A short trip to Prague

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Warren Taranow
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A short trip to Prague

#1 Post by Warren Taranow » October 1st, 2016, 2:42 am

I'm sitting in the airport after a few days in Prague. I wanted to share some of our experiences for anyone who may visit in the future.

After arriving in the late afternoon, we wandered from our hotel with no knowledge, map or plan. Through sheer luck or maybe some mystical pull, we ended up in the Old Town Square, which stopped me in my tracks. The view had a visceral effect. The artful blend of centuries of architecture was stunning. Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, one complementing and melding with another. While the city center is marred by kitschy tourist shops and crowds at times, it's nonetheless stunning. We continued over the Charles Bridge, then back to the hotel.

On day two (our first full day in the city), we took a full day private tour which I'd highly recommend. Our guide Dasha, a PhD., had an amazing depth of knowledge of the city, it's history, architecture, food, art and music. We covered a lot of ground on foot and in a private car. We started with a private tour of the Strahov Monastery and Library. While crowds of tourists peered into the rooms of the library from across a barrier, we were escorted in alone.

The tour also covered:
Loreto Square
Černin palace
The New World and the Castle Square in front of the Prague Castle
The Royal Garden and Royal Summer Palace
St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague castle
John Lennon wall
Charles Bridge
The Jewish Quarter
Pinkas Synagogue
The Old Jewish Cemetery
Klausen Synagogue
Old New Synagogue
The Spanish Synagogue
Troja Chateau
Vysehrad Castle
The National Cemetery /Slavin.

I think we walked about eight miles that day, less than on other days of our trip. Dasha's recommendations allowed us to plan our next (last) day in the city.

Dasha's website is http://www.ctours.comin.cz/ctours.php
No affiliation.

I'd also recommend touring the Lobkowiczký Palace, taking the audio tour and sitting for the early afternoon concert.

We enjoyed dinners at two restaurants:

The Blue Duckling (http://www.umodrekachnicky.cz/en/). Sitting in the gorgeous 16th Century house would have been enough for a great evening, but they had very good traditional Czech cuisine, and a nice wine list, especially for Prague.

More international cuisine was featured at the base of the Charles Bridge at Kampa Park Restaurant. A beautiful setting on the river, again with great food and wine. http://www.kampagroup.com/en/restaurants/

Gotta go, flight's leaving for Dubrovnek.

Cheers,
Warren
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George Hejna
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A short trip to Prague

#2 Post by George Hejna » October 1st, 2016, 6:25 am

Thanks for the great report.

George

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Ken Strauss
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A short trip to Prague

#3 Post by Ken Strauss » October 1st, 2016, 8:46 am

High on my bucket list.

Thanks!
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Dan Hammer
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A short trip to Prague

#4 Post by Dan Hammer » October 1st, 2016, 10:13 am

Our original plan for Prague was to spend 4 days. After talking to a good friend who visited Prague last summer, he suggested we enjoy ourselves and stay the week. Since he's given us good info before, we took his advice.

After running around Japan and Thailand last summer, we really wanted to do Prague the right way.

Prague in 4 or 5 days?

Well, if I could do it all over again, knowing what I know after the trip...

Overview

Day 1

Arrive at the Hilton around 3:00 and relax.

Headed into town around 5, for a get-aquainted look-see.

We took the subway to the Charles Bridge area. This bridge was built around 1300. It's a stone bridge. No vehicles. Only people. Prague is a very walkable city. Prague is a haven for cheap beer. Anywhere from US$1-$3. And I'm not talking about a 'short pour'.

Bu the way, Prague is also known as Praha .

After we walked around a bit, it was time for dinner. Most of the places to eat have outdoor seating. Little or no air conditioning is provided for us spoiled Americans. Inside, it can be extremely hot. We opted for the less smokey outside. In Prague, you can share tables with others. We enjoyed our first meal, goulash, with a lady from Australia.

After dinner, we continued walking around what can only be classified as a Hollywood set. It's so beautiful!

When everything is lit up at night, it even looks better than the daytime.

Day 2

We took the subway to Wenceslas Sq. for our first full day.

On exiting the subway, the street before us looked like Paris. A very wide, tree lined street with loads of stores. Behind us was the museum. In front of us was a full day of walking and touring. We walked along cobblestone streets as we headed to Old Town.

The streets are very narrow in this historic part of town. You see 700 year old buildings and churches everywhere. My wife remarked that it looked like Epcot at Disneyworld. This was the real thing. Even better.

There's a famous clock in Old Town that chimes on the hour. Loads and loads of tourist hang around waiting to hear it. There are cafes everywhere in this part of town. I did have the pleasure of a US$4 coke. Not to mention that some restaurants charge you for the bread they put on the table. Remember to ask. If they said yes, we moved on. Choices everywhere. You won't go hungry.

We then walked back to Charles Bridge in the daytime. Once we crossed the bridge, we walked down the steps on the left towards Lennon's Wall. No. Not that Lennon. John Lennon of Beatle fame.

After he was killed, scores of people decended on this wall and started spray painting various messages to John. It still stands today. Folks can still put any type of message on the wall. We got some great pictures.

SInce we were still jetlagged, we headed back to the Hilton. We noshed in the lounge around 6. Our first real night, after a day of touring, found us in bed by 8:00 (2200).

Day 3

Jewish Quarter

Unlike the Marais in Paris, there are little if any Jews living in Prague. Unlike the Marais in Paris, you'd be hard pressed to find any Kosher restaurants (just one); or stores selling Jewish related merchandise (gift shops don't count).

We purchased a synagogue pass that allows entry into the 5 shuls. The Maiselova Synagogue , on a cobblestoned side street, was beautiful and simple inside. Depending on your interest (Jewish or non-Jew, museum oriented or non-museum oriented), you can spend 10-30 minutes here. from here, we headed to the Spanish Synagogue.

This synagogue had more than a passing interest to us. Our late Rabbi went to Prague twice a year to be the Rabbi at this shul. None of the 5 shuls in town have a Rabbi. The Spanish syn considered our Rabbi, their Rabbi. We were made to feel at home here. Anyway, I digress. The chandlier here, when you look up at it, looks like a Star of David. There's also a stained glass ceiling. Upstairs is a Holocaust exhibit.

On to the Pinchas

This shul has the names of 77,000 dead handwritten on the walls. After the floods of 2002, those names had to be re-written. The names represent those that were killed during the Holocaust. There is an exhibit of the children of Terezin , a concentration camp, (more to come later in the report). The children's drawings are on display. Drawings of everyday life, before the were sent to the camps.

The old Jewish cemetery holds 12,000 graves. Day 3 evening had us doing more walking around. We headed back to the Charles bridge. From the bridge, you can see the castle.

We did the castle on our last day in town. If we would have done it earlier, it would have provided us a view of Praha from high above the city.

Day 4

We took a bus to the Terezin Concentration Camp .

There are plenty of tours provided by lots of companies in town. You were always paying a premium, so we decided to do this on or own.

A bus ticket was the equalivent of US $2.65. It was a one hour trip on a 4 lane highway. When you get off the bus, you have a choice. We went to the Museum first. Cost 180 Crowns (about US $7.)

The building ran a 10 minute film. We saw more drawings of the Children of Terezin. These were drawings of everyday life before the children were in the Concentration camp. Very sad.

History

This camp was set up as a propaganda camp; so that the Red Cross could see how well the Nazi's were treating everyone. It was an artists camp for musicans and others. The Nazi's wanted the RC to see how normal things were.

From the Museum, we walked about 15 minutes to the crematoria
We saw the railroad tracks that took the Jews to their deaths. It was unnerving.

As we walked through the peaceful looking grounds, we saw graves . All the writing was in Cz, and impossible to read. We saw a small, churchlike building on the far left side of the grounds. We headed towards it, knowing what were were about to expect. A regular entrance door to an old white building. This was a nothing special building. You would never have guessed what was inside, even though we knew what we were about to see.

4 furnaces. Looked like something you'd have in your basement, just 5x's bigger. Hard to believe that thousands were burned here every day.

Two older people sold candles on a side table. Cost was about 20 cents. Jews traditionally light a candle to honor the dead. It was a moving experience. My wife cried.

We were surprised by how many non-Jews were visiting the camp. While walking around, I was wearing my kippa (head covering). A sign of respect when you go to a cemetery. We were amazed by how many people came up to us and either touched us (our arm); or said how sorry they were. This was very meaningful, in more ways than you could imagine. One woman (non-Jewish) told us that the Nazi's murdered her family.
You read lots of these stories; but when you're face to face with this, we realized first hand, how the Nazi's touched and affected so many lives. Jew and non-Jew.

It was nice to see that the world really cares. Maybe there is hope afterall.

We were emotionally and physically drained.

We walked back to town and enjoyed 23 cent (US) ice cream and donuts; not to mention 33 cent cold water. It was sunny and hot.

From here, we walked down to the river; where the ashes of 22,000 dead were thrown.
Then, onto the prison camp. Glad we did that at the end.

We took a 4:40 bus back to town. We were beat.

Day 5. The Castle

We took the subway 2 stops to town. Walked on Havelska Market . It's a narrow lane with booths and booths of food, fruit, flowers, and toys.

Then, we took the 22 Tram to the castle. You could have taken the subway, or even walked (uphill); but I wanted to go on a tram. The tram was not the same xperience as flying in SQ Raffles, but a joyride just the same.

From the top of the castle, you're able to walk downhill back to town. Remember, it's hot in the summer. From atop the castle, you get to view picturesque Prague. Wow! You acn see the river, the Charles Bridge, even Old Town church spires.

We saw the changing of the guard, Always a nifty thing to see.
The Castle is very pretty inside (boring editorial comments left blank so that you'll continue reading). There's a nice garden area too.

That night, we attended a concert at the Museum. All over town, you'll see people passing out flyers about a variety of concerts. These concerts are held everywhere, everyday, and multiple times throughout the day.

Eventually we went to see a concert. How could we not. Prague is known for their music. Our concert was held in the National Museum at 6:00pm. Many others are held in churches.

Since Europeans don't believe in air-conditioning the way Americans do it was just about unbearable inside. It was hot out, and in. No air movement.
It made Thailand in the summer feel comfortable. It was so hot. Couldn't wait to leave. We did enjoy the concert otherwise. Rough cost about US $18 per person.

Last day.

After reading and reading, we (I) decided to go to Kunta Hora . It's about 1 hour by train. Don't bother. We (I) was looking for a 1 day trip.
The guide books liked this town. It's another cute town with old churches. By this time, we were starting to get churched out.

If I planned this trip the right way, we would have travelled from Prague to Vienna via Train to Cesky Krumlov . You need 1 to 2 days here. I wish we went, but that's the way it was. Next time.

Anyway, the day started out poorly. Seemed that the bus tix I bought were actually train tickets. Reminder to self, learn to speak CZ. So now, with time a wasting, we walk/run from the bus to the train station. We now had to take the subway to the train. Seems that our ticket is good on either train or bus. It was hard to get info in English. We finally board a train. As we passed through a car with compartments (first time I ever saw that), all I could think of was Nazi soldiers asking passengers for your papers. How many times have we heard that in a movie.

Cost was US $4.80 roundtrip, or return as some of you say. We get to town, get a ride from a person who was near the station, and head to town. We did St. Barbara's Cathedral. He was the patron saint of miners.

From here we walked at leasts 30 minutes (yes, it was still hot) to the Bones church. It had 40,000 bones displayed beautifully. Pretty cool, especially if you have kids.

It was a wasted day.

So out 5 days in Prague could have been done in 4.

From here we headed to the Old-New Synagogue . That was built in 1270.

Overall, we spent 3 hours in the Jewish Quarter.

We had lunch at the Franz Kafka Cafe.

After lunch we went to the Mucha Museum It was a short walkthrough.
This space for rent.

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Ted Erfer
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A short trip to Prague

#5 Post by Ted Erfer » October 1st, 2016, 4:59 pm

This is great -- just in time. We are going to Prague in two weeks.
Will be there for three days -- then taking the Viking cruise down the Danube to Budapest.

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A short trip to Prague

#6 Post by Scott Jameson » October 3rd, 2016, 5:39 am

Glad to hear U Modré Kachnicky is still a worthwhile dinner destination. We ate there, at Ed Kurtzman's suggestion, during a visit to Prague about 5 years ago. It was fun exploring the Czech wines on their list.

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A short trip to Prague

#7 Post by brigcampbell » May 24th, 2018, 10:26 am

Bump. Good info already here.

Heading there this September. Bring the love.

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A short trip to Prague

#8 Post by Robert Broder » May 25th, 2018, 1:51 pm

It's been several years since our trip to Prague. The old town square was fantastic. Don't recall any great restaurants. We loved the Mucha Museum, but then we like art nouveau and vintage posters. Wenceslas square did not resemble Paris to us. Somewhat depressing other than an occasional art nouveau building.

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A short trip to Prague

#9 Post by Rick Allen » May 26th, 2018, 9:48 am

Brig,
We'll be there for a few days in September as well (9/20-23). This is our second visit to Prague, so this will be more beer related and less tourist-related. We're going to a Beer Fest in Plzen on the 21st (Sun in a Glass Beer Fest) and I hope to set up some brewery tours in Prague as well.

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A short trip to Prague

#10 Post by Ken Strauss » May 26th, 2018, 10:52 am

We just left there 2 days ago. Great information here. We stayed 5 nights and stayed busy the whole time. Prague is a wonderful city with plenty to see.

We did hire a private guide which was expensive but worth the expense. We did almost all the sights
recommended here including the day trip to Terezin.

One additional full day trip we loved was a trip to Cesky Krumlov. This a preserved medieval town.
I couldn't stop taking pictures.

Kampa Park was our favorite meal factoring in the view right by the Charles Bridge.

Our biggest disappointment was our meal at the Four Seasons. No view ...No history and of course more expensive then most. We should have left when we saw very few tables occupied.
"Explaining is not supporting."

"Independence is a state of mind"

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Re: A short trip to Prague

#11 Post by LoriMcLaughlin » August 24th, 2018, 9:22 am

Thanks for this. Planning a winter trip. Great info.

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George Hejna
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Re: A short trip to Prague

#12 Post by George Hejna » January 11th, 2019, 2:26 pm

Ken Strauss wrote:
May 26th, 2018, 10:52 am
We just left there 2 days ago. Great information here. We stayed 5 nights and stayed busy the whole time. Prague is a wonderful city with plenty to see.

We did hire a private guide which was expensive but worth the expense. We did almost all the sights
recommended here including the day trip to Terezin.

One additional full day trip we loved was a trip to Cesky Krumlov. This a preserved medieval town.
I couldn't stop taking pictures.

Kampa Park was our favorite meal factoring in the view right by the Charles Bridge.

Our biggest disappointment was our meal at the Four Seasons. No view ...No history and of course more expensive then most. We should have left when we saw very few tables occupied.
Ken - How did you get to Cesky Krumlov?

Thanks,

George

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Ken Strauss
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Re: A short trip to Prague

#13 Post by Ken Strauss » January 11th, 2019, 2:39 pm

George Hejna wrote:
January 11th, 2019, 2:26 pm
Ken Strauss wrote:
May 26th, 2018, 10:52 am
We just left there 2 days ago. Great information here. We stayed 5 nights and stayed busy the whole time. Prague is a wonderful city with plenty to see.

We did hire a private guide which was expensive but worth the expense. We did almost all the sights
recommended here including the day trip to Terezin.

One additional full day trip we loved was a trip to Cesky Krumlov. This a preserved medieval town.
I couldn't stop taking pictures.

Kampa Park was our favorite meal factoring in the view right by the Charles Bridge.

Our biggest disappointment was our meal at the Four Seasons. No view ...No history and of course more expensive then most. We should have left when we saw very few tables occupied.
Ken - How did you get to Cesky Krumlov?

Thanks,

George
We hired a private guide who drove us there. It was about 2 hours each way I recall.
We used precious legacy tours.

http://www.legacytours.net/

Ken
"Explaining is not supporting."

"Independence is a state of mind"

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