- By Kevin
- On Dec 25, 2017
- Travel Tips
Prague vacations in depth for several days,to travel in Prague and enjoy its local life.It's been 20 years since the 1989 Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communist government in power,and for Prague and the Czech Republic it's been quite a ride.Practically overnight,the city went from an obscure capital of a small Warsaw Pact country to one of Europe's top urban destinations,alongside luminaries like Paris,London,Rome,and Amsterdam.
In retrospect,the first years after the revolution were a little rocky.While nothing could detract from the medieval setting of the Old Town,the beauty of the Charles Bridge,and the Disneyesque castle on the hill,Prague was not quite ready for prime time.The city suffered from a chronic shortage of hotel rooms,restaurant food was mediocre,and everything from the quality of the service to the state of the trains was,well,second-rate.
The good news is that Prague has finally arrived.The years 2008 and 2009 saw the opening of no less than three five-star hotels to add to an already impressive list of deluxe properties.Looking over the lodging choices in MaláStrana alone,many in restored Renaissance and baroque palaces,it's hard to find a more stylish bunch anywhere in Europe.
Prague's restaurants have now won two Michelin stars as well as several Michelin bibs gourmand,and while one of those restaurants has since gone belly up(the local branch of Gordon Ramsay's Maze chain collapsed in 2009 with the rest of his empire),the die has been cast.It's hard to imagine local foodies ever going back to the days of canned vegetables and factory-made dumplings.
Prague was always a first-rate cultural destination,as the enduring popularity of the Prague Spring music festival attests.But now,there's even more to see and do.Each month seems to bring another music festival;add to that international jazz and dance fests,four or five film fests,two writers'fests,and the expanding repertoire of icons like the National Theater and State Opera,and you'll be hard-pressed to decide how best to spend your evenings.
All this progress has come at a price--literally.Prague is no longer that bargain-basement tourist outlet of yesteryear,where a meal on the town would set you back a couple of dollars and a glass of beer 25¢.But that's okay.Those days were the product of a historic anomaly from a time when half of Europe was placed in a deep freeze.They were never going to last,and the country and its citizens are better off for it.Today's city is cleaner,livelier,more fun,and simply better than it was.Prague is worth the splurge.