Dear Expats and Locals,
I’m Nilo, the new intern at Foreigners.cz Prague. Yes, yes, I’m Italian and no, I don’t shake my hands every sentence I formulate, not even while typing on a keyboard.
I just wanted to write my first impressions of the city and how life is abroad from the perspective of a not-so-young-anymore intern turning 25 in a few months. I know I’m still considered “fresh”, but I just like to complain about getting older.
I arrived in Prague at the very end of April, after booking my flight with Ryanair. Yet another trip with loud Italians enthusiastically clapping their hands as the airplane lands and the trumpeting announcement of a successful landing. They are always impressed, no matter how many times they fly and how many more times they will.
If you didn’t already know, the Prague International Airport has 2 arrival terminals, so obviously the friend I planned to meet was waiting at the wrong spot (it’s happened to you as well, admit it!). After an essential 3€ call to locate my friend (I still had an Italian SIM card) I managed to jump on one of the first buses available with my dear fella, a person I haven’t seen since the summer of 2012. By living abroad this is something you’ve already experienced, right?
Shocking fact: The Weather!
I left Bologna at 24°C, just to find it less than 8°C in the Czech Republic. Goodbye brand-new light leather jacket! See you next…
The city looks as beautiful as I left it in 2009 when I visited this country’s capital with my high school mates, but then I had no beard on my face. Public transports have proved their efficiency again and again, and this has to be said: Good Job, Prague! Check out this interesting article for more information upon different means of transport in the city.
Hosted by my friend on Zborovská street, right beside the Vltava river, my curly hair immediately felt the environmental humidity. Less than five seconds were enough to permeate my locks causing them to become frizzier. It was like radar, understanding the atmospheric changes better than a meteorological station.
“Nevermind,” I thought, “I still have my Nivea pomade for ‘Perfect Curls’ and my good-‘ole hairbrush! I’m safe and sound for now.”
After my first meeting with my colleagues at Foreigners.cz Prague, a nice bunch of people, at that time still based in our old office (don’t forget to come and visit us at Karlovo náměstí 288/17!), I started exploring the city. A half-day walk brought me to Braník (Southern Prague), where I had the chance to enjoy an excellent coffee and a tasty slice of chocolate cake at Periferie Café, a kind of hipster coffee-shop with young and friendly waiters and staff.
In the following days I gave a look to the Klamovka and Katalinka neighborhoods, located in Western Prague. If you happen to be strolling around these areas, you have to visit the relaxing Klamovka Park and its delicious restaurant located in the center. A very nice place to grab an inexpensive beer!
Another random walk, this time towards the East, brought me to Náměstí Míru, the wide square hosting the neo-Gothic Church of Saint Ludmila. From there, I really suggest taking a walk ’till Havlíčkovy sady. This is a park that was inspired by the Italian Renaissance, characterized by water cascades, lakes, pavilions, statues and a charming grotto, as well as a unique view of the city.
Something I really recommend, during sunny days, is a visit to Petřínské sady. It is a park just in front of the river in-between St. Vitus Cathedral on Prague Castle grounds and the Smíchov district. The green area is characterized by several mesmerizing observation points and a mirror maze, originally constructed as a pavilion of the Czech Tourist Club for the Prague Anniversary Exhibition of 1891. You definitely have to check it out!
Life in Prague is not only about sightseeing and coffee, every now and then it’s time to adult and buy groceries. The second largest mall in the country, Nový Smíchov, is a perfect location to find any sort of foodstuff, a good pair of shoes, electronics or anything else you need. The mall is directly outside Anděl Metro stop, a 5-minute walk from Palackého Most.
*True fact: I was looking for some crackers at Tesco, in the aforementioned shopping center, but could not locate them. I asked a Czech woman, working among the shelves, if she could help. Unfortunately, she couldn’t speak English and didn’t understand my question. She took me in front of an undefined, super-colorful candy display, which looked like snacks for babies. When she noticed my uncertainty and surprised expression, without saying anything she turned around on her heels and started walking in the opposite direction. I knew something sprang to her mind! She surely realized where the hidden crackers had to be located. Right?! I started following her at healthy pace. She kept walking faster and faster for five…ten…fifteen meters (this is a big supermarket) until we reached the point where I thought, “How energetic is this lady in her 50s ‽” But then, all of a sudden, she turned again! She looked straight into my eyes and clearly said (no Czech needed): “Why are you following me #*@ç% (boy) ?!?!” Speechless and quite embarrassed, with my mouth open, I understood where the misunderstanding was. I arrived home a little later with a bunch of highly-caloric desserts…dreaming about my beloved, unreachable crackers that could not be found.
I learned something from this experience: Czech people are always available and sometimes even smiling! But don’t expect them to be particularly talkative or formal!
That’s all I have to say for now.
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Editor: Marq Edward Shafer – Foreigners.cz Prague PR Coordinator