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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

Our Trip to Prague, Czech Republic!

Day 1 - Driving to Prague and Acclimation

We chose to use a service called to go from city to city. With 4 people, it’s as cost-effective as a train, almost just as fast, and includes a hotel-to-hotel pick-up and drop-off. It’s a little over $100/person for the service, and around $80 for the train. So with the added benefits and comfort, it was a no-brainer.

We met our driver, Thomas, for our trip to Prague at 10:00am. He collected our luggage and we were underway. We planned for a one-hour stop in Třebíč, a city of UNESCO monuments. It would be a 4-hour drive with one hour in Třebíč. The drive to Třebíč was mostly backroads through farmland and small villages and towns. We got a little carsick with all the twists and turns. We made it to Třebíč in a little over two hours.

Třebíč is located on both banks of the river Jihlava and the beginnings of the city are connected with an important Benedictine monastery, which was founded by Moravian princes in 1101. There are three UNESCO Natural Heritage sites, the Basilica of St. Prokop, the Jewish quarter, and the Jewish cemetery. The basilica was closed until 1:00pm, so we did not have time to tour it. We ate lunch at a café named Kocour, which was at the entrance to the Jewish quarter. I used Google Translate to read the menu. Shelly and I each ordered the fried chicken with potato salad special and it was very, very good. We enjoyed the meal and chatted with Pat and Lani.

We then headed for Prague with 40 minutes on backroads (Thomas kept his speed down a bit and the twists and turns were less stressful) and 90 minutes on highways. We made it to Prague without incident and checked into our hotel, Hotel Pod Vezi. It’s in the lesser quarter and very close to the Charles Bridge (Prague’s oldest bridge dating to the early 15th century) that spans the Vltava River and connects the lesser quarter (founded in the 10th century) to the New Town (established in the 14th century). The hotel is the number 4 best-value hotel and number 2 traveler-ranked hotel in Prague based on TripAdvisor. Our room, in the annex building, was on the 1st floor, large, with a high ceiling and bathroom with a shower and tub. There were two, large windows overlooking a square and the hotel main building. There is a portable room air conditioner and free-standing heater, as there is no central A/C or heating. The room and bed were comfortable.

We unpacked and headed to the Hotel Pod Vezi café to have a drink. We then walked over the Charles Bridge to stroll the New Town. There are three large Gothic towers, the Old Town Bridge Tower and Lesser Town Bridge Towers, at each end of the bridge. You can climb these towers and get great views of the city.

The first building you see across the bridge in New Town is the beautiful St. Francis Of Assisi Church. It is located at the Square of the Knights of the Cross with Klementinum and Charles Bridge as its neighbors. Built in Baroque style between 1679 – 1685 it stands on the site of the original church of St. Francis of Assisi from 1270. Buglers were blowing tunes announcing a concert this evening.

We walked along Křížovnická Street in New Town and marveled at the architecture.

We walked a bit then had dinner at Restaurant Pushkin. It had a nice atmosphere and good table service. Shelly had escargot as an appetizer and the beef goulash with bread dumplings. She loved it. I had a chicken Caesar salad (not very adventurous tonight) and it was pretty good. Fresh greens but a bit too much dressing.

After dinner we started heading back to the hotel and Pat and I each ordered Trdelnik, which is a cone made of grilled dough (kind of like a donut) filled with ice cream. I had tiramisu ice cream which was quite good. The dough was good, but I still prefer a good old waffle cone!

We had a nice overview of the the Charles Bridge and New Town, and headed back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

Day 2 - Tour of the Prague Castle Complex & Strahov Monastery

We had a nice breakfast at the Hotel Pod Vezi café. We then met David F. from Tours by Locals for our Tour of the Prague Castle Complex & Strahov Monastery Orientation. David was an Englishman who retired in Prague. He was delightful! We walked up Nerudova Street to the Prague Castle and saw gorgeous buildings from different periods. I huffed and puffed and made it up the steep street to the castle (you can also take a tram to the castle). We had great views of Prague

We were welcomed by St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest church in Prague.

Here's a photo of St. George's Convent.

Went to the Strahov Monastery Brewery to sample some beer. We sat for about an hour, chatted with David, and watched the rain pour down on the campus. We ended our tour with a tram (be careful on the trams, they start and stop abruptly and you can easily fall) ride to new town where we bid adieu to David. David F. was a great and delightful tour guide and I highly recommend seeking him out on Tours by Locals.

We had lunch at the Café Slavia across from the National Theater pictured below.

After lunch, Shelly and I walked to the Lennon Wall, a memorial to Beatle John Lennon. I'm not sure the original intent of the wall, but it is covered in graffiti so most of the messages have been blocked out. Now there are also letters and poems of support for Ukraine posted near the wall.

Letters and poems of support for Ukraine.

There's a pub near the wall with a Beatles theme. We did not go in, but I took a photo.

Day 3 Prague Food Tour and Tour of the Jewish Quarter

We scheduled a food tour with Markéta L. through Tour by Locals, and we met her in the hotel lobby at 10:00am. We loaded into her car and went to a shop and sampled open-face sandwiches. It was similar to the shop we went to in Vienna, with a piece of bread with a light cover of egg salad and a slice of meat. The sandwiches were good, and we washed them down with a drink.

We then went to a restaurant and had a full meal. Shelly had pork knuckle and I had chicken schnitzel. We enjoyed both meals.

We stopped at a café Louvre for dessert and had blueberry pie and other desserts. They were very good.

Markéta drove us to a highpoint in the New Town which was incorporated by Emperor Charles IV in the 1340s. Prague was growing and needed space. It also needed fortifications to protect it from invasion, so it built city walls, which you can partially see in this video.

The food tour was great and Markéta was an excellent guide, and showed us sites we would not have seen. She dropped us off at the Jewish Quarter in New Town.

We toured several, historic sites in the Jewish Quarter. We went to the Pinkas Synagogue that had the names of over 77,000 Prague Jews who perished in the Holocaust during World War II. It was disturbing, moving, and astonishing to see these names and think of the lives that were represented.

We also visited the beautiful Spanish Synagogue and learned about the history.

Lastly we visited the Old Jewish Cemetery, with it's dense grave markers depicting the population of the Jewish Quarter dating back to the 16th century.

We got back to the hotel around 5:00pm. Shelly and Pat climbed the Charles Bridge Tower and took some photos, and I waited for them in the Hotel Pod Vezi café.

We headed back to our rooms for our last night in Prague, and prepared to travel to Salzburg, Austria in the morning. We had a wonderful time in Prague, and it is a glorious city, and it's people were very friendly.

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