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Old September 8th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #1
Nightsky
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Prague trip day 1-2

On Monday 29th of August 2005, I talked to the Danish bus company Europas by phone. I have planned to go to Prague with my girlfriend the whole summer (and many years before that), but as I wanted a really cheap "last minute" ticket, me and my girlfriend had to leave already on early Tuesday morning - the next day! So we packed our stuff and got away to Prague from Copenhagen. Isn’t life exciting when you don’t know what will come the next day? The journey is called "joker" because you get a really low price by not knowing which hotel you will stay at until you arrive.
Luckily we got a 3 star highrise hotel, called Opatov (20 floors!). Unfortunately it was far in the outskirts (though just 20 minutes to the center by metro). We got 4 whole days in Prague. The whole journey took 6 days (Aug 30th-Sun 4th) .


Prague was fantastic: it has amazingly beautiful old buildings in every corner of the city center, beautiful nature, very good and very cheap food and bear and a pretty safe and nice atmosphere. Very few skyscrapers are built in Prague, but that is not necessary in such a historic city. The bus also stopped in Berlin, but that I will tell you later about.

We caught the bus in Copenhagen as early as 6:10PM near the central station.


A pretty short journey through Denmark (with a stop in Nyköbing to catch up more people), we came to the island Falster, where the ferry should left from the small town of Gedser. It was warm and sunny the whole day.


Less than 2 hours later we where in Rostock in east Germany, the former DDR.
I have been in Rostock 10 years ago, but didn’t take any pictures. The highrise to the right is Hotel Neptun. Note the modern Calatrava like V shaped building in the middle.


A modern building in Rostock’s large harbour.

The journey on Autobahn was very boring, the nature was flat and monotone. Parts of Autobahn was in a very bad condition. But people drive very modern cars, even more than in west Germany. That is because the owners of the old Trabants got a lot of money for scrapping their cars, I have heard. The formerly notorious autobahn pull-ups have finally been improved with modern restaurants and toilets, but they are now pretty expensive.


We stopped in the outskirts of Berlin, next to the congress center, to change bus, the famous historic metropolis and capital of Germany that I have never been to before. The other bus was delayed. We saw some nice buildings from the bus. But too hours in a bus station is very boring if you don’t see much of the city, that we had the luck to do on our way home. It was nice that the Eiffel tower like Funkturm was next to the bus station though. But when we where walking around the block to a bridge to take some photos a German idiot screamed “****ing Swedes” in German to me and my girlfriend. Lucky that everyone in Berlin is not like him!



The Autobahn was very monotone until we reached Dresden, where the landscape totally changed to beautiful high hills and mountains and the highway transformed to a small narrow road. In the picture above is a glass walled highway bridge high above the city. You can see a Swedish IKEA store through the glass, it was one of many flooded buildings in Dresden some years ago. Prague was also flooded!


Skyline of Dresden, a city that was destroyed in the World War 2. They are now rebuilding the old church towers just like they were before the war.


Several balloons where flying over Dresden and its old churches when we passed by.




Commie blocks in Dresden’s outskirts.


The sun was about to set after we left Dresden and passed through several nice east German villages. The weird thing about them was that 1/3 of all residences where abandoned and very worn. A relic from the communist time?

The highway have now turned to a narrow, mountainous, sometimes serpentine like, road. There were a lot of pine trees and spruces in the nature south of Dresden.

After some hours of driving, we finally reached the Czech border! It was not so dramatic, the German police officer just check our passports and that’s it. A big difference from being killed like in the old times!

The nature is stunning with pyramid shaped mountains, but we didn’t see anything of that, because it was completely dark. The reason I know is because it was light when we travelled back. Meeting endless numbers of big transport lorries and tourist buses on this narrow road to Prague in darkness was a bit scary. We also passed the big city Terezin (Theresienstadt), a city of historical importance beause of the nazi concrentration camp.
The most strange thing is that in the Czech villages several women (and some guys) showed themselves in neon light windows in just underwear and tried to attract the people in the vehicles that were driving by! There were also several strange large markets in the corners crowded with strange things and more abandoned houses. So the first impression of Czech republique was weird!

After some more hours of driving, we entered a modern Czech highway and may be civilization. Soon we reached the outskirts of Prague in the landscape of Böhmen and saw its TV tower in light.
The outskirts where old with trams and a lot of modern Skoda cars appeared. After some sightseeing (we saw the impressive national museum in light and a short sight of the river Vltava that runs through the city center), the bus stopped at several hotels to let off people. At the first glance, Prague felt a bit mystic and typical eastern European except for the many modern advertizement signs for companies like Bauhaus and Nokia, clear signs that Czech Republic has transformed from communism to capitalism. Finally the bus stopped at the boat hotel Botel Racek. Because we had last minute tickets we had to get to our hotel on our own and we didn’t know which hotel we should stay at until we reached Prague. It turned out to be a hotel called Opatov in the outskirts of the city. The taxi, a Renault, drived me, my girlfriend and 2 Danish girls from Racek to Opatov through busy Prague highways. It seemed to be a long way, far from the city center.
Not unexpected, the driver couldn’t speak a word English. The district turned out to be a typical commie block district with endless numbers of grey highrises, except for a yellow 20-story building - Hotel Opatov! (With a little fantasy you could call it a skyscraper.)


Just before midnight we checked in at Hotel Opatov (above). We were lucky to stay here instead of in its neighbour, Opatov Twin, because it has lower standard, and the room was already prepaid so it wouldn’t make any economic difference staying at the “original” Opatov. The lobby was fresh, but unfortunately the main entrance was under reconstruction, so we had to enter through a side door that was not so glamorous. The hotel claimed itself to be 3 star, but the corridors where very worn and noisy teenagers where smoking in the elevators.


Later the police came, because the teenagers where too noisy. We could hear them screaming and running from our room. There where several police cars, this night and the night after too! But our room on the 7th floor had views (of the commie district, but still…) and the room was very large - a luxury after staying at the shabby claustrophobic hostel in London earlier this summer. Actually it wasn’t one room, it was 2 bedrooms with 4 beds that me and my girlfriend got for ourselves. A small TV, WC, shower and a phone was included in the room and the staff was nice.


When we woke up the next day I took this picture of the commie block district. In the far distance you can see the TV tower, Czech Republic’s tallest structure.

The breakfast was great and we could take as much as we wanted and whatever we wanted of food, bread, cookies etc for free!

Enough with commie blocks, now it was time to take the metro to the city center. We bought a card to the metro, that turned out to be pretty modern (but a bit ugly like many other subways, but they had painted some of the stations in typical 70s colours) and 20 minutes later we went up right in central Prague, at the famous and historic:


Václavské Námesti, that means Václav Square. Actually it is more a wide boulevard (750m long, 60m wide) than a square and starts with the famous Narodny Museum above it and leads down to the old town in the north. The student Jan Palach set himself on fire in 1969, a cross with flowers is laid at this place on the ground below the museum.
International hotels, restaurants, clubs and stores are now on each side of Václav Square.


The statue of S:t Václav was erected in 1912, but was under renovation when we visited. Close to the statue is a memorial of the communism’s victims.




The marble interior of the Narodny Museum (the national museum) is very impressive. Actually it is more interesting than the museum itself I have read, so we didn’t pay any fee to enter the museum. Anyway, I asked the guards to take these photos of this impressive atrium and it was ok.


Narodny Museum is a hugh renaissance building, drawn by Josef Schulz


There is a waterfall right below the stairs to the museum.


The modern addition to the nationl Operahouse is heavily guarded.


In the middle of the boulevard of Vaclav Square, there are modern artistic creations. One of them is this triangle of scrapped Skodas, that looks very fun. Truly hated by many Prague citizens.


The old red trams you see are not in service. It is a café! The beautiful redish building in the middle hosts a Swedish H&M store.


The tram café, the car monument and Narodny Museum.




More strange sculptures and beautiful buildings at Vaclav Square.


Ludmila Church is towering above the Narodny Museum.


S:t Gallus Church from 1280.


Looking towards the old town hall in the old town.

Staré Mesto is the old town that is the heart of Prague. It has many squares, stunning old buildings and churches. The oldest parts of Staré Mesto have their roots from the 11th century.


Staromestské Námestí, Old Town Square is the heart of Prague and its old town. It is dominated by the impressive gothic Church Of Our Lady Before Tyn that started construction in 1435.


Looking up the 80m tall Tyn Church (Týnsky Kostel), making it look taller than it actually is. The Danish astronom Tycho Brahe is buried here, but we forgot to see his grave.


Tyn is associated with the reformation of Böhmen, the landscape where Prague is situated.


The impressive interior of Tyn has gothic statues, among them of Golgata.


One of many old fashioned horse carriages in front of the famous Jan Hus monument at the square, a symbol for integrity that summarizes the light and dark times of the Czech Republic.






The old town hall. 69m tall, it started construction already in 1338. It rised very fast, because it was financed by a tax on vine.


The town hall’s famous astronomic clock (orloj) from 1410. The purpose of it was to imitate the circles of the sun and the moon around the Earth. Every hour, the figures, the skeleton and the apostels move. Unfortunately we missed it every time!






St Nikolas Church (sv. Mikulás), is a baroque church that has hosted many concerts. It is strange to understand that it bares the same name as the larger St Nicholas Church on Malá Strana some hundreds of meters across the river.


Ministerstvo pro místní rozvoj (ministry for local development) at Staromestské Námestí (the old town square). A beautiful jugend house from 1898 decorated with firemen at the top of the facade.


“House of the stone ram” with decorations from the 16th century is one of the famous beautiful facades at the Old Town Square.

FACTS:
Praha (Prague, Prag)
Population: 1 155 000 (metro 1 379 000)
Capital and largest city of the Czech Republic
Founded: 880
Nicknamed: “City of hundred spires”
Situated: In the landscape of Böhmen with River Vltava floating in the center
Communications: Subway, tram, bus, boat

Tallest building: Empiria (109m, 27 floors, unused)
Tallest structure: TV Tower Praha (216m)
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Last edited by Nightsky; September 8th, 2005 at 09:30 PM.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #2
chukchi
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Thanks foe wonderful pics. I visited Prague couple of years ago and I simply loved it.
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Old September 9th, 2005, 12:42 PM   #3
Nightsky
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I saw the bandwidth limit was exceeded. So I bought some more bandwidth just to show you guys the pics and the red X:es should transform into nice pictures very soon.
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Old September 9th, 2005, 04:52 PM   #4
tpe
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I love the pictures, but your running commentary is even better. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 04:52 PM   #5
Nightsky
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Thanks. I hope the ones that just saw red X:es because temporatily exceeded bandwidth limit will come back to the thread!
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Old September 11th, 2005, 09:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpe
I love the pictures, but your running commentary is even better. Thanks for taking the time.
I agree. Thanks Nightsky
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