Monday, April 22, 2013

A Free Walking Tour in Prague

I'm a big believer in joining a tour whenever I'm in a new city, and the tours I enjoy most are the walking tours around the town. Surprisingly, the most memorable tourguides for me are those that give the free tours (with the exception of Paolo is Lisbon).

Private tour guides in Europe can cost from 100 euros and over, and sometimes the guides aren't that good or knowledgeable. The guides giving the free tours are usually art or history students--so they know a lot about the sites they are showing. They  usually also have much to share about pop culture and other fun things which may not be part of the spiel of a more traditional tour guide.

A quick google search on "Free tours" will bring up many options. For this one in Prague, we just stopped by the tourist office and asked where the free walking tours were. Luckily, the meeting place was just outside the tourist office beside the Astrological clock.

We had a mixed group that included students from Ultrecht in Amsterdam, a few Americans, UK residents, ABCs who live in LA, and a couple from Oz.

Our guide's name was George (That's his name in English--I didn't catch the spelling of his Czech name).  He was very informative, funny and irreverent. Guides giving free tours really have to develop their style so that they build rapport. The better the tour, the higher the "tip".

A walking tour usually brings you through smaller streets and other hidden places of interest.

Our tour  had an "intermission" after an hour. We stopped at a cafe for 15 minutes while we bought ourselves coffee or a drink.

Waiting now for the rest of the group before continuing. 

In Prague, a regular paid tour like this would cost about 16 euro thereabouts.  I used this information as a base to see what kind of tip I would give George in the end. 

Of course we have to stop at the major sites still--like this Astrological clock in the middle of Old Town Square. The day before, we had a group tour guide who explained the clock movements to us.

George added another dimension. He told us to imagine what life was 400 years ago when the clock was first built. With that simple statement, he reminded us that what is considered ho-hum nowadays was revolutionary way back then.

And here is everyone just waiting for the clock to strike 12.

Our enjoyable and informative tour lasted two hours. As we said our goodbyes, people handed George what they felt was a fair tip. The average tip was 10 euro per person, but I also saw a few people hand over 20 euros. Some students handed over only a few euros, but George still thanked them graciously. 

I continue to be impressed by the free tours of a city. I'm glad we were able to do one in Prague.

1 comment:

Carla Aston said...

Amazing. I'll just have to live vicariously through you. Love that cafe with the amazing tile floor and modern lighting!


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