Six Reasons to Leave the Golden City

prague 054

Upon graduating Cardiff University in June 2012, I took off my mortarboard with a big sigh of “what the devil is next?”

I sloped back over the border to the West Midlands, finished my CELTA in Birmingham and applied for teaching jobs the world over, from Italy to Vietnam. I have ended up somewhere between the two, the beautiful, but oh so modest, Czech Republic and I’m so glad that I did.

And no, I don’t mean Prague. Even if it’s a city just made for old souls like myself.

“Why Tabor?” is, without doubt, the question that I have fended off the most since I arrived here and my answer to that, well, it’s this. Here are the reasons why you should leave the Golden City in its wake:

1) For storybook towns
Where? Telc and Slavonice, Cesky Krumlov, Olomouc, Trebon
Why? You’ll find the type of towns that fairytales are made of with curly, gingerbread rooftops, pristine town squares, loud and lively local pubs, or a beerhall, and riverside walks made for ramblers and romantics. The prices are low, the crowds are few (not Krumlov, admittedly) and you truly get the feeling you’ve discovered the place. You might even have it all to yourself. Stay in tiny pensions and ask the owners for their take on the best places in town.

2) For fairytale forests
Where? Why, everywhere.
Why? Whether you decide to take a slow coach train ride through the South Bohemian countryside or tackle the trails of Cesky Raj, or even just pack a picnic and head to somewhere woody looking, you’ll discover magical looking forests. Carpets of moss, spotty mushrooms, hush hush streams and the odd family of deer; Czech forests are wonderful. That big city noise you left behind in Prague just isn’t really what this land is all about.

3) For huge plates of svíčková na smetaně.
Where? Why, everywhere.
Why? Sirloin steak in a cream and cranberry sauce snuggled into a round of bread dumplings is comfort food with a capital C. And of course, you’d find it in Prague for twice the price and served with twice the noise. There are local spots in the capital too but when time is short, it’s hard to spot em. Little towns serve big portions for small prices and most importantly, have lots more atmosphere; long, dark wooden tables, roaring fireplaces and all the local hound community curled up on the floor napping.

4) For superstar breweries
Where? Plzen, Ceske Budejovice
Why? You’re talking to a woman who used to wish she could ask for a straw with her half pint. Now, I am converted to the clear and golden twelve degree stuff. Why not go straight to the source? Take a bus to Plzen (home of Pilsner) or better yet, wind your way down to Ceske Budejovice (home of Budvar) and then you’re just a stone’s throw from Krumlov too. And when you’re there, you can sup up at Eggenberg (home of Eggenberg, naturally).

5)For bones
Where? Kutna Hora
Why? With chandeliers hanging from the ceiling made entirely from human skulls, Sedlec Ossuary is a film set style experience. In fact, Central Station witnessed a full blown student production being filmed amongst the bones, complete with crushed rose petals and lots of dramatic pauses. Then wander up to cute Kutna Hora and time it for a sunset over St Barbora’s.

6) For Czechs
Where? Why, everywhere.
Why? Because they are the true people of this land, not the English teachers, expats, ERASMUS students, tourists and many, many North Americans who have come to call Prague their own, which in a way it is. Just go a little further and you’ll hear the indecipherable language on the air.

Hang on. Isn’t this supposed to be a blog about where to get a fancy coffee or two in central Europe? Why yes, it is. But look at all this other stuff you can do too. What I can recommend however, is a small and very lovely chain of teahouses sprinkled across the Republic called Dobre Cajovna. With mleko, please.


About kirstymichelleallen

Teaching some phrasal verbs in the present. Prefer drinking teas in places that look like the past.
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13 Responses to Six Reasons to Leave the Golden City

  1. pickledwings says:

    Perfectly agreed on all points! I’d also say that your Czech Republic experience is not complete without a visit to the South Moravian wine country. Znojmo, Mikulov, Lednice and Valtice all really should be experienced as well. In fact, all of South Moravia has a different feel to points west in this country and it’s worth experiencing.

    As for good coffee in the Czech Lands, I’ve been here nearly ten years and a really good cup of plain filtered coffee is still rare. Though I have heard that the Gloria Jean’s coffee chain is planning to make a comeback to the Czech market, so I live in hope. 🙂

    • Ah, yes! I would just love to explore that area but I worry that it would be a little off limits without a car…I don’t suppose you know how easy it is to get there…? Gloria Jean’s sounds fun though..

  2. I’d like to see more of the country after going to (and loving) Prague 4 times – Brno sounds like my cup of tea. Did you ever try the Budvar?

  3. thekev506 says:

    Hey, is there any chance I could send you an email with a few questions about CELTA? I’m thinking of taking a course to make my ESL times a little more permanent and I’d really appreciate it if I could ask you a couple of questions!

  4. CatherineTs says:

    I must make it over one day, sounds so enchanting!!

  5. I agree with you and with pickledwings. You should visit south moravia. It’s very easy to reach the region. By student agency bus you can go to Brno. From Brno there are plenty of buses and trains serving the whole region. I would add in the previous list Palava hills too.

  6. Have you been to Czech Switzerland yet? It’s beautiful!

  7. Would love to get to Brno – and Prague. Would definitely recommend Czech Switzerland if it’s anything like Saxon Switzerland on the other side of the border – very beautiful place 🙂

    • I was in Brno a couple of days before New Year. We stopped by there just before heading to Olomouc which really is a town worth languishing in. I’ve heard oh so many wonderful things about Czech Switzerland, I hope I squeeze it in next summer. The spring was a bit sketchy this year. The snow did last until April after all…

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