Sunday, January 07, 2007

Along the mightly banks of the Vltava

Vltava, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle

I arrived in Prague for the first time on December 22 after a delayed flight from Amsterdam. Joel picked me up at the airport and we made it back to his apartment in time to leave again, catch the metro, and head to Wenceslas Square for cheap beer and sausage. One beer on the road turned into a couple more back at the apartment and “we” overslept the next morning, missing our 6:30 bus to Budapest. “We” swear “we” set our alarm. Either way, we were late; and the bus didn’t wait.

Bridges of the Vltava

We met Jessica - our on-time and (understandably) upset traveling partner - at the train station, arriving just before a train departed for Budapest. We bought three tickets and seven hours later, there we were.

More bridges of the Vltava

Budapest is a very beautiful city, Christmas is not the best time to visit. Many of the shops, restaurants, museums and government buildings close on Christmas Eve and remain so for a few days. We were able to visit the local baths (Budapest is known for its baths – remnants of the Turkish occupation way back when.) before they closed, but much of the remainder of our trip was spent walking, looking, and photographing. I enjoyed this, but a few more “inside” activities would have been nice (winter in Central Europe isn’t warm). Anyway, we celebrated Christmas together with a midnight mass at St. Stephens Cathedral, preceded by a traditional, spiced hot wine with our fellow hostel mates. The rest of the trip went well, and we returned to Prague four days later.

Kriebaum at Prague Castle

Arriving in Prague, I met the rest of my roommates. Joel and I had about a day before another friend of ours, Rob, arrived to visit. Rob’s timing was great because I hadn’t seen any of Prague. We spent a lot of time wandering around town, fighting the holiday crowds, and drinking beer. One of our goals was to not drink more than one beer at any one bar because Prague is known for its pubs. It would have been easy to spend all afternoon at many of the bars – most beer costs between $0.90 and $1.40 for half of a liter – so we tried to split time between drinking and being tourists. We often blurred that line, and I’ve instituted a voluntary detox program to last no longer than 4 days in the interest of my liver. We also tried a number of authentic Czech restaurants outside of popular tourist areas. We did not find English speaking servers, and more than once we had to point to something on the menu sight-unseen. However, the food was usually decent, and getting out the door with a few beers seldom cost more than $10.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge, Prague Castle

Prague

Me at the Tyn Church

Tyn Church

Rob at castle

Soviet-era housing - exciting!

Astronomical clock

1 comment:

Lauren Michelle said...

beautiful photos, particularly the red rooves of prague. yes, i was tempted to say "roofs."