I am inexplicably in a bus traveling toward Linz, Austria. The sky is getting darker and darker and I am left to think about the last 2 days as well as why I am on a bus instead of a train.

I spent a beautiful two days in Prague, capital of Czech Republic with my friends. It was my 4th journey to Prague, and every time I visit the “Paris of the East” it seems to get nearer and dearer to my heart. When I landed in the plane, it was almost like I was coming home. We were warmly greeted by a kind driver who brought us to our hostel. Sir Toby’s Youth Hostel immediately won our love because of its giant fluffy pillows, warm comforters and exceptionally nice desk workers. In spite of the rain, we ventured out to a wonderful restaurant and ate traditional and delightfully cheap Czech food and then hurried back to attend a wine and cheese party at Sir Toby’s. We met a lot of interesting world travelers and shared many laughs over the Czech “stinky cheese.”

This is Sir Toby's, the Greatest Hostel in Prague.

Culture shock manifested itself with the switching of currency (it’s stressful doing division in your head all day for money purposes!) and the people-to-people customs (a startling lack of KISSING in Czech Republic as opposed to France!). I was struck again at my complete and utter lack of language skills. I have, in comparison with my Czech langauge abilities, perfect French.

It’s easy to forget that communism ruled over this country only 20 years ago. In Prague, one is surrounded by the glittering beauty of a city that works tirelessly to obliterate any trace of the deep scars imparted by communism. The rambling, majestic castle stands beyond the swiftly-flowing Vlatava River over which the Charles Bridge and all 31 of its famous statues seem to preside.

Me, on the Charles Bridge, ignoring the fact that I was getting more and more soaked with rain. Prague is beautiful, even in the rain and when you have wet feet!

Big Square by night in Prague.

One of my favorite little things about Czech Republic is the existence of terracotta rooftops and the warm glow that the color seems to give the city as you look over it from the Petrin Observation Tower (which is why Prague is oftentimes referred to as the “Paris of the East”). In spite of the unwelcome rain that thinned out the usual crowds of people, I soaked in the distinct beauty that one can only find in Prague by night.

Prague, splendid view from the Petrin Observation Tower

The City of Terracotta rooftops. The reason it was called the Golden City comes from the practice of putting the city's extensive gold reserves on the rooftops, safe from thieves.

The people you meet in the shops, at the hostels or waiting your table seem to be bred for niceness, as though its part of their very core to be kind and generous. Yet at the same time, as my friend Molly observed, there is a distinct feel to the city and its people. The Czech people have suffered under persecution from destructive government regimes for many decades, and it’s as though they are very anxious and happy to show others what their city is truly like (warm and welcoming!) instead of the stigma that might still linger from the days of communism and a closed-off country’s inhospitality.

Prague Castle by night. The lights of the castle are reflected in the Vlatava River.

If any country in Central-Eastern Europe can make you fall in love, it’s Prague. Come visit! Stay for awhile and soak in the kindness, the atmosphere and the beauty of a country that is worth a second look. The story of how I came to be on a bus instead of a train will be saved for the next installment of my adventure in Czech Republic.

Me, Molly and Laura spending time in the castle gardens with breathtaking views of the Vlatava River and the city.

To learn about the Petrin Observation Tower, click here.

To learn a little Czech History and how far this country has come in the last century, click here.

To see where I stayed and where you can find Sir Toby’s, click here. You won’t be disappointed!!! This is the BEST HOSTEL!