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Czech out a city of style and culture; Destination Prague.

PRAGUE should be full of students. It's one of the cheapest European cities in the world, with staggering architecture, bounteous beer and bargain basement accommodation.

Wonderful. Students swarming all over a city. Why should I travel half way across the continent to try and get into the cheapest hostels before them?

Well, 90 per cent of Western visitors to the Czech Republic spend all their time in the capital city, and they're not all students!

Its buildings, unblemished by war, span a diverse range of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque to name some). Anyone - student or not - who doesn't gasp at them is blind.

Okay, but am I going to end up sharing a 14 berth hostel room with 13 art students from Beijing?

Not if you don't want to. In July and August the place is choc-a-bloc and crowds swarm everywhere - not just hostels.

The flip side is that accommodation is cheaper and wider spread, as student quarters are open to the public.

Western travellers have even stayed in locals homes for a paltry fee. Try Nove Mesto and Smichov for the most affordable accommodation.

Generous people! Didn't Good King Wenceslas of Christmas Carol fame come from Prague?

Yep. He's patron saint of the Czech Republic. Another famous son is Jan Hammer, who wrote Crockett's Theme for Miami Vice, to say nothing of literary giant Franz Kafka.

Isn't the city a bit volatile?

Not anymore, but it was around 1989 when a peaceful student demo in the city was brutally interrupted by the police.

This triggered the uprising known as the Velvet Revolution, which in turn toppled the Communist government.

Things have become slowly more Westernised since - a bone of contention with many travellers looking for 'real' Prague culture.

Surely that culture is still there?

Absolutely. The list includes the buildings, arts, Hradcany (the Castle District), Mala Strana (Small Quarter) the Stare Mesto (Old Town), Wenceslas Square and Nove Mesto (New Town) - the best place to eat.

Try the local food like knedlo-zelo-vepro (dumplings) or saurkraut and roast pork, (not to mention the local beer), visit museums and the theatre - you won't have time to be idle.

Okay. I'm off - help me get there.

Have a look at, where you'll find return flights leaving from London Heathrow from around pounds 180. Alternatively, Thomson Breakaway Cities can tailormake breaks of any duration to Prague. Seven nights will set you back pounds 546 until November, when the price drops to pounds 443, staying at the three star Belvedere Hotel. Call Thomson Breakaway Cities on 0870 606 1476 for details.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 30, 2000
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