We made the mistake of taking an Uber rather than public transit into the city center, and my initial impression of Prague was, “My God, what a dump!” We had just left the dazzling city of Vienna and were now stuck in traffic winding through the littered and graffiti-plagued streets of Prague. I imagined that this must be how foreign tourists feel when they enter Manhattan for the first time. And just like Manhattan, once you get past the gritty exterior, there is a glittering treasure in its core. By the time we drove through Old Town and arrived at our hotel in the Little Quarter, I was infatuated. After a delicious dinner that was a welcome departure from Austrian cuisine, I had fallen in love.
We finally hit the jackpot on our city walking tour and food tour. Our guides in Salzburg and Vienna had been expats while our guides in Prague were natives born and raised in Prague, and it made all the difference. The city tour included a boat tour and a fabulous lunch, and our guide clearly cared very passionately about her city, which made us care too. The food tour was fantastic; the local cuisine was elevated beyond anything we had sampled so far on this vacation. The only drawback was the hoards of tourists, an unavoidable side effect for such a popular destination. We saw so much impressive architecture, and explored so many lovely gardens and parks, that it was well worth battling the crowds. The boy even got to meet up with a couple of his favorite schoolmates, while the parents drank beer. A good time was had by all.