Great organization, eye-catching photography, well written narrative and superb cartography! DK Eyewitness Travel guides have got it all but, for me, it's the photography that really separates them from the competition. And "Prague" covers it all - restaurants, music, beer halls, walks, art galleries, museums, spas, architecture, palaces, hotels, cafés, theatres and churches. And all of the information is organized by neighbourhood in the city so I can make the most effective use of my time once I'm in a certain area.
Here's the outline of the guide in a little more detail:
How to use this guide
Introducing Prague ...A Suggested Four Day Itinerary ...Prague on the Map ...The History of Prague ...Prague at a Glance ...Through the Year (events, holidays) ...A River View of Prague
Prague Area by Area, each section includes: ...Introduction to street by street area ......Detailed pictorials of area buildings ......Architectural drawings, pictures, cut-aways of buildings ......Specific stops, historical monuments, churches, buildings, etc. ...Further Afield (trips just outside Prague) ...Four Guided Walks (highly recommended)
Travelers Needs - includes full list with rankings and notes ...Hotels ...Restaurants, bars, cafes ...Shops / Markets ...Entertainment
Survival Information ...Practical ......Tourist info., Etiquete, Personal Security and Health ......Currencies, Telephones, misc info. ...Getting to Prague ...Getting Around Prague ......Planes, trains and automobiles, signs ......Street Maps ......General Index ...Phrase Book
As far as the phrase book is concerned, Czech is exceptionally difficult to learn and pronounce (among other problems, for example, their nouns are declined with no less than seven cases!) I found that most of the locals have enough broken tourist English to allow even the most linguistic phobic tourist to survive. But, and this is the most basic common courtesy, I recommend you learn at least the Czech words for "please" and "thank you", (prosím and dekuji vám). Two other mandatory words in a surviving tourist's vocabulary (in this humble traveler's opinion) have to be "pivo" (beer) and "toalety" (toilets). Frankly, everything else is luxury and amounts to learning above and beyond the call of duty.
Here's my "best practices" strategy. Read "Top 10 Prague" first. Make some basic choices, get your mind wrapped around Prague's geography and begin to localize your choices to certain areas. Fine tune your choice and plan your attack day by day by reading "Prague". Familiarize yourself with some of the local customs by reading the basic country information in the back of the larger "Prague" guide - currency, communications, etiquette, food, beer and wine, local transportation and specialized hints like local tipping practices.
Why not five stars? Frankly, with the internet now providing so much current information, I can't see the value in attempting to include lengthy (and probably outdated) lists of hotels and restaurants in densely packed small print index lists at the back of a book like this. There are some outdated addresses which resulted in time wasted on unsuccessful searches for a couple of stores and restaurants which have either moved or closed down. There are also references to a couple of palaces that are now converted to embassies or businesses that are closed to the public. Since they're now at best an external photo op, I'd rather see the space devoted to smaller homes or sites of historical interest that can be still be toured.
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