Family Travels
Czech Republic
Travelling to the Czech Republic was quite an experience.  
Prague was a gem.  The building architecture will leave you
in awe as each building soars and tries to outshine the other.
The city was impeccably clean.  
The transportation was easy to use.

The alphabet and language are impossible to master in a
short time...but luckily, most service or tourism staff spoke
English (abet reluctantly)  The food is a cross between
German and Austrian and if you like meat, gravy, cream,
bread dumplings, potato dumplings and don't mind gaining
five pounds in three short days...
It is heavenly.

The beer is fabulous.  Legal drinking age seems to be open
to interpretation much to the delight of my 20 and 17 year
olds.  Even my 13 year old was offered a glass.

Our biggest shock was our reception.  As a country emerging
from the dark clouds of Communism you would think they
would embrace tourism with open arms and smiling faces.
Uh....Don't expect that.

Unfortunately, poor service, rude dismissals, unwillingness to
engage in conversation, and
down and out tourist rip-offs are the norm.

Questions are often met with a shrug and a roll the eyes.  
Waiters ignore you and pad the bill.
Merchants overcharge and give incorrect change.
Even grocery store clerks will "mistaken" ring items twice or
ring "special" tourist prices in.  (read below for a more in
depth review of our challenges)

Sounds depressing.  Well...we figured out that they even
treat Europeans and in fact, their own countrymen in the
same way.  Just roll with the punches.
Review all bills.
Be firm in refusing to pay ripoffs.  Be kindly insistent that
someone answer questions.
And truly enjoy Prague....I think you will find that you will want
to return again and again.
It is beautiful and a wonderful city.
            Special Challenges in Traveling the Czech Republic

**Ticket vendors at tourist sites often speak very reluctant English.  They will insist that they do not speak English...but
somehow you can muddle through.  However, they get easily frustrated and more than once we were overcharged
admission price trying to negotiate student/family discounts.  Once in Chesky Krumlov we simply gave up trying to visit the
Old Theater because we simply could not communicate with the desk clerk and it ended loudly and badly.

**Confirm taxi fares--upfront and firm...for the entire trip...for the number of passengers....and pieces of luggage...
Taxis in Prague at the airport and train station are notorious for tourist rip-off...Rick Steves calls them a band of thieves
Read our travel comments on airport to hotel transfers offered by mini bus--a safer solution.

***Restaurants--the bills are often hand written....and in their language and alphabet....good luck trying to translate.
We were overcharged
100% of the time......each lunch and dinner.  When ordering, try to sub-total in your mind an
approximately cost of the meal...If the bill is within 10-20%--Don't fight it.

***All restaurant bills include tax.......if the tax is added as a separate line is being added twice.  Insist that they take
the tax off.

***Tipping and Gratuities--You may have to fight this.  Some places even included a service charge....even though they
already added a separate "bread and cover" charge that IS the service charge

***Even grocery stores and mini markets will charge you for items not purchased....ring items twice....or charge a "special"
price just for tourists.

***Merchants... Most are willing to negotiate a little.  There is always a cheaper price to be had.  But always be aware of the
amount of currency you paid with, how much you expect in change....and then count your change.
Don't let children handle their own money.  Vendors love dealing with teenagers....two of mine were ripped off.

WOW!... and we were only there for three days.

It actually seems part of their lifestyle.  Ripoffs and padding the bill are the norm.  It seems that after the depression of
Communism, everyone is after the Capitalist Buck AND Tourists are the TARGET.
Do we seem paranoid......not really, we spoke with at least four other American/English tourists with the same experiences
and opinions.  Czech Republic is beautiful....being a tourist there is a challenging experience.
Date Visited -- 2008

Train Station            Hlavni Nadrazi                     hlav-NEE NAH-drah-zhee
Old Town                 Stare Mesto                           STAH-reh Myehs-toh
Old Town Square   Staromestke Namesti        STAR-roh-myeht-skeh NAH-myehs-tee
New Town                Nove Mesto                           NOH-vay myehs-toh
Jewish Quarter      Josefov                                  YOO-zef-fohf
Castle area              Hradcany                               HRAD-chah-nee
Wenceslas Square Vaclavske Namesti           VAH-slawf-skeh NAH-myehs-tee
Charles Bridge        Karluv Most                          Kar-loov most
The River                  Vltava                                     VUL-tah-vah