A mere week after my 3-week-long trip to Bali, I was lucky enough to go on an all expenses paid trip to Prague for the annual 10-day Journalism Bootcamp scholarship. Organised by the Bakala Foundation, the scholarship brings together 20 journalism students from around the world and includes daily workshops and lectures, taught by some of the best professionals in the field.
I knew I would love it, but I didn’t realise just how much. It was actually one of the best experiences of my life. Not only was I lucky enough to be chosen for a prestigious program that has given my future career a huge boost, but I’ve made friends for life.
Outside of the lectures and workshops, I wanted nothing more than to sample the very best of what Prague has to offer, since there’s just so much to see and do in this beautiful city.
Whether you’ve been to Prague a few times and want some tips that don’t include the words “Charles” and “Bridge”, or if you’re a first-time visitor and want to do something a bit alternative, here’s five of the coolest things to do there.
Sample the beer and tatarak.
Bohemia is world renowned for its strong beer, so it’s always a good idea to sample it when in Prague. Although I’m more of a generic white wine spritzer kinda gal, I couldn’t say no to what the city is famous for. There’s such a wide variety available, too – sitting outside a traditional Bohemian bar sampling the different kinds is a great way to spend an afternoon. What’s more, any trip to the Czech Republic isn’t complete without trying tatarak. This moreish dish is essentially raw mincemeat mixed with raw egg, smothered on bread after it’s rubbed with a garlic clove. It sounds completely bizarre, but it tastes amazing. Although most eateries in the city serve the stuff, I tried it at the John Lennon Pub, the conveniently-named bar next to the John Lennon Wall.
Visit the Museum of Communism.
As part of the scholarship I was on, I visited the temporary photography exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet occupation and interviewed local people who remember the day for a story I was writing. It was so eye-opening to see what a harrowing effect the occupation still has on the Czech people today – so I really wanted to learn more about the Communist regime, since I didn’t know much about it before. The Museum of Communism is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Old Town Square, beside the market, and gives a sharp insight into daily life in Czechoslovakia under Soviet rule. I spent at least two hours there, purely because I wanted to read everything and learn as much as I could. It was so informative, and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Prague.
Spend an evening at Cross Club.
An alternative place to spend an evening out, going to Cross Club was certainly an experience. This steampunk-themed club is full of all kinds of weird and wonderful people, and its unique architectural layout means it’s pretty easy to get lost in. There’s usually something on no matter what day of the week it is, whether it’s dubstep, drum n’ bass or the more hardcore stuff. It certainly isn’t the usual place I’d go for a night out, but it’s essential to visit at least once for the experience. It’s quite far out from the city centre, but it’s easily accessed by taxi, tram or metro – there’s a metro station right beside it.
Drink in an artificial cave.
Situated in the stunning park that’s home to the villa I stayed in, Havlickovy sady, the artificial caves are an absolute must. Me and the other students spent many an evening drinking in the artificial caves, and it was one of my favourite parts of the whole trip. This man-made underground hub is designed to mimic something out of a fairytale book, or the Secret Garden, or something. With random twists and turns leading off into all different directions and mystical statues dotted around, as well as a huge balcony overlooking the park, the caves are absolutely magical – especially at night.
Catch a sunset with a view.
One of my favourite experiences was watching the sunset at the Prague Metronome with the rest of the group. Situated in Letna Park, the Metronome is in the exact spot where the gigantic Stalin Monument once stood, overlooking the stunning Vltava River and all the gothic, baroque beauty of the city. Armed with a couple of local ciders from a “potraviny” (because of course), we sat right beside the Metronome and watched the sun go down. This is a must-do in Prague, no matter the season. In fact, I think it’s definitely up there with the most memorable things I’ve ever done.