What to do and not to do in Prague
You've arrived to Prague. It's probably cloudy. Everybody has a look on their face as if they were about to kick you in the shins. You crack a joke and nobody laughs. The "Wine mom" archetype is getting out of hand. Nobody wants to talk.Panic? Worry not - have these rules in mind and nobody will give you dirty looks (or at least not a lot of them).
- Talk about how beautiful Prague is. Mind you, there is a chance we respond something about how terrible the city actually is, but that's just big talk - inside we're glowing with pride.
- Channel your inner irony queen. Seriously. One ironic remark about how incredibly unhappy you are in your life a day keeps the doctor away. Also we will make fun of everything - it's a coping mechanism, really. Joking about horrifying things makes them a whole lot less horrifying.
- Try to learn a little Czech. It's just like complimenting Prague - we might look like we don't care, but we really do. It's as if you saved a kitten from a burning building; you have earned our respect and slight admiration, because we do know (and are hella proud of) how diabolic the Czech language is.
- Compliment the beer.
- Drink the beer.
- Show knowledge of Czech history and culture. Break the stereotype of "silly tourist".
- Take your shoes off when visiting a Czech person's house!!!!!! It's a big big thing. We will happily ignore your sweaty, smelly feet, no worries about that, but walking around an apartment with shoes on is something that makes the Czech wake up screaming covered in cold sweat.
- Expect a full-length response when asking "how are you?". It's not a meaningless phrase in here; if you ask, we think you really want to know about our dead cats, broken toilets, divorces, cystic acne...
- Let elders and women sit in public transport. It's a habit the Czech are very insistent about. If you don't let a pregnant woman sit in a tram, you might actually encounter people telling you off for it - in Czech, of course...
- Compare the Czech and the Russian. (This can sound little bit politically incorrect. And maybe it is, but somehow it is true.) We do NOT use the Cyrillic alphabet. We can NOT understand Russian. Czech does NOT sound like Russian AT ALL!! Only do this when you're ready to get into a fight.
- Talk about Russia and Germany too much, unless you're really close friends with the people you're talking to. It's a very touchy subject: we have some unpleasant history with these two countries, and hence we're prone to negative emotions towards them. With the newer generations everything is relaxing slowly, but only very very slowly. You might encounter people who are completely cool with these things, and you might encounter people who get actually really angry just hearing about it. Handle these topics with great care.
- Go for a Thai massage. You might' ve already noticed...they're everywhere, and nobody really knows why. It's a turn off and in the eyes of a Czech person, it makes you fall automatically into the "dumb tourist" category.
- Buy a Russian hat, a Matryoshka, anything that has the Soviet Union flag on it. (See above.)
- Get wasted, destroy public property, shout loudly on the street at 3 AM.
- Expect the Czech to laugh loudly at your jokes. A slightly amused smirk means they are smitten by your incredibly witty and innovative sense of humour. Loud laughing is usually preserved for close friends.
- Expect the Czechs to drink Absinth. Nobody does that. The reason you see it behind the glass of pretty much every tourist shop in Prague is because it's illegal in a lot of countries, and therefore the owners of the shops seem to think that you've come for Absinth and stayed for the beautiful views. No, you don't look like Rimbaud or Verlaine, you look like you have no taste in booze. We're offering you excellent beer and excellent wine, for Christ's sake.
- Call the Czech Republic "eastern Europe". You might get slapped - it's CENTRAL Europe. Learn your geography. The thing that comes to the Czech mind when you say "eastern Europe" is a lot of drunkards in Adidas tracksuits that do a lot of corruption. This doesn't really apply to people that actually come from eastern Europe, because the sense of Slavic brotherhood counteracts the insult, and quite recently there's been a movement amongst the Prague youth that embraces the Slavic drinking machine stereotype, but that's usually reserved for the Slavs, and there's nothing that makes us abort any conversation more than an Anglo-Saxon calling our country eastern Europe.