Today Jacob, Phin, and I went on a three-hour (plus) free walking tour of Prague that introduced us to Old Town, New Town, and the Jewish Quarter. It's a little late for that, since we've been here for almost six weeks and we've done some of our own exploring in those areas, but it was fantastic. Our tour guide was Pavel, and I thought he did a great job. Here he is talking about the National Museum, very briefly:
Jon, Zed, Lillian, and Seth did the same tour on Saturday (we split up the family so Mira didn't have to go and so we're not quite so conspicuous) and had an American tour guide. He was good, too, from what I heard, but I enjoyed hearing Pavel's perspective on Czech history and especially on the Velvet Revolution and living under communism. He said that his grandmother, who was born in 1911, lived in eight different countries during her life, all without ever moving from her flat in Prague, because the area has been invaded and occupied many times.
This company does free tours of many cities. They also do paid tours, which they promote during the free tour, but not in an obnoxious or pushy way. You can tip the guide at the end, but again, no pushiness at all. Jon has also gone on free walking tours in Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia, but it must have been with another company, since those cities aren't listed on the website above. (Maybe this one?) They are a great way to get to know the most important places in a city quickly. I wish we had done something like this when we came to Prague in 2008. We were only here for about 24 hours, so it would have been such a good way to see important parts of the city and know what we were looking at at the same time!