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How 'Eastern' is the Czech Republic?

edited August 2010 in - Eastern Europe
I'm waondering how 'Eastern Europe' Prague is... when I think of the Czech Republic, I think of depressing communist architecture and mile-long queues for bread, but Prague sounds pretty first-world. Just curious, but what's the real deal, and is there a big difference between Prague and the rest of teh country?


  • edited 8:15PM
    Not a very flattering description, I see. Where are you from ? I guess you are from Europe too, maybe a latin country, maybe even my country. All Czech Republic is a very civilized destination to travel too.
  • edited 8:15PM
    The CZ is absolutely fantastic. I just spent 2yrs living there. Prague is chic, modern, upscale in price and definitely "with it". I compare it to Paris for charm & romance. Historically, it is a gem. The people are great, too. "Eastern" is in the past. Do go and enjoy. I would stay at Hotel Chopin or Hotel Pav, near the center. Spend at least 3 days. Do not miss Cesky Krumlov, 3hrs south of Prague. A fairytale town. Better than Rothenberg, Germany! Traveling by Student Agency bus is the best means of getting around. Trains are a little slow.
  • edited 8:15PM
    Czech Republic has actually come to be considered "central Europe." It's just terminology of course, but it speaks to the advancements that the country has made. The images in your head are certainly outdated. The queues are gone and the block housing, though still here, has mostly been refurbished like the rest of the city of Prague. It's cleaned up and a tourist mecca at times.

    I concur with Crissy, Prague is certainly a gem and not just for its architecture - culturally too. There is great nightlife in Prague with lots of club options to go with more traditional possibilities like first rate opera and theatre venues. So, I imagine Prague will be a pleasant surprise for you.

    That said, the rest of the country is probably not the equivalent of Prague. The larger cities and towns, yes, but the smaller villages, though charming, can be slow and a bit dilapidated. It's just the nature of society and can be seen in most other countries wherever you go.
  • edited September 2010

    It's almost as if the iron curtain has shifted significantly east in the last 10-15 years. The Czech Rep has been significantly westernized in recent times.

  • edited 8:15PM
    As an Englishman growing up in London in the 1970's and 80's Prague was very 'eastern'. The 'iron curtain' was a great divide between 'us' and 'them'. But after discovering Prague in the 90's and emigrating there in the 00's i have to say that Prague is an incredible place. It has changed a lot the past 20 years. Some things for the better, some for the worse. But overall it is a modern city with it's majestic past protected.
    It has plenty of traditional Czech bars and restaurants, like Rybi Trh,the best fish restaurant, behind the Old Town Square, or u Vejvodu beerhall on Jilska street. But if you need to have a taste of home you will find it. Whether you are Asian, South American, North American, African, Western European or Eastern.
    For my taste it has to be Jama The Hollow on v Jame street (in between Stepanska and Vodickova streets, off Wenceslas Square). Full English breakfast. Magnificent!
    So Prague today mirrors its geographic location---the very heart of Europe and at its crossroads
  • edited 8:15PM
    Prague is actually west of Vienna by a long way. The Czechs will tell you this at every opportunity and are insulted/hurt when called Eastern Europeans.
  • edited 8:15PM
    Austria and CR are a bit similar. Austria is just slightly richer, that's all. and in some areas, they smile more than the Czech.
    As per the environement, careful. If you like the cosmopolitan life, Prague is not yet up to date. Ok, they're changing and it looks a bit modern but, even for the apartments for instance, I still found numerous ones with the typical "socialist" deco.
    Prague is a lovely town to me, not a real city. And it is full of people from the countryside who think small. Nothing wrong with it but it is just the way it is.
    Workers right : becoz it is cheap, employers kind of don't respect you and treat you as slaves, even more than in WE.
    Some even propose contracts that are a bit cheeky in terms of the duration and renewal. Then, careful again, in some cases, HR have the instruction to not take cvs from employees working in East, or Central as you like, and applying internally for West. Even if you've been there for 10 years, would not change.
    Careers are scarce and the strategy is usually driven from Western country.
    Often, in multicultural environements, you will get no office but a call center, the typical US stuff as biggest employers are US subsidiaries.
    I also saw people being fired quite abusively with not the full compensation to which they shall be entitled. So when you're a foreigner, they try and hope you won't discover your rights. But of course, this legal aspect is not related to Czech people, it is just the way the companies are driven there. Last, be ready to have a job where you are not allowed to think but follow strict and meaningless procedures.
    Am in my early 30's and I think Prague is good if you're a graduate and for a 1st time experience. Otherwise, pretty boring compared to Paris. Let's call a cat a cat mates.
    If you want to relax, go there. People are peaceful and there are lots of greens. A bit of cultural activities but you quickly do them.
    Although there are shops, I still find it difficult to get properly cut meat. They actually export the good pieces to the West, because it would be too low to sell this directly in CR. and fish. There are 4 choices, imported, and it is more than a budget.
    Usually the frutis and vegies are not so fresh but if you cook them, it shall be fine. I noticed some improvement recently though on salads.
    The food is also a nightmare but after meeting brits, it is fine to them. I think it is also genetically modified but this would need to be checked.
    Salary-wise, you can divide it by 2 easily from a French salary.
    As per the clothes, don't expect great fashion. Usually people buy their stuff abroad. It is cheaper and better choice and quality. there is now a lot more choice than even a few years ago but you still have to search quite a lot and compromise.
    If you need help, the medical staff in the hospital can be helpful.
    Expect also a very average service/quality for a high price. Although, if you're a foreigner, they will try to get money out of you quite easily. It happened to me in my beginnings. However, the REAL praguers are very good and nice people. They unfortunately suffer from a hostile non-welcoming image.
    Last, you have to know that people do not fight for their dignity/rights. They rather avoid taking the shit and shut up.
    I have been living in 4 countries and CR is the toughest. Am a woman also, and the mindset is still quite back in time regarding this. Of course, it is changing and you start seeing women working in office at even team leads level but you will quicly notice that most of the higher level jobs available in Prague are hold by expats (the ones with the real expat contract).
    However, mentalities are evolving, like any emerging economy. It is happening little by little. If you come for love, your experience might be different.
  • edited July 2011
    Well, I don`t think that Czech Republic can be said that it is located in the Eastern part of Europe. More likely to said that is more "Central".
  • edited 8:15PM
    I'm a Czech person living in the US and it always bothers me when people refer to Czech Republic as Eastern Europe. Geografically Czech Republic is in the very center of Europe. Communism and division between Western and Eastern Europe is a thing of the past. Communism ended 22 years ago. Throughout the centuries Eastern Europe was the part of Europe where Orthodox Christianity was practiced which was not the case in Czech. On the contrary the kingdom of Bohemia was part of the Holy Roman Empire and Western Europe. So one way or another Czechs are not Eastern Europeans. I just don't know how to tell people here. Most people are so ignorant and think that you're crazy when you tell them about your own country like they know better. Another think I don't like is when people put Czech Republic in the same box with Albanians, Romanians etc. Come on! We don't even live close to these countires.
  • edited 8:15PM
    Brno second city in the Czech Republic is fantastic. Buzzy cafe culture, great range of shops, great restaurants, lots of cultural activities - drama, music, ballet, opera. Fantastically beautiful countryside around - limestone karst to the north, flat farmland to the east, wine growing to the south and farms and forests to the west. Above all the people are warm, friendly and laid back. I am a Brit living there.
  • edited 8:15PM
    I agree with every word youcoulele described here...It is exact the same experience here...I was living in germany for 5 years ,everybody respected me there although i was working less respectable job there..Here at work czech people are full of irony i have never seen it in my life ..If there is missunderstanding or you don't know something they laughing in your eyes..Music in bars in Brno is so old like they were sleeping for 30 years and woke up now...It is almost unpossible to pick up czech girls here because they pretend being "innocent" here,they wants you call here "1000" times then maybe you gonna go out together, although they fuck after three minutes when they come on holliday in my country Croatia...Years and years everybody know it .. there are many jokes about czech girls...City is nice,food is cheap,beer is the best..but in generally very boring place for living..
  • edited 8:15PM
    Youcoulele i dont really agree with you.Czech isnt boring at all and people are really respectful the food is very liked here in UK and their style of fashion is very unique they dont try to look all perfect like they do in UK and USA,Czechs are very secretive and dont really show much of happines due to the style of education and life style,czechs are very welcoming,warm a full of pride.Again about the food in czech is whole different czecc the meat comes mostly from natural farms not like in UK and USA where the farms mean one big square shelter with windows.Fresh Vegetables are easily found in higher quality shops .Czech is not boring at all because is has lots of bars and nightclubs and night and lots of festivals,camps,zoos,nature activities you just have to look. Czechs dont really like being compared to french as Czechs are more agressive and full of pride where the frenchs are soft and all romantic. And yes i am a czech and im proud of it and i wont let anyone bad mouth my country
  • edited 8:15PM
    Czech Republic (why not just call it Czechia or Czecho?) is Western Europe, so is Western Ukraine and the Baltic countries; although the Baltic countries are now considered Northern Europe very much and not Eastern at all. The only real Eastern Europe is Russia, Eastern Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Now if you take Romania, it is Central Europe and Albania is Southern Europe or South-eastern. Pardon me, Greece would rather be considered Southern or South-eastern Europe and i would also include Finland into eastern Europe or Northern Europe. I am from Lithuania and my country is very often considered Central, Eastern and Northern Europe and sometimes even Western Europe, plus we have a lot of architecture with Southern European style, so we are an All European country. ;-) By the way, Cyprus is actually in Western Asia geographically.
  • edited 8:15PM
    I forgot to mention Hungary and Slovakia - Western Europe for sure. Or Central although Hungary could be slightly Southern Europe.
  • edited August 2012
    Hey this is good thread. Prague is my favorite destination to and I am very much eager to go, there is no logic behind it, it is like I read a nursery rhyme in1st grade on Prague and its civil disorder, since than there is an eagerness in me to visit Prague, which will be fulfilled soon, anyhow this thread speaks a lot about Prague so thank to all of you for sharing this good info.
  • edited 8:15PM
    I personaly dont mind if somebody says 'Eastern europe' altrough georgaphicaly it lays in the middle, and in last centry Prague was capital of Europe and centre for of bussiness;-) and there are times and things that i am grateful for being 'eastern european' and proud of! so for example : very peaceful country with low criminality. eastern europeans have very rarely seriar killers, psychopaths. no terorists, no other religiouses or cultural diversity.-czechs are protecting theyr own culture and will never happen that you will see demonstrators screaming ' kill czech Islam atheists' etc.
    unemployment is very low. general standard of living is higher than in West- even low class people can afford to live in normal appartments and afford to go to gym or go to restaurant and get drunk every weekend, get education, get a highly qualified doctors and dentists. no poverty here.
    freedom- away of comunism and away of total democracy. less restrictions - bars clubs open till morning even can smoke everywhere and whatever you want. you can drink whereever you want.
    people not driven so much by materialism and appreciate other values in life-less stresfull place.not judge you by look but by who you are.
    much better quicker traffic.
    here is , as in all other capitals always something to do but yea, those who expecting second London that is 10 times bigger will be dissapointed. its a small city and not good for big carreer and those who are 'too western'.and its a matter of taste. but if you make average money you have quite nice standard of living.
  • edited August 2012
    I admire the emotions of xxx, he is paying tribute to his homeland, based on facts that are acceptable therefore I will not call this statement as profiling or favor-ism to homeland. Indeed I am very pleased to know about Prague in this detail because I somehow like this city very much and is my childhood inspiration but the facts presented by xxx can be seconded because this is what I have learned for Prague.
  • edited 8:15PM
    My guess is that Minsk, Belarus, will be as East European as you can get.

  • Czechs are rude, intolerant,, poor, sly and they abuse alcohol (nay kind not only beer!).
    When I went the with my friends who work in our Hotel I was robbed twice on the bus and at the street, I was attacked by group of skin heads when they heard me speaking English. I was also accosted my many drunk and maybe homeless Czech who hearing speeking me English tried to sell tacky souvenir or tricked me out of money.
    But the climax of mine bad experienced came when I was sold infected vodka in hotel where I stayed.
    I spent 3 days in recovery unit( which was traumatic!) NEVER ever hospital in Czech Rep.
    As mine friend told me afterwards that vodka was mixed with methane and that time there was a big issue in country.
    This all happened in only 2 weeks in September 2012.

    My advice don't go there!!! You may meet someone nice from there but Czech Rep. as country and nation are
    deeply immersed in some kind of hatred and cynicism.

  • to GBR:

    so, at first: it seems to me, your article really wants to create a bad reputation of Czech republic. Nowhere in Prague they would sell you a vodka in hotel these times, because it was strickly forbidden - because of the alarming case of methyalcohol these times. You could maybe bought it at some markets, but again - if you would drink methylalcohol, you would be for sure blind now, as you apparently arent, if you could write such a nonsense.

    Second - Czechs arent rude etc., they just dont welcome people, who are treating them badly in they own contry, so maybe you should first think about your own behaviour and then you will be not surprised about people reactions. In fact, Czech people are smart, lots of them are artists abroad, nearly each second CZ person has university and they welcome tourists with smile and open arms.

    for third: skin heads usually dont attack english people, in some cases they attack gypsy people, but government works on this really hard, so now it willl be really surprising, if anything like this would happened. And homeless people are everywhere, but personally, I think in CZ are not more homeless people than anywhere in the world. And robbers are also everywhere, as you probably know.

    fourth: Hospital. This is apparently your biggest lye. Our hospitals are in a really big grade, we have experts who are doing cardio treatment all over the world and our doctors are working now in UK, America because they are simply good.

    Czech republic and Prague is a great country, with gothic buildings, amazing castle, medieval streets, Prague is not so busy as some cities but really nice and with lots of fantasy - so thats why lots of movies - like Interview with the Vampire or da Vinci Code was shooting here. There´s a lot of pubs and great clubs, lots of restaurants and fashion shops and sightseeing attractions. It could be compared to Paris or Vienna, so Prague is really the place for young people. Plus, we have one of the best universities in the world - FAMU (film making University) and Charles University and theres a lot of people from abroad studying here. So, if you want to visit us, just come here, I promise, you will have an amazing time.

  • edited April 2014
    Hello people!
    I've go t a question about car rentals in Belarus I'm sorry I'm asking it here but you already know the country so.. I want to visit Belarus in this June and have to hire a car foe a family with children in Minsk. I've googled and found several websites but liked this one anyone used this service? or any other suggestions? thank you in advance
  • This is such an awesome topic :) First: I am a Czech, but I traveled the world a lot, so I think my information might be usefull to potential tourists to our country. I live in Brno, so I cannot speak much for Prague, but many things I'll write probably apply to both cities.

    Like rest of the world, Czech country is divided to smart people and idiots. I'd say 20 / 80. Luckily for tourists, idiots are usually located at country-side villages. I blame our TV - the TV here turns people into idiots.

    Safety: Brno is very safe . There used to be groups of gypsies standing on sidewalk usually asking you for a cigarette or money. I haven't seen a group like that since 2011 ( and I live here ). But if you happen to see one, just walk to the other side of the street and you are fine. Or just tell them you don't understand. But like I said - I have NOT met a gypsy group for many years . Homeless people are totally harmless, just ignore them. Idiots sometimes want to pick a fight only when they are super drunk - ignore them and walk away. Sober idiots are friendly and welcoming. ATM : withraw cash at malls or shops. Busy streets are fine also, but it's safest to use ATM machines in inside areas. One last hint: If you go to a bit more expensive restaurants and pubs - you will not find many idiots. Idiots usually don't have money and will usually hang out at super-cheap places.

    Pride: Czech people ARE proud of who they are and where they live. Don't insult them or their country, they will not like that at all.

    Food and service: We have really really really great food. Downside is - the food isn't frozen and thus you WILL wait a bit longer for your plate to arrive. The price does matter - cheap places will not serve good food. As of today: I'd say a meal starting at around $12 USD is almost always guaranteed to be good. Also - if a restaurant has dozens of foods to pick from, walk away and find a restaurant with less options. Service used to be super slow , but lately it has been getting a little better. You can find restaurants with great western-like service in Brno, but they are still hard to find. Be prepared to wait.

    Arrogance: Czech people are raised not to disturb other people. That means - if you are loud in a public place, they will consider you arrogant and rude, and will treat you back that way. This is a problem for American tourists - as Americans are usually very loud - not to be rude, but to show they have a good time. Unfortunatelly, the Czechs will consider that rude. If you want to be treated with respect and warm welcomness in Czech Republic, try not to disturb other people with loud noises - not in public places like trains, restaurants, streets, know.

    Girls: The biggest misconception among tourists is that Czech girls are easy to get. Many many many years ago , it was easy for a tourists to get a girl in a club just by speaking English. Nowadays, the girls will not sleep with you because you are a foreigner, if they want you , they will want you for the same reasons they'd want a local Czech guy: be funny, smart, and a gentleman. The spoken language does not matter to them. Or, if you want an easy prey, go to a village , find an Idiot girl, and be ready to fight off idiot guys :)

    Hospitals: It amazes me how little the world knows about Czech hospitals. Our health care is extremely high-level. In fact, we are #1 country in the entire world regarding speed of getting an emergency help. I am lazy to look up real numbers, but it's something along: If you have a heart attack in the US, you wait 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. In Czech Republic it's something like 10 minutes. The quality of doctors is also very high-level, the ONLY problem I see is a lack of doctors. Usually the hospitals are crowded and waiting time to see a doctor is long. Because we have this problem, the doctors almost always decide themselves who is seriously injured and needs help first. Flu-patience have to wait.

    Country-side: If you like wine, the South Moravia is a perfect place. 1000s of wine cellers and very friendly owners will almost always welcome you for wine tasting . They usually speak no English though. But do not be afraid of them. They are hard-working people and are SAFE to be around. They take pride in their work and want to be admired for their results.

    Economy: In cities like Brno and Prague, you will probably see a high concentration of high-end cars ( BMWs, Mercedes, Volvo ) . People here have money. As a result, you don't need to worry that everyone wants your money. This is 2014, not 1990s. When a Czech shows an interest in a tourist, it usually menas they want to practice their language skills or just plain-simple help them find good places to visit. I often walk to English speaking tourists and ask them where they are from, just learn something interesting . Unfortunatelly, my behaviour is often-times missunderstood and the tourists think I want something from them.

    My best advice: Don't be afraid to stop a decent looking couple on a street and ask them if they can recommend a restaurant , a bar, a club. They will tell you. The chance that they speak a decent english is pretty high in a city like Prague or Brno. Don't read guides, they usually send you to over-hyped places with a horrible service. Ask younger locals ( 20 - 40) . You will be surprised how very friendly and helpfull can Czech people be . Czech Republic will offer you awesome food, places to see, and friendly people to talk to.

    What czechs usually think of other countries:

    Americans: Extremely Loud , with absolutely no sense of fashion. We like talking to them to learn English

    Germans: Very smart people, but often times rude and loud.

    Italias: Best food in the world ! They always seem very angry when they talk. Even when they say " I love you" , it sounds to us as if they want to kill us.

    French: The most patriotic people in the world. Unfortunatelly so damn patriotic, they will refuse to speak other then French, which in turn means we don't visit their country, and they don't visit ours

    British: Love our beer and girls. Puke on every street corner because they get super-drunk. Harmless and peacefull

    Polish: Hard workers, religious

    Croatians: Super lazy, arrogant, aggresive, spoiled by the amount of tourism they get. Amazingly, Czech people still go there for vacations, allthough they often come back and promise never go there again.

    Greeks: Peacefull, happy, always smiling and welcoming. Great food and culture

    Austrians: Great fashion, smart people, hard working, peacefull. Bad food. Great Hotels and service

    Scandinavians: Beautiful girls. When we see a scandinavian here, it's usually a young person traveling for super-cheap beer vacation.

    Russians: Never any problems with them. They are always polite, quiete and they always seem like they want to learn something about our country.

    Asians: Take pictures of everything until they drop dead-tired. Impossible to speak English with them.

    Australians: Never seen one in my life

    Well, I hope that helped some potential tourists. To wrap it up: CZ is safe , has great food, beautiful girls and is still relatively cheap . Great night-life and lots of architecture to admire.
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