It doesn’t take much imagination to picture life in the 14th century when wandering through the cobbled stone streets that line the Gothic and Renaissance buildings in the capital city of the Czech Republic. Despite Hitler’s occupation, Prague was mostly spared from bombing during the tragedies of World War II. As a result the city’s ancient architecture remains true to its original form. However Prague’s iconic sightseeing is just one of the many reasons you should include a visit to Prague on your next foreign volleyball tour.
Here’s 5 reasons Prague should be on your bucket list for volleyball travel.
1. Epic Sightseeing
Prague was the ancient capital of Charles IV’s Bohemian Kingdom, and has played a pivotal role in the development of Central Europe since the Middle Ages. The ‘Old Town Square’, marked by the city’s famous Astronomical Clock, has served as Prague’s main marketplace for over 1000 years. Stroll across the Charles Bridge and make a wish while laying your left hand on the golden statue of St. John of Nepomuk, or kneel for prayer inside the Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral. The historic relics of the 14th century reign of Charles IV and city’s run as the capital of the Holy Roman Empire are clearly visible and easily accessible. Prague is regarded by many to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s certainly one of our favorite cities.
2. Competitive Volleyball
Prague is home to Olymp Praha, a consistently competitive first division volleyball club that’s always eager for international competition. Over the past decade the club has produced several players who have gone on to compete in US colleges and European professional clubs. The club’s history is evidenced by the victory banners and old volleyball photos that line its wall of fame inside the “Hala Volejbalu” (volleyball gym). And since the gym is dedicated to volleyball only, it’s at our disposal for extra practices to visiting teams on off days. However if a division I professional European club seems out of your team’s league, then you might consider a friendly match-up against one of Prague’s nearby 2nd division teams – Nusle and Tatran Stresovice.
3. Eastern European Flavor
Prague operated behind the Iron Curtain under the political and military control of the Soviet Union from 1948 to 1989. Although the city has mostly modernized to capture the influx of tourism, the skeletons of communism and the relics of the Velvet Revolution are not buried too deep to find if you explore the city streets and take the time to learn about the country’s history from the locals who lived through it. Icon’s like the John Lennon Wall bring to consciousness the price for peace that this country has paid.
4. Eats and Drinks
From goulash to potato dumplings followed by chocolate mouse and gelato, you’ll get your fix of Eastern European delicacies. Post-Communist Prague has witnessed a cuisine makeover with the an influx of foreign immigrants and mass tourism raising the bar on dining options. Add to that the fact that Czech beer is acclaimed by many to be the best in the world. Dining and drinking is cheap here too. Although Euros are widely accepted, it’s Czech Crowns that are the nation’s primary currency. With a current exchange rate of 24 CZK : 1 USD (as of 7/14/16), prices of everyday items like bread, fruit and beer are significantly less expensive than in the neighboring countries.
5. The legendary Jirka Honzik
As always, the best part of any foreign volleyball tour is the personal connections made with local volleyball players and coaches. Prague is no exception. Jirka Honzik, BIP’s local guide, is legendary in the volleyball world. Having been born and spent the majority of his life in Prague, he’s a wealth of insider information and historic stories. Most Prague tour veterans will tell you that meeting Jirka is simply the most memorable part of their trip. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive one of his infamous “phone calls”.