Many thanks to my good friend (and bike racer) Vicki for her insight into Prague. I hope to travel to Prague soon, and following her stories and posts on her blog and facebook, I have certainly been inspired to make the Czech Republic a priority on my bucket list of countries to visit.
Big thanks to Anita for inviting me to post on her website about my current trip to the Czech Republic.
I am a cyclocross racer and I am currently in the Czech Republic for two World Cup races – one in Plzen and the other in Tabor. I have been in Plzen for a week now and have done my fair share of exploring – mostly on the bike and the rest on foot – wandering around Plzen and Prague. This is my third visit to the Czech Republic and I have to say that this is one of my most favourite countries.
The airfare is a bit high, but once here, the trip is very affordable. For this trip I’ve been staying at the Ibis Hotel in Plzen for the past week. The Ibis Hotel chain is a very reliable chain and can be trusted to have good food, clean and modern rooms and excellent service. The staff here in Plzen have been excellent and very accommodating. In addition to affordable hotel rates, the food here is very reasonably priced with an average meal at a nice restaurant being priced at $12 to $17 – yes that’s it – and this includes an appetizer, main course and dessert. And to top it off, the food here is very good – soup is a big part of the meal here and you can be guaranteed to find a good range of warming soups from the traditional goulash to chickpea soup to fish bouillabaisse. Regardless of if you are a meat eater or a vegetarian, you can easily eat well and affordably.
Perhaps one of the lesser known cities in the Czech Republic – Plzen is definitely a must visit. With a beautiful town square and one of the oldest synagogues in Europe, Plzen is a good place to visit. The town square and center is very compact – making it the perfect spot for a day trip. And if you have your bike with you, there are excellent cycling paths and routes throughout the city (in fact the entire country has a very advanced and well-marked cycling route system). Restaurant highlights in Plzen include El Cid (Spanish restaurant), Andel Cafe (vegetarian restaurant and dessert cafe), and Cafe Orient (coffee and tea shop).
Prague is an easy hour drive from Plzen so three of us hopped in our rental car for an afternoon and evening of seeing the sites in the capital of the Czech Republic. This was my second time to Prague and it really was a purely enjoyable time. The city of Prague is beautiful – the buildings are painted amazing hues of pinks, greens, oranges, and yellows. The Charles Bridge is worth walking along very slowly and taking the time to rest on the ledge and look out into the water. Be sure to stop at the lucky statues to make a wish. Highlights of Prague include the Lennon Wall, the love lockets, the old Jewish town, the statues along the Charles Bridge and the amazing architecture.
Prague is an interesting mix of the modern and the old. Yes, there are two Starbucks nestled in amongst the old buildings and traditional Czech restaurants. Unlike some major European cities that really do feel like tourist traps, you are not overwhelmed with cheesy tourist shops and vendors. Yes, you can buy the typical Prague souvenirs but visiting this city is not about the shops – it is about the buildings, the colors, the feelings, the history, and the statues.
Tomorrow I’m off to Tabor – the location of the next World Cup of Cyclocross race. I visited Tabor briefly in 2010 when I raced in the World Cyclocross Championships – so I’m looking forward to seeing this city and taking some more photos.
Really, if you’re thinking of taking a trip – I highly recommend the Czech Republic. It is an easy country to travel in, it is highly affordable, the history is amazing, it is very cycling friendly, and the people are very welcoming. What more could you ask for?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the Czech Republic. A big thanks to Anita for letting me post on her excellent website.