August 3 2000
jammed with sites, including magnificent Prague Castle, great meat
dishes and excellent cheap beer.
some attractions are busy with tourists.
Although we had no reservations for the overnight couchette to Prague
from Frankfurt, we decided to try our luck and see if there was
room for 2 more bleary eyed travellers on the train to Prague from
Frankfurt. After my high speed jaunt down the autobahn ( from the
last entry), we luckily found out that we could squat in on 2 extra
beds in an available couchette...
The cramped spaces of a six person couchette and the loud train
noises made it nearly impossible to sleep but we were so excited
at the idea of being on our way to Prague that we couldn't sleep
anyways, so with thoughts of Prague on our mind and ridiculously
content grins on our faces we watch the passing lights and trains
as our own train chugged it's way through the German-Czech border...
-- Prague Day 1
Although expensive at 90$ US a night, it was a nice surprise to
see the posh accommodations in downtown Prague which we managed
to get a reservation for. The lofty cottage like rooms and make
shift double bed was a welcome retreat after a night of practically
To quickly get ourselves acquainted with the city we headed straight
for the first tour bus in sight. The tour, which was great for orientation,
was fairly mind numbing. The tour was conducted by a 20ish young
chech man who's lack of enthusiasm would put that professor in "Ferris
Buller's Day Off" to shame ( You know the one who would call
out questions and say "Anyone?... Anyone?... Anyone?... Anyone?...
Anyone?... " Anyways... he was dull :) ) ... To top it off,
it rained furiously during the walking part of the tour...
Half asleep and drenched we napped and slummed the rest of the day.
-- Prague Day 2
Prague is jammed packed with sites. The streets and houses are enough
by themselves to use up all of your film not to mention the castles,
squares and bridges. The attached photos will give you an idea of
what I mean but I only uploaded a few... The only bad part about
it being so nice, is that it's beauty is not a well kept secret...
it's practically impossible to find a square inch of soil in Prague
without a bushy tailed tourist clicking a camera...
I'll go over some of the sights that we feasted our eyes on but
there are just too many too cover in one entry...
- The Astronomical Clock
Every hour, everyone gathers around the clock...
On the hour, 2 little blue windows open and little figures move
and rotate to a ring bell, it's slightly amusing the first time,
but the clock itself it something that just needs to be seen ( See
It's said that after the genius who built this grand clock finished
the construction, his king burned his eyes out with hot pokers so
that he couldn't reproduce it for anyone else. The Master clocksmith,
then blinded, found his way up the clock and broke the gears in
retaliation, it apparently took them 80 years to fix the clock again.
... now that's gratitude!
I uploaded an MPG of the clock when it chimes, so you can see for
- The Castle
The Prague Castle is magnificently perched on a hill next to the
city. A walk, which is not for the faint of heart, up the hill to
the castle is well worth it. The Gothic and Romanesque buildings
are quite nice and, if you can bear being seen with a big blue telephone'like
device suckled to your ear while you strut through the castle, you
can get yourself an audio tour to get all the goods on who killed
who in which room and all the juicy bits you would miss without
it. We coughed up the 10 bucks and let our little blue guide phoe
takes around he castle.
The castle had some great cathedrals which I couldn't help but to
unload my full arsenal of diskettes on by taking pictures of just
about everything, I uploaded a few.
- The Jewish Ghetto
Although not cheap we headed to the graveyard and museum in the
Jewish Ghetto. The cemetery was my favourite. Although that may
sound a little eerie, looking at the pictures you'll see why. The
cemetery is straight out of sleepy hollow with it's beautifully
inscripted head stones leaning over on each other.
As we walked down the cobble stone streets of the ghetto, a great
little street market surrounded us. Apparently, fossilized, 500
million year old, stalagmites ae excavated all over the Czech republic
and an archaeologist had a booth set-up in the market to sell his
finds. After some intensely gratifying bargaining we managed to
scoop up some of the nice (and cheap :) ) ones...
- The Marionettes
2 unsuspecting tourists
+1 marionette show
+8 Roman scrolls with pornographic magazine clip outs
= 1 weird night out
Mozart's Don Giovanni played first in Prague centuries ago and to
this day you can see the opera in about 10 or so theatres here...
you can also see the marionette version, something Prague is famous
for apparently. Having never seen a puppet show we decided to catch
the 8pm show that night.
With my camera ready, the curtain came up... it took about 30 minutes
before I noticed that something was a little off... I think it was
when the roman scrolls with pornography ( see picture, it's kind
of had to describe :) ) clip outs were strewn across the stage that
we figured out that this wasn't a 100% re-enactment of the original.
Seeing as he Opera was in Italian we had no idea what was being
said by the puppets but a one scene had the main puppet violently
bashing his head up against a stone wall. Not quite sure how it
all fitted in together the plot weakened a little after that...
Although mildly amusing, we quietly tip toed to the door at the
intermission, got a bottle of wine and headed back to our quiet
-- Shopping Day
Over the last 2 days a fully itemized mental inventory of all of
the goodies we wanted to buy before leaving was building up and
it was time to shop! The highlight of our disgustingly ravenous
shopping spree was my purchase of a certain, one Don Quixote. A
3 foot high marionette who is currently enjoying a lea surly flight
on the Budapest Postal Air service, one way, to Ottawa... or so
-- Food and Drink
Meat, meat and of course meat. The Czech meal of choice (for me
at least :)) was the goulash. Our hotel sat ontop of one of the
finest authentic cezch restaurants in Prague, the U Medvicu. The
goulash, which is a mix of shopped beef with a mystery sauce which
has a consistency which leaves alot to the imagination, is yummy!
The local Budvar, which is also called Budweiser was our best pick
for beer. Budvar has been in litigation with the American Budweiser
for years about the name. Although there may be some uncertainty
of who owns the name, it's pretty clear which one tastes best. The
U Medvicu bar was fully kitted out with all of the Budvar merchandise
( Hats, mugs shirts ) but my favourite was a picture of God bursting
through a big old cloud overlooking a small czech village with a
tall glass of Budvar in hand, now THAT'S religion! :)
-- The reservations
It was time to get our act together. Decisions needed to be made,
trains needed to be booked, phones system needed to be mastered
and hotels were in desperate need of reservations if we were to
successful navigate the rest of Eastern Europe without some kind
So, there we sat in our room later that evening after a fine bottle
of Czech wine, 13 Canada Direct calls to Poland and Hungary and
6 bags of mixed nuts by the light of an emergency candle from my
first aid kit...
"Ahhh, all done" we both sigh...
It was decided, Krakow (Poland) then Hungary then Austria. Lines
were already creased into the map were our next week would take
us and all the reservations were done...
We were able to enjoy the next day with the calm glow that comes
from a properly planed trip. With a clever smirk on our faces we
sat in our chairs on the main square in Prague with a beer in hand
waiting for our midnight train to Krakow...
-- "Wait a minute, this seems a little odd..."
"VISA REQUIREMENTS: Citizens of USA, Luxemburg, France, Germany
and Spain do not require visa's" reads the new Eastern Europe
Lonely Planet guide we had purchased hours before.
thats odd... what about Canada?" I say to Julie now still calm...
"No that can't be, why should we need Visas if americans are
I franticly flip through the pages to the other countries to see
if Canada was implied when the US was mentioned for Visa requirements...
"Hungary? Nope we're ok there..."
Flip, flip, flip...
"Austria? Nope ok there too..."
Flip, flip, flip...
It wasn't implied...
With jaws hanging low, eyes wide opened as if we'd seen a ghost,
the kind Tourist Office agent explained to us that it took 2 days
to get a Visa for Canadian Citizens to Poland.
With just a few hours before our train to Poland we had to make
some quick decisions...
After the initial shock and realization that if we hadn't found
this out before we had left for Poland we would have been ripped
from our cosy little sleepers at 3AM and held at a polish visa office
for 2 days, we flipped through he Eastern Europe guide to quickly
establish a new plan of attack...
"Straight to Austria,
"How about Turkey? No that's too far..."
"Hummm... Straight to Budapest then..."
Some tough decisions were made, and Poland, sadly, was the sacrificial
lamb... we had decided to head for Budapest, Hungary.
The next few hours we fairly solemn and quiet but as it finally
soaked in, with heads hung low and feet dragging, we made our way
to our overnight train to Budapest.
Looking back, that clever, unplanned for, decision made on the plan
ride over to go to Poland wasn't all that clever after all :(
-- "This doesn't taste like toffee!"
It was our first sleeper that we had ever taken on a train. A sleeper
is a like couchette ( A 6 person sleeping cabin ) but with only
2 beds. It was a nice surprise to see the posh little cabin waiting
for us, we really didn't know what to expect. The cabin had ample
room to move and free bottled water, something pretty rare in Europe.
Like kids with a new toy, we quickly examined every square inch
of our newly found oasis. Water, mirror, extra pillow and a 2, eraser
sized wrapped goodies... one pink and one white.
Julie, we even get some candies with our room" I say with genuine
warm hearted appreciation of the hospitality we had been given.
Now, most test the water before diving into the pool but for reason,
I decided to jump right in without any concern of how bitterly cold
that water might be... and let me say... it was freezing!
Without hesitating, I cracked open our bed time treat and took a
big, mouth filling, gut wrenching bite into our bed time ... SOAP.
3 glasses of complimentary water and 10 thorough toothbrushing's
later, I was able to swallow again without gagging...
And here we are... in Budapest... We leave for Austria tomorrow
so I'll have an entry on Budapest soon were I'll tell you all about
our naked and lubricated adventures in the Roman Thermal Baths...