Mission of the month: How not spoil your trip in Prague? It's written on the beer mat...
A series by diplomats from UK Embassies and High Commissions from around the world
Saturday 07 November 2009
Prague: stunning architecture, steeped in history, a jewel described by historian Norman Davies as "Europe's most beautiful city". No wonder the Czech Republic's capital hosts about 500,000 British tourists a year.
The vast majority of these visitors have a trouble-free time, but our Consular Section is rarely quiet. Prague has gained a reputation as a popular stag destination, helped, no doubt, by the excellent beer and low-cost airlines. But faced with a disproportionate number of cases which needed our intervention (lost passports/money, arrests) and the worsening reputation of British visitors, we decided to take action. The Embassy set up information campaigns, distributing beer mats and posters in pubs and clubs. The message was clear: don't spoil your trip. Thankfully, fewer now need to seek our help.
We also learnt how effective precautions can be, providing advice on how to avoid falling victim to petty theft or rogue taxis. It pays to know about local laws and customs, which are there for Czechs and tourists alike, such as validating public transport tickets before you use them (otherwise you risk an on-the-spot fine).
If you over-indulge and then fall foul of the law, you could find yourself behind bars (and you'll pay for the privilege). How can we help? We can't offer a get-out-of-jail-free card, but we can put you in touch with English-speaking lawyers. We can visit you in hospital or prison to check on your welfare and contact your next-of-kin. We can't loan you money or pay your bills, but we can advise on transferring money through commercial means. On the other hand, we don't offer babysitting advice or provide directions if you can't find your hotel at 4am.
Prague is a fantastic place to spend a few days. We are here to help when something goes seriously wrong, but small precautions can make a big difference. Whether your visit is for business, culture or beer, investing a little time and money in research and travel insurance should mean it is memorable for the right reasons.
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