Prague – A Short Visit to an Old Favorite

It has been about 13 or 14 years since I first visited Prague. In the early 2000’s, it was a somewhat exotic destination having emerged from behind the Iron Curtain with a reputation for one of the best-preserved city centers in Europe. On a business trip to England, I made time for a long weekend to wander around Prague and found it to live up to its reputation, even if there still was some evidence of lingering attitudes from the Communist era especially when dealing with service workers. But, I was anxious to see how it has changed while here for a couple of days of business meetings.

The Prague Castle from across the river by the Charles Bridge

The Prague Castle from across the river by the Charles Bridge

 

From Vienna, I caught a RegioJet bus that took about 4.5 hours to Prague for a cost of 15 euros. Upon arrival, I was fortunate that the bus station was at the Florenc station that allowed a direct Metro connection to where I needed to be for my business meetings. For a discounted price of 24 Czech Korunas – approximately $1 USDI was across town and out to a business park area in the suburbs.

After the conclusion of our meetings, we found our hotel located just five minutes walk from Old Town and, luckily for me, only 2 minutes walk from the bus station where I would be departing on the conclusion of my trip. The Hotel AXA was built in the 1930’s and updated in the past ten years. While not necessarily a location I would pick again, it was in a great location, with decent art deco style furnishings, and only 72 Euros per night including breakfast. I had a street side room and it was bit noisy so I would recommend requesting a room on the back side of the hotel.

Hotel AXA, Prague

Hotel AXA, Prague

 

For business dinner, we went to Kolkovna Celnice, a well reviewed establishment with a classical Czech menu. It was an outstanding meal accompanied with Pilsner Urquell beer and it was heaving with people having a good time.

The next day, after the conclusion of meetings, a colleague and I had a couple of beers and snack foods at another local bar and, once again, the was lots of energy and vibrancy in the place. At least, until the US scored a second goal to beat the Czech team in the ice hockey match that was being closely watched.

I only had a couple of hours that night to walk around Old Town. The astrological clock, the Charles Bridge, wandering the pedestrianized streets, and taking in the architecture. Perhaps I am projecting my own impressions based on too little exposure but it certainly felt much different than my trip so many years ago. It felt more vibrant, more crowded, and more optimistic. With an economy that is doing extremely well and unemployment that is extremely low, there are more dining, entertainment, and shopping options. Despite the low unemployment rates, the attitudes and efficiency of service workers was vastly better than on my earlier trip.

Old Town, Prague

Old Town, Prague

 

If I have a chance in the upcoming years, I think I will put Prague on my list to come back to again and spend some time in this charming, but now modern city.

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