In historic Old Town. To walk through Prague it to be a witness to many social and cultural changes in Europe.
Running in front of the National Museum (famous for its display of architecture, anthropology, natural history and mineralogy)
Elegant Liberty-style sculpture in the center of Old Town
On Charles Bridge, with the Prague Castle in the background (This world famous bridge has 30 statues ranging from the Cruxificion to Madonna and of course the renowned St. John Nepomuk)
The locals (and tourists) believe that touching a particular point on this statue (over John Nepomuk's being thrown in the River) is supposed to bring good luck. I hope this translates to good luck in school
I've definitely enjoyed the interesting, collegial experience of staying at Prague Plus Hostel. The amenities are surprisingly FANTASTIC with a sauna and pool, open both in the morning and evening. The water was iceberg cold, but still I was very happy to get a chance to take a dip.
The club house, bar and restaurant are fancily decorated and well equipped with plasma screen displays, pool table, and loud music (ear-jarring loud, but the atmosphere was fun and festive).
The food is actually quite tasty. I enjoyed a nice, warm authentic Czech dinner with roast pork smothered rich with tomato sauce. Later that evening, when the munchies got the best of me, I enjoyed bruschetta bread, with heap of tomatoes, mozarella cheese and basil.
There were lots of college students, I mean tons from all continents -- Big difference than the Historia Hostel where the residents were a lot older (though, much younger than me, I'm sure).
They put me again in a eight-person dormitory bunk room (coed) with only one shower and one toilet.
The staff are also very hospitable and friendly. I was very impressed by the whole experience. The night crew even let me stay in the lounge all night long and use their WiFi while I waited for my 0630 train to Berlin (which I decided to skip so I could finish my YouTube video).
The WiFi is first rate -- fast, readily available in the lobby and restaurant and best of all free.
On the second day, I checked out a bicycle from Praha Bikes at the Prague Plus Hostel. I have to say that the quality of the bikes is quite shabby. I know, because I checked out two bikes that day. The first bike the chain would pop out and eventually completely came out of the derailer. I had to walk the bike (45 mins) back to the hostel and Praha Bikes charged me about 20 Euros for the damage, which I explained to them was not my fault. Still it fell on deaf ears.
Needless, to say, I still had time left on my rental, so I took out a second bike. This time, the bike was better, but still needed a tune up.
Still biking was a great idea, because it gave me a chance to see a lot of the sites from Old Town, Wenceslas Square, New Town, Charles Bridge, etc.
I was also able to get a good swim at the Hostel twice today, so I was able to squeeze in a three-sport training day in Prague -- first time during this trip. Running was long, but it was rigorous. Loving this city, and glad I'm able to continue training.
Background: Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. One reason is because Prague suffered less damage during WW II than most major cities in the region.
Prague has some of the most beautiful historic architecture true to form.
Today, Wenceslas Square is a vibrant area of restaurants and shops
However, walking through this historic mall, we are in the locale of the most defining moments in Prague's history: the Nazi occupation, the communist takeover and the /*.
Laid out over 600 years ago, it was originally used as the Prague horse market
Over the years, the square has been a regular parade ground for all kinds of events and celebrations
At the top is the statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse cutting a striking figure
This is good King Wenceslas, a national hero, murdered over a thousand years ago by his brother.
In front of St. Wenceslas are two plaques in memory of those killed during the Communist era.
Prague was the seat of two holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire City flourished during the 14th century reign of the King of Bohemia.
Beautiful Charles Bridge is the postcard of this great city
Today it looks just the same as it did in the 14th century.
In the center of the bridge is the St John of Nepomuk statue
You're supposed to touch it with your left hand, then make a wish, you almost have to.
The Prague Castle stands atop the hills
The stones grow even stronger
For the castle's built on love and hope
Alone you are no longer
Old Town Square
Step into the Old Town Square and journey back in time, 700 years
As you stand in awe, the dramatic history of Prague permeates the air
Sit back and soak up the atmosphere
Dating back to the late 12th century, the Old Town Square
Jindrisska Tower dates from the late gothic era
Following a major fire in 1745, Jindrisska was rebuilt in the baroque style
At the top, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Prague's city center
Jindrisska is so peaceful, you might be up there for a while
Kerepesi Train Station in Budapest -- only a 2o min walk from the hostel
I rushed to the train station from the Corvin Point Hostel to the Train station on time with a few minutes to spare. But the conductor would not let me board the train. Unfortunately I had not validated my Eurorail ticket and I would have to wait two hours for the next train.
No problem -- nothing like missing my train completely in Istanbul. After getting my ticket validated, I walked next door to the McDonalds where I could use their WiFi for free. Eating at McDonalds in Europe is a lot more upscale and fashionable than eating at Mickie D's in the states.
Lucky for me, the 1720 train leaving Budapest was a lot more modern with posh, leather seats and included a dining car.
I got into Vienna by 2030 and inquired about catching the 2212 train to Prague. Since this was a sleeper, I needed to make a reservation (which closes four hours before the train). The information desk recommended that I just show up and see if I can find a free seat.
Views of Vienna -- a beautiful, modern and very clean city
I hung out at the Wombat Hostel -- a very clean, hospitable and vibrant place of rest
One more thing I tried was to walk next door to see if I could get a room at the Wombat Hostel -- unfortunately, they were fully booked. So I managed to get dinner while checking my email with the complementary WiFi.
Then I walked over to board my train. Since I did not have a reservation, the conductor informed me that she would charge me an additional 25 Euros during the trip. I agreed and boarded the train. 25 Euros seemed too high, but it seemed worth it to press on towards Prague.
The train, though tight, was fairly comfortable. The couches pulled down, and if you were lucky not to have someone sitting across from you, which I was, I was able to lay my feet up and catch a snooze.
The train stopped a few times, and I met several people on the way. Amazingly, the train arrived in Prague by 0400. Thankfully, my couch mate woke me up, otherwise, I would have slept right through and rode to Dresden.
The train station (Holosevic) was several metro stops from the main train station. When we arrived there, it was way too early, so I managed to catch some ZZZs on a wood bench. I was ok, until I decided to stretch out, in which case the metro security would wake me up and inform me that sleeping was not allowed. When daybreak arrived, I found my way outside the station and was happy to see a shady, grass hill where many backpackers were taking a nap. So I was happy to incline and resume my cat nap under a large, balmy oak tree while the sun peeked through the dancing leaves, its golden rays warming my weary face.
Scenes from the main train station in Prague (Note trains from Prague and Berlin do not stop here). Below you can see where I took a nap after a long, exhausting ride on the train.
After waking, I decided to head back inside the central station. I found a friendly tourist information desk. After asking if they were aware of any hostels that provided free WiFi, they recommended the Prague Plus Hostel near the Holosevic station -- exactly the train station that I arrived in at 0400 this morning.
I was happy to incline, and am currently enjoying a nice Czech dinner (roast pork with tomato sauce) while I type this blog. I am extremely weary and looking forward to tomorrow to explore the Golden City