It’s been quiet around here and for good reason, a couple of weeks ago Mike and I jet set across the Atlantic for 9 days in Central Europe! I’ve been busy editing and reminiscing about our trip and am now ready to share all the details.
We talked about planning a trip to Europe this year for almost an entire year. I left the actual countries we would visit up to Mike since I’ve been across the pond a couple times. He couldn’t make up his mind, so one day perusing Groupon, of all places, I came across a Central Europe group tour package that included Prague, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna. It also mentioned a stop in Pilsen for a brewery tour, so I knew it sounded like something Mike would enjoy!
The Groupon offered was through Gate 1 Travel, and included our flights, hotels, transportation, and pretty much breakfast and dinner every day. After my recaps I’ll devote a post to these parts of the trip for reference and to share our group tour experience (something we were a little apprehensive about at the beginning, not going to lie). But until then, here’s our trip through each city/region:
We started our trip in Czech Republic in Prague.
Of all the places we visited, this was both of our favorite. The city was beautiful, easy to get around – mostly by foot, and the people were all very nice. Prague “City of a Hundred Spires” is the capital of Czech Republic and the historical capital of Bohemia. It’s situated along the Vltava river and is the 15th largest city in the European Union.
We traveled overnight and when we arrived, we had the entire day to ourselves. We took a quick nap since we had been up for almost 24 hours straight, but headed out into the city to explore before lunch. We set out on foot from the hotel to find some lunch. We found a cute place, U Sani, with seating outside and Mike got his first Czech beer, a Kozel, and we ate some traditional Czech cuisine, meat and dumplings.
About a week before we left my boss mentioned a good friend of his lived in Prague and we got in touch with him after we finished lunch. Doug was originally from England and is a developer, among other things. One of the projects that brought him to Prague was the Palladium shopping mall.
He walked us around the center of the city sharing stories of new construction and restoration of the city. After meeting up with his girlfriend Sona, who’s from Czech Republic, we got a very unique tour of the city through Sona’s historical facts and Doug’s new construction stories.
In the evening, Doug and Sona treated us to dinner at Hergetova Cihelna along the river with an amazing view of the Charles Bridge.
The next day was our first day with the tour group. We started with a walking tour through the Wallenstein Palace Gardens which was home to a few peacocks including a white one which greeted us from a tree as we entered.
Before making our way across the famous Charles Bridge into Old Town.
We arrived in the center of Old Town right before 11am to watch the medieval Prague astronomical clock which was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.
After watching the clock, we headed back to the center of the city and Mike and I explored some more and when a light shower hit, we headed to a small semi-covered courtyard for lunch.
After lunch we had signed up for the optional tour to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, so we headed back to through Old Town and up the hill to the castle.
Prague Castle is actually a complex of buildings and dates back to the 9th century and is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. Set up on a hill, the castle has the best views of the city and river.
St. Vitus Cathedral, part of the castle, is giant church in the Gothic architecture style, with hand-painted windows and flying buttresses.
Walking further down towards the exit we walked through the Golden Lane, a small street of colored houses, one of which (No. 22) Franz Kafka lived in for a couple of years to write.
After the tour, we headed just outside of the city for dinner at U Lipy, the first privately-owned restaurant in Communist Czechoslovakia. On our way we passed by The Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger.
At U Lipy we were all greeted with a shot of Becherovka, an herbal Czech liqueur. I thought it was awful, but Mike bought some at the grocery store before we left to take home!
After dinner, we headed out with a couple our age from our group and walked around Old Town and relaxed at a bar.
While I don’t drink that much in general, and Mike had tried a couple beers throughout the day, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a shot of Absinthe. When in Prague…
It was worse than the Becherovka! It was still a nice way to end our time in Prague though and we went back to the hotel exhausted from all that we did the last two days.
Next up, Pilsen!