Prague, Czech Republic
August 23-28, 2014
When we arrived in Prague, we were pretty exhausted from all the going. Every city has a lengthy list of things to see so naturally you try to do everything. We knew when we started the trip that we wouldn’t be able to see everything, for a couple of reasons… 1 – budget and 2 – burnout.
Coming into Prague, we decided to take it easy, which we did. We actually spent a full day in the hotel, with the exception of a 1-hour lunch break. Anchorman 2 provided some comic relief from all the going!
We quickly came to realize that finding (economical) transportation around eastern Europe is much more difficult than the west. Although Ryanair and other discount airlines service the capital cities, flights are infrequent and are more expensive. We decided to go with MAV-Start, Hungary’s National Railway as they had slightly better reviews than Czech Transport and we could buy tickets in-person at Budapest-Keleti railway station. All in all the train ride was uneventful. For some reason first class tickets were cheaper than second and we ended up with our own cabin on the train. The train took just under 7 hours and took us through Bratislava, Slovakia.
A tourist magnet, the Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River in Prague’s city centre. The bridge was originally built to connect Prague Castle to the Old Town. Although we were able to snap several pictures, we actually didn’t walk across it. Instead, we used the Manesuv Bridge which provided amazing views of the Charles Bridge, as well as Prague Castle.
Theresienstadt concentration camp (Terezin) is about an hour by train from Prague. I (Steven) visited Dachau concentration camp outside Munich in 2005. I can’t remember much about the tour other than being floored by the brutal events that took place there. Although the camp at Terezin is nowhere near the size of Dachau or other Nazi lead concentration camps, the barbaric, inhumane acts were just as prevalent. We knew this wouldn’t be an exciting day trip, but we were eager to learn more about European history. The more we learn, the more we appreciate how fortunate we are to have grown up where we did.
This is Prague’s ‘White House”. It is the residence of the President of the Czech Republic and is the largest ancient castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
We made it to Prague Castle for sunset, which meant I couldn’t get daylight pictures (next visit), but I managed to get a few regardless.
Prague eats (and drinks)
I love beer. Some say that Prague is its birthplace. How could anyone not like Prague?! Pilsner was first brewed in the town of Plzeň, Czech Republic in 1842 with the birth of Pilsner Urquell. Just like the Guinness is better in Dublin, the Pilsner Urquell is better in Czech. I had tried it a few times in Canada and wasn’t fond of it, but I sure got my fill in Prague, especially when it costs $1.30 for a half litre, preservative free.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of the food in Prague, Jess was pleasantly surprised by the gluten-free options she found. We mentioned one restaurant in particular in our One Month recap, Vidličky a nože, where we actually went back a second time. It was delicious and more importantly, budget friendly. Another notable mention goes to Švejk Restaurant U Karla, which actually has a separate gluten-free menu, including dumplings and dessert!
Back in Budapest, Jess and I were having lunch at a small cafe on Váci utca, Budapest’s main tourist strip when a father and his young son arrived, each carrying their own backpack. We immediately thought how cool it was to see he was taking his son backpacking through Europe. All assumptions of course.
A week later, Jess and I are in Prague and in desperate need for clean clothes. We find a laundromat not far from our hotel. We head there in the morning and who do we run into? The (Canadian) father and son travelling duo! This time we spoke to them and joined them for coffee while we waited for our laundry. It turns out our assumptions were correct, and they were indeed backpacking in Europe for the summer. It was such a refreshing treat to spend time chatting with them, sharing travel stories. We are still in awe at how small the world really is. As Jess mentioned in our the One Month recap, these are the events that we will likely remember most from this journey.
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jess + trickett