Without a doubt, Prague takes the crown for the city with the most character on our trip. The Old Town is filled with colour and not-quite-straight buildings as far as the eye can see, the sky littered with charming mess of wires. The Old Town is all uneven cobbles and concrete cracked with story lines, the square making the perfect venue for Nutella crepes and a gossip on the floor. The city feels sepia-toned, a living box of ageing photographs, and I can’t wait to go back.
The trek up to Prague Castle is not to be underestimated, especially with my disproportionately small legs, but undoubtedly worth it. The castle sits on top of a hill that is a lot bigger than it first may seem, hidden away from eyes on the ground. When I said Prague was full of character, walking up the hill was one of the times when I realised it most; street performers are systematically arranged along the walk, ranging from puppet men to children with guitars, and there are haphazard hillside cafes hidden in the walls (I paid like 3 euros for an ice-cream, worth it for the view). The castle comes into view suddenly- just as soon as it isn’t there, it is- and it is BIG. Unlike the rest of the city, the castle is noticeably black. I had become so used to Prague being a warm smudge of yellows, browns and pinks, and the castle does not fit the mould- even the walk up to it and the buildings that surround it are painted in sunshine. It’s for this reason that the almost scary, but definitely beautiful, gothic edifice stands out. Being the excellent (but probably inefficient) budgeters that we are, the girls decided to sit out the walk to the top of the castle. Tiredness and sweatiness from the walk thus far definitely were also factors. From what I understand though, and the photographs I was subsequently inundated with, it seems it is well worth it if you have both the energy and the cash!
While I like to think we ingested more than our fair share of Czech culture, we also found a small piece of another that we took quite fondly to. THE DUBLINER, an Irish Pub in Prague’s Old Town, a sniff of lager away from our tucked away hostel, became a fast favourite of our group. Not only did we have our very own Irishman (shout out to Mark), but we also had a few beer lovers on the trip (myself decidedly excluded), making it a resoundingly popular choice. If, like me, tourists to Prague remain unconvinced by the promise of Irish beer and a guaranteed friendly Irish atmosphere, they should make the trip because of the live music. I wish I had written down the name of the duo that were singing when we went there, because they made me almost cry (which, to be fair, isn’t hard) with their rendition of Ronan Keatings ‘When You Say Nothing At All’. We danced quite embarrassingly to an acoustic Whitney Houston, before returning to our bar stools to witness what became one of the most infamous moments of our holiday- the moment we realised Bronte could neck a pint of beer in 8 seconds. Of course, we were all for her beer-downing girl power, acting as excited cheerleaders as she challenged pretty much every guy we were with to a chug off, but I think she was less pleased with herself the next morning.
Unsurprisingly, being on a month long jolly with 7 people isn’t always so jolly, especially when you’re as close as the 7 of us are. We have all known each other so well for so long, it is wholly unavoidable that we will get on each others nerves on occasion (especially when we are living a breath away from each other 24 hours a day). Prague was the venue for our biggest team fallout of the trip, and bloody hell did it get feisty- TicTacs were thrown (!!!). It happened on our last day there, when the majority of us were tired and hungover and emotionally primed for a fight. If any of us can remember exactly how it started I’d be surprised, but by breakfast tensions were high, the girls were sat one end of the table glaring at the boys who were sat at the other (being annoying, if I remember correctly). The war peaked when (without naming and blaming) a male member of the group corrected a female member on her use of the word ‘morals’ so, as you can tell, it was all pretty friendship ending stuff. We, the girls, then extracted ourselves from the situation (post-TicTac throwing) by heading off to the John Lennon wall (amazing, by the way) and left the boys to sleep it off in the common room of our hostel. After a successful peace offering in the way of snacks, we were back to being friends.
It was also in Prague that I first appreciated meeting new people on the trip. It had been pretty easy to stick to the 7 of us, we had each other so not really much need to try and meet other people- I don’t think it much crossed our minds. In Prague, however, we had an extra bed in our dorm, and it ended up being filled by a man called Drew (shoutout Drew). He was an ex-military man from the US, and he tagged along to dinner one night, absolutely bursting with stories and smiles. Although we made every effort to oppose him, he even paid for our meals (all 7 of us, what the hell, I know), and it really struck me how a complete stranger could possibly be so generous. I hope he thought that maybe it would inspire us, all over 10 years younger than him, to show the same generosity to others meet along the way. I’ll end this post on the toast he taught us before we clinked our drinks, as it’s as cheesy as it is true, and I will continue to whip it out of the bag at every worthy opportunity. THANK YOU DREW!
There are good ships, and wood ships
And ships that sail the sea,
But the best ships are friendships,
And may they always be.
Watch the video of our whole EuroTrip below!