She’s back! Little sister Rachel shares details about her favorite stop on the Contiki Berlin to Budapest tour. Encouragement is much appreciated for this collegiate traveler!
Friends often ask which city in Europe was my favorite, and I give a different answer every time. More than 50 of us traveled from Berlin to Prague to Bratislava to Vienna to Budapest with Contiki, and each city had something different to love. As I flip through my photos and reminisce months later, I’m about 83% sure that my favorite place was Prague in the Czech Republic.
It makes sense that I felt a connection with the city immediately, as our great, great grandparents emigrated to the US from this region in the early 1900s. In 2011, Angie visited Prague where she researched our family’s history in Bohemia and had a serendipitous experience where she discovered details about our family name, Kralicek. Knowing what she experienced, I was on the lookout for a similar remarkable travel moment. I kept my eyes peeled for people who looked like me, though I didn’t have much luck, as you can imagine.
You can’t just walk up to strangers and ask, “Is your name Kralicek?” That would be pretty weird.
My first stop in Prague was the St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most important church in Prague, perched above the city on a hill. It houses the bodies of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, with whom I am convinced I share a family connection. (Angie edit – probably not. Pretty sure our relatives were poor farmers.)
After exploring the cathedral, our group made its way down the winding road toward Old Town, crossing the Vltava River via the picturesque, oft-painted Charles Bridge. Later that evening, we boarded a river cruise through the heart of the city, and while the cruise offered breathtaking views and a beautiful vantage point of the city, there was still no sign of any Bohemian ancestors or long lost cousins.
The next day was less structured and we didn’t have any organized tours, so I grabbed few of my new Contiki friends and we set out to find adventures in the city. After a lunch of chicken and goat cheese at Café Savory, we meandered down to the John Lennon wall, which has been filled with Lennon-inspired graffiti and peace-loving lyrics from Beatles’ songs since the 80s. Musicians lined the wall during our visit, strumming their guitars and singing “Let it be.”
Later that night, Contiki organized a traditional Czech evening for the group, which meant lots of schnitzel, white wine, singing and dancing. If my great, great grandparents’ lives were anything like that night, I think I would’ve really liked Prague way back then. (AA edit – Something tells me they weren’t dancing & drinking wine when they decided to flee to Wisconsin.)
On another night, we visited a black light theater show, which was so unreal, I can scarcely find the words to explain it. And the Contiki group also checked out a ghost tour and a nuclear bunker tour, which were some of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. (Here’s a list of my favorites from Berlin to Budapest.)
While I loved every moment in Prague, some of my best memories took place at night while wandering the streets of Old Town with my new Contiki friends. Away from the crowds that swarmed during the day, it felt like I lived there in magical Praha.Like I belonged there.
Although ultimately I didn’t find any long lost family members, the city drew me in.
My family may have left Praha 100 years ago, but I’m glad I made the trek back.
Contiki hosted Rachel on the Berlin to Budapest adventure this summer. All opinions are her own.