So I went to the Czech Republic with the universities Psychology society and had a slightly dramatic time. Here are the top 5 hints and tips I wish someone would have told me prior to the trip.
1. KNOW WHERE YOUR COUNTRIES EMBASSY IS.
I lost my passport, ID, university card, money, camera, basically everything within the first few hours of entering Prague. I was stuck in a foreign country. It resulted in my friend and I travelling all over the city in hopes of finding the British embassy so I could attempt to get an emergency passport. It took us over 4 hours to find both the embassy and the police station simply due to language barriers and miscommunication. I would advise just googling where your embassy is, and just marking it on the map, or taking a picture of the directions, just in case. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it will be a real life saver if you do.
I managed to prove my identity by downloading my university enrollment certificate onto my phone (which had my name and address on it), and matching the name to the one on my rail card. Therefore, I would also recommend scanning your driver’s license or passport onto a USB or dropbox, so if you are without your documentation, you have something with your name and picture on. My life would have been so much simpler if I had anything with my face and nationality on it.
2. MAKE SURE YOU VALIDATE YOUR TRAIN TICKET.
Whilst on the embassy quest, my friend and I wanted to get on to the Metro so, having bought our train tickets at the top of the escalators, proceeded down to the underground. However, in Prague, tickets have to be validated on a separate machine with the time and date prior travel. As we walked down the stairs, the guard had already set his eyes towards all the obvious tourists. It is an instant 800 crowna fine if you are caught in the metro station without a validated ticket. If you couldn’t pay the fine, you had to hand over your ID and be escorted to the MET. I personally could not face another trip to the MET, so I paid up, dramatically decreasing the already limited amount of emergency money I had left.
(In hindsight, this ‘guard’ was probably hustling us. I guess keep an eye out for that too).
3. BE AWARE OF THE CONVERSION RATE.
Czech crowna is/was ridiculously low compared to the British Pound, so £150 = 4000 crowna. I took out £100 of emergency cash = 3000 crowna. Thus it was difficult to determine the true value of anything, with a lot of the pricing seemed a little arbitrary. For example, a starbucks coffee + brownie = 120 crowna, whereas a 2-course meal with wine = 320 crowna. (??)
4. THE CREPES.
Crepes, crepes everywhere and none of them to eat… because I’ve already eaten them all. The desserts in Prague are very European, from amazingly complicated and intricate cakes and pastries to the chocolate covered, fruity pancakes. The only other country similar to Pragues delicatessen is Austria, where you can spend up to £15 on a single slice of delicious cake-shaped heaven.
5. GO WITH FANTASTIC PEOPLE.
This is not specific to Prague, but with all the drama of losing my passport and all my money, I still had an amazing time. A fact which is entirely down to my lovely friends. From lending me money, staying with me whilst I sweated at border control, to helping me find the embassy; they made it their mission to make me laugh and really look after me until I got home. So even though Prague is a beautiful city, it was the people I went with which made it special.