Prague, The Over Toured, The Good.

The first time I visited Prague in 1997, it was a city still waking up from years of Communist rule. I managed to cross The Charles Bridge many times both day and night. Walking up to the Prague Castle to get pictures standing overlooking the River was easy.

My first day I met locals who showed me around, took me to real basement bars. Hanging around, talking to Czechs about everything and how proud they were of the future.

The Over Toured 

2019, my first visit after 22 years. Reading as a destination, Prague joined the list of “Over-touristed Cities” with Barcelona and Venice. I could not imagine the level of visitors, 8.6 million tourists for a city with a population of 2.6 million.  At times I had to wonder if I am a part of the too many tourist problem.

Walking across the same bridge, waiting in line for Space Mountain is simpler. Navigating through the Medieval passages, a tuna in a can has more space. The Old Town Square evolved into a cheap tourist trap selling overpriced souvenirs and hawkers.  

If you want to be near the Prague Clock at striking time. If personal space is not an issue, get there early.

A restaurant within a 20 minute walk of the center requires a reservation after 5pm.

My advice: Be Prepared. Be Patient.

The Good 

I like Prague. A place that retains a very unique charm. Not as Imperial or Grand as other European destinations, the capital city is intimate. After walking around during 3 cloudy days I can understand a bit of Kafka’s melancholy crisis. The city lacks the feeling of optimism, instead an outward feeling of the serious side of life is everywhere.

I took pleasure walking around. I looked up to see a statues on buildings or an ornate facades: Gothic, Romantic, Post Modern, Art Nouveau. Each style is represented along the the streets from District 1 to 5.

Once a part of the Austrian Empire, the coffee culture continues to influence the mid day social life. Stylized cafes in the center still buzz with locales and visitors having cake and drinks. One day we went to 3 houses, each one different. 

I recommend visiting Prague. As a travel destination, it is enchanting.