After a month of happiness in Poland, we are back on the road to the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic, two cities attract tourists: Prague and Český Krumlov.
Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
Krakow – Prague by bus
We came to the main bus station 1 hour before departure. There is a long queue to buy the tickets. Luckily we bought them online (on the Polski website). We wait, we wait… and 20min before the departure, the screen still does not show the location of our bus. We make the translation of all the destinations on the screen, you never know, but no trace of “Praga” (Prague in Polish) or a city next door. We inquire at the information desk and are shown a platform – on the platform the destination marked is a lost city in Poland. About twenty people are waiting as we are, a gentleman tells us that he missed the bus this morning precisely because the departure screen did not display his bus, and by the time we understand, inquire, the bus has already left without him.
The bus arrives 20 minutes late. JB paid an extra charge (1 €) for seats that are supposed to give us more leg room. What nay!
The seats are small, nothing like the buses in South America or the ouibus in France. One regrets, one regrets. We should have taken the train.
Our apartment in Prague
After an interminable 7h30 where we had a 5mn break outside, we finally arrived in Prague.
We take the opportunity to withdraw money. As in Poland, you should not accept the ridiculous exchange rate offered by the ATM, but the rate your bank will apply.
With our pockets full of money, we even dare to take a yellow cab. It’s well known that cabs in Prague are scamming tourists, but do we really want to cram ourselves into this bus full of money again at rush hour? No no no no! So we get in the cab, 190 crowns (7,3€) for 2km. Hum… We are far away from Poland
We are welcomed by the manager of our apartment Airbnb. She even left us a guide of all the restaurants & places of interest next to our apartment. We learn with surprise that we are in a hipster neighborhood, so to go out, drink or buy art, it’s THE PLACE TO BE.
The apartment cost us 1058€/month. It’s quite expensive compared to what we had in mind for Eastern Europe, but hey, it’s the middle of July. And the apartment is still very big. I let you discover it in video. I said 45m2 in the video but I think it’s bigger (50m2). We were a little disappointed by the lack of light: we are on the 1st floor. It is a detail that we omitted in our selection of apartments and as we work essentially from home, we will take it into account for the next destinations.
Discovery of Prague
Our tiredness takes off immediately when we discover our neighborhood. There is almost nobody but there are a lot of restaurants in the surroundings (and some spas & massages by the way). We go into a state of total excitement as we approach the old town of Prague.
It’s pretty, pretty, and pretty! In spite of the bombings in 1945, Prague was able to erase the traces, and it is therefore with wonder that we discover a lively and pleasant city center.
A crowd is forming, people are watching something. So like sheep, we’ll see what they’re doing. It’s 5:55 pm and in 5 minutes the astronomical clock will ring. At 6 pm sharp, the automatons start moving, the skeleton on the right rings a small bell, we see the saints marching by, all that lasts less than a minute. It’s quite funny.
and the chocolate version
While walking in the old city, we go from surprise to surprise. First of all gastronomically: the Italian ice-creams here are to fall. Frankly, having tested the ice creams of the 5 continents, I must say that the best ice creams (Italian or not) are those of Argentina and Eastern Europe. This ranking may change, I haven’t visited all the countries of the world yet either.
Here, they sell a kind of bread baked on charcoal, huge… and inside, you can choose to put Nutella, whipped cream, ice cream… or all three at the same time. Hello calories!
Souvenir, jewelry and crystal stores are everywhere. The jewels are all decorated with garnets, like a necklace, 200 garnets! Pomegranate fruit style. The Czech garnet is the best rated and very appreciated for its qualities. For the moment, I resist the temptation, but I very very much want to buy some, even though I don’t know how to set ahaha yet 🙂
Here, as everywhere in Eastern Europe, people are patiently waiting for the green light to cross the street (not like us savages). English is understood and spoken by all. Otherwise, the “body language” works very well, I speak to the saleswomen in English, they answer me in Czech and we understand each other 100%.
The liquor stores are everywhere. Bars too, beer is really cheap. I can’t tell you if it’s good or not, we’re not beer lovers. In any case, Prague is THE destination for bachelorette parties. You can even go skydiving there.
We follow the crowd (it’s the weekend, it’s crowded) and arrive on the Charles bridge. It is really as beautiful as in my imagination, with statues here and there, painters, souvenir sellers… The view is very poetic, with the big castle at the top of the hill in the background. I am invaded by a strong emotion in front of so much beauty. Contrary to what you may think, I am rather a housewife, and the fact of traveling without the possibility of taking my cat, makes me very sad, but in front of so much beauty, my pain is more than appeased.
On this, we return and discover with pleasure that there are Vietnamese restaurants every 200m. They sell my favorite dish “bun cha”. It’s a dish that I have a lot of difficulty to find in France because Vietnamese restaurants in France are generally from the South; whereas it’s a dish from the North of Vietnam.
Our life as nomad workers in Prague
Prague is perfect for us because we need a nice city, but it doesn’t take us too much time to visit either (not like Krakow and a ton of must-see) because we have a lot of work commitments. An SEO colleague advises us to invest our time on a tool, or an online training. The holy grail of digital nomads! Having finished my self-training in PHP, MySQL and saved a lot of time on my big client’s projects, I’m slowly looking into Amazon FBA, another grail. We work in a sector where our jobs may disappear within 10 years, we need to do monitoring and self-training to evolve constantly.
There are a lot of sports clubs with swimming pool, sauna… they are very good quality. Some of them belong to the big hotels, you can access them for 30€/2h or with a monthly subscription. We even spotted a beer Jacuzzi! JB goes to the swimming pool every morning. It’s a 25m long pool, but only 1.5m deep. Here, people are much less modest than us, it’s quite frequent to see naked people in the sauna (mixed), or in the shower (not mixed on the other hand). We will get used to it for Japan.
We cook much less here than in Poland. Why cook when we are surrounded by restaurants? Besides, shopping is more expensive than in Poland. At noon, we alternate between Asian restaurants and Czech canteens. In the evening, we alternate between Mexican restaurants, pizzas or food courts (in shopping malls). I like Czech cuisine in a moderate way, the good addresses recommended by our “proprety manager” are… bof bof. Anyway, we were warned! It was in Poland where we ate the best food in Eastern Europe.
In our neighborhood (Prague 3), not all the stores look out onto the street. The first floor is half underground, so many services are hidden inside the buildings. You can see a big sign (usually massages/care etc.), you have to ring the doorbell and follow the arrows to get to the right place.
We are 5 streetcar stations away from the city center, or 3 subway stations. It’s very easy to take public transport because Google Maps lists everything, even the timetables. You can buy tickets at the machines (with coins), or at any supermarket, newsagent… sells them too, very convenient when you only have tickets. I prefer the streetcar to the subway, because there are always huge drafts, the subway is, moreover, over-climatized.
Part 2: Practical Tips
It’s a little cheaper than France, but life is expensive compared to other Eastern European countries. Avoid restaurants in the city center, cross the bridge, or go to our neighborhood (Prague 3).
- Rent an apartment for a month : 1058€ on Airbnb
- Restaurants: 500 crowns or 20€ for two/meal (drinks included)
- Races: between 300 and 500 crowns for two meals
- Ice: between 29 and 60 crowns. Antoninovo Pekarstvi sells the best ice cream in the city!
- Transport tickets : 24 crowns for a trip of < 30mn
- Wellness :
- Massages: between 500 – 600 crowns/hour (outside the city center)
- Spa, jacuzzi, sauna: 30€ for 2 hours at Boscolo Wellness & Spa (I recommend)
- Cleaning : 15€ for 2 hours approximately
- Swimming pool: 90 crowns/ticket of one hour in the morning
You should not accept the exchange rate proposed by the distributors (23 coursonnes instead of 25 for 1€). Choose “no I do not accept”. The distributor will insist “choose our rate, instead of blindly trusting your bank’s rate”, decline anyway. In the end, if you have a card with an international option like that, you will have the right rate: 25.xxx coursonnes for 1€.
Here, cards aren’t always accepted as in Poland, so be prepared to carry a lot of cash with you. 1000 koruna banknotes are accepted almost everywhere, but 2000 koruna banknotes a little less. Withdraw 1900 or 1500 crowns at a time.
Keep your coins to pay for transportation tickets.
Where to stay
Considering how convenient and numerous the transportation is, avoid being in Prague 1 (and pay a lot). Choose Prague 2, Prague 3, or Prague 6.
When you go downtown, get off at the Mustek Metro station and walk to the old town. Mustek is a bit more local, there are lots of stores, you don’t just see tourists there.
Tickets can be bought at the machines near the tram/metro stations. If you don’t have coins, go to a supermarket next door/newspaper shop, they sell them too (at the same price).
Fares for the city center (unlimited transfer between metro/tram/bus) :
- 30 minutes: 24 crowns
- 90 minutes: 32 crowns
- 24h : 110 crowns
- 3 days : 310 crowns
I heard about a monthly ticket but when I went to the station that was supposed to sell it, the office was closed.
There are 4 types of rates for Prague: zone P (2 rates), zone 0 (zone 0 and zone B).
- Zone P: subways, streetcars, buses (Nos. 100 to 299 and 501 to 599), the Petrin funicular, ferries and some railway lines. There are 2 fares applying to zone P, so let us know if you venture a little far away
- Zone 0: bus numbers 300 to 399 and 601 to 620 + some railway lines.