I had really high hopes before I went to Prague. I had strong reasons why I wanted to go there and in my mind that would be just perfect. We would be celebrating our little one’s 5th birthday and I had waited for that trip for 5 years. It was going to be magical. But in reality, it wasn’t.
When my husband went to Prague in 2003 he told me I would love the place, because it was so beautiful, like a fairy tale town. From all the pictures and after being there, I agree. The place is beautiful and it feels like you are being transported to another time somehow. But I am really high maintenance when it comes to fairy tales. I expect everything to be as close to perfection as possible and that is not what I found.
To start, I always wanted to have a stamp from Czech Republic in my passport, but when our flight from Paris landed, there was no passport control – no stamp for me!
Then, we had to go find a kiosk to buy the tickets to the shuttle bus that would take us to our hotel, but we just couldn’t find it. When we eventually did, the girl was clearly not happy to have a job, no manners and no customer service skills at all. We gave her the money and she asked if we had less money than that bill (which wasn’t a big one) and then she said we could pay in Euros (but that would be 3 times the cost than their currency) and then we had to go around the airport trying to exchange money, because she claimed she didn’t have any small change – to this day I think that was a strategy to get us to pay in Euros. We waited for 10 minutes for the shuttle bus as the rain was pouring, and the driver wasn’t friendly either, he seemed in a very bad mood; when we arrived at the hotel, we gave him a very good tip even though we only had three carry ons and he didn’t even say thank you, not even in his own language.
Luckily, our hotel was fantastic. All the lack of smiles at the airport and at the shuttle bus was compensated by the front desk, concierge, cleaning ladies, everybody at the hotel. At that point I was restoring my faith that maybe we were not so lucky with the first two people we met… but then we ventured out of the hotel. I saw some cute souvenirs at a souvenir shop and as I entered to browse, the store owner was following me around – and I don’t like that, especially when the store is empty. Then every single thing I would look at he would say how much it cost, even though he could see I was reading it from the tag. And that happened basically everywhere and I came home with only three souvenirs out of the potential triple than that I could have bought.
After this, we decided to go to a restaurant and same bad mood attitude happened, even when I tried to communicate with some words in their language. I guess the worst part was the disappointment when they saw the tip we left, even though it was a 20% one. The best experience I had was at a fast food restaurant, where me not speaking Czech and the attendant not speaking English were able to get the order through laughing a lot along the way. If everybody I had stumbled upon in Prague were like that guy, my experience would have been different.
That not to mention the lack of professionalism at the Old Town tower where the Astronomical Clock is. We waited for more than 10 minutes to buy a ticket to go up the tower while the “brat pack” that was supposed to be selling the tickets were laughing and checking out cell phones instead of doing their job.
I know it sounds like a very negative review of such a beautiful city, but that’s what the experience was to me. However, I should not forget to say that we did have two beautiful sunny days (with a few periods with rain) and that the city is very beautiful; but it felt a bit too staged and that all people cared about was money, there was no passion for their history, for their city.
Many people I know don’t share the same impression of Prague as me and I really want to give it another try, but it will not be soon. One thing I would say is: visit Prague! It is a beautiful place, very rich history. Just make sure your expectations are not very high and that you are not high maintenance for fairy tales. 🙂 All else fails, you leave with at least some nice pictures!