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I Wish I Could Speak Russian: Solo Travels in the Czech Republic
Step into the fairytale world of the #CzechRepublic. Experience Gothic #architecture, sobering tours of historic sites, and #culture from the eyes of a solo traveller. If you plan to go, it may be a good idea to brush up on your Czech or Russian language skills beforehand!
You went where? With who? Surely not. The three most commonly uttered phrases when I share fond memories of my time as a solo traveler in the Czech Republic.
The proverbial solo traveler. I have to summon all my inner strength to ensure I don't roll my eyes whenever this topic is brought up, with (usually) dubious undertones. Bizarrely, those that express the most doubt are yet to travel alone. As the old adage goes - you will never know unless you try...
I have to summon all my inner strength to ensure I don't roll my eyes whenever this topic is brought up.
Perhaps I'm being too cruel. It wasn't that long ago that I reluctantly first entered the world of solo travel. Spending whole days in art galleries, indulgent spa treatments after an arduous all-day hike, and finally getting the chance to express my true self when meeting new people - all of which happened without being under the watchful gaze of family members, friends or a beau. Welcome to life alone on the open road. How ruddy liberating!
When it comes to choosing a location, be certain to do your research, as due diligence is your only BFF on this trip. Aside from safety precautions before you set off, preparing for any possible impasse along the way shall be beneficial for peace of mind and enjoying your travels. I remember getting a tad flustered in the middle of the Czech countryside where the only person who could help, spoke solely Czech and Russian. I was so grateful to have had the print out with the address of Villa Tugendhat (where I was going), as I don't speak Czech nor do I speak Russian.
The only person who could help spoke solely Czech and Russian.
Day one. I spent the afternoon flying to Prague, settling in, and double checking maps. I decided to stay in and relax at the hotel to preserve energy for the days ahead. On the first evening, I watched half of an English film dubbed in Czech, with popcorn and a pile of sweet treats − the fabulous perks of traveling on my own!
On a balmy Sunday morning, I woke up refreshed and raring to go. First up on the itinerary for day two? Brno. The second largest city in the country, 2h40m by train south-east of Prague.
I first came across this city, after a friend recommended it as a go-to hub of Moravian history, fine architecture and to see another side of the Czech Republic, beyond Prague. At the end of March I was thrilled to receive confirmation and actually get a ticket for a tour of Villa Tugendhat, and began looking at and planning my train journey, months in advance. There was the option to travel by bus, but the train was hourly and more convenient. I was advised to book the tour super early, as there are limited tickets to experience the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 20th century architectural feat, with purpose-driven design, it is a harmonious fusion of nature and man-made materials, exuding quiet confidence way ahead of its time and mod cons, so often shown in Mies Van der Rohe's work. No wonder demand is so high!
Prague is beautiful. Jam-packed with superb architecture, is also very rich in history, and is certainly worth exploring (especially on foot). I spent my last two full days in the city taking in as much as possible. My first port of call was a journey to the main square, passing the iconic building where Mozart conducted Don Giovanni – I proceeded to hum Figaro for fifteen minutes.
I proceeded to hum Figaro for fifteen minutes.
I also spent a day in the Jewish quarter, at six sites (one site was closed due to renovation), where tours are available in English, French, German and of course Czech. I joined a group of five others - ranging from Canadians and Americans to Vietnamese. We spent a few hours with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide called Helga. This offered a chance to reflect on the events of WWII in the context of Prague - inevitably, the effect is simultaneously apparent and unfathomable.
Terezín Concentration Camp
Nuclear Bunker Tour
Biking Tour in Letna Park
This was my first time going on an historical walking tour that involved several sites and traversed the city. We had the chance to learn fascinating details, whilst also seeing the modern day uses for buildings that sit side by side with history.
My flight back was in the early evening, so on my last day (carry on luggage in tow), I made my way to the upper section of the city, heading to Prague Castle for a classical concert, passing world famous Charles Bridge on my way. Afterwards, I hopped on the train to the airport, and on my flight, watched the sunset over the city with a huge grin on my face - another successful solo adventure!