A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday 20th June Prague and trip to Cesky Krumlov

Today is our last tour and it was a big day. Picked up just after 8.30am from our Monastry Hotel above Prague township,new were taken on our bus tour with about 15 others 170km South, following the Molotov river all the way, to Cesky Krumlov.Today couldn't have been a better day to be there as it was the annual festival for the tiny UNESCO township dating back to 1300s with the castle in the. Idle of the town. All cobbled streets, just as Prague has but the town is really like a very old village. Today the village townsfolk and others were dressed in medical costumes dating back to the early days there. Although it was cloudy and a bit cold we were guided around the small town see the frescos that are not only on the outside of the castle, but on lots of the old buildings also. It is a very pretty town with a fast flowing river running through it in a curving fashion. Krumlov means curved. The town only has 14000 inhabitants which is still 10000 more than Whangamata where we live. Today we really felt like we had stepped back in time. The "commoners" had village markets selling food dating back to those days and were dressed accordingly. Then there were the Gentry who were all dressed up in their finery and strutting around the town as they would have done. The procession began in a little bit of sunshine and there were hundreds taking part in this. Some Gentiles were on horseback, some walked while the ordinary townsfolk followed along behind with jesters and hunters, dogs and children all looking splendid. There was entertainment in the town square.

We went down a long tunnel to have a sumptuous lunch of soup, pork, sauerkraut and strudel in an underground darkened old horse stable dating from the 14th century with cobblestones inside it and very medical feeling. A fabulous experience. As we came up to the town square again, the procession had once more begun again as did the sudden hail, thunder and lightening storm. Not only did we all get very wet, huddle under the tents, but so did the costumed people in all there hired velvet costumes. I was very glad I was. It going to be the one getting them dried, dry cleaned and washed. I certainly thought of my days in the costume departments in Theatre as I watched sadly seeing everyone looking so bedraggled.

We then had a tour with our guide, Jan, of the inside and outside of the castle and its 5 squares. Mostly, the rain had stopped but we were certainly very wet. 5pm and back on the bus for the 170km journey back to Prague about 7.45pm.

This is our last day as tomorrow, we fly back to Dubai for one night. We will never forget out final day in this beautiful Czech Republic where the people are very friendly and helpful. We have learnt a lot about the terrible times the Czeck people have gone through over the centuries and I wonder if this is why they are such a nice race. They are finally living in better times and long may it stay like this for them as the certainly deserve it.

Posted by RitchieOE 13:17 Comments (0)

Friday 19 June Prague last night and today

What a great tour we had last night. The driver picked us up and dropped us back to our Hotel high above Prague so that was excellent in itself.
Our guide was local and although a little difficult to understand as we firstly toured around the town a little, we soon got used to her.
A very warm woman who gave us all a hug at the end of the truely wonderful evening. On board our boat was a wonderful dinner awaiting us and the tour up and down the Vltava River, through the lock and back to our boarding point after dark about 9.45, was so beautiful, We enjoyed it better than our trip down the Sienne in Paris three years ago and that was incredible. It rained off and on but it didn'T dampen our spirits, just the guide's. she was more worried about it that the 10 of us in our party. We even had a little girl in our party who was turning 3 that day so the guide arranged a little cake and we all sang happy birthday to her. Before that, she was very shy but Des as usual, with children, wind her over and she enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Breakfast in our little dining room was a typical European breakfast. I actually don't go for cake. Salad, cold meats and cheeses in the morning but I. Always find some nice fruit to eat or a croissant and good coffee.
Next was for us to find our way down to the town below and cross to Amazing Charles Bridge to meet another guide for our 4 hour walking tour plus a trip back up to the Prague Castle in a tram. What an excellent guide we had. He was also a local but we could understand him really easily. This time there was only 4 of us on the tour and the other 2 were only doing the first 2 hours, so we had him to ourselves after that. He was very tall but he walked at my pace with my short legs or waited for me to catch up, very patiently, if I had stopped to take pictures, which I do occasionally, don't I Tony. He never said anything until we were all together so we didn't miss out. Very considerate. He was relatively young but he explained everything about where we went in great detail but at the same time, slowly and in such a way, it was all very easy to understand. History has never been so interesting for me although I love it, it is always hard for me to remember everything. He had it easy. We saw and walked over the Charles Bridge, with him explaining many of the statues on the bridge. We went through the lesser town then caught the tram up the hill to the Castle and watched the changing of the Guards. Learnt heaps about the castle and the other castles that are within the walls and who built them. We walked up high for a fantastic view of the town below then the other couple finished their tour. He then took us down to the Jewish town and the new town going through various important squares and finished at the Astonomical Clock before it struck 2pm. He explained in detail what was going to happen when it struck two and then showed us exactly, what was happening when it went through the 30 second movements. That was the end of the tour. I couldn't believe we had been walking for 4 hours.

Suddenly we realised how hungry we were and that we needed to find our way back to the Hotel. Found a cafe where the tram stop was and not too long, we were back at the Monestry. We then decided we needed to explored this area so off we went for another walk through the grounds, climbing even higher up to the Petrin Observation Tower which has 300 steps to climb if you want (we didn't), built in the 19th century and looks very similar to the Eiffel Tower only shorter. Interestingly though, the hill it stands on and the very peak of the tower, is exactly the same height together as the Eiffel Tower so Prague prides itself it also has an Eiffel Tower. We walked through the forest, the rose gardens, looked in the church and saw an exhibition on the building of the Fenicular you can catch up the hill to the village of Petrin up there. Walking back down, we decided to go into the Monks restaurant near the Monastry where they have been distilling beer for hundreds of years. We had a delicious meal of slow cooked chicke. Done in beer accompanied by sourcraut and potatoes. It was tasty till the last bite.

We have probably walked a good 10 kms or mor today so now it's time for bed.

Posted by RitchieOE 11:45 Comments (0)

Thursday 18 June Vienna to Prague by train

I am doing th blog early as we are off to a dinner cruise on The Vitava river through Prague and will be back at our hotel late.
A taxi to the train station this morning thank goodness. walking to this one would have been much further than we walked from the other station. The train left at exactly 8.59am and we sat waiting at the station, chatting to a lovely women from Canada. She had been away for the same amount of time as we are and was also looking forward to getting home to her things, her garden, her family and her way of life, just like us now. The high speed train took exactly it's 4 1/2 hours stopping at several stops in ghastly, graffiti ridden, smock blackened and ruined looking towns. We have never seen so much graffiti. Buildings have many broken windows and rooves falling in. There was pretty areas we travelled through also and even one town that looked wealthy but on a grey day, like today, it made me feel quite miserable really. There is obviously a lot of poverty in the Czech Republic. The forests are as beautiful as in Austria and the fields have many grains, corn and vegetables planted but we certainly hardly saw any animals except for 1 field of deer and another field with 8 sheep between Vienna and Prague.

On the dot of 1.25pm, we arrived in Prague. This is a huge town and looks, from the taxi so far, very nice and cared for. The taxi found its way up the steep hill to where the castle is and our Monestry Hotel is next door. It is still a working Monastery with Monks in one area, Nuns in another, a brewery next door where apparently, the monks can be found frequently and beautiful gardens and of course, a church right beside our room. The bells ring a lot ofcourse. This is also the area the men train to become priests. The hotel dates from 1100 as a monastery and has paintings on all walls throughout of the historic area we are in. It has only 12 rooms with a total of 35 beds so again, we are in a boutique hotel.

The Receptionist has told us we have the best room with the view overlooking Prague. It is absolutely true. She also told us the Taxi driver ripped us off. Our trip cost us 800 Czech crowns and it should have cost us half that. She will order our taxis in future at the rate we should pay. A very lovely and helpful girl, Andrea is who sat us down in the tiny dining room for free coffee and cake while she booked our transport for tonight down to the boat and dinner cruise. She also told us The ex-Govenor General of New Zealand stayed here recently. she said he was such a lovely Maori man. We explained to her, Anand Satyanand is of Indian origin.

We already feel better and think we will have a lovely 3 days here.

Posted by RitchieOE 07:42 Comments (0)

Wed 17 June Viena and around

A cold wind today which was a bit of a shock. Off to do our Hop on Hop off bus trips. We did 3 different lines giving us the inner town which we had seen the day before mainly, further out of town where we got off at the Hunderwasser Museum then finally went out to the outside of the city, up into the hills to view the whole of Vienna from a high vantage point. Lisa, you will be pleased to hear Dad got his full monies worth here as we utilised the bus from start of service to end of service at 8pm. From the high vantage point, as the day was closing in and we were on the last trip of the day, we were able to get out to take pictures and get back on the bus in 10 minutes. It was just long enough. You travel through the forest, winding up the hill and it is extremely pretty travel. There are also some very pretty and extremely old villages on the way also. Perhaps we should have done this trip earlier to be able to get out more but the day went so fast.

Hunderwasser Museum took up a good part of our day and we are so glad we went there. We have seen his work in Kawa Kawa in. New Zealand where he created the best toilets in NZ. He loved NZ and elected to be buried there. He was very well travelled so I see that as an honour that he should choose NZ for that.

Now we go to Prague by train. Vienna is very pretty with lots to enjoy. We did, however, prefer Salzburg. We definitely know, we enjoy smaller towns and villages best, just as we did last time we were over this side of the world.

Posted by RitchieOE 00:06 Comments (0)

Tuesday 16 June Vienna, Austria

What a lovely small boutique hotel we have right in the heart of Vienna yet so quite and comfortable. I had a great sleep l
last night. Very much needed. Today we have done a lot of walking, discovering the old part of the city on foot. Yes,Netherlands Romans have been here too. They certainly were everywhere weren't they. The buildings and statues are "bigger than Ben Hur" here and they seem to overrule the Austrian flavour unfortunately. A very big bustling city which is entirely different to beautiful Salzburg with it's pretty buildings with painted pictures and around windows and painted in pastel shades. We haven't seen a lot of Vienna yet but we hope to do this tomorrow with our hop on hop off bus pass which we use tomorrow.

We started our day with a yummy European breakfast in the boutique dining room. The 2 friendly and very efficient Austrian staff, buzzed around happily speaking in whatever language you were quite fluently.

We had about 10 minutes to walk to the Vienna Spanish Riding School, or Spanische Hofreitschule Wein, where we watched the 2 hour training they allow the public in to watch daily. It is done inside on a sandy floor and the public are seated up on 2 levels looking down, in an area like a Roman Ampitheatre but rectangular not round. This was a great experience for me as I was a rider and had always wanted to see these powerful horses in action. Lipizzaners are the only horses they use here. The have powerful thick necks and bodies and shorter legs than say a Thoroughbred. They have larger heads than Arabs but hold their tails and necks like Arabs, very proudly. They are born black but turn grey or dapple grey as they mature. I was mesmerised for the two hours and Des loved it also. There were sessions of 1/2 Per 5 or 6 horses starting with the younger horses with less training, to the more skilled horses being put through their paces. This month is the celebration of 450 years for the Spanish Riding School and a special performance is to take place along with a Ball also. Wish I was here for that but it happens the day we arrive home in NZ.

Posted by RitchieOE 08:33 Comments (0)

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