January, for most people, is a time where people hide their money after the hard hit they take over Christmas. However for six friends and I, it was a time to search the internet for some great bargains for a city getaway.
As a group, we decided that we wanted to go somewhere where the food and drinks are cheap, but the city is beautiful. It didn’t take us long to narrow our choices down to Czech Republic’s capital city, Prague. Known for its architecture and history, we planned the trip around exploring and to take in the culture over a weekend in February.
Although they weren’t the cheapest flights, we manage to find a return ticket to Bristol for roughly £185 via Sky Scanner. Looking back, planning to go through the week (Monday to Thursday) would have nearly halved the price – something to keep in mind. Rather taking the cheaper option of booking a hostel, we found an apartment in the Sokolovská, next to the Penta Hotel, for £155 via AirBnB. The apartment was self-catered, but the street had convenient stores stocking fruits and veg as well as a good selection of restaurants that catered to vegans and vegetarians. It was a tight squeeze, but the apartment overall was modern, clean, a two-minute walk to the underground and tram, but most importantly it was well worth our money.
Once safely strapped into our for take off, it became apparent that Prague’s infamous reputation of British men going for a stag weekend is very real. The midday binge saw large stag groups ordering overly priced beverages as they borderline harassed the female members of the cabin crew – it didn’t stop there. Throughout the streets of Prague, you could spot your typical ‘British lads’ having the time of their lives from a mile away. I suppose we were naive to think otherwise considering prostitution and guns are legal, and alcohol is cheap.
Following our flight, we jumped into a taxi from Václav Havel Airport to our apartment where we promised ourselves: we were not going to be the typical British lads who tarnish the already poor reputation of our nation – this oath didn’t last long.
Once settled into our apartment we ventured out to find somewhere to eat; a few doors up the road we found a modern restaurant called, Tankonvia. With a few limited options for vegans, but a wider range for vegetarians, Tankonvia was a modern establishment that catered traditional foods at extremely reasonable prices.
Now our stomachs were full, and with a couple of beers in our system, we stocked up on beer – that worked out 40p per half a litre – and explored the city. While bouncing from bar to bar we found the more we ventured into the Old Town square, the more prices for drinks went up. Also being in a large group of males, promoters swan towards you and will say anything to get you into a club. One man approached us and promised that he could get us in a club where we could “kick naked midgets” – we were tempted but passed because we’re not that stupid or psychopathic.
The bitterly cold weather and the rain over the weekend, unfortunately, dictated our plans. Walking around the city as a drenched group became a bit of a chore and the warmth of bars seemed more appealing than exploring around Prague’s castle. Meaning, our initial plans of sightseeing turned into a fuzzy haze as we drank the weekend away. We found that the locals knew the best spots to drink, especially students. As we guiltily asked a multiple of people in English where to go, they responded with the directions in English and with better pronunciation.
The weekend’s highlights were the activities we booked in advance. Firstly, we booked the Call Of Duty package – costing roughly £65 each – at Střelecký Servis shooting range where we fired the likes of an AK47, a shotgun and much more.
Possibly the best activity was spending an hour at the beer spa, Pivní Lázně Praha – Spa Beerland. Costing around £45, I can sincerely say this was more than worth the money as the group of six – we left one group member hung over at our apartment – shared three hot tubs filled up with water and beer ingredients; which are apparently good for your skin – I’m still not sure how true it is. To the side were two taps for you to drink an endless supply of light or dark beer. To complete the full spa experience, you could sit in a sauna – with a beer – or wash yourself off with a cold shower – with a beer – or sit on a hay bed while eating beer bread – with a beer.
Prague is a city that has two sides. It’s a beautiful city with friendly people but it can quickly become a city of sin. Regrettably, I didn’t see everything I wanted however, I don’t regret the fun time we had. My main advice would be to go through the week when independent shops and restaurants are mostly open, pre-book a list of activities to do in advance to shape your holiday and give into the temptation of having fun.