A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: wetabixkid

More Castles and Fun with Public Transportation

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Hi everyone! Almost catching up!

As I mentioned before, our hostel here in Prague is far from the center of town. You HAVE to take public transportation to get anywhere unless you want to walk around forever before even getting to the sights. The hostel is aware of this and sells public transportation tickets. They even have monthly tickets that they rent out to you for however long you want. So Sam and I got a couple of these and can now ride the tram, metro, or bus without any problem!

We got up fairly early to try to avoid the crowds at Prague Castle. According to everything we'd read and what everyone had told us, this place gets jam packed with tourists groups, so we wanted to go as early as possible to avoid them. After breakfast, which you have to pay for at this hostel, we took the tram. It left us right at the top of the hill, so we didn't even have to climb anything.

We got there a little later than we would have liked so there were plenty of tourists and huge tourist groups around, but we tried our best to avoid them. You can buy a ticket for a long tour or a short tour. We chose the long tour and bought the audio guide as well.

First up was St. Vitus Cathedral. It is huge. An immense Gothic monster. Really intimidating from the outside and breathtaking from the inside. I can't even guess at how high those Gothic ceilings and arches reach. But it's amazing. And thanks to our audio guides we were able to learn about all the crypts and altars and paintings and decorations inside. Lots of local saints and kings are buried there, including St. Wenceslas and St. Ludmilla, who I now know everything about. The audio guide was really informative, if a bit overwhelming at times.

After the cathedral, which was chock full of Spanish, Japanese, Italian, etc. tourists, we climbed the bell tower. The view of the Old Town is great and we took nice pictures there. We climbed back down and headed over to the Old Royal Palace where we saw nice Gothic rooms where everything from coronations to markets were held. We also saw the Basilica of St. George, a Romanesque church, and a very nice collection of 19th century art in Bohemia. I really liked the collection they had. Some of those paintings were incredible. Finally, we quickly saw an exhibit about the History of Prague Castle. Sadly, by that time we were completely exhausted, so we rushed through it.

As we left the castle, we popped into a section of the Royal Gardens. Then, we headed off to lunch. We went to a very nice place that one of the hostel workers had recommended to us. Of course, we had traditional Czech food. And, if you're in the Czech Republic, then you have to do like the locals and enjoy some fine pivo (beer). Yum!.... although, I did like the Hungarian dumplings better.

After lunch, we were feeling a bit refreshed and walked over to a very nice park. Along the way, we did a bit of wandering through the lovely streets of Prague. I have to say, the city is beautiful. It's got great architecture and nice little streets where you can lose yourself. The people are another story. They're not as friendly as in other cities. And they just give a general impression that is not welcoming.

The park itself is up on a hill, so we had to climb a bit. It was nice and relaxing up there, but walking all over that castle complex and wandering the streets had made us very, very tired. So, we called it a day and took the tram back to the hostel.

This is an edit done by Sam...

Brenda forgot to mention that after the castle we walked around an area of Prague called Little Town. Believe it or not Prague was once actually all different cities that have now been put together. There's the castle town, little town, old town and new town (not very new actually) . Well in little town we passed by The Church of Infant of Prague (this part is entirely for you Aileen) we did not get to see the garments collection because it was quite late and it was closed by the time we noticed it. We did get to talk to a Carmelite Priest who even blessed us, so that was cool. He was from India but actually spoke English and Spanish very well.
We did see the Infant of Prague dressed in a very nice outfit and lots of pilgrims who came to pay him a visit. (for all my friends from San Juan Bosco please tell Jose that I couldn't buy him the rosary of divine mercy because i couldn't find it but i bought him one of the Infant of Prague)

Well that was my edit, stay tuned for more on Prague or Praha as it's called here.

Posted by wetabixkid 11:32 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Praha here we come!

Good-bye Mel

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On our last day in Olomouc, we woke up late and packed up our stuff. It's really annoying jamming everything into the backpack again, especially when you keep adding items of clothing to your inventory. Earlier on in the trip, we had to buy shorts and tank tops because it was so hot. In Olomouc, we had to buy a light sweater because the weather is crazy and it started to get chilly.

Once we got to the train station, we found the train pretty easily and boarded. The ride was kind of boring. I mostly read a new book (since I finished that horse one) called "Temple." It involves Incans, ancient statues, guns, and evil Nazis. lol.

Once we got to Prague, we found the hostel fairly easily. I tell you, we're getting better at this whole navigating thing. The hostel, Sir Toby's, is very different from all the ones we've stayed in so far. Whereas all the other ones were small and everyone (except in the first hostel Cheers) was friendly, this hostel is huge. It literally occupies a whole building. 5 stories... well 6 or 7 (I'm not sure) if you count the ground floor and the basement. It has a pub, which is sadly pretty dead all the time.

We didn't really do anything that day except eat at a nearby restaurant. The hostel is not near the center of town, so you have to take the tram to the center and we were too tired to do anything about it. We had a yummy dinner and then did some laundry before heading to bed.

Boring day, but you need those every once in a while when you're travelling for so long.

Posted by wetabixkid 11:02 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Chocolate Pie and Museum

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Brenda here trying to catch up since we finally have free internet access!

The next day in Olomouc we tried to get up early to head over to the Archdiocese Museum. Getting there was easy and super quick. Yay for small towns! The museum was really well done and it was housed in the old Romanesque and Gothic sections of the church. You could see chalices and vestments used in the church. There were also plenty of Gothic paintings and statues of the saints.

When we climbed up to the second floor where the gallery was, we had to put on slippers over our feet. I don't really know why, but I figure it was so the old wood floor wouldn't get damaged. The paintings were beautiful and there were a lot of them. We both really enjoyed it.

After the museum we decided to rest a bit and try the famous chocolate pie we had heard so much about. I have to say, the pie totally deserves all the hype it gets. Awesome!!!! Really rich, but super delicious. I scarfed mine up. Sam took longer.

Feeling refreshed, we headed back to the hostel to rest up a bit before we met up with Reese, the American, to head over to the movies. He had told us the night before that he'd gone to watch Inception at this mall. When we showed interest, he said he would go watch it again with us. That was fine with us since he could show us the way! I'm very glad he was there to lead us, because that mall is in the weirdest possible location.

The mall seems to be between two small towns and the way to get there if you don't have a car is by bus. We got off at the bus stop and walked a bit. Then, we had to cross this huge, deserted field and pass by a cemetery before reaching the mall! It was pretty bizarre and we would have probably thought we were going the wrong way had Reese not been there.

The mall is really nice and the movie theater is too. Exactly like we have at home. We bought some nachos, but they tasted really weird. Paprika strikes again. The movie was awesome, as I'm sure most of you know. I would love to watch it again.

After the movie, Sam and I headed over to another microbrewery to meet up with our friend Mel. It took us forever to find it and once we did, she wasn't there anymore. We figured she'd gone back to the hostel, so we headed there to meet her. Turns out she wasn't there either. I don't know if she went to another brewery or what, but she had a good time regardless with a brother and sister that were also staying at the hostel.

That's pretty much it for Olomouc. Cute town. Nice people. Nice break from huge cities and incessant walking. Prague next!

Posted by wetabixkid 14:33 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Wawel Hill meets vodka shots

<3 Zodiakus!!

semi-overcast 76 °F

We got an early start this day and decided to head over to Wawel Hill, where Poland's royalty lived for years and years. The weather wasn't rainy anymore and it wasn't scorching hot, so it was perfect sightseeing weather.

We first decided to head towards the Cathedral and bought guided tours, which was the best possible thing we could have done. There is tons to see in the cathedral, from tombs of kings and saints to great Baroque architecture. We also saw the cassock and things that Pope John Paul used. We climbed the bell tower and got a great view of Krakow and went down to the crypts.

After the cathedral we wanted to head over to the palace, but the tickets for the day were all sold out! So instead we bought cheap tickets to the Dragon's Den, but were disappointed because it was just a cave! I don't know what we expected, but I thought it would be something cooler than just a cave.

Before leaving Wawel Hill, we got reservations for the next day to see the private rooms. Leaving the Hill, we walked along the Krakow streets and saw tons of churches. I don't think I've ever seen so many Catholic churches so close together before. We also saw lots of nuns, monks, and priests walking all around the street. It was like a Catholic Disney World!

We walked into a Franciscan church. It was absolutely beautiful. All the churches we saw in Krakow were breathtaking. Sam had been talking about how she wanted to go to Mass the next day, but there was a mass just starting so we decided to stay. Once again, we didn't understand anything, but were able to follow along.

After church we walked to the main square and found a mini festival going on. There was food, wine, and little booths selling different things. We decided to join in and eat sausages! Delish!!!

We wandered around some more and then headed back to the hostel. We were just in time to join in the free vodka shots that they hand out at the hostel. Poles like to mix their vodka with different things like lemon, apple juice and coke. The girls that work in the hostel make it themselves and hand out round after round. They also made some popcorn for us! The lemon vodka was really good and so was the Coke one, but I didn't really like the apple juice one. Surprisingly, the vodka wasn't really that strong.

As usual, a huge group of Canadians were there, as well as some Spanish and the other people we had already met. We all sat around the tiny common room drinking vodka and eating popcorn. Soon enough, we were all trying to understand the rules to a complicated drinking game. Patrick, a guy from San Francisco, came in and joined us too. The game was hilarious. I think it was called Kings. We all had a really good time!

Since the hostel is in a residential building, we were all too loud at one point and had to head out to a club. It was hilarious because they have a dancing pole, but instead of girls dancing, there was a group of 3 or 4 guys spinning around. I'd never seen that before in my life! The music wasn't that good and after a little while we headed back to the hostel.

Posted by wetabixkid 13:16 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Hello Krakow

This is where JPII is from!

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Our train journey ended about a half hour late, but we finally arrived at Krakow at around 7 AM!! We easily found our way to our hostel, Zodiakus (which is a miracle for us, as many of you know).

Once we arrived we had planned to just explore the city on our own, but saw that the Auschwitz-Birkenau tour left at 11:30 so we decided to join in. After a quick shower and some free hostel breakfast, we headed off. Thankfully the bus picked us up from right outside the hostel and we didn't have to worry about getting to the train or getting off on the right stop.

The ride was pretty boring. Sam slept pretty much the whole way and I read the latest book Sam had picked up from a hostel: "Lead a Horse to Murder." The book sounds ridiculous and the premise about a veterinarian who solves mysteries sounds dumb, but it's actually pretty good!

Once we arrived at Auschwitz we had to wait for a little while for the English tour to begin. I have to say, the tours are very well organized and they even provide you with headphones so you can hear the tour guide.

Auschwitz was a great experience. It's one of those places that I think everyone should go to, no matter how hard or emotional it may be. It's hard to describe what it's like and even the few pictures I took don't do it justice.

Our tour guide was great. She explained things clearly and allowed plenty of time to digest all the information and sights. Most of the tour is outside. The actual size of the camp is huge and you can walk among the buildings. You also go inside some of the buildings where prisoners slept or were tortured.

Some of the buildings have pictures or actual objects that were found at the site when the liberators came. Some things I will always remember are the rooms full of human hair, shoes, clothes, prosthetics, etc. It was hard to take at times, but I'm very glad we went. After Auschwitz, you climb into the bus for a short ride to Birkenau. This camp is much bigger, but there is not as much to see there. Even so, just the size of it and being in that setting gives you a sense of what it may have been like.

The bus ride back was pretty much the same. We both slept a bit. We saw German people eating a raw pepper like the Chairman in Iron Chef! It was strange.

Back at the hostel, we met some cool people. We met a very nice Scottish girl, Melanie, who became a good friend. We met a strange guy from Utah, Tim, who seemed to disappear and then reappear all the time. We met some great Irish guys and 2 ghetto English girls. After talking for a bit, we all headed out to a nice pub. It was decorated with lots of lights and gummy bear lamps. Some of the people headed out to a club later, but we were too tired from the night train and headed back to the hostel.

Posted by wetabixkid 12:55 Archived in Poland Comments (1)

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