A Travellerspoint blog

Czech Republic

5. Prague Castle

Mon, Sept 16

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So hubs was still not feeling well today. He came down to breakfast and ate a half piece of toast, but that was it. The British couple were there again so I had a chat with them - they were heading home today.

I decided to head to Prague Castle and went the same way I did the evening before. Line up was short and I got the 'package' recommended by our airbnb guide - it allowed entry into the big church, golden lane and a few other spots. This line fore the cathedral wrapped around the side, and they let in maybe 3 dozen people every 5-10 min or so. I guess I hit a busy time (prob a 20-25 min wait) as when I can out, the lineup was really very short. The stained glass in St Vitus cathedral was mind blowing. I've seen lots of stained glass windows, but the colours here were so vibrant. And the huge silver ornamental piece - wow. Next on the visit list was St George's Basilica, which was quite small and fast to go thru. Then the Old Royal Palace - where I was given an audioguide - seeing the big main banquet hall (where they would hold jousting contests!) was quite impressive. Then onto Golden Lane - which was now quite crowded. The little houses were open - they are all pretty much shops now, so I poked around them but didn't buy anything. That pretty much covered everything, so I grabbed a gelato to get me thru a hungry spell, then decided to walk down to Charles Bridge and check out the artists wares.

I ran into the British couple from the hotel on the bridge! Always funny when that happens - I guess we all go to the tourist spots...lol. They asked after my husband. They were just spending a partial day, then had to get to the airport for their flight home. I did find some lovely intaglio prints on the bridge - I had a really hard time deciding, but was glad I could decide without having input from the hubby...lol - this way I got the ones I wanted without having to make concessions.

Next I found my way (only slightly getting off track) to the funicular and Petrin Tower. Lovely views over the city - I decided not to go up the tower - partly because of price, and partly because I was starting to get a little hungry. I wandered around the rose garden and the grounds and sat down to have a raisin and nut treat I had in my purse. If I was a little younger, I could see doing the hike down the hill, but I was just too hungry. I caught the funicular back down, then wandered back towards the hotel, catching a tram once I crossed the river and getting back around 3pm. Hubby was still alive, feeling a bit better, but still not 100%. I ate the leftover pizza from the night before (oh, I did walk up past the hotel to get some cupcakes at a shop I'd spotted the day before - we ate them that evening).

Hubs decided he'd come out with me, so we walked over to the Lego Store and paid to see the 'Lego Museum'. It was pretty cool to see all the Lego stuff - new and old - but it was a bit expensive for what it was. We walked back towards the hotel, stopping by the rotating statue I'd seen the day before, and showing hubby the shopping mall nearby.

He still wasn't feeling good enough to eat, so he went back to the room and I popped into the café across the street (Café Amandine). And I got the most expensive thing on the menu - lol. Actually, there wasn't a lot on the menu that appealed to me, except the steak with roasted veggies and some kind of whipped mash. The steak was absolutely delicious - especially after eating leftovers for lunch.

And while at the cafe, a couple came in and were kinda waiting for someone to seat them, even though they could just pick a table. The waiter finally came and told them to sit wherever and they sat beside me. I said I was going to tell them to just pick a seat. So got talking and he was from Ontario and his girlfriend (this was an older couple) was Polish. So when he sat he told the waiter he got a card at the hotel for 10% off the total. My food hadn’t come out yet so I said...watch my stuff, leaving purse and camera behind and ran over to the hotel for my card...lol. Anyways, had a nice chat with them and saved 10% off my meal. They had been in Italy for a family wedding, so were seeing more of the continent.

Went back over to the room and had some tea and my lemon meringue cupcake (which was super sweet and super good) and some tea, and we started sorting out as next day was moving on to Vienna day.

Posted by u2traveller 05:10 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

4. Uh oh - food poisoning

Sun, Sept 15

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So my hubs woke up and didn't feel very good. He came down to breakfast but didn't really eat anything and ended up going back upstairs while I finished. He was looking green around the gills but still went out with me later. I had headed out that morning on my own just to wander over to a few churches that were nearby, but neither were open to the public. I visited a little park nearby and popped over round to the 'Anthropoid' church which was a block away. I went back to see how hubs was doing and he decided to come out with me.

We walked over to the 'old' national museum, which had a Tutenkamen display on - not really a display - an interactive video thing where you walked thru some rooms. Hubs was looking very sweaty when we were waiting in line to get in and had to sit down. You got a timed ticket for the show and we had about 30 min. After we wandered for about 10 min, he had to run to the washroom (I believe the museum had recently been reno'd and was disappointingly rather empty - disappointing because it wasn't cheap to get in). I was going to go up the stairs of the museum but there was an old coot who wanted to see the tix, which hubs had...in the bathroom. I just wanted to stand on the stairs and see the ceiling but wouldn't even let me do that. He shooed me away. Grr. Hubs came out and went into the show with me, but had to make a run for it about 5 min before it was done. He ended up being in the bathroom about 20 min or so. Came out and got a tea at the café but he couldn't even drink that. Went outside and sat on the grass for a bit, then moved when a bench freed up and he laid down for about 20 min.

Decided by this time it was best of we got him back to the room so hopped the metro and got back to the room with seconds to spare, as he vomited again. By this point, I knew he was done for the day, so I headed out on my own and just wandered along the river and thru some side streets. I stopped at a pizza place down the road from the hotel and got myself a pizza for supper, then headed back to the room.

I had a tour booked with Naked Prague - an after hours tour at Prague Castle. All paid ahead. Was hoping hubby would feel better, but no luck. I tried to find someone on 'hangouts' on the couchsurfing website to join me, since his ticket was paid for and I wouldn't get a refund, but no luck. I debated asking a random stranger, but chickened out. The guide did offer that he could join the tour the next night, but he still wasn't feeling up to it...and it rained anyways. The tour was a nice overview of the castle grounds, and I did learn an easier/faster way to get into the castle involving a tram, which I used the next morning, saving a walk up a steep hill/stairs. It was nice to learn about the castle before visiting, and to see the grounds almost empty - there were a few other tours (bigger, our tour was 8 or 9 people) and a group of teen girls, who were so noisy when our guide was talking he asked them to pipe down...lol. And also nice to see it after dark. The tour started around 8 and ended at 10pm. Beautiful all lit up.

Then the group wandered back down to the Charles and I hopped the tram back to the room. Hubby was still alive! I really think it was the hamburger that did it. Mind you, I had the same with no ill effects. But in 2017 when we went to Netherlands, I think it was a hamburger that made me sick.

Posted by u2traveller 06:04 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

3. Airbnb tour in Prague

Sat, Sept 14, 2019

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Had a nice breakfast at the hotel this morning. Well, nice because it was free. Buffet style with pastries, bread, cereal, fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheeses, eggs (fried, scrambled and hard boiled!), bacon, porridge, sausage. (No I didn’t eat all that). Had a nice chat with a British couple sitting at a table beside ours.

We left around 10am to head for the Municipal Building and our Airbnb 'colourful Prague' tour, which was at 11. We arrived about an hour early and checked out the BIG mall that was there. We had to wait around for 15 min for a group that apparently got their dates wrong. The 3 hr tour was quite interesting and I'm glad we did it on our first full day, as it gave a nice oversight of the Old Town and then across the river to see some newer sights. We started at the Powder Tower, then made our way past the University, to a really creepy statue outside an Opera house - you wrote the name of someone you disliked or who wronged you, threw it inside the creepy statue, then within a month they were supposed to exit your life. You were supposed to put your hand on his left 'claw' and not touch anything else when throwing in your paper. They empty it every month! Unfortunately, our neighbours haven't sold their home or gotten divorced...sigh. Oh well. Then it was to the Old Town square and the clock tower. It was super crowded - we were told to watch your valuables there. We learned about the executions that took place there, then walked past where the executioner used to reside - now a restaurant. While we were in the square, a whole bunch of dudes dressed in old school Batman costumes walked by. The guide rolled his eyes and said there was a convention in town...twenty minutes later, when we were over by the Jewish cemetery, a 'beer bike' went by, blasting the Batman theme song, being driven by all the Batmen. It was actually pretty funny.

After wandering by the Jewish area, we went over the next bridge away from the Charles, where our guide snapped our photos with the Charles behind. We stopped into a Gingerbread house for a bathroom break and we also got a drink and some gingerbread cookies. Then we wandered over to the John Lennon wall, where our guide gave us all markers so we could add our own message. I put 'love from Canada'. I guess the wall gets a fresh coat of paint every month or two, maybe even sooner than that. He told us about the 'flood defense' system they have in place (with locking panels - you could see where they sit). Then the tour was finished. And I will say the tour was quite nice - we had a small group - I think 9-10 - would have been 13 or so if the others had come. Seeing the other tour groups with dozens of people - ugh, not good. And we had some nice chats with others in the group. If you want to know which tour, airbnb, colourful Prague and Petr was the guide!

We took the metro back to the Municipal building and went into the mall again for another look around, and to grab some snacks. Outside some food kiosks were set up and we got a fried shredded pancake and a Pepsi for a snack. After 3 hours of walking, we decided to head back to the room to relax for a few hours, as we were going to head back to the clock tower that evening. Headed back out around 7pm and went to the Black Dog café down the street for some burgers. (That didn't turn out well - see the next entry, or even just the headline). There were some older Americans there and they got into a discussion about politics and Trump (they were a fan) with some Brits. Hubs just had to interject when they started showing how ignorant they were about our health care system in Canada, but it stayed friendly. I finally just had to leave because I didn't think my husband would stop. The wives of the men felt the same one - one of them said 'I just wanted a burger' - lol.

So Sat night was not the night to go over to the old town square. I think it’s the night that the stag and stagette parties are out. Groups of drunken men and (maybe not so drunk) women. Just...noisy. One jerk in one group was walking around trying to suction a dildo on to a street sign. Another drunkenly ‘singing’ if you can call it that (sounded more like moaning). A little disheartening. And still lots of crowds. Meh. And we just missed the clock doing it's clock thing by a minute. Didn't want to hang around for another hour. Wandered a bit more, back down to the Charles, then hopped a tram and got back to the room around 10:30pm. I was starting to get a dry throat and coughing - probably all the cigarette smoke in the air. I will say - there did seem to be a lot of people there using vape products - more so than I noticed in Venice.

Posted by u2traveller 06:55 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2. Arriving in Prague

Fri, Sept 13

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The flight left LHR about 40 min late, but we 'made up' some time so only arrived 15 min late. They gate checked hubs bag, but didn't have to wait too long for it to come out.

We arrived in Prague around 1:30. I had arranged a private transfer from the airport to our hotel (Best Western Hotel City Moran - which I got 4 nights for a grand total of 11.50 - using air miles). I thought after hours and hours of flying, that was the best thing to do, instead of trying to figure out public transport. The cost maybe was double what we would have paid for taking a bus/metro (650 CZK), but so worth it. I was able to contact them while at Heathrow to let them know we got an earlier flight, and luckily they could still accommodate us.

After arriving at the hotel, we decided to rest for a few hours, as we were running on very little sleep. The hotel is quite nice - we were on the 5th floor. Lots of extra pillows (some of our accoms are light on pillows - I need at least 2, and some only give you one, meaning I have to find creative ways to raise up my head more - whether folding the pillow, using a decorative cushion or folding up a blanket to put underneath)...but a def lack of outlets. You'd think in this day and age of gadgets, outlets would be more prevalent. The bedside lamps were hooked into switches on the wall. As far as I could see, only two plugs for the TV and desk lamp - so we'd have to unplug the lamp in order to plug in the kettle or one charger. Little fridge in the room, which was nice so we could pick up some soda or juice.

After our rest, we decided to head out down to the river and we walked as far as the Charles Bridge - which was about 15 min by foot. On the way, we stopped at Café Slavia for supper - I had read about it in a guide book and so in we went. Nice inside - we were early-ish, so no issue getting a table near the front. I had a lovely chicken Caesar salad - with lots of big flakes of cheese - and hubs had spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread. For dessert, I treated myself to some apple strudel - it came with whipped cream AND vanilla ice cream on the side. Lovely.

Afterwards we just wandered around - walked halfway over the Charles - very very crowded. Most of the artists had packed up and the crowds drove us back the way we had come. We really were quite taken with the lovely buildings - lots of colours and details to spot.

Posted by u2traveller 08:34 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

1.Connections and more connections

Thurs, Sept 12

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So today was flying day. Generally we have a direct flight from Halifax to London, but because of the grounding of the Max 8 airplanes and Air Canada not having any planes in storage (lol) we had to fly west, just to fly back east, adding about 5-6 hrs to our travel time factoring in layovers and extra flying time. Our choices were Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa. When the flight had to be changed, they switched us to via Toronto, but I had looked into what type of planes they flew, and Ottawa had the smallest plane (2-3-2 layout) and the three airports are all fairly close together. And arrival time was around 10am fr Ottawa, which I felt gelled better with our connecting flight to Prague. So I was able to easily make the change.

I purchased 'preferred' exit row seats. Oh, the leg room is amazing. The last few times we've flown overseas I've (begrudgingly) paid for the preferred seats and do not regret it.

So a week after getting our flight switched to Ottawa, I purchased our tix for our flight to Prague, leaving at 1pm. Oh, a three hour cushion is fine - we've done it before. Except...a few weeks after that, they changed to flight from Ottawa - now it would be arriving at 6am. Now we have a 7 hr layover. OMG. There was an earlier flight with Brit Air leaving at 9am, but after contacting them was told it would cost another $300+ to switch, so I resigned myself to either paying for a lounge or just finding a quiet corner of LHR to hide. I also contemplating asking at the help desk when we arrived if we could be switched to the earlier flight, but wasn't holding out much hope. I figured with the strikes by BA a few days earlier that the flights would be packed with people who had to change plans.

So our flight to Ottawa was fine, and having lots of legroom on the flight to London was amazing. We arrived at 6am (what felt like about 2am to us, and with not much rest on the plane, so we were exhausted)...so we followed the secure connections to the correct terminal. Upon arrival, I went to the BA help desk and gave them my sob story about the flight connections and that we were exhausted. Well, the kind man behind the counter checked the computer and I guess they had some seats, because they switched us to the earlier flight and at no extra cost. Bless you British Airways!

So we wandered zombie like around the terminal, grabbed a quick breakfast then we were off to Prague!

Posted by u2traveller 06:48 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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