Kangaroo hopping: Germany, Prague & Budapest
Trip Start Jan 22, 2013
21Trip End Jun 03, 2013
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After we left Berlin, we went to Leipzig, home of one of my favourite composers, J.S. Bach! He worked in a church in Leipzig, which I got to visit, which was pretty cool. There is also a statue of Mendelssohn there (whose work I also LOVE) so I need to research it but I think he has a connection to Leipzig too.
Apart from visiting St Thomas Church (where the composers worked), Leipzig was a bit of a washout for us. Not that there is anything wrong with Leipzig - it looked like a great place to explore - but Steve got a cold and so couldn't do much, and I stupidly got involved in the Great Passport Saga, which I won't detail too much on my blog for fear of getting fined, but it did involve me heading back on a bus to Berlin the morning after we arrived in Leipzig in order to be reunited with it
So anyway, moving forward, (ah that brings back great Labor party memories for you, doesn't it?), we headed on to Dresden, where we stayed in our very favourite hostel, the Kangaroo Hop! Super friendly people (and dogs), full of good old Australian memorabilia that we keep in our houses like boomerangs, trees, stuffed kangaroos, etc. Dresden is a very cute little town, and even though we had only one night here, we had a good time. It was very snowy while we were there, so everything looked pretty white, but it was nice.
Next stop, PRAGUE! Oh wow, Prague is breathtaking. The centre (near the Prague Castle) is so beautiful. The grungy area we were staying in, not so much, but it was conveniently located near the tram and underground trains, so for the price it was great! I can't really describe Prague because you have to go there, but basically it is a really beautiful, special old city. In fact, apparently Hitler loved Prague, and planned to retire there, so that's one theory as to why it is still so beautiful today (it was bombed less than the other places). Like other countries round the area, the Czechs have had a hard time - it wasn't long after the Nazis left Prague that they were taken over by Communists - so they have had a bit of a hard time getting back on their feet
We had three nights in Prague, and we crammed a lot in, so I wish we had had a bit more time to really soak up the city and just enjoy it, but that's okay. The first morning we were there, we did a walking tour with this funny Czech guy called Karel who showed us the main sights of the city and we learnt a lot about the history of Prague, the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia and Bohemia as well). We were absolutely freezing in our tour because it was snowing heavily by the end, but we enjoyed it because Karel was a great guide. That night, we did a beer tour of Prague, where we were entertained by a Czech/British guy called Adam who took us to four places where we tried crazy beers like raspberry beer, blueberry beer, chocolate beer and unfiltered, unpreserved beer straight from the microbrewery in the pub (my FAVOURITE!) Slid down soooo easily. Oh, and you could order food at that same place and we ate possibly the best apple strudel ever (although we will be tasting others that we find around Europe, just to ensure that we haven't made a mistake). We did our tour with a really great bunch of people - a guy from Hong Kong, a girl from Missouri, U.S. and two Argentinian girls. It was a small group but it was really fun.
The next day we did a tour of Prague Castle, apparently the biggest castle in Europe. It is very beautiful, but we think they are cheating a little because it's really like a castle city - a group of different buildings rather than just the one. I don't know though, I'm no Castle Expert. It seems like every city can claim their little piece of the Guinness Book of World Records :-P Anyway. We were even more freezing this day, even though I wore three pairs of pants, two jackets, two jumpers, two beanies and thick socks - my feet have never been colder! It was snowing ridiculously by the end but we pushed through and had a good time. We saw the changing of the guard (less over the top than the one in London, although apparently the one at noon has music and stuff like that), got to explore lots of places in the castle and had another great guide. That night we ended up going out for dinner and drinks with two Brazilian girls (one who lived in Sydney), and we ended randomly in the same place with the unfiltered beer and amazing apple strudel from the night before. So we were happy. Very happy. Oh, and we ordered a giant plate of meat to share (see the pictures). Did I mention that we were happy?
The day after, it was even more freezing and very snowy, but we had already paid to do a tour of Kutna Hora, a mining town outside of Prague that looked really cool
From here we headed on the overnight train from Prague to Budapest, Hungary. Budapest was great! We only had one night here, which was a shame, because there was a lot to do, but we got to go to the state opera (fun! Heaps of people, they'd "moderned up" Xerxes and the orchestra, music and sets were great! Plus got to go inside a very old, beautiful opera house. Also, understood the plot a lot more once we googled it when we got back to the hostel ;-), walked up the hill to the citadel to get a great view of the place (looked like a postcard), and spent a few hours soaking in the Baths (very cool thing to do - you just go from pool to pool lying around in warm water in these old bath houses. Awesome!) Would definitely recommend Budapest! A shame not to get to spend more time here, but have to keep moving because there's so much on our list that we want to see, and you don't get to do trips like this very often!
As I write, we are in Vienna, but I will leave writing about that until my next entry
Love to everyone at home!
Ps. The app I am using (that I keep whinging about) has put all my photos out of order, so I guess you will kangaroo hop through them as well - a bit of Prague, then Germany, then Prague, then Budapest, then Prague, etc. They're totally out of order. Sorry about that, I don't think this is app is able to switch them once they are in and redoing it will take too long. Sorry!)