Before my crazy awesome trip to Budapest, my friends and I explored the capital of the Czech Republic. Since Prague was the first place I traveled to abroad, my expectations were high. Like, really high. I don't even know what I was expecting, but Prague didn't quite meet it. Don't get me wrong, it was a really cool city and we had an awesome time, but it just felt too... expected? Maybe it was where we hung out or what we saw, but the city felt really geared toured Western tourists. Everyone spoke English and literally every place we went -- church, museum, castle -- had a fee. (A high fee.) Compared to Budapest, where virtually no one spoke to us in English and we could easily stumble upon local gems like ruin pubs, a lot of Prague seemed a bit more like (I hate to say this) midtown New York -- filled with tourists and overpriced mediocre food.
That said, the architecture is beautiful, and there were some really cool things to see around the city. I loved the Jewish cemetery (that's a weird phrase), where graves were literally piled on top of each other and the Old New Synagogue -- the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe with all its original furnishings. The Spanish synagogue was mind-blowingly beautiful. I've never seen such a colorful place of worship before! The Prague Castle was pretty cool too, but crazy overpriced. (They charge you to take photographs and then won't allow you to take them in most areas.) Golden Lane looks like its straight out of Epcot in Disney and therefore great for photo ops.
We climbed Prague's mini Effiel Tower -- Petrin Tower -- which I'd recommend. It's a nice little workout and gives you a great panoramic view of the city. The iconic Charles Bridge is always crowded (similar to the Brooklyn Bridge on a beautiful weekend afternoon) but worth the walk. Go early in the morning if you want to walk at a normal human pace. Our favorite meal was at the top of the Gehry-designed Prague Dancing House. Be sure to make reservations -- it gets packed! Wenceslas Square (really more of a boulevard) is in the more modern part of the city and complete with your requisite Starbucks and McDonald's but has a really interesting history (Velvet Revolution) and great museums at the tail end. Oh also, its basically prostitute central at night, so there's that.
Since Prague is home of the the Pilsner (and highest beer consumption per capita in the world), it's filled with fantastic bars and beer gardens. My favorite was the Letna Beer Garden situated in a garden on the bank of the Vlatava. Overall, the nightlife seemed pretty on point with Eastern Europe clurrrb stereotypes. But maybe that's not a bad thing? At least it was authentically cheesy and filled with locals.
Though I don't think I'll be rushing back to Prague anytime soon, we had a perfectly pleasant time there and I'd definitely recommend czech-ing it out (sorry, I had to).