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Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out!

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Old 09-06-2006, 08:53 AM   #1
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I am in Prague now. First, EVERYONE DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. For 2 days I have approached every policeman I see to ask about busking. None of the 12 police I approached could speak a word of English, nor Dutch, Spanish or German! The only people who seem to speak some english(limited) are the hostel workers. Most locals older than 21 do not speak a 2nd language, or at least they refuse to admit they can to an amerikan. Few signs are in english, if they are, the info is often wrong.
Street music is totally illegal. If you are Czech you can get a permit to play on Charles Bridge. The 3 musicians I observed and spoke with were not making enough to make it worthwhile anyway. This is a city in it's famous Autumnfest , month of music. But you cannot play in public! Buskers BEWARE...don't even bother with Prague. It isn't much cheaper, as you will have been led to believe. Well, food cigs and beer are cheap. But the smoke, if you can even find any, is rubbish . Many good deals turn out to be tourist traps. Bars, with several rooms and levels, offer cheap drinksand meals, but only if you walk down 3 levels into a stuffy basement. If you order before reaching the"pit" you will get your order and they will charge you alot more than the "special"price.
Info booths are really sales points for renting rooms, and while they may know a little english, their info is very limited. Officials are a joke. I went to 5 non-police offices trying to get busking info. Again, huge language barrier. And its always someone else you need to see, across town, and then they just send you elsewhere. A nightmare.
THIS COUNTRY (IMHO) DOESN"T DESERVE TO BE IN THE EU!!!!They use lame money(much counterfiet, beware 2000 Crown notes that don't really exist), their language is unrelated to anything EU and they hold onto it dearly, and nowhere did the term European Community appear to have meaning.
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:39 AM   #2
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Wow, I don't know what to say to all that... But I'll try.

1. English is not the world's language, nor is it the EU's language. Going *anywhere* besides the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, NZ, or other former British colonies, you should never expect much English to be spoken, even by officials.

2. There's a popular misconception that Prague is cheap. And yeah, some things most definitely are. But as any resident of a country that's joined the EU can tell you, prices skyrocket with the ascendancy, especially in cities with heavy tourist traffic. Prague has long left behind its cheap-vacationers-paradise veneer and has become a hot tourist destination. That means higher prices and, unfortunately, more elaborate means of separating you from your Crowns. Do yourself a favor and visit some of the smaller towns, though, and you'll still find super-cheap prices and far fewer people preying on tourists.

3. Why would language have anything to do with EU membership? The Czech Republic has an emerging economy, is attractive to tourists, and -ta da- is a part of Europe. It's a rich heritage well over half a millenium old, is one of the few countries occupied by both the Nazis and Communists that still has everything intact. Their Slavic tongue is as old and venerable as the country itself, and is also understood by neighbors in Poland and Slovakia and also has many common roots with languages in the former Yugoslavia and much of Central Europe. It's as valid a language as any other. It would serve you well to learn a few niceties in Czech, like "Dobry den" and "Dobry vecher" and "Dekuji" - Speaking just a few of these words will help the locals warm up to you and you'll discover that some of them do, in fact, speak great English, and among the older folks, German. They just can't be bothered to switch to another language if you won't give the effort.

4. As far as the currency goes, the CR has been an EU member for only a few years, they have not yet converted their currency to the Euro but are in the process. This is not an overnight thing. It wreaks havoc on the economies of the countries involved, so it's done rather slowly and meticulously to get people used to the new currency and to balance out the old values against the new. Besides - isn't it cool that you can go somewhere in Europe and get your hands on some cool-looking, non-homogenized notes & coins?

I thought the whole spirit of travel - especially on these boards - is to embrace the funky differences, overcome the barriers, and have a kick-ass time despite the inconveniences that culture-shock throws at us. If you want an easy, cruisy, convenient time, get on a Contiki tour or buy a package resort deal. The rest of us will enjoy the quirky differences, and even the frustrations, to our heart's content. If you've spent time reading the boards, you can read everyone else's experiences in Prague, links to anecdotes and scams, and even where the English-speaking expats and resources are. You're absolutely entitled to your opinion, but don't make a fool of yourself by harping on about information that's readily available here.

Now get thee to the Globe Bookstore/Cafe, where you'll find a ton of American/British expats and all sorts of resources in English. You might even find out how to get a busking permit or where you can get away with it without one. And in case you're also Google challenged, here's the link: http://www.globebookstore.cz/
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:28 AM   #3
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^ Thank you for saying that.
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:34 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info about busking in Prague, but as for the rest of your post, I'll have to second Omisan. You're entering Eastern Europe, and this is a different world. My personal best place on the planet, so far...

Prague, as several cities from E.E., is listed as one of the cities where the cost of living is increasing the fastest (read this). Moscow's rank is just below New York City, and it is even become the most expensive place to live for an expat.

I hope you'll adapt fine and enjoy the rest of your stay !
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Old 09-06-2006, 02:58 PM   #5
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I was only trying to point out to unwarry travellers that the info books that state there are many english speakers in Czech is incorrect. By the way, I speak enough German, Dutch and Spanish to survive easily in those countries. Pretty good for an american! And I have supported myself for 7 years as a streetmusician in europe, that ain't no package cruise. I know what I'm talkin about. When was the last time YOU had to make a living on the street in a strange country, with no daddy to beg for cash? Well???
I would have thought Czech's would speak SOME other language. I never said they had to speak english. And yes, if they want in the EU, with all it's economic benefits(the eu don't really NEED them), they should follow the lead of Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian countries as far as language flexibility. These economically successful countries all have embraced English. Don't be a dinosaur, thats what museums are for. This is the new world order....get used to it or quit pretending to be part of it.
I disagree with you as to the purpose of these forums. They are not to PROMOTE anything besides sharing info. If you like ancient, strange things, well good for you. Some of us are into the future and technology and sharing ideas efficiently with others. And we are no less legit than you, and have as much right to say so here.
You say "The rest of us will enjoy the quirky differences, and even the frustrations, to our heart's content. "
You take great liberty in speaking for others. Differences are cool. Frustration, by definition, sux.
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Old 09-06-2006, 03:23 PM   #6
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Dude for being a 40 year old street musician you sure are bringing a lot of hostility and ignorance to the table.
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Old 09-06-2006, 03:46 PM   #7
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Mannshands,

I apologize if I came across as a little brusque, but if you want to rip on an entire nation and its place in the world, you may want to qualify your statements before you are put on the defensive...

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I was only trying to point out to unwarry travellers that the info books that state there are many english speakers in Czech is incorrect.[/b]
Fair enough. But they don't speak English in the same way that the French don't. Bother to greet them in Czech and suddenly they do! Yeah, that sort of sucks, but you are a visitor in their country. I don't take kindly to people who come up to me in California and start speaking Spanish right off the bat, even though I speak it.

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And I have supported myself for 7 years as a streetmusician in europe, that ain't no package cruise. I know what I'm talkin about. When was the last time YOU had to make a living on the street in a strange country, with no daddy to beg for cash? Well???[/b]
Well then, tough guy, learning Czech should be a cakewalk for you. I went there for a WEEK on holiday and bothered to learn a rudimentary conversational level, knowing it would get me a helluva lot farther than the typical tourist. You plan on WORKING there yet you have the gall to complain? If you want to economically benefit from being in the Czech Republic, then you'd better follow the lead of everyone else who works there in terms of language flexibility. Sound familiar?

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This is the new world order....get used to it or quit pretending to be part of it.[/b]
And people wonder why America is hated the world over...

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Some of us are into the future and technology and sharing ideas efficiently with others. And we are no less legit than you, and have as much right to say so here.[/b]
Let's see. This is the internet and we're all on a public forum. So I'm assuming all of us are into the future and the technology. However, hegemonically imposing your values on an entire country with a rich history and emerging economy sounds a bit foolhardy to me. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and encouraged to espouse it, but don't be surprised if you're met with some sort of response, pleasant or otherwise. And I'm gonna be strong on the otherwise.

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You take great liberty in speaking for others.[/b]
I admit, you got me there... but I'm looking at your post count and making the grandiose assumption that you haven't participated quite as much as others around here, and learned that while we all have massive differences in our style of travel, what we look to get out of it, etc., there's a particular spirit that embraces all that's different and wonderful around the world.

I'm not here to chew you out. If you look at most of my posts, they're pretty damn far from serious and I try to go out of my way to give advice when I can, as does pretty much everyone here. Just know that the way you posted, you're liable to ruffle some feathers, not to mention further the image of the ugly, ignorant American traveler, which in the long run doesn't help many of us who do roll with an eagle crest on our passports.

You said yourself that you can get by in Dutch, German and Spanish. And you've been doing it for 7 years. That's awesome. Now how about using what you've learned about people and culture in that near-decade of immersive work and put it to use and conquer this Czech challenge? Like I said, get over to the Globe and dig on their English-language resources. Don't think of the difficulties of getting around in a new, frustrating system as an affront to your experience, but a chance to expand yours.
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:43 PM   #8
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They speak a DIFFERENT LANGUAGE?!?!!? *gasp*

They have weird currency?!?!? OMG!!!

Policemen dont speak English?!?!?!? oh, the horror of the middle class not wanting to speak to a presumptuous American who wants to busk in his streets..... THE HORROR!! THE HORROR!!!

Quote:
If you like ancient, strange things, well good for you. Some of us are into the future and technology[/b]
Dude, why didnt you stay at your house surfing the internet...?? why did you EVEN BOTHER to go abroad??

All you said just made me happier that I added Prague and Český Krumlov (yeeees it's got weird accents!!) to my trip. And I loooove the fact that I'll be walking in Gothic streets and I probably wont understand a word anyone is talking around me... how fantastic to go abroad and see somethig TOTALLY different to my everyday life.

Quote:
with no daddy to beg for cash?[/b]
How pathetic and envious can you be?? I've been working my ass off through University and a job for the last 4 years just so I can go on my future trip cause *sit still* I don't earn in dollars nor in Euros, but in PESOS!!!!. (OH!! I'm soooo like in the Middle ages!!)

And I'm sorry to inform you that Omisan probably DOES speak on behalf of ALL of us TravelPUNKS.



I do hope, for your sake, that there were enough McDonalds around.- Get a clue.....
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:57 PM   #9
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I thought I was on Travel PUNK, not travel yuppies. Punk attitude rejects all the traditional old crap and strives to develop it's own paths and style. You conformists should not steal terms you don't understand. I am a true travel punk, carving my own path, breaking traditions, making my own individual sense out of this mess of a world. If you clones had a bit of courage you'd do something new, not walk some old worn out path. YOU ARE NOT PUNKS.
In case some of you can't read I tried 4 languages. English was always a lost resort. You are just defending
Omi, relax...you don't have to be the worlds authority on everything to do with travel. My experences are as valid as anyones. And I am a true veteran of Eurolife, your wannabe followers sound like newbies.
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:01 PM   #10
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Mannshands, thank you for contributing your opinion, and I'm sure in the future someone will find this enlightening, but do keep in mind that your tone was a bit on the negative side, esp. for a public forum that is typically very positive and upbeat.

I'm sorry that your stay in Prague isn't exactly the way that you hoped, but do try to make the best of it.

Some tips I would suggest have already been mentioned, but it won't hurt to repeat:

- Try learning some of the language. It doesn't have to be perfect, and you'll probably have trouble, but if you plan on working there, you should learn some.

- Remember that you are an ambassador for the United States whenever you travel abroad. The opinion that people you come in contact there might turn into the opinion they hold for all us Americans. Show them that Americans can be cultured and humble, as well.

- Know that English shouldn't be expected out of ANYONE from ANY country outside of the ones Omi mentioned previously. There are MILLIONS of Mexicans in the United States. No one expects anyone to speak Spanish well enough for communication. Yes, you tried four languages, but out of Dutch, Korean, French and Chinese, how many Americans do you expect to know even one of them? No one should be obligated to know multiple languages for someone else's convinience.

I hope that your stay in Prague turns out being a good experience.

EDIT:

TravelPunk is a community of budget travelers who strive to make an amazingly tight-knit community, while also helping those who need help in their travels/travel planning. I'm asking you to please not compromise that with negativity, because I can assure you that it will probably not end in your favor.
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:09 PM   #11
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Woah...

So let me get this straight...
You are pissed at Prague for not conforming to the rest of the EU but then you turn around and tell us you are a non-conformist? That doesn't even make sense man.

You sound like a bitter old dude to me and my suggestion is this,

Stop talking out your ass and contribute positive info or move your rusted old jalopy along to a different website where they appreciate global ignorance and cynical attitudes.
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:29 PM   #12
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I'm glad I have all this time in my corporate office of mine to have fun with this...

Quote:
I thought I was on Travel PUNK, not travel yuppies.[/b]
Yeah, we're yuppies because we don't advocate conforming to some sort of universal language and using a currency issued by the European Central Bank. We're yuppies because we're advocating going in and learning on experience, instead of being disappointed by some guidebook's assessment that people speak other languages. We're yuppies because we're happy to encounter cultural, linguistic, and monetary differences instead of staying in our comfort zone of 20 dollar/euro notes, reliable ATM cards, and helpful cops. Yeah, we're yuppies alright. Where's my soy latte? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DON'T HAVE SOY MILK IN PRAGUE!?

Quote:
Punk attitude rejects all the traditional old crap and strives to develop it's own paths and style.[/b]
Indeed it does. But it also embraces the DIY ethic, and is foremost (if rules can even be applied to something as punk) about the expression of self. So the Czech so far refuse to conform and speak one of your major languages or use a major currency instead of getting in line with the rest of the EU? They're maintaining their national identity instead of homogenizing. You should love it.

Quote:
I am a true travel punk, carving my own path, breaking traditions, making my own individual sense out of this mess of a world.[/b]
Bra-fucking-vo. How's that working out for you? You seem a bit frustrated in this quest of yours. Perhaps it's because you expect others to match up with your own ideals? It's OK. That's natural. But being this grand rebel, you really aren't ever surprised when you encounter resistance, are you? Of course not. You're too cool and original to be bothered or remotely flustered by what the rest of us have to say, anyhow.

Quote:
YOU ARE NOT PUNKS.[/b]
And you're about as punk as Hot Topic. Full of swagger and attitude on the outside, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you belong in a shopping mall full of sheep willing to throw money at you.

Quote:
In case some of you can't read I tried 4 languages. English was always a lost resort.[/b]
Again, I commend that, but you didn't bother to learn a little Czech before attempt making money there? You have an affinity for languages, so it shouldn't be so hard for you to learn a bit more of another one. Don't blame the others who live in a place with no apparent need for it. You're the one going into THEIR country to get a slice of THEIR pie. What the hell do you expect?

Quote:
you don't have to be the worlds authority on everything to do with travel[/b]
I never claimed to be, nor do I have any desire to be. I'm ragging on you because you are acting like the typical jackass traveler who thinks everything should be as they expect it to be. You're no punk. You're a punk-ass.

Quote:
And I am a true veteran of Eurolife, your wannabe followers sound like newbies.[/b]
Oh really? Then what the fuck do you need a message board for? If you're such a veteran, surely you know your way around and can make euros magically appear in your hat as you play your instrument for throngs of adoring tourists. If it pleases His Majesty, perhaps he can dispense some knowledge for us so that we may follow in His footsteps and learn the Meaning and the Way of true Punk.
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:34 PM   #13
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:52 PM   #14
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Omisan ----->
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:01 PM   #15
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BTW - this is what happens to people who can't hack it in Prague. Pretty punk if you ask me.

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Old 09-07-2006, 12:02 AM   #16
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Hee. Hee hee. Hee hee hee hee ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HAW HAW HAW HAWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

That is all.

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Old 09-07-2006, 03:09 AM   #17
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Cool a fight! This is a first for TP.

As a European I'd like to say Prague is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe. I'd enjoy that while you can once the Euro comes in next year prices could go up 50%. Language wise it can't be compared to the likes of Germany and northern Europe. Northern Europe seem to be able to do everything right from health care to schooling yet the rest of us have no intention of following them and yes they can speak English extremely well but they have allot of international companies working in their country to promote the language.


I never had any problems in Prague, even the hooker that stole my phone one night while I was walking down the street gave it back to me and said sorry. I'm useless at other languages but never had any trouble in EU countries because of it.

I loved everything about Prague, especially the cellar bars. I think you just had a bad experience.

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Old 09-07-2006, 04:38 AM   #18
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OK Well heres my 2cents

First off I find language wise a general Rule of thumb that works well is. IF I see a 1st world counrty then there is gonna be a lot of english spoken, 2nd world not as much, and finaly 3rd world even less! I would rate in my own mind Czech to be a 2nd world country so I dont expect very many people to speak english, and even if they dont I dont care its just funner that way. Germany, and the Scandinavian countries that manshands said speak english I would only expect that from them.

Next off why would you wanna busk in Czech ??? Thats like an American working in mexico, I just wouldent wanna get a hat full of crown casue it isnt worth as much as euro, go to Spain busk there, I saw buskers making huge cash in Spain.....they were good, I guess it all depends on how good you are ???

I gotta agree with Omi though about learning some words, it should be every trvelers goal who spends more then a couple days in some country to pick up at least the basics, people warm up to you much more then Its like if you were at home and some dude from Poland tried askin for directions you would be like YOUR IN AMERICA SPEAK AMERICAN!!! (hehehe notice how I didnt say english cause you yanks have your own language hahahahah ) BTW if you do go to Poland go up to the ladies and say ''hay laska ya mum dugos yaya'' Man i must have just butcherd that

The thing that chokes me is the Travel Yuppies. Im gonna have to get a little mad about that for 2 reasons mate

1. I am by no means a travel yuppie, I think anyone here on these boards who have herd a story or 2 of mine can vouch, I will rough it just as hard as any man out there, you think that PB&J week they have to do on Big Brother is tough....HAHAHAHA I wash my balls in that shit! If only I were so lucky sometimes as to eat PB&J for a week........Mate I have slept in some places you wouldent even dare, I have been draged into back alleys in Thailand bya gang of locals and got outta it totaly fine, with even a few friends to boot. My travels are 100 miles an hour shit your pants adventures, and if I get low on cash mommy and daddy would tell me to head to Czech and sell my kidney for 20000 crown so I didnt appreciate that one. And you may not have refferd to me but you refferd to TP in General and I am TP. So for that Im gonna have to say

2. There are some Travel yuppies on these boards for sure! but thats not a bad thing......Not all people wanna sleep in alleys or busk their way through their travels. Most people infact wanna go somewhere and experience the culture, and some of those cultures might not speak english! However if mom and dad funds their trips then so what. good for them if only bums like you and I were so lucky! Its not about how you go, its just about going man and doing! Who knows they might even have some great experience from mommy and daddys wallets, you being the hardcore non yuppie you are sound like your not having a good time. Maybe you should call the folks and get them to wire you some funds, then lighten up head into the celler bar, have a budvar and chill dude

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Old 09-07-2006, 05:10 AM   #19
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Let's all have a group hug, shall we?
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Old 09-07-2006, 05:50 AM   #20
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Okay, so let's see if we can tone it down a little, shall we?

Manns, sorry to hear about your bad experience, I'm sure your reports will be of use to others in the future, and I hope that you can tell us about some of the other places in which you've lived and worked, too. When you choose a path that is less common (doing the busking thing), it is much more difficult to get relevant information, and unfortunately, a lot of time the best info comes from experience...and sometimes bad ones.
Traveling on the cheap with a bunch of kids in tow, we've discovered that the usual travel guides are pretty much useless for our purposes, and have to go a lot on instinct, luck, previous experience and positive attitudes.

For the record, I've had two great visits to Prague - one back in the day on my own, another a couple of years ago with the family. We don't speak much Czech, but got by okay on a couple of polite phrases. You could probably find a lot of people around who understand and speak Russian, but that's always a dicey subject in former Warsaw Pact countries. Most of the older people were not encouraged to learn English at school, while younger people probably have had more access to the language in the past 15 years or so - but it's a long term project, and English is not the only choice offered, so not everyone is going to opt for it. I would guess that German would be fairly common, but history being what it is, that could be iffy too.

A great English-language resource for Prague is the Prague In Your Pocket - you should be able to pick one up at any kiosk or bookstore, major train station or tourist info office. They go beyond the usual tourist-oriented details, and through that you might be able to hook up with an open mike night or some local bands, get into a jam session or what not that might clue you in to busking and other music-making possibilities.

I hope this information is of some use to you, and hope that you will have a chance to share some of your hard-won inside knowledge with others on these boards who might opt to follow a similar path as you.

These are volunteer boards maintained and contributed to by individuals from all parts of the world and all walks of life. Of necessity, we have all had different experiences on our travels - some more adventurous than others - and try to help each other out by sharing them with others. None of us claims to be an expert on the subject of international travel - mostly because there are as many ways to travel as there are people, and no one person can claim to have done it all. That's why we encourage people to share their own experiences, the more we have, the better this place can be. I'm sorry if you don't find it helpful.

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