April 20-22: Praha

Trip Start Mar 08, 2008
Trip End Jun 18, 2008

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

left Berlin in the morning of the 20th and had to get a ticket for the boarder of Czech republic to Prague first, so i stopped at the ticket counter and tried to explain to this non English speaking agent what i wanted. i even got out the map and explained only here nothing else, don't need reservation for Germany portion as i have eurail pass and reservations are not compulsory on this journey...she got so frustrated with me, she started turning red in the face, she had written down two prices, one i knew was for my ticket to Prague, the other i knew she was trying to sell me a seat reservation for 4 euro, and i kept trying to explain i didn't need the seat reservation. finally i just said fine and paid the full 18 something euro and she gave me a 2nd class ticket to Prague...which i wanted...but then she gave me a second class resi for the Germany portion.  as soon as i left the counter and American gal asked me what i just had to do to get tickets and i explained but said that i wasn't sure i was sold the right thing that i actually paid to much. i waited until they were done and they got a agent with better English that sold them basically the same thing and told them that since it was Sunday they needed a reservation as it would probably be full.  so i walked away and i saw a DB lounge (which is like the first class lounge for an airport but for the trains) so i went in and showed my first class eurail pass asked if they spoke English and explained what i thought was wrong. she also said to me...its Sunday you should really have a reservation, blah blah, but my gut was telling me it was not right. so i stepped outside and this German couple came up to me and said, excuse me we saw the way that agent treated you when you first bought your ticket, did you get everything you needed because she was very rude to you and should not have been and you were very nice and calm with her.  i explained that i thought she oversold me and so the lady took the resi ticket and went and spoke to the lounge agent in Germany about it to see for sure. she got the same story but got that it wasn't necessary to buy reservation only that it was best. so i found another agent window and went and returned the reservation! got my 4 euro back! ha.  but i told that couple that they were sooo nice for checking on me like that! so i got to the first class section, found myself a seat that didn't have a reservation, which was MOST of the section...usually the case in first class which is why i have been traveling that way...even though i may meet more people traveling in second...i have not paid for a reservation seat since Stockholm!!!! so then got my ticket checked several times along the way and when we got across the boarder i thought for sure i was going to have to move to second class since that is where my ticket for that portion was....nope. i showed my eurail first ;-) and she said oh no this is not valid here, i said oooh, I'm sorry, right wrong ticket didn't realize we crossed the boarder ;-) showed the 2nd class she stamped it and walked on her way...i didn't have to move! tee hee. (i was reading that in Czech republic you can get serious fines for not having the right tickets and such), tee hee. 

so got myself to praha and realized it brought me into a station that was not on my little lonely planet map, so i found a hotel and asked how to get to the main station as i was determined to stay at a recommended little spot called miss Sophie's.  then i was going to walk when i realized there wasn't really sidewalks in the direction i was going, so i went back to the station and saw those girls again from the ticket area and they said they think they had it figured out and got themselves a ticket good for 75 min that cost like 26kc and once they got to city center/town square they would have a better idea of where they were.  i got myself some change since cash machines give huge bills and walked back over to the ticket machine and there was  a woman near by, speak English? not sure look...do you know where the main train station is...confused look, but still eager to try to understand...pull out lonely planet show on the map....ah yes....points to stairs for subway here.....counts....3 stops on fingers....i point to the information poster for the tickets and say..this one? (which was the one the girls bought) she says, no, this one, points...its 18kc ;-) get down there and it was super easy to figure out the system down there, got to the station, and found...with a minor struggle and asking of the street to someone, but found miss Sophie's and was checked in i think by like 4 or 5p...perfect....that is the way to do it!!!!

so i took a nap and then wandered a bit found a place for beer a Budweiser version, then walked again found myself in the heart of tourism and so remember reading that if you go outside of the main tourist areas that the beers are cheaper and bigger, so i walked and walked and picked a place that advertised 20kc for beer...yup, yum...pilsner urquell in big glass, so noticed others were eating so asked for a menu...had English on it....picked something fairly cheap 95kc, dumplings, sauerkraut, and smoke ham....yum.....had another beer G something....total bill 129kc. walked some more found another spot and had a beer and realized ok time to head home beer is hitting the head and its about 12 or 1a...tee hee, good days work id say!

got back to the room and the girls that had their stuff when i arrived there were getting ready for bed and they were from Singapore on vacation for 2 weeks from work and were leaving early in the morning to head further into CR, and really only talked with the one call...can't remember her name Permia? and she said i was so brave for doing what i am doing and that she could never imagine quiting a job to go travel, in china you don't do that...but it sounded like fun!  went to bed and slept in a bit.

slow start for the morning as i had it to myself since they left so early. so when i finally got going i went to the supermarket and got brunch (tons of fresh baked rolls & danish things and some crab salad as i was sooo tired of cold cuts...so one good thing about my hotel not serving breakfast!) and headed to a little park (kampa) overlooking the river and the Charles bridge and layed out my sarong and had a picnic and chilled out for several hours, after that i visited the lookout tower via tram near the castle, i found a grassy meadow type area with blooming trees that was on a slope overlooking the city....layed out my sarong and took an lovely nap! then meandered over by the castle and down hill all the rest of the way from there and found a couple of spots to have some beers and a place to have dinner, menu was not in English so i figured out which portion was chicken and asked which was best or most popular. he pointed to one that he said was good (turned out to be like a grilled chicken breast with melted cheese and under the cheese was like peaches....and french fries and some red cabbage...weird, but i was sooooo hungry it was actually kind of good!) and then early to bed....ha i never sleep more than 8 hours, i got 12!

so today (22nd) i am going to explore what i have not yet seen, but also trying to stay away from the real touristy areas...as praha is quite touristy....but at this part of my journey i am all about parks and chilling!

so 22nd i explored and headed to the old town and jewish quarter and found a clock that was supposed to do some neat tricks...ooodles and ooodles of tourists were there as well, not worth the wait...bing, bing, dance, dance...way to many people!!! so i quickly started taking streets that people weren't walking through and found myself a place to have some soup and a bagel then headed across a bridge towards this mentronome thing and up a very steep hill, figured i needed some excercise for the day...turns out it took me to this great park where hardly anyone but locals walking their dogs or babies.  was awesome. i totally myandered.  then found myself on the other side of the castle than previous day and loads of flowers and trees and fantastic views up above the city! and weird looking squirrel thing and a dog that wanted to play with and follow me and his owner had to give him treats for him to sit still long enough for me to take his picture. so on the other side of the castle there was this steep walk down, that i noticed a few people taking...a mother with her newborn strapped in a baby bjorn like thing hiking down this thing..so i thought why not! wow!!! what a great choice! this wandering path deep below the castle wall, like where the old moat was or something and the steep embankments all covered in ivy....birds chirping away! then wandered some more and kept finding areas to stay away from the hords of toursits.....prague is just terribly overrun with tourists...its a shame really as it has such interesting architecture, but so hard to enjoy with all the tons of groups and hoards of peeps.  anyway wandered by a park where people were practicing juggling and tight rope walking, etc. very lazy day. then beer-o-clock came around...love when that happens at random points during the day and i sampled a new one this time started with an S, don't remember.  then had to attend to business and get my train ticket for the morning for 5a train and then set out for dinner. ended up at the first place i went to when i got to Praha, and this time had another traditional dinner of beef, gravy, dumplings, and cranberries.  actually quiet yum!!!!  then back to the hotel and ran into the gals from singapore again and chatted them up for a bit and they asked if i wanted to join them for hot chocolate but i had to decline as i needed to get packed up and get some sleep as i needed to get up at 3:30a...yow. but we exchanged emails and they are going to budapest first then will be in vienna...which we might connect again.  off to bed
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