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Prague, Covid-19 and why you shouldn’t use an ATM in the Czech Republic

It is done. I have crossed the German border and left my homeland. I am curious to know when I get homesick and have to go back to see family and friends. But right now I am still full of zest for action, which can be seen in my still very active blog entries. This two-day-interval I surely can’t keep for much longer. Many of you have probably already been to Prague and before I am getting lost in detail about Prague, I will try to go into some alternative things.

Let’s start with Covid-19. What does it actually look like in the Czech Republic? In the Czech Republic they are not to strict anymore with the rules. Covid-19 can only be found here in the metro. In fact, the metro is the only place where you have to wear a mask. In bus and tram the virus is not so easily contagious, accordingly noone wears a mask in bus and metro*Irony off*. In the Metro however you can be fined, if you are not wearing a mask. From my experiences I have not seen anyone in the Czech Republic without a mask in the metro. Here everybody seems to stick to it. In Berlin it was different by the way (well at least at night time). But let’s stay in Prague. I’ve been asking around a lot in my circle of friends to finally find someone who doesn’t like Prague… no way! No shit… everyone I know likes this city! 

My ex-work colleague Miro gave me some tips for his hometown, so that I had an excellent list of the Highlites in addition to some great Youtube videos (sorry, they are all in German :P)! And because he’s such a nice person and likes to share his Excel-list… you can download it here. Its short but great! Merci Miro

View over Prague from Strahov Monastery
Prague mini Eiffelturm

Furthermore I have to recommend the Free Walking Tours to everybody. A concept which has become very popular in many cities around the world. For those who don’t know it yet, I will explain it short. And maybe soon, when I have the leisure, I will write another article under “nice to know” about it (if anyone cares haha). So what ist he Free Walking Tour about? In the end, the concept is based on the fact that you don’t book and pay for a walking tour in advance, but that you take part in the tour first and pay afterwards. The sense behind this is that the guide has to make a real effort in order to organize an exciting and great tour. As in the end, each participant decides by himself what the tour was worth and gives the money to the guide. Meanwhile, this has established itself in an incredible number of cities. Among other things I have already done something like this in a couple of cities, the smallest was probably in Montevideo (there only with 6 people). In Prague there were 25 people, but because of Covid-19 it was only possible for them to offer tours since last week. If you have the chance, take part in a free walking tour. I even did two. One about the castle and one about the old town. Both were over 2,5 hours each. And a few pictures about Prague follow! Yes… you thought you could skip the pictures this time? Wrong! There is just so much to take pictures of! For probably every photographer a really cool city with many motives.

View from Prague Castle
Obelisk and St. Vitus Cathedral
Astronomical Clock

Well, originally I only wanted to stay here for two nights. But then it turned into three and I still haven’t seen everything. But now that everyone is saturated with photos, as an ex-employee of the financial sector, I would like to talk about the conditions in the Czech banking scene. In fact, in Germany  we have also made (or are still trying to make) a change over the last few years to put customer needs first. Exactly, banks in Germany want to get away from simply exploiting customers and pulling as many fees out of them as possible. After all, better customer relations often mean more money in the long run. Even if this change has not yet been completely successful… in the Czech Republic this does not even seem to have started! And I was told by the Czech side… it has been better already.

Let me come to the point ;-). If you want to have a foreign currency, you should go to an ATM. If you go to an ATM in Czech Republic with your foreign credit card (most of us have credit cards by now, which promise you free cash withdrawal abroad), you will be charged an additional fee of 4€ at the end. Ok, do you think… sadly some banks in other countries also do that… But, that’s not enough! Because besides this unfriendly fee, the Czech bank also tries to convert your home currency directly into the local currency! And this happens if you don’t pay attention to say and write nearly 20% fee!

In my example… 1€ is currently worth about 26 CSK. Before you receive the money, the atm offeres you on the screen an automatic conversion from 1€ to 22 CSK. Hey, thanks a lot dear Czech Bank, that you want to keep another 20% of my money besides the 4€. So, please pay attention! Never, no matter in which country the suggested conversion is allowed. Your home bank in Germany (probably also in most other countries) usually exchanges your money at or close to the interbanking rate. So always pay attention. I have tried three different banks. They all tried to scam me. In case it changes or there are banks who do not work like this, please leave a comment. With this incendiary speech I say goodbye from Prague and slowly set off towards southern Czechia (ha, that almost sounds like a reporter). I have not and will not use a bank in the Czech Republic. Most hotels offer exchange rates of 25CSK to 1€ and in most places you can pay directly with your credit card without any fees. Let’s sum it up. Many banks are criminals 😉

St Vitus Cathedral - Heaven or Hell
Prague Castle

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