Prague visit Sept 13, 14,
15,16 - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Tuesday Sept 13 - After a ten hour flight we landed in
Frankfort Germany, waited three hours for the two hour flight to
Once there we needed to get some Czech Crowns seeing they are
not part of the Euro Zone. After some hiking around and asking
we found the ATM. I asked for 6000 Cz. It gave me three 2000 Cz
bills, each worth about $100. I figured that probably wouldn't
work in a bus ticket machine so I also took the rip-off option
of using a conversion machine and putting in $20. Now I had some
useful bills and change. The bus/public transportation
information booth was open but not manned. After some chasing
around we finally got to the ticket machine. I did not
understand it. Some girl was helping another person buy their
tickets and offered to help us. Rick Steves warns about people
trying to help you especially with money things. But I let her
help. Unfortunately the funky machine would not take our coins.
The bus arrived. We got on and with her help paid the bus driver
and validated our tickets. It was actually quite cheap like $1
each. The bus took us to the Metro station. I don't recall the
details but we finally got on and rode to the second stop - Malostranska. After much fooling around
trying to figure out what tram to take and in what direction, we
finally took a tram to our neighborhood. Unfortunately it was
We hiked around and could not seem to find the street we needed
to get to the hotel. I went into the Starbucks
(YES A STARBUCKS!) and asked directions. The street across the
parking lot had the wrong name but we started hiking. We asked a
couple people and found the street name changed after a couple
blocks to the correct name. We hiked up this enormous hill
lugging our suitcases over cobblestone streets and sidewalks
until we found our street. This street was steep
downward. We had to carry our suitcases down quite a ways. After
some hiking down the hill we found our hotel.
The hotel Deb picked is called the "Vintage Design Hotel
Sax". It was very arty and very nice. We checked in and went to
our room. We hadn't eaten in several hours so we asked at the
desk for a place to eat. They sent us to a very nice restaurant
a couple blocks away more or less across from the American
Embassy. It was too nice and too expensive, plus the chef had
gone home. We hiked on down and found a simpler place where we
had beer and a sandwich (as I recall). Back up the hill and to
Day 1 Wedensday Sept 14 - The hotel is terrific. The whole
place had an art theme. It was mostly 60's and 70's style. Our
room had op-art designs
on the walls and art objects all around. The Room was more
like a suite with an entry hall, a living room and a bedroom. It
included a nice HP laptop computer for our use. The bathroom was
nice but the toilet was oval shaped the wrong direction and a
bit large for me. The breakfast room was very nice with perhaps
the second best breakfast of the whole trip. We met Grace and
Gene from Vancouver Washington.
About going to the castle RS said - "don't go in the morning
because it is crowded". Despite that we decided to hike up to the castle and see if we could
get in. It's quite a hike. There were
thousands of people mostly in tour
groups from all over the world. We asked at the ticket desk if
it was less crowded later - it does get better after 1pm. So we
hiked up the hill to a monastery. Not
much going on there. It was too early to try their beer so we
took a few pictures of the spectacular view
and hiked back down looking for Loretta
church. Loretta Church sounds really interesting. It supposedly
has part of Mary's house there. We couldn't find it. Then on to
"Little Square", which has the Starbucks on it. We looked around
for a place recommended by RS for lunch.
After asking at the parliament if they had a local map, they
didn't, we continued looking until we found U Hrocha ("By The
Hippo") a funky local restaurant. It was
run by two guys who did all the work.
There were about five bench type tables. You were expected to share the table.
The menu was on the chalkboard on the wall and they only served
one type of beer - Urquell the original pilsner. We had a simple lunch of a beer cheese plate, potato salad and couple sausages with some mustard and
horseradish. Note the salt, pepper and paprika.
Delicious and a great experience.
We looked at the Church of St Nicholas and decided to climb the tower. It
was not crowded but quite a climb. The
church is not on the castle hill but down near our hotel and
Little Square. We saw a costumed kid
whose job is to blow the trumpet several times a day. As part of
the tower they had displays of how the secret police used this place to watch and check
on the people during the communist days. The tower had
burned at one time so there were singed beams.
Only one bell survived the fire. Some
very nice views
of the area. Notice the Charles Bridge with people in the distance. This picture shows Little Square. The Starbucks
is directly below us. A restaurant we ate at is in the grey
Back up to the castle. When we went to buy our tickets we found
the cathedral was closed. Apparently for weddings. We saw
several brides and bridal parties
walking around. We did not stay.
We hiked down to our room
and took a brief nap.
We then hiked over the famous Charles bridge trying to find Old Town Square. The
bridge is amazing. I picked up a map in the left tower. It is
pedestrians only and lined with statues.
There were several artists and street
entertainers along the way including a guy who was kneeling with
his forehead on the ground and a donation hat in front of him. I
guess he was doing penance and trying to make a couple Crowns.
The crowds were amazing as were the sights as we walked. We got a little lost but
finally found the square. It was huge and interesting. More or
less in the middle was a grand statue of Jan Hus
an early critic of the Catholic church. He was burned in 1415.
Tyne church looms over the square. The
square had many vendors of every thing from entire pigs roasted over an open fire to sausages and beer as well as the usual
We wandered around a bit and found the famous
Astronomical Clock. It was quite
spectacular. Somehow it tells several versions of time, phases
of the moon, and other times. It appeared to be a clock with two
faces and various circular shapes
revolving around them. There is also a major show of action on
the hour. Unfortunately we were pretty tired and only saw the
anti-climactic half hour chime... next time.
We hiked back over the Charles bridge and back toward our hotel (movie).
Here is where you can find real Czech
people. We stopped at the local Irish pub
for a beer. We were sitting outside at a table when along came Grace and Gene. They had a beer. We had a
good conversation and decided to have a
dinner at a place recommended by RS.
After some hiking around Little Square we found the place. I
think it was named Beseda. A very nice dinner for two including
beer, appetizer and meal for 300Kc + 70Kc tip or about $35.
Then home and to bed.
Day 2 Thursday Sept 15 - Had our very nice breakfast.
We went to Little Square to a tobacchi and bought 24 hour Tram
tickets for about $11. We took Tram #22 then #14 to get to the "Dancing House", sometimes called "Fred and
Ginger". It's by Frank Geary. Interesting.
We went to a stop near St Wenceslas Square which is really a
long wide shopping street with a statue of St Wenceslas and the National
Museum at the end. We were looking for the Mucha museum - recommended by Rick
After some miscues we found the Mucha
museum and enjoyed seeing the art there. A very nice easy
museum. They use Mucha's art on their currency. He is a very
important artist for the Czech people.
One of our goals was to go to the train station and see about
our train to Vienna. After much hiking up St Wenceslas square we
viewed the big statue of St Winceslas. Unfortunately the lighting was wrong. We then walked through
a pedestrian passage to the funky train
station. We were told, once again, that
we didn't need a first class ticket. Just get on, choose a seat
and show our Eurail pass. We took the Metro
back to Malostranska
square and tram #22 to Little Square. We
had a lunch of goose pate and beer at the
place where we had dinner last night.
We then took the #22 tram up to the castle
to avoid the grueling hill. We toured the St Vitus Cathedral (Including a Mucha stained glass window), the
castle, a chapel
and the Golden Way shopping area. Here
are some views inside the cathedral. Look at the flying
buttresses. Holy moly there was some guy riding a balloon. We took the
#22 tram back down to Little Town
Square. We went to our room for a break. Not many pictures
considering it was a major goal of the Prague visit.
We had beer and met Gene and Grace again for dinner. We struggled to find the place
along the river recommended by RS. As we
hiked we ran across some art works (notice the Charles bridge in the
background). We finally found the restaurant and it was empty.
We were assured the fish was fresh. We had a rather pricier
dinner here. I found my fish excellent the others were not as
impressed. We had an excellent conversation with G&G.
Gene and Grace are retired and are into collecting
art glass. They had a couple leads on gallery's that might have
some glass for sale. Apparently some places were hard to find
and/or nonexistent. They have a dream of developing a
significant collection and creating a museum for others to
Back to the hotel and to bed.
Day 3 Friday Sept 16 - We decided to have a taxi take us to the
train station rather then riding a tram and the metro to get
there. When we checked out the hotel was
nice enough to take our Czech Crowns plus a credit card. The
taxi guy spoke good English. He has relatives in the US he
We got on the train for the 4-5 hour trip
- Our room and the hotel were
- The Czech language is complex. We did learn to say "thank you"
- DUCKquee and they liked us trying.
- They had some old restored cars for touring around the city.
- You can see many videos of Prague on youtube and hulu.
- I never felt threatened or had any problems with people here.