Prague has a lot to offer both to newbies and experienced tourists: from art nouveau architecture to graffiti, from street festivals to pub crawling. Still there are places that may ruin the visitor’s impression from Prague. My friend Tanya Galitskaya, who works as a tour guide in Prague for many years, has put together a list of such potential disappointments (link to Russian original on Pretty Prague website), and I translated it to English.
The mall is always crowded and incredibly badly planned – especially the escalators and stairs between floors. If you just need something specific and you know exactly, which shop are you heading to, then Palladium is fine. But if you like long relaxed shopping days, exploring all shops of the mall and stopping for coffee breaks, it is worth to go a bit further from the center to Chodov of Cerny Most that are much better organized and user-friendly.
2. Passage near Charles Bridge
The passage is so awful that it even does not have a name, but you may still need to face it eventually. If you are walking along the embankment of the right bank of Vltava heading to Charles Bridge from 5-storey Karvoly Lazne night club or you urgently need a WC, which are in short supply in this area, you would eventually have to enter this passage. The Renaissance buildings of city mill and water tower from the outside make a remarkable contrast with this dirty and noisy place with cheap souvenirs and fake Bohemian crystal glass vases. The currency exchange would rip you off half of your money and the pickpockets would finish the work.
3. U Medvídků Restaurant
This place near Tesco on Národní třída is known for its X-beer, the strongest in the city, and traditional Czech cuisine, but the beer is undrinkable and the “cuisine” is represented by roast pork knuckle and ribs, which are simultaneously lardy and overcooked. The waiter’s face is sour as if your presence is a personal insult to him. The waiters may change, but the face expression seems to be part of the brand. And with the time the food becomes more and more expensive and less and less eatable.
4. Ham roasting-jack on Old Town Square
Another experience of expensive and unsavory food that you need to be aware of. The roast looks attractive and authentic, so many tourists go for it. The price is shown for 100 grams, and by default you would be treated with a half a kilo “portion” of pork paying around CZK 400 (USD 15) for the salted meat burning hot from outside and cold from inside. If you still wish to try it, ask the man for 100 grams, not “a portion”.
5. Fashion Arena Outlet
Fashion Arena is an outlet village, located at the outskirts of Prague. Unfortunately, the choice of clothes and shoes there is not impressive and the discounts are not so high as expected in an outlet. You may buy a good pair of sneakers or some sports clothes there, but otherwise the place is not worth a visit. And the food there is disgusting.
6. Concerts in Municipal House
Municipal House (Obecní dům) is a massive building with a green dome near the Powder Tower. The building itself is beautiful, although some may call it over-decorated. There are indeed quality symphonic concerts in a stunning hall named after Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. But if you buy the concert tickets from a promotion guy near the entrance, you will end up sitting in a small unremarkable hall on uncomfortable wooden chairs and listening to some amateur musicians playing Vivaldi. So if you looking for a high-quality concert, buy the ticket to Smetana’s hall yourselves in the Municipal House official ticket office located to the left from the entrance.
7. Park near the Main Railway Station
The park proudly named after Czech lyrical poet Jaroslav Vrchlický is unofficially named “Sherwood of Prague” for its modern analogue of Robin Hood’s band of merrymen: homeless people, drug addicts and gypsy pickpockets. If you decide to have a picnic in the park and a nap afterwards – you would wake up without your money, mobile phone and camera. The park is also known as a center of gay prostitution.
8. The Narrowest Street
This one is not awful, just overrated. It is a nameless passage now leading to Čertovka restaurant (also nothing special). The street is so narrow that it has a traffic light for pedestrians – you should press the button and wait for a green light to enter the street, since two people would not be able to bypass each other on it. The passage was initially intended for easier access to the river and slowing down a potential fire spreading. So this is actually an entertaining experience if you are already nearby, but not worth a special visit.
9. Sokolska and Legerova streets
Two wide and dusty highways cross the city on their way from Brno to Drezden and vice versa. Initially, the city intended to build an overpass, but then went for a cheaper option. Now these two streets have turned a nice central district near I.P.Pavlova to a pedestrian’s nightmare (and also to cheap meth’s dealer point). They are also the worst streets of Prague in terms of the air pollution according to 2010 study.
10. Lower Zhizhkov
You may have read about a hippie atmosphere and stylish young people of Zhizhkov district – this actually relates to Upper Zhizhkov, its part to the south of Seifertova street. The northern part of Zhizhkov is dusty and unpleasant, full of pawnbroker shops, bodyshops and abandoned buildings with broken windows.
Photo credit: Praga Magica blog.