The Travellers and Food Lovers Guide to Rugby League – Prague

By Daniel Andruczyk

The last several years I have had the fortunate opportunity to live and work overseas, namely in Germany. My passion for Rugby League found me travelling all over Europe to watch the greatest game and in one case even managed to participate in a tournament. So I have decided to write blogs on my experiences, the travel, food and cities I experienced and share some photos. This month I look at another place on the rugby league frontiers, the beautiful Prague in The Czech Republic.

The City

Prague is without a doubt my favourite city in Europe, if not the world, I would happily live here without even thinking twice about it. Its a stunning city that has been relatively untouched thanks to not being bombed during the War and so all the old building, churches and castle stand as they have for hundreds of years.

The city itself is situated on the Vltava River and has something like 12 bridges that connect the two shores. The most famous of these bridges is the Charles Bridge. Prague over the centuries has been a major centre not only for trade and politics but also religion, and as one point was the Capital of the Holy Roman Empire.

Prague has many wonderful sights and sounds to see. Many of the historical old buildings and churches are in and around the Old Town Square. Here you will find the Astronomical clock and many fine eateries and pubs as well as souvenir shops. To get to it just look for the tourist trail. Its something to behold as you follow the snake that is made from people and ends up in the Old Town.

S5002634 The Old Town square in Prague

One of the more interesting sights in the Old Town is the Astronomical Clock. It consists of three parts, the astronomical dial with positions for the sun and moon, a calendar dial for the months and the “Walk of the Apostles” which is a clock work hourly show of different figures and moving sculptures.

S5002631 The Astronomical clock in the Old Town

Definitely one of the more picturesque sights of Prague is the Charles Bridge which links from the old town across to the foot of the Palace. Its very old, having being built in 1357. You will find along there many statues of Saints and Patron Saints. There are 30 statues in all that adorn the bridge and I think its the St Luthgard Statue that you rub his feet for god luck. You will find on the Charles bridge many many people that sell trinkets and do portraits and charactertures, may be a nice souvenir to take home.

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The Charles bridge spanning over the Vltava River

By far the most impressive building in Prague is the Royal Castle and the St Vitus Cathedral. Its supposedly the biggest castle in the world, and looking at its sheer size, its easy to believe that. Its a majestic building and the Cathedral in the centre of it is absolutely spectacular. Like at Buckingham Palace there is a changing of the guard that is done with much pomp and ceremony and is a must for any traveller to see.

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St Vitus Cathedral in the Royal Palace complex in Prague

The National Museum is exceptional. Its massive and you need a full day to really see everything and appreciate it. There are over 14 million items displayed in the Museum. It sits at the top of the Wenceslas Square and is easy to get to. The Tourist trail starts here as well and winds its way to the Old Town.

S5002644 The National Museum in Prague

However there is one very interesting thing that happens in Prague on a mass scale and I have not seen it anywhere else in Europe, not on the same level anyway. That is concerts! When the churches are not in service they have concerts galore of most of the great classics. If you want to hear the four season played in a majestic setting amongst hundreds of year old buildings, then this is it. Basically as you walk around Prague, there will be people that are selling tickets, just see what you like and the setting and have a great night of relaxation.

Where to Stay

I basically ended up staying in the same hotel each time I was in Prague and that was the ABE Hotel. On the outside it does not look like much, but on the inside it has been completely renovated, with great modern, clean rooms. You have TV’s and bathrooms for each room and rooms range form singe to family size. The price was very reasonable, I wasn’t paying much more than about 30 Euros a night there, and breakfast is included. The Hotel is within a 20 min walk of the centre of town or close to I.P. Pavlova Metro station and trams to get you around. All in all a great hotel for anyone on a budget.

The Travel

There are many modes of travel to Prague, you can fly in form a myriad of European destination, but my favourite was always the Train. I would catch it either from Greifswald (where I lived in North Eastern Germany) through Berlin to Prague or from Warsaw in Poland. The advantage I found with the train was that it was the most convenient. The Train Stations are close the centre of town and hotels so you don’t have to have to cab it anywhere. At worst if you got into Holesovice Station you get the Metro, which is dirt cheap anyway, into where you needed to go. From Berlin a ticket would cost about 60 Euros one way on a Euro City train.

The Food

Well the Czech food is good and hearty, if not overly extravagant. But you will get a decent feed that is for sure. The main dish is Roasted pork with dumplings and sauerkraut all drowned in a rich gravy. I never got sick of eating this, served sometimes with a green salad on the side and with a half litre glass of local beer you could never go wrong. The main beer, or most famous beers are the Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar. I wasn’t that partial to the pilsners myself, but the Dark Staroprammen beer was absolutely delicious and I recommend it to anyone.

One piece of advice I can give here is that if you want real cheap food and drink, don’t buy it on the tourist trail. Its enough to go back one or two streets off the main tourist one to have the price drop my almost ten times.

The Games

Over the years I have seen two Rugby League international in around Prague. The first was in Prague itself with The Czechs taking on Germany. This was the first of the European Shield matches in 2007 and set the scene for what has become a tough annual battle between these two nation. In the three years since these nations have played each other the Germans have a 2-1 head on the Czechs.

CzeGer02Czech and German teams lined up for the National Anthems.

It was a funny old night before, I was staying in the hotel at the Slavvia complex. Slavia Prague is one of the big sports clubs and plays many sports. The International was played at their rugby ground and the German tema and referees stayed in the hotel there. Anyway a Kontiki tour of aussie 18 year olds turned up and after many drinks had convinced a few of them to come to the game.

Little did we know they would bring the whole gang and the atmosphere at the game was electric, though only about 300 people there, it sounded more like 3000!

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The Czechs (red) get muscled by the German (black) front pack

After the game the players really were excited about it and said how much is spurred them on to have the crowd cheering and carrying on, hearing chants for both teams and having each try and goal celebrated. The at half time was a close one with the Germans leading 20-16 at the break, and that was only after a try right on the bell. But in the second half, despite being a man down after Marcus Keinhorst was sent off, ran away with the match 44 – 22.

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Germany’s Simon Cooper cops one in the chops by David Safranek after being hit by Michael Priputen

The presentations were done in a night club in Prague itself, and as always beer was cheap so it was easy to have a good time. I remember bumping into some of the Kontiki guys latter that night and they were still buzzing from seeing the international!

The second game was in a village just outside of Prague called Dubrejovice and there the Czech’s hosted the Italians in what turned out to be the Euro Shield decider for 2008. That weekend it pouring rain and many of the grounds in Prague were shut by the council due to being water logged. Thankfully on short notice Dubrejovice soccer club came to the rescue allowing their number 2 field to be used.

CzeIta02 Italians getting hit in the tackle.

It was a tough game with the Czechs throwing all they could against an Italian team boasting many semi-pro players. As was the case the previous year, the Czechs were in it through the first half but fell away in the second half.

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Big hit on the Italians by the Czechs.

In the end the Italians won the match 38-18. Tiziano Franchini, president of Italian Rugby League, was vey happy seeing Italy come back into the Rugby League fold in a big way winning a major tournament. The presentation and Barbeque afterwards at the club was fantastic, with many of the crowd staying on to meet and congratulate the players from both teams. I should mention once again a big thanks to Tiziano for allowing me to get a lift back into Prague on the team bus… and allowing me access to the players to interview them for Rugby League Review.

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A happy Tiziano Franchin, Captain and President of FIRL holding the European Shield.

Summary

All up this is one of the most spectacular cities in Europe. Its very cheep and easy to get around in and the people are very friendly as well. It sits well in Central Europe and so had good transport access to the rest of Europe too. But most important there is Rugby League and the Czech Rugby League is guaranteed a fantastic.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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One Response to “The Travellers and Food Lovers Guide to Rugby League – Prague”

  1. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Good story daniel.This is what makes rugby league interesting unlike say the boring nrl and superleague games that are played on tv all the time.I give you an idea daniel.Here in nz we have a rugby channel which shows rugby all over the world,archive rugby games and of course all the latest games played all over the globe.Here in this part of the world we have no rugby league channel at all.Approach fox and see what you can get going daniel.It represents food for thought.

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