Tips for a Prague visit

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In September ’03 my wife and I took a train from Berlin Ost Bahnhof to Prague, a 5-hour trip.

I had been to Prague many years before when the country was under strict Communist rule. We had to declare our currencies and register any or all bills at each border point. This time we found Prague a different city. Currency-exchange signs were all over, and we could even pay in U.S. dollars or euros in most stores (about 28 koruny to $1).

I would recommend a visit to Prague. It has become a Western-type city in the heart of Eastern Europe. I offer the following recommendations.

• Beware of taxi prices! Taxis can charge what they want. In the street, we asked one taxi driver the fare to our destination and were told 200 koruny, but the next one a few feet away wanted 100 and the third one even less!

Upon our arrival from Berlin at the Holocevice railroad station, we were told it would cost 500 koruny to get downtown, but later we found out that the usual rate was about half that. We could find only a few taxis at that station.

A tourist city such as Prague deserves better regulations and fare control for their taxis. Under this current situation, you must bargain before riding in one.

• Watch restaurant pricing. The menu posted outside is for one item. You must pay extra for water, bread, potatoes or a salad. The tip of 10% should be included, but check before ordering.

• To change money, look for “no commission” signs; otherwise, you pay a high commission fee.

• The best way to explore the town, especially when you have limited time, is by Eko Express. This trolley/train starts in the Old Town square and takes you to the former Jewish ghetto, over the Vltava River and uphill to the Prague Castle. The fare is reasonable, a few dollars for the 60-minute trip.

• Visit Václavské námestí (Wenceslas Square) and have a coffee or drink in one of its many sidewalk cafés. It gives you the impression of being on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

• The old Jewish Cemetery (over 500 years old) is worth seeing. The single entrance fee is about US$20.

CYRUS MOAYAD, M.D.
Valparaiso, IN

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In September ’03 my wife and I took a train from Berlin Ost Bahnhof to Prague, a 5-hour trip.

I had been to Prague many years before when the country was under strict Communist rule. We had to declare our currencies and register any or all bills at each border point. This time we found Prague a different city. Currency-exchange signs were all over, and we could even pay in U.S. dollars or euros in most stores (about 28 koruny to $1).

I would recommend a visit to Prague. It has become a Western-type city in the heart of Eastern Europe. I offer the following recommendations.

• Beware of taxi prices! Taxis can charge what they want. In the street, we asked one taxi driver the fare to our destination and were told 200 koruny, but the next one a few feet away wanted 100 and the third one even less!

Upon our arrival from Berlin at the Holocevice railroad station, we were told it would cost 500 koruny to get downtown, but later we found out that the usual rate was about half that. We could find only a few taxis at that station.

A tourist city such as Prague deserves better regulations and fare control for their taxis. Under this current situation, you must bargain before riding in one.

• Watch restaurant pricing. The menu posted outside is for one item. You must pay extra for water, bread, potatoes or a salad. The tip of 10% should be included, but check before ordering.

• To change money, look for “no commission” signs; otherwise, you pay a high commission fee.

• The best way to explore the town, especially when you have limited time, is by Eko Express. This trolley/train starts in the Old Town square and takes you to the former Jewish ghetto, over the Vltava River and uphill to the Prague Castle. The fare is reasonable, a few dollars for the 60-minute trip.

• Visit Václavské námestí (Wenceslas Square) and have a coffee or drink in one of its many sidewalk cafés. It gives you the impression of being on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

• The old Jewish Cemetery (over 500 years old) is worth seeing. The single entrance fee is about US$20.

CYRUS MOAYAD, M.D.
Valparaiso, IN