A weekend in Prague for travel bloggers

A welcome cool breeze skimmed across the Vltava, as dozens of paddle-boat revellers and a few small ferries floated past me on excursions along the Prague waterfront. I’d arrived ahead of Cooper for our weekend in Prague for travel bloggers – or, with a creative content twist; you see, we’re on our way to another annual TBEX conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to be in the Czech Republic.

It was Friday afternoon about 6.30pm and after a scorching hot day fighting through crowds for a glimpse at the city’s famously pretty highlights, I’d stumbled into a stunning yet quite secluded spot by the water. The place was otherwise anonymous, crudely labelled ‘Riverside Bar’ on a blackboard out the back of the place.

The shabby-chic joint served cold drinks and was streaming chilled House tunes – right up my alley. Similar name as a luxe and expensive Brisbane counterpart (that admittedly I love), yet cheap, romantic, less sweaty and overlooking the city’s medieval structures including the Charles Bridge. With a flavoursome gin and tonic sparkling in my eyes and the sun beginning its descent across the Czech Republic, it occurred to me, this is the life. I could be an a$$ and hashtag it ‘blessed’, but…

For the first time in months, I’d say, I sat without thought, just observing in peace.

It’s been so so busy this year and I need this weekend in Prague. I don’t like to overuse the word ‘busy’ – we tout a saying in my team at work about how ‘busy’ has become an excuse, often meaning that actually, you believe your ‘stuff’ to be more important than someone else’s, when often we have no idea what others are up against, nor do we remember to be respectful of it.

That said, while I’ve tried hard to balance things, it’s been tough, and writing or blogging for myself and for this lifestyle and travel space is the last thing I have energy for. Yet, it’s in my heart. And away from the hustle and bustle of Prague’s overcrowded tourist centre (not to mention my ‘other’ routine life), yet with its best bits in my line of sight, I felt inspired again.

While I moan about the crowds (apparently Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe), I must admit to having a moment on Friday afternoon. I was wandering the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage listed Old Town Square, and as I gazed around me at the colourful, historical architecture and felt energy of so many who had come before, my breath caught and tears came to my eyes. It was rather overwhelming and took me by surprise. Probably nothing to do with being deliriously tired following a work social the night before and a 6am flight.

In all seriousness, it’s as beautiful as I remember it, and more than that, how lucky are we to have the chance to be in such places, so far from home?

Beyond the selfie sticks and those taking more photos of themselves than their surroundings, the depths of crowds attempting to enter popular areas, and hundreds of tourist groups dripping in deep-fried ice-cream-stuffed doughnut cones (yep it’s a thing, although not even Czech, as I understand it), there is palpable magic in this city of red rooftops and a thousand spires, wooded hills, romantic views and influence from generations gone by.

Founded in the latter part of the 9th Century, Prague became the seat of the kings of Bohemia. The city flourished during the 14th Century and for hundreds of years was a multi-ethnic city with an influential Czech, German and Jewish population.

From 1939 the country was occupied by the Nazis and while Prague’s structures remained relatively undamaged during the war, most Jews either fled the city or were killed in the Holocaust. The German population was then expelled in the aftermath of WWII.

Most of us remember the Prague that was under Communist rule for over 40 years, rarely visited by tourists until after the Velvet Revolution on 17 November 1989. Freedom meant a huge economic boom and an influx of delighted visitors from then on, which only increased after the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004.

As mentioned, we’re destined for TBEX Europe 2018, in a place I’d never thought to have visited, Ostrava. That said, as travel bloggers and explorers we are very excited to see somewhere new! Preparing and in Prague for the weekend, Cooper and I wanted our schedule to be part (re)discovery, part relaxing, part planning for networking and the conference (which I blogged about for the TBEX Events site recently).

We stayed about twenty minutes walk from the city centre, at Hotel Kinsky Gardens in a quiet Prague neighbourhood, yet with the convenience of supermarkets, shopping mall, pubs, a delicious tapas restaurant called Miro, and tram stop not five minutes’ walk away.

The river precinct I came to love (including the ‘Riverside Bar’, gorgeous new waterfront restaurant opening this week Kalina Kampa and Belle Vida Cafe) was just ten minutes walk from our accommodation, and is perfect for anyone who has done the central Prague tourist bit and is happy to indulge in the views away from the chaos.

On Saturday night I hosted my very first TBEX meet-up (this is my sixth TBEX conference so I’m excited to have taken this step). We met up with four locals to Prague and five visitors from as far as America, Costa Rica and another conference attendee coming from England like us. We ran the plans through the conference Facebook group and Katie (an American expat living in Prague) chose a cool pub on a hill with a view for our group’s meet-up, and Prague local Veronika assisted with finding an impromptu dining option so we could all hang out and try local cuisine.

It was immensely fun to meet other travel bloggers and content creators in Prague this weekend and part of the reason we’re so pleased we continue to develop our little corner of the web here, for love and a hobby.

Prague is easy to do as a city break – you can walk around the old town, to the castle, up to view points, catch trams to gardens, boat-ride around the Vltava, enjoy a little jazz, join a free walking tour and get cultural in museums.

Practical tips we’ve learnt – be careful of taxis, they can be unregulated and rip you off. Go with a pre-booked service or use the trams and trains as they are very well run and cheap, but DO buy a ticket as if you get caught without one or if you have not validated it the fines are hefty.

Try the beer (it’s the home of Pilsner, after all), and as always, get out of the tourist areas of a cheaper experience when it comes to food and dining. Take your money out of an ATM that’s associated with a bank and be careful of the exchange outlets that say ‘zero commission’ (usually they are hiking up hidden charges).

Importantly, be curious. In our case, this weekend in Prague was for us as travel bloggers: an unexpected low-key treat and reminder of how much I’ve gained from travel – the people met, surprising and inspired moments, lands wandered at early (or late) hours, and the fulfilment that pursuing creativity provides. We are lucky, but I too am grateful.

Onwards to Ostrava…

Got a question on where to stay, how to get around or things to do in Prague? Drop us a line in the comments – we love to chat and share

Summer experiences UK and Europe | join our new community!

We’ve hit the best time of year over here and are well and truly in the summer spirit, ready to share with you the very best summer experiences UK and Europe-wide. If you are planning a trip, a move or want to get more creative coming into the second half of 2018, we’ve got some exciting projects on the way. And, we’d love for you to be involved.

Keep an eye on our summer experiences UK and Europe series across July and August, find out more about some of our favourite destinations like London, Brighton, Tuscany, Ibiza and Prague; sign up to our brand new experiences mailing list, and be in with a chance to work with us, plus win a hefty Amazon voucher at the end of the summer.

All the action will take place on Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you are following us. And join the experiences community today by taking a minute to fill in the form below.

Happy summer! Sarah & Cooper

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Aussie living in Serbia: things I miss and things I don’t

 

Guest contributor, Roxana Oliver is an Aussie living in Serbia – she’s shared her story with us on travellivelearn.com

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About a year ago, I moved to a lovely town in Serbia, Novi Sad. Since I love travelling, it didn’t take me long to discover the good sides of living in this new culture. Its hospitality, the people’s eagerness to socialise, excellent food and pubs, and, naturally, going out at 8pm and returning home at 8am!

Still, there are things about Australia I miss dearly, and others that, whenever I think of them, give me a tiny mental pat on the shoulder for deciding to move.

Things I don’t miss

No doubt about the first one – Vegemite! Spreading yeast extract over my slice of bread has never been a treat for me, no matter how much you try to improve the taste. That brings me to another food (some) Australians insist on consuming – the witchetty grub, sold in many Australian markets. My palate can endure a lot, but wood-eating larvae is certainly not my cup of tea; not raw, not cooked, not in a soup. Just. No. Although, many say it actually tastes like chicken.

Once I’ve moved to Serbia and got used to Serbian prices, it hit me how super expensive life in Australia is. The costs are too high, even though the salaries are quite decent. Sydney, in particular, is among the most expensive cities in the world, whether you’re talking transportation, food, real estate, or clothes.

Another thing that always saddened me was that, in Sydney, I wasn’t able to experience that typical winter Christmas that you can see in so many movies.

Christmas in Australia is in the summer, and somehow celebrating it in hot weather, heading to a beach or going camping is not exactly the idyllic Christmas I wanted – the snow (there especially for Santa and his reindeer!), Christmas lights all over town, cinnamon cookies and hot tea!

Things I do miss

Again, let’s start with food and drinks! The first thing that comes to mind here is the good ol’ Aussie beer. Australians are, mildly put, incredibly fond of it and some of the brands there are so good that your tongue will suffer from incurable nostalgia when denied this delight for a while.

The same goes for my #1 drink of choice. As a great fan of high-quality gin, I miss certain brands of it from back home – a somewhat silly thing to miss when you’re in a country that has excellent wine and rakia. There is the option of ordering my favourite artisan gin online, so I guess I won’t be missing that for much longer.

Chiko Rolls I still shed a tear for sometimes. There’s something about grabbing a Chiko and taking a walk around your neighbourhood or going to watch a sports game. These delicious snacks are about as Australian as you can get – mutton, spices, and veggies wrapped in cabbage and then fried. Our version of spring rolls on the go!

Let’s be honest here and admit it’s extremely difficult to top Australia’s gorgeous beaches. Once you’ve been to a place like Whitehaven beach, it really becomes almost impossible to enjoy any other spot on the planet. The whole place looks like a dream, from the breathtaking colours to powder-fine sand and unbelievably clear water. It makes you not want to leave – ever!

But more than anything, I miss the road trips.

In Australia, travelling from one city to another takes hours, so my husband and I would sometimes jump in the car and drive off somewhere just for the sake of another memorable adventure. The breeze, dusk-coloured landscapes, your song playing in the background, the excitement of knowing that beyond what your eyes can see, nothing else matters at that moment… Something I’m able to experience only back home and nowhere else.

No matter where you go, certain things are bound to charm you, and others will leave you feeling disappointed or indifferent.

The trick, I’ve found, is to focus on the things that make you happy, regardless of whether you’re home or abroad.

 

About

Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family.

Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter. She is also one of the editors at Higstylife Magazine.