Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eastern Europe: On the Vltava...

Once again, I apologize for the lack of home decor related posts. I will warn everyone that Ive been a lot lax in that department so I'm going to be going on random tangents between now and when I get back to finishing my house off. I'm afraid I'm boring everyone with my trip recap based on the drop off in posts but my obsessive compulsive self requires I finish the recap. But this is the final installment so bear with me.

Prague_CharlesBridgeStatue

We arrived in Prague to more clouds. At this point, I'd given up hopes of seeing a patch of blue sky on the trip. Thankfully the rain held off for most of the leg but we kept an umbrella close by just in case.

Prague_Nightlights

Prague is much more like Budapest than Krakow. Its not really THAT large of a city but it certainly feels that way with all its grand Gothic architecture, wider streets and huge crowds. I was a bit taken back by the sheer size of the crowds here - I knew it was the most popular destination of the three but I didn't understand just how popular. As with each city, the architecture is stunning. Prague certainly doesn't disappoint in that area. And it wasn't as worn looking as much of Budapest is. Their economy still seems to be striving and it shows.


Prague_OrientalMandarinRoomBath
We stayed in Mala Strana area of Prague at the Mandarin Oriental. This side of town is a bit more posh and a bit more quiet but still nicely located near plenty of shops, restaurants and the Charles Bridge. It was a very nice place to stay but I think if I returned to Prague, I'd like to try to stay in the Old Town section just for the change. The bathroom was dreamy and I took full advantage of a big soaking tub that had a tiny TV. Of course the only thing I could watch was the financial collapse on CNN, but that's not the hotels fault :)

Prague_StatueBegging

Our first order of business was to cross the famous Charles Bridge. Here is where we first found the hordes of crowds. The bridge is amazing but I was somewhat disappointed to learn the statues are all replicas. The originals safely hidden away in a museum. I tried my best to get some good photographs but I never seemed to get a shot off without someone stepping in front of me. Oh well.

Prague_SymphonyStage

Our first night there we had tickets to see the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Dvorak Hall of Rudolfinum. Lest you get the wrong impression about my level of culture and breeding, this was my first visit to the symphony and the tickets were given to us as part of the package. We didn't even realize it was included until we got the tickets delivered to our hotel! I wasn't quite sure if the symphony was for us but since the tickets were there, we put on the nicest clothes we brought (which weren't that nice but we didn't seem to stand out too much) and off we went. It was quite a show and we learned that you should not clap between sets but you should clap for what seems like an eternity after the show is over while the conductor enters and exits the stage several times. I'm not sure I understand the tradition but we were both entertained and glad we went. I will say my favorite part was watching the cymbal player who had a very limited role - if you are ever at a symphony, word to the wise: Watch the Cymbal player!
Prague_SymphonyStage2

Prague_Acrosstheriver

The next day we had a full day private tour as part of the package we booked. That meant 8 full hours of walking around! We certainly got a good feel of the layout that way. We even got a few halfway decent photos together so that was a plus.

Prague_AstronomicalClockinAction



I'm starting to sound like a broken record but the city was beautiful. Of course we made the obligatory stop at the Astrological Clock in town square and waited with all the other tourists for the hourly "show" to begin. I won't ruin the surprise for you but for all the tension in the crowd, the show was a little anti climatic.

Prague_CobbleStones

Unlike the other cities, the retail vices of the Western world are ever present here. Starbucks? Check. Hermes? Check. Marks & Spencer's? Check. And several other chains that I had no use for while on my vacation to a far away land. But progress marches on I suppose.

Prague_Puppets
There were also several antique stores in the city and I combed through lots of them. Unfortunately, the prices were outrageous. I can't imagine how these shops stay in business charging what they do but I left empty handed. It was fun to browse though.
Prague_Stereopostcards

Prague_PrettyPlantDisplay


We ate way too much and it was all delicious. Its amazing how Eastern Europeans stay thin as all the food is incredibly bad for you and all the portions are huge! And I won't even mention the booze and beer.

Prague_CookingPigs

But all too soon it was time to pack it up and head home. And as we fly west back to Brooklyn, guess what I saw?
Prague_FlightHome
Blue sky!! Argh!

A great trip that has somewhat soothed my wandering soul for now. Back to reality.

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15 comments:

  1. Don't worry I'm not bored at all! I've just been lazy with commenting...seriously your trip looked absolutely amazing! and your photographs are breathtaking!

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  2. I love your pictures! Prague is one of my favorite places ever, it is just so beautiful!

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  3. Lovely pictures and wonderful report!

    We were in Prague in 2006 during the World Cup. It was such fun to be in the main square when a match was on. There were HUGE TV screens set up in all four corners, and it felt like all of Prague was there to watch, especially when the Czech Republic played.

    Thanks for sharing your trip. Glad you had such a memorable time in each city you visited.

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  4. I am soooo NOT bored. I love all of these photos. Thank you for the Prague fix. :-) I'll get there some day...If the dollar is ever worth more than a lint ball again...

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  5. Stunning shots. Note to self-Must visit Prague!

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  6. Don't remind me about the dollar. Evidently just a few years back, the dollar was worth 4x as much in that part of the world. Why couldn't I have taken this trip then???

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  7. That photo of the puppet heads is incredible.

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  8. I've enjoyed the travel posts...and I wouldn't mind hearing about any other trips (particularly if you have any recommendations for people traveling to London or Paris)

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  9. Thanks K. I took a little trip to Paris last year and loved it. (You can see the photos in my Flickr account if you are curious). And I took a very short jaunt to London a few years back on my way to South Africa(also on Flickr). Since this is a few years late, I don't have much of a recap to share but Im happy to talk travel if you have any questions. I can live vicariously through your trips if you are planning one.

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  10. Truly Breathtaking!

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  11. Your trip really looks an amazing one .I had visited Prague last time. I really like to visit European places.I had booked one of the European Hotels in Bulgaria and I enjoyed my trip and vacations there.

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  12. Elaine12:10 AM

    I just found your blog so this is obviously out of date (by a few years) but loved the Eastern Europe blog posts and photos. I lived in Estonia and I traveled to Budapest, Prague, & Krakow years ago. I think it always rains in Prague (it did the 4 days I was there while my 2 weeks before in Budapest were sunny) Whenever some says they went there I ask about the weather and they invariably admit it rained the whole time. No one tells you that before you go though...

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  13. Emily M8:33 AM

    I have just discovered your blog and am fascinated by it! I have been in awe of your travel photos all weekend. I just wanted to comment on your bit about the symphony. I am a classically trained musician (clarinetist), and I believe that the practice of not clapping in between movements began as an arrogant tradition. Those who were "cultured" would be able to sneer at those who didn't know to wait for the end of the entire piece. It's really a snobby tradition, but I hope that regardless, you enjoyed the music!

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  14. Marcella Preuss3:31 PM

    I was pleasantly surprised to see your blog about your trip to the Czech Republic. As a native of Prague, CZ it is always interesting to read about other peoples perception of the city. It seems to me you only had time to go to the tourist areas and not really experience everything the city has to offer. You would have found shops that carry items that are affordable.But, that takes time. Also, The Czech Republic is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe as most people think. Other than that I am glad you enjoyed your time there. By the way, it is cloudy and grey for most of the winter but the spring is fantastic and everyone is happier that time of year.

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  15. I just found out my husand is moving to Prague from March-May as part of his MBA program... *Naturally*, your blog is the first place I visit for travel recaps! We'll both head out to get in a little travel time, and celebrate his 30th birthday, before classes begin. I'd love to know what you would suggest to do in Prague for a memorable milestone birthday experience!
    dirtymartinidiaries@gmail.com

    Love the blog, keep up the amazing work!

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