The month of August found our Kublai Klan in Praha, Czechia. This Central European destination is rich with beautiful buildings and a history that found itself intertwined with communist, Nazi, and Slovak influences. Even though things were not always stable, the Czech capital has thrived over the ages with its strong industry and beautiful cityscape. In this post, I’ll chronicle the first portions of my adventures during the month.
Touring the City (a lot) and the Prague Castle
After waiting until the last couple days to properly tour Lisbon, I decided that it made the most sense to tour Prague as soon as I got there. Thankfully, several other Remotes had the same idea. The first morning after we arrived, we assembled in Old Town Square. We purchased a tour on the pink bus, which included a double-decker bus tour as well as a guided tour of the outside of the Prague castle and later in the day, a boat ride and tour of the Vltava River. Not a bad deal for €15.
The Prague Castle was a breathtaking sight. It was first built starting in 870 via the Church of the Virgin Mary. Over time, it was built further and fortified. In 1541, a fire destroyed a large part of the castle which was subsequently expanded with new buildings in a Renaissance style. Unoccupied for decades, the castle was again damaged in the 1600s and looted towards the end of the Thirty Years’ War.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the castle was finally finished in 1929 with the completion of the St Vitus Cathedral. When Nazi Germany took over the Czech nation, Hitler spent a night in the castle before the castle became the headquarters for Reinhard Heydrich. Following his eventual assassination, the castle came under communist control after the coup in 1948. Finally after the Velvet Divorce, the castle became the head of state of the Czech Republic.
After touring the outside of the castle, we walked around its gardens and saw a couple of equally breathtaking views overlooking the city of Prague. There’s lots of wonderful architecture this place has to offer; it’s highly picturesque.
So pretty! It was hard not to fall in love with the visual aesthetics of this city. After learning what Marcus told us in the tours about how the communists controlled Prague, I was surprised it wasn’t more rustic looking like Belgrade was. However, Prague was always the industrial center of the Czech Republic and brought in lots of wealth for many people during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The evening after our walk around the Castle’s gardens, we opted to take our boat tour. We boarded our vessel on the Vltava River for some spectacular late afternoon and evening views across Prague.
Tour 2: The Naked Tour
A couple days later, a track event of ours brought us to another city tour, this time with just Kubs. We started off our journey near the Prague astronomical clock. The clock in itself was cool, but was undergoing restoration during our stay. Thus, we were not able to see it in quite its full glory.
Our tour was led by Marcus, the Naked Tour Guide. We went up and down the streets from Old Town to New Town, seeing landmarks such as the Kostel Panny Marie Sněžné (Church of Our Lady of the Snows), the house where Mozart lived, and Univerzita Karlova (Charles University). Marcus is originally from Ireland but found himself in Prague for school and never quite left. He was knowledgable and informative on the history of Prague and shared with us many factoids that I don’t remember now.
The Jewish Quarter (as depicted in the last few pictures) was demolished between 1893-1913 as part of a huge renovation. The goal was to make the street look more like one you would find in Paris. Because of this, several movies that are set in Paris are actually shot in this Jewish Ghetto because it is much cheaper than actually shooting in Paris.
Czech It Out
Adjusting to Prague life didn’t take too long. There are lots of tram, metro, and bus routes to make getting around the city easy. I also discovered that Prague is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world in 2017. Opening up HappyCow greeted me with several results of vegan and vegetarian restaurants and shops around the city. I had plenty to feast upon. There were even multiple vegan-only grocery stores! Oh, how I wish we had this back home.
Our coworking space for this month was K10 Coworking. The space was gorgeous featuring bistro service, external monitors, and even a sauna. The best part for me, however, was the expansive garden and outdoor area offered behind the building. The Wi-Fi was broadcast outdoors and power outlets were along the perimeter of the grass. Nearly every day I went to the workspace, I made it a point to work outside. This to me is one of the pinnacles of remote work from anywhere. I have an increasing desire to blur the line between nature and technology. Being able to work in the fresh air and under the shade of the broad-leafed trees definitely achieved that goal.
As mentioned earlier, a welcome sight was the number of vegan restaurants in Prague and the general awareness the city of vegan living. There were so many vegan restaurants that I wasn’t even able to go to all of them during my time. There were several farmer’s markets held around the city at various points during the week. I was able to stock up on a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Spinach, tomatoes, onion, peppers, and more made their way into the refrigerator, along with a ton of tahini and peanut butter.
It makes me happy to see such awareness to a great cause in a European city that isn’t too far removed from the grip of communism. I think the fact that the restaurants are flourishing here is a great testament to the awareness and conscientiousness the Czech people have for their food, even if the traditional Czech fare consists of meat.
Unlike Lisbon, an eternally sunny city, there is actual cloud cover and rainfall in Prague. Despite our arrival into clear 100F weather, a few days later we were greeted by rainstorms and a cooler breeze. The clouds also provided the backdrop for some dramatic sunsets. As I’ve mentioned before, sunsets are one of my favorite things in the world. Prague had several of these beauties to offer during my stay.
During our stay this month, Prague celebrated its own pride festival and parade. I’ve never actually been to a pride parade before. I was supposed to go to the ones in Detroit and Ferndale a few years ago, but ended up not being able to make it. However, I was not disappointed. This was a fun day of celebration all-around of every human being’s unique identity. In our Kublai family, we have several individuals who identify as LGBT+ and we got to celebrate each other for our uniqueness and togetherness on this crazy program.
One of my fellow Kubs, Mike, actually booked a hotel balcony for us to watch pride from. We were treated to a view overlooking the square away from the direct action but still close enough to the parade to enjoy it. There were also copious amounts of adult beverages consumed on this special occasion. Following the main parade, we marched across the river to the rest of the festival with tons of good food and good times. I’m happy at the display our Kubs gave and the number of them that showed up to the event.
Praha 2…To Be Continued
Praha is the Czech word for Prague, and the number is a reference to the Municipal Districts within the city. The most expensive real estate in the city is in Praha 1.
I felt really good during my month in Prague. There was so much more to still come, which I’ll chronicle in the next post.