I took the nigh bus to Prague and instantly felt at home when I saw billboards and skyscrapers-something Budapest was devoid of. What a strange thought, I never knew such urban nonsense could be so appealing.
I managed to visit almost all of Prague's sites in the first day. The city is very lively and gorgeous. It was Hitler's favorite hangout, so it remains untouched from both world wars. One of the city's biggest industries is tourism and there are tourists EVERYWHERE! The streets are jam packed with people reading maps and street vendors, a little stressful if you ask me.
Interestingly, The Czech just emerged from communism a mere 22 years ago and is already a top European tourist destination. They have a very different past from Hungary.
The communist government lasted for 40 years until a group of students assembled a protest in Wenceslas Square. Thousands of people gathered shoulder to shoulder in the square and held up their house keys and began to shake them. Right then and there, the government was turned over to the democratic party. Not a drop of blood was shed hence the term, "Velvet Revolution."
On my second day, I wandered the city wondering what I should do. I settled down at an outdoor restaurant and decided to sample some typical Czech food-a pork skewer and some beer.
I was surprised when the waiter returned with a skewer at least 18 inches tall loaded with pork, bacon, peppers, potatoes and onions. It was the single largest serving of meat and potatoes I have ever seen, and I quickly became Czech food's number one fan. As for the beer, it costs less than a bottle of water which is a plus, but the bottom line: its got nothing on Colorado beer!
Feeling completely satisfied from my feast, I set out wandering the city again. I stumbled upon an exhibit for Prague's Design Week and decided to check it out on a whim. It was called Design Blok and from the ticket attendant's broken English description I had no idea what to expect, but I was about to discover the Czech's best kept secret.
Design Block had turned an office building into an exhibition of interior, fashion and graphic design. Each designer had a room that she decorated to display her product. The designers held nothing back. They supplemented the rooms with new flooring, curtains, painted walls and lighting. My favorites were a room where the designer sodded the floor and hung lights made of plants from the ceiling, and another where the room was turned into a meat market selling jeans with actual meat and blue jeans on a butcher block.
I spent a good portion of the day wandering around the exhibition and even got to attend a fashion show in the evening.
Design Blok and Prague definitely didn't disappoint. My final assessment? Both Prague and Budapest are lovely and offer stunning scenery and great attractions, however, I've got to give it to Budapest for the authentic borozo experience, grand parks and excellent wandering streets.