Prague, Czech Republic

Trip Start Mar 06, 2007
Trip End May 16, 2007

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

After our night train from  Munich I had such expectations on this city, I had researched, checked and looked at what I can to do, see and of course sample of this town. It is after all the gem of the eastern bloc, well until your get there and get lost in the sea of tourists. There is 2 things that bothered me about this town, 1. Tourists and 2. Steps.Prague came saturated with them both. We arrived quite early in the morning but forgetting the station our hostel was near was not made any easier with the non-English speaking station staff. With our big bags we made it to one near and walked up 2 story of stairs and around a block before asking directions and realising that the area we are looking for has a station in that name 2 more along the line, back down the stairs and 2 stations along, up 2 more sets of stairs and then another to get to the street level and it all looked wrong and in the middle of nowhere, so using our mobile at 8 AUD a minute we called the hostel, we had gone a station too far. So back down the stairs and back a station we then went back up the stairs and around to the right side, noticing this side had escalators the instructions were to go up over rail track with a green bridge, the green bridge had 3 sets of stairs to get up before going over the tracks, breathing heavily and cursing the place we finally reached it on the other side. All was going good until, 'level 4'. Up 4 more levels of stairs with our bags, once we got there we collapsed, that was the hardest work I have ever had to do for a bed to stay in. So we had only been in Prague for 2 hours and again we needed to explored the city. Our body clocks were still waking up at 4-5am and going to sleep at 8pm, so what felts like early afternoon was only 10 in the morning. So back down all the steps and into town. We went to a riverside diner and had real  meat goulash and dumplings, it was hot, it was filling it was good and only for about 8 dollars. One thing for Prague is that if it is in English it is 4 x its price. The mark up for the tourists was astronomical. I could not believe it. From the river the best location is Charles Bridge, it is a bridge with statues across it, cobbled stone and big rock gates on either side. It is magnificent, even with all the tourists. There were stalls along the bridge witch added to it. Most stalls were portrait makers or painting sellers, and police patrolled it to make sure that no buskers or non licensed stalls were trying to make a buck. We walked across and up a bit before wandering into a supermarket. It was on the main tourist drag but a world apart, prices dropped dramatically and labels were unreadable. I made sure to buy some home made dumplings and Dave got the beer, all for under a euro. After this we were exhausted so wandered back to the hostel and collapsing at 4pm and sleeping all the way through to 6am the next morning, it was well needed. This brightened us up for the day ahead. We had our complimentary breakfast, ham and cheese rolls, again and headed out. We decided to go a little Czech and being a Sunday went where all the locals went, and that was to the national museum, it was full of a floor of rocks, a floor of stuffed animals and a floor of beginning of mankind's time tools and accessories. It was interesting and had such a huge range. We then wandered back into town where we found the legendary Astronomical clock, what was astronomical about it was the amount of tourists that stood around to watch a skeleton ring a bell for thirty seconds, there was not much too it. What was much to it was the buildings in the square, with the old town hall and the church again the buildings were amazing. With blisters on the heels there still was plenty to see, we walked to the top of the lookout hill (more steeps) and had a fantastic view of the town before heading to the castle, the castle was amazing, from the outside, with tradition and splendor it was not void the masses of tourists. After satisfying ourself with a million and one photo we brought some last souvenir purchases before heading back to the hostel, via the supermarket. Do you remember that game show that had 2 teams chasing a trolley around a supermarket to grab groceries??? Well we were like this. Not only was the local shopping center and supermarket super cheaper than the rest of Prague it was also super cheaper than Australia. We purchased 3x 0.5l of beer for a dollar, super bargain! We stocked up and proceeded to cashier where were realised we would have to carry it back to the hostel and all the steps. It was hard and we got to and through it. With our purchases we planned a little party in our room, but after an hour we were asleep surrounded by masses of, oh well, we saved by getting it cheap even if we did not eat it!. We were up early to pack all our food items, or try and stuff them in places it would never fit in our bags before heading off and to the train station to (at least down the stairs this time, what goes up must come down), with the stuffing and the wasting of time we only had a short amount of time to get to the train to get to Wurzburg. We went to the first train station and with the staff not knowing any English and I not knowing any Czech (except 'stool' (which actually means 'table')) we got no where and had to take the metro to another station where we had better luck and although we were cutting it fine sort of knew where we had to go, but out of the mist came our hero, the porter who not only took us straight away to the the right platform, but carried my bags up the stairs, put us on the right carriage (as the train separated at the boarder) and the best to last found us a cabin, it was great, and for his services he then promptly demanded a 10AUD tip, we did not argue. Last bit to add is that on our way out of Prague we went through Pilzen and saw the great factory for Pilsner, go beer! Next stop Wurzburg.
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