During this trip my sister came to join me for 10 days of adventure. I had gotten to spend time at Oktoberfest (I’ll write about that at some point too) before she met me in Munich to start our trek. While we had a lovely time together I enjoyed our final destination the most: Prague.
Unfortunately Sis and I only had two days together in the city, but I was lucky enough to get to stay longer after she left. I had met this incredible girl in England, Michaela. She was Czech and worked with my aunt in England for a few years but had to return home when her mother became sick. After our brief introduction to each other she immediately invited me to stay with her in Prague and I happily agreed.
One thing Sis and I were able to do was the city walking tour (which if you ever travel anywhere I can’t recommend enough!!) it was a three hour tour through Prague learning about the history, architecture, and people that make the city a joy to explore. I have done more than I can count of these tours, yet this was one of the best I’ve ever done. Our tour guide was fantastic. All of this background info to tell you a story:
The tour was so funny and informative that I was obsessed with what I’d learned. After my sister went to the airport I went to meet up with my friend to been shown around by a local. Michaela greeted me with excitement and a plan, we were going to do the walking tour of Prague. She told me how (as someone who’d lived in Czech Republic most of her life) she’d never done a tour, but would like to see how her city was represented and learn new facts about her home. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d already done the tour and so I did what any humble guest would, excitingly agreed.
If you have read any of my other blogs, you may seem a reoccurring theme that I love showing off any knowledge I get of a city. By talking about what I’ve learned I feel as if I’m engaging with locals, showing an interest, as well as helping me remember all I’ve been taught. This story is no exception to my “show off” fault.
As Michaela and I walked to the tour start point I silently hoped the same tour guide would not be conducting this tour or recognize me from the prior day and “out” me to my new friend. My heart sank a bit when I saw him standing at the meeting point with a clipboard. Being a quick thinker (unlike my father – just joking daddy) I asked Michaela to buy me a water while I signed us up for the tour. She walked into a shop and I ran to the guide, “hi, you may recognize me. I did a tour yesterday with my sister but I’m doing it again today with a friend please act like you don’t know me!” He looked blankly at me, obviously not recognizing me and confused by my outburst, “I don’t know you! I’m just here holding the clipboard, I’m not doing the tour today.” He smiled to show he was amused by my statement, so I nodded my head a tiny bit embarrassed and thanked him for a wonderful tour yesterday. Michaela met up with me as he shook my hand and said, “Nice to meet you” with a wink.
Our new tour guide was nice, however being that I’d already done the tour (and my love of bursting out random knowledge) I became the obnoxious kid in the classroom answering all the questions. Michaela was impressed with how much I knew about her country. Between the two of us we were almost giving the tour ourselves. I’m actually glad now that I did the tour twice, since both guides where so different and focused on different parts of the history. I doubled my learning of the city. Michaela was an amazing host, taking me to places “off the beaten track” and being able to translate the menus for me! Leaving Prague was hard. I was falling in love every moment, and knew if I were to move anywhere it would be there.
The Czech people were so incredibly kind and hospitable. Their hard history and courageous citizens resonated deep in my heart. The love and pride in their country is admirable and I felt so welcomed. This blog isn’t so much about the currency in Czech Republic but the feeling I had when surrounded by Czech life. As a person who enjoys history I enjoy the beauty of the banknotes issued under Czechoslovakia, however the Czech Republic banknotes are nicely colored and designed as well.
One of the most beloved figures in Czech history was Charles IV (King Karel IV) who you can find on their 100 Korun note. I don’t think you can go to Prague and not become wrapped up in the influence of Charles IV, you even have to cross the bridge dedicated to him on your way from Old Town to the Prague Castle. Therefore, it was no surprise to me to see his portrait on their banknote.
On the note of the Prague Castle – small tidbit I learned from my two tours, was that the castle is now beautifully lit up thanks to a visit from The Rolling Stones! This is the story I was told: That after a concert given by the Stones – The members were visiting President Vaclav Havel’s residency at the Castle when Mick Jagger brought up the fact that the castle would look beautiful lit up. As a gift to the Czech Republic Mick Jagger had the Stones lighting designer come in and head up a three-week project to light up the beautiful 9th century castle. I must say, Jagger was right… the castle is beautiful at night!
Prague was one of those hyped cities that I was afraid would not meet my increased expectation, however it exceeded those expectations. The beer, food, people, buildings, and Prague feeling wrapped me up in a blanket of love and respect for Czech Republic.
I still get to talk to Michaela, and can’t wait for her to visit me so I can show her around my home the way she took care of me in hers. What a beautiful world we get to live in and explore, and what a tool banknotes serve as a window into those worlds of beauty, history, and life.