder Tower, the Municipal House, the Estates Theatre, Old Town Square (see video below), Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, St. Nicholas Church, Prague Castle, and Wenceslas Square.
It was a busy, busy day, but I learned a lot about the city and gained a new appreciation for just how amazing and magical Prague is.
Unfortunately, I only had two days to explore, so I could only imagine how much someone would fall in love with the city after spending an entire semester there. But my trip was wrapping up and I had to head back to London, for the second time.