As you might know if you follow me on Instagram, I just got back last week from my Euroganza Trip! (That’s what we were calling it, cuz we’re cool like that.) My brother and I hit up Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest in about a week. We were in Paris too, but I’m not sure that counts. Quite a few of you expressed interest in my sharing my trip here, mostly via photos and little tidbits, so here we go! We’ll start with Prague because that’s where we went first!
We started on a bus from Challans to Nantes, then a train from Nantes to CDG Paris. We got off a stop too early and had to wait 45 minutes to catch the next one. We finally did, made a run for it (this wouldn’t be the last time we made a run for it in an airport. The next time didn’t turn out so well…) and we got to our flight. We actually got there in enough time to grab something to eat.
We were too excited to sleep, so we chatted away our flight to Prague, Czech Republic. First time for me, second for my brother.
Upon arriving, we went to an ATM. In Prague they use the koruna. It’s something like 100 CZK is about $6. Well, we were at the ATM and while my brother, the math mind, was trying to convert it all in his head what we’d need, I saw the numbers pop on my screen. 20,000 CZK, 40,000 CZK and 60,000 CZK. Well, I just assumed that this was probably the same as choosing $20, $40, or $60. Makes sense, right?
I ended up taking out about $300 for our day and a half in Prague. Yikes! And thankfully my husband rarely reads this blog because he would DIE. John thought I was ridiculous and hilarious and, well, hey – what can I do about it now? Nothing, that’s what. So we moved on!
Public transportation in a foreign place is always an interesting feat to try to conquer. And when John and I travel, we refuse to be touristy. We want to know what the locals do. So we hopped on the bus from the airport, spending the entire time trying to decipher the Czech language, and then down the longest escalator I’ve ever seen (picture above) and to the metro. We made it safely to our hostel which was right smack center of Old Town Prague.
A view from our room. Which was nice until the construction started early in the morning! We got in relatively late at night and really wanted some Czech food. So we wandered around town to find some. And we wandered. And wandered some more. Then some more. Until we just got sick of trying to look at stopped at the only place that was open – an Italian place right in front of the big clock tower. At this point though, we were so hungry it didn’t really matter. We had food.
After a horrible nights rest (for me anyway) we set off to explore the city. Prague was SO touristy. I could not believe how many tourists were there. I heard English, German, Russian and even Spanish more than I heard Czech. It was insane. Not my cup of tea, but the city was still magnificent. We first went to Charles Bridge and made our way across to go up to the castle.
I loved the bridge, it was beautiful with lots of pretty monuments along the way. I didn’t love that it was lined with vendors selling cheap souvenirs and caricature portraits. I thought it cheapened the beautiful history of Prague and the bridge. There were some little old men playing some music that I thought was lovely, but that was later at night.
Apparently you can make a wish on that one spot right there. As you can see, everyone’s doing it. I don’t really ‘believe’ in wishing like that, but it was a fun photo op.
We didn’t have a tour guide but while crossing the bridge we heard someone giving the history of the monuments in English. So, not like creepers AT ALL, we slowly followed behind them listening to some of the tidbits. It was all we could do to keep from asking them to speak up a bit. But that might have been a little rude…
When we got up the hill and into the castle we came to this beautiful church. Now I love me some Paris just as much as the next person, but this church put Notre Dame to shame. I mean look at that work?! It was so beautiful and incredible and the same time seeing as it was built in the 14th century. Sheesh that’s some serious talent. And work. Lots and lots of work.
I could barely fit it in the shot! But just for some size reference, here’s me in front of this ginormous church. However did they manage to build such a thing?
It was quite amusing, actually, there was a group of soldiers that came around from where I am standing there to the front to do something, I didn’t see what, but what was funny was how unorganized and messy they looked. I’m used to seeing soldiers in a strict line, marching all at the same pace, feet perfectly aligned. These guys were chatting with each other, waving the flag around, and not at all in sync. It was funny to watch.
Then we kept walking and as we were about to walk out we were wondering what everyone was looking at. We turned around to see this beautiful side to the church that we would have missed otherwise.
We learned a lot of the history of Prague and Czech Republic by visiting the historical center while we were at the castle. It was very interesting, albeit a little chopping in the story telling and the translations were a bit funny. But that adds to the character of it all, doesn’t it!
On our way down, this was the beautiful view of the city. Pretty incredible, isn’t it?
After we toured the castle, we headed back to our hostel to meet our friend. We have known this guy since we were all about 5 years old. My brother is only 16 months older than me, so they were about 5 I guess I was 4. We went to school with him K-12th grade and we’ve always been close. In fact, he sang and played the piano (he’s VERY talented) at my wedding which is one of my most precious, treasured memories of that day.
He used to live in Switzerland where we’ve visited multiple times when we lived on the east side of France, but 2 years ago he moved to Vienna. I knew the second I heard he was gonna move that I needed to visit. It only took me 2 years, but I made it there! He came to meet us in Prague to spend the rest of the day & morning with us then head back to Vienna.
It also helps that he’s a very intelligent guy who speaks 3 languages and knows a lot about the history of the areas we visited. It was like we had our own mini-tour guide and we didn’t have to creep on other people’s tours. On our way to the Dancing House we walked by an old church. During Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in WWII the Czech’s sent over 7 parachuters to assassinate the local Nazi leader there. It worked, and he died and the parachuters hid in this church. In the process of trying to find the assassinators, the Nazi’s killed a lot of innocent people. Finally, the parachuters were betrayed and the Nazi’s used water to flood out the men from the basement and then loaded the church with bullets. The men tried to fight back until they realized it was useless and they used their last bullets to end their own lives. You can still see the bullet holes today.
Not the happiest story, but it is these kinds of stories I like to hear just because of the history and hearing about people giving and risking their lives for freedom.
Per a reader recommendation via my Facebook page (thank you!!) we headed over to The Dancing House. The reader told me to secretly ask to go up to the top, but it actually was available for anyone to go up! It provided beautiful views of the city, a lovely glass of wine and a much needed walking break!
There is a cool Panoramic function on my phone that I was having fun with. Here’s a view from the top of The Dancing House.
We ended the day with a Jazz river cruise on the Danube. It was a cool experience except I had a bummer headache and wasn’t feeling very well. Both my brother and Chris are great musicians so I am sure that they appreciated it more than I did. I mean, I can appreciate but I think you appreciate it on a different level when you play an instrument.
We ended by visiting the LennonWall. As big Beatles fans we had to check it out.
That leads me to a very important question that has been quite discussed around here – who was more famous in their peak – the Beatles or Michael Jackson?
We took the bus Vienna where we spent 3 or 4 days, I can’t even remember now. I’ll share Vienna with you next week! Thanks for reading!