Prague, Czech Republic and Vienna

Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
Trip End Aug 30, 2005

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, August 22, 2005

Czech Republic and Austria

Czech Republic
Our funds were slightly low this summer as we'd just bought a car together so no big backpacking holiday for us. We looked at our options and decided to do travel in a circle from Germany to the Czech Republic, to Vienna in Austria then back again. We took the train to Munich from Roethenbach im Allgaeu and reached one of our favourite cities a few hours later. We locked our backpacks in the train station and walked around Munich for a couple of hours. As ever Munich was excellent, vibrant, colourful, clean and some of the best beer in the world. We then caught the S-Bahn to the Allianz Arena and waited for the overnight bus to Prague. There had just been a football match at the new stadium so the crowds were pouring out and the stadium was lit up and changing colour in all its glory.

The bus arrived and took us to Prague in 5 hours. We met a girl on the bus that told us we'd be dropped slightly outside the city centre and that there were no ATM machines nearby. We didn't have any Czech Koruna to use for the underground but she kindly gave us a bit of cash so we could get in.

After no sleep we got into the city centre about 6 in the morning found our hostel but had to wait to 12 until we could get our room. The hostel was uni accommodation in semester time and rented out for backpackers in the summer. The room was OK but the bathrooms were pretty hilarious. They were shared bathrooms which was basically one huge room with showers on one side, toilets on the other and wash basins in the middle. So if you like your privacy when having a shower they weren't exactly ideal as the shower curtains didn't pull across fully and tended to flap about when the door was opened. The trick was to stand up against the side wall, hold the shower curtain with one hand and wash with the other, or as we did at the end just not bother, you go naked in the sauna right?

After getting some rest we went to explore Prague. Wow, what a city. I think both of us still feel that it is the coolest city we've been to in Europe. Not one that we'd like to live in but a beautiful, lively city with an amazing old town, grand Gothic buildings fused with remnants of a communist past that just adds a feeling to the city that we'd never experienced before. It seemed to us that the city didn't quite know where it was at. The contrast between the ancient buildings, communist architecture and modern shops gave a feeling that the city wasn't sure at what stage of development it was at.

After exploring Prague for a couple of days, drinking some of that well renowned Czech beer, playing (and loosing) cards in a casino, sightseeing and chilling out in the city plaza we headed off to Kutna Hora on the train.

Kutna Hora is famous for its old town which is full of Bohemian Gothic style buildings including a huge Cathedral perched on top a hill. We left our bags at the station and walked to the old town through what can only be described as pure Eastern block. It was pretty grim but when we reached the old town the place transformed into ancient buildings and memories of a different time.

We caught a bus back to the station and headed for a small town that was closer to Vienna so we wouldn't have to spend the next day travelling. I don't remember the name of the small town just that it was even more Eastern block than Kunta Hora. Communism may be dead in Europe but it has certainly left its mark. We wandered through high rise concrete blocks and found a hotel nearby. We managed to get a room at a reasonable price then went to have a little look around. We ended up in Chinese restaurant that amused us greatly. Here we were in the middle of the Czech Republic in a one horse town that was only on the map because of the train station and there was a Chinese family living there and running a restaurant. I would have loved to know the story behind them ending up in that place.

The next day we headed for Vienna and arrived in the centre about midday. We looked around for some digs but couldn't find anything so we rang some friends of Sabine's parents and ended up staying with them for 3 nights. We had a great time staying with Robert and Doris as we got to experience some real Oesterreich traditions like heurigen. In the daytime we explored Vienna in all its glory and saw the major sights. One day we went to Schoenbrunn Palace and Schlosspark which was really cool. The palace is grand and impressive and the grounds are huge. There was a zoo within the grounds that we went to as well. Usually both of us don't really like zoos but this one was great. Loads of attention to detail such as wood chippings leaves with amazon pipe music in the aardvark enclosure and a great indoor small primate enclosure where the animals jumped around the trees and ropes just above your head.
On one evening we drove into the centre with Robert and Doris to eat at a kind of international food market where you could walk around and choose food from countries all over the world. After eating we watched opera on a huge screen that hung in front of the Stephan Cathedral.

It was only about a week that we were away but we saw and did loads. Two very different but beautiful cities and a taste of Eastern Europe thrown into the mix. We caught the train back from Vienna to Bregenz and then headed for little old Lindenberg.
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