Trip Start Jul 14, 2013
Trip End Aug 15, 2013

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Friday, August 2, 2013

I don't know how it happened, but I woke up early enough this morning to shower and pack some last minute things before heading out for the program’s travel weekend. Zack, Jennifer, Kate, Charlie, Courtney, Robbie and I all decided to take full advantage of our free time and hit up Prague.

After a quick breakfast, we managed to get out the door at a reasonable time and walk to the bus stop. From there, we took the bus to the train station and bought our impromptu tickets to the Czech Republic. For some reason, I felt like it wouldn’t work out—the train wouldn’t be available or we’d be too late or something—but we purchased everything without a problem and the trip finally felt real when I held the crisp train ticket in my hand. We then proceeded to get some snacks before boarding our train.

I was hoping for some Harry Potter trains with individual compartments, but we were not that fortunate. However, the train was pretty nice and provided the most important thing: air conditioning. We took off, and, an hour later, we were in Linz.

At this point, we weren’t exactly sure what was going on. We knew that we had to make a transportation exchange of some kind, but we weren’t sure what exactly we needed to do—only that there was a bus involved. We did end up finding said charter bus and settled in, preparing ourselves for an uncomfortable (yet air conditioned) five hours. However, the bus only drove about 20 minutes before stopping again and letting us off at this tiny little station at the edge of the city. We were to change again and get on another train.

Here, my wish came true. We had our very own compartment taking us to Hogwarts. All we needed was a trolley rolling by with magical sweets.

Oh yeah. And air conditioning.

Were we not dying of heat, we would have enjoyed the Czech countryside much more. It was beautiful, don’t get me wrong. We passed gorgeous green plains and little farmhouses and plenty of small towns. However, the heat soon sapped our energy and we spent a while quietly contemplating our trip.

A few hours in, Robbie and I decided to explore. Each of the connecting areas between the train cars was rather bare and I could see the ground speeding beneath us as we made our way. I also found the control panels on a few of the cars and examined them, interested by the Czech labels. We even snuck into first class and enjoyed the air conditioning temporarily. I loved the view from the last train as well as the tracks stretched behind us.

We finally arrived at the first stop that said Praha and jumped off the train, realizing that, just as it took off once again, that we had gotten off at the wrong stop. Laughing our little mistake off and determinedly not panicking, we waited for the next train and took it one more stop. At the main train station, we exchanged currency and grabbed a quick snack before tracking down some taxis and taking our first ride through the beautiful city of Prague.

I didn’t have too much time to look around; our car ride was quite short and we were at our hostel in no time after walking a few blocks.

Our hostel is actually pretty sweet. We all share one eight-person room, and it is a great size for us. There are four sets of bunk beds in our private room as well as a locker and table. Outside our room is a common area for all the rooms in our section (there is a British group to our right and another European group across the lounge). Here, we share two bathroom and shower areas with the other groups. Honestly, it has all worked out quite well.

Once we had changed and settled in, we set out to explore. First, we walked around this island area where we had a great view. The sun was setting, so we went across the Charles Bridge to the older historical area of the city and explored the area a little before settling down and having some traditional Czech food. When we were finished, we crossed the bridge once more and made our way through the streets of the newer area of the city. We stopped and explored the fabulous square near the clock tower, but we couldn’t see all the details at night. Afterwards, we were still quite awake so we experienced some Prague nightlife.

I love the city. Even though I've only seen much of it at night, I'm fascinated by the glorious architecture and statues. I can't wait to see more of it tomorrow!

PS-- Pictures aren't uploading easily right now due to the slow WiFi at the hostel. I'll upload everything when back in Salzburg!
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