Czech this out!
Trip Start Nov 24, 2009
11Trip End Dec 09, 2009
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Where I stayed
From what I've heard the night train from Krakow to Prague is a hotspot for theft so I splurge on a sleeper car for only an extra 50PLN ($17) and to my fondest surprise I find that I have it all to myself...a bed, sink, power outlets and access to a shared shower. Bonus! 9 hours later the train pulls into Praha-Holešovice station and I disembark not knowing where I am heading at all. I didn't have a place to stay, a guidebook, map and I only had US dollars and a few Polish Zloty
Once settled in I take a walk to the center of the old town, Marketplace Square. There I found yet another Christmas market, but the difference here is that this one is bustling full of tourists. Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe for it's beauty, liveliness and cheap prices. As my friend Steve told me, it's the Ensenada of Europe! I grab lunch in the market...sausage sandwich and a fresh-made blueberry crepe, watch the famous astronomical clock (the world's oldest working machine and most overrated tourist attraction) and check out St
Once I got back to the hostel I laid down a bit and found myself waking up at at 11pm! I didn't see that coming, but in my desire to maximize my time I got ready to get out and find a place where I could chill and possibly do a bit of journaling. Instead I met Preston, an American working the desk at my hostel who recently moved here with his girlfriend. Being from San Diego he and I hit it off immediately and we end up chatting at the desk for several more hours. As it turned out I never made it out, Preston bought me a Pilsner Urquell (the Czech national beer) and we hung out with some of the other guests coming in from their night out
The next morning I grab a pastry at a little shop on my way to the square where I meet up for a free walking tour. The tour took us around the old town and in parts of the Jewish quarter and ended up along the riverfront. It was both fun and highly informative thanks to our guide, Huw, whom which I hit it off well with. The majority of the people on the tour were American students studying abroad, mostly in Spain and were a fun and lively group despite their aversion to the cold. This was one of the coldest days I've experienced since I got here, surprisingly even colder than Warsaw! It would turn out that I would also end up spending the entire day outdoors. As the tour ended I tipped Huw for his excellent services and singed up for a Prague Castle tour which would meet us right where we ended. Huw caught the tour group and I paid the 350 Krona ($22) to be taken up the hill back to the castle district...but this time we were taking the tram! We make it to the top, get the history of the various buildings and locations and stop in at the Strahov Monastery where they brew and serve renown Czech beer. Thanks to Kirk's generous donation I order a large glass of the dark and an apple strudel to go with it...thanks again Kirk!! At my table were four lovely gals from Australia, Susie, Jenny, Kathy and Sharon whom all just recently graduated with law degrees from the University of New South Wales. I end up hanging out with them for the rest of the tour as we all were led into the castle proper. We were all a bit disappointed that we were denied admission into St. Vitus cathedral, one of the largest and most beautiful in all of Europe, but it turned out that the Czech first lady was inside. We did however get to see her pas right by us as she came out and her head of security came over and chatted me and a few others up whom all just happen to be from California
As the tour ended I walk back towards downtown with the Aussie gals and had a nice chat with Susie whom invited me to have a traditional Czech dinner with them. We end up at a crowded place that seemed to be full of locals (or at least Czechs) despite it's proximity to the tourist attractions. I had a breadbowl of cabbage soup and sausage as well as sharing bits of everyone's plates with the girls. We had a great time despite the fact that we had to part ways after dinner. They had to get things together before moving on to Vienna and I had one more tour...a Czech Pub Crawl. I just had enough time to get back to the hostel and change before I had to head out to the rendezvous point for this drinking tour. The deal is you pay 350 Krona ($22) and you get 90 minutes of all you can drink beer, vodka and absinthe shots at the first stop, then admission to three more clubs along the way where they hand you a shot when you enter. On paper it sounds like a great deal, but here's the catch...first the all you can drink place is really a bagel shop, second the shots were dinky and watered down quite a bit, especially the absinthe, and third everybody was under 25, most of which were under 21! In fact most of the attendees were annoying American college students studying abroad in Spain who only wanted to drink until they were blind
That next morning I packed up in preparation for my afternoon flight and met up with Preston and his adorable pitbull terrier Bigz for a mini coaching session he had mentioned he was interested in earlier