Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trip to Europe - Summary of the Trip - Part III, Czech Republic and Hungary

Day 17 - 05 May 2018

Taking an EC train we travelled from Dresden to Prague and reached there by 1330. Till our travel to Germany, Euro was the currency of cash Payment, not anymore. We took an Uber to our B & B. Once in Prague, all payments are made in local currency when paid in cash. The first thing we had to do is to stop at first available ATM and draw local currency to pay for the Taxi.

Reaching our B & B we settled down fast. Left the place in about an hour and started off for Charles Bridge. one of the iconic bridge of Prague. Prague as a city is walkers paradise. Taking Kozi and Deluha Streets we reached Old Town Square. There were preparations underway at Old Town Square, a lot of barricading etc was happening but we did not find out why.

Old City Square

From there we walked further and came across a Beautiful Church called St Nicholas Church. Walking down further and seeking our way by asking people, we finally reached Charles Bridge. This 14th century stone Gothic bridge was the only bridge between two sides of Prague across the river Vltava for many centuries. The bridge is flanked by The watch Tower gates at either side.


Watch Tower Gate at Old town side
Charles bridge is a pedestrian bridge and it has a very high number of visitors. The interest of tourist can be seen in the photo above. This bridge also has a large number of sculptures along its length which are mainly the famous saints and warriors of the Czech Nation.

We took a stroll along the walkway of the bridge and enjoyed the energy of the crowd. The sculptures were also good. There are now  18 bridges on the river in the city.

The area around Charles Bridge is full of people. There are two churches in the vicinity. There are many restaurants and pub as also Bars around this area. Boat cruises in the river also start from here.

The Watchtower had favourable light conditions only while returning back on the bridge. I photographed the other side of the tower with full light falling on it. It can be seen that facade on the reverse side (pictured below) lacks ornamentation.


The reverse of Watch Tower viewed from the bridge
The shores of the Vltava river has beautiful buildings around it. One such building that I found interesting is this one

A beautiful Building Across the River Vltava River

Day 18 - 06 May 2018

I have stated earlier that Prague is walkers Paradise. While the city is very big, the historic town is compact and doable by walk. This day we started peacefully at about 0930 and the first thing we did was have a great breakfast. While in Prague, everything revolves around Old Town Square. 

The first place we walked to was thus Old Town Square. When we reached there, the reason for yesterday's preparation became evident. Today was the day of Volkswagen Prague Marathon and Old city Square was the finish point.



There were many roads that were blocked but that did not mean the pedestrians could not go across the street. There were temporary metal bridges created across the road for pedestrians to cross to the other side. Enjoying the energy in the old city square for some time, we just crossed over and moved on a road for some distance. we were actually looking for the entrance to The church of  Our Lady before Tyn. As we continued down that crowded road, we could not find the route to that church but reached a tower similar to the Guard tower of the Charles bridge but in the middle of the road.


As one walks through the Powder Tower, one of the 13 gates of old town, there is this Grand Building adjacent to it called Municipal House, which houses a major concert hall of Prague


After visiting Powder tower we returned to Old Town Center to visit old town hall which has a famous Astrological clock. The clock was under renovation but it looked like this:-


When in operation, Astronomical clock's hourly Chimes and the puppets are the show stoppers. The town hall has a museum which can be visited. After the museum, we did some window shopping for various artefacts like Czech Puppets (particularly the Witches), Bohemian Crystal, etc.

It is almost like a pilgrimage to visit Charles Bridge once a day when in Prague. Having finished the window shopping and there still being some time for the Ballet show that we were to watch, we yet again went to Charles Bridge. This time we had reached earlier than yesterday and the light was brighter there.

At the Charles Bridge, very close to the Entry tower, there is a statue of Charles IV. It is a grand statue. Charles IV was a Bohemia King who became Holy Roman Emperor meaning King of the whole of Roman Empire.


After this yet another trip to Charles Bridge, we returned to Powder Tower Area to Hybernia Theater (which is opposite the Municipal House) to see the Ballet, the famous one called "Swan Lake".


After the Ballet Show, we called it a day.

Day 19 - 07 May 2018

Today was a day of visiting Prague Castle, Letana Park and Vysehrad Castle. We used morning session, post a good breakfast, to visit the Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the word. The castle has a Cathedral, two churches, four palaces, few major halls and few famous ers on its bastions. Reaching Malontraska tram station from our place of stay, we had to take a small climb of about 10 min walk to reach the castle. If we had taken a tram to Chotkova Sady instead of Malontraska, this climb would have got eliminated.

This climb took us to the Golden Lane end of the castle but the tourist reception, audio guide counter, etc are all on Matthis Gate side (closure to Chotkova Sady side). Hence we had to walk up to the other end of the castle and take an audio guide and the guide map. We first visited St Vitu's Cathedral, one of the grand building in the castle.




After visiting the Cathedral, we visited the Old Royal Palace. Vladislav Hall, one of the biggest hall which was used for royal functions and sports (the palace has a ramp built to get horses to this hall) is one of the major attraction.



Our combined entry ticket was valid for two more places, St Georges Basilica and Golden Lane. St George's Basilica is the oldest surviving church in Prague castle. It has a Borque facade added in the 17th century. It has the tomb of Saint Ludmila of Bohemia. Its a compact but interesting building.



Our final destination was Golden Lane. Tucked in a sidewalk along the rampart of the Castle, this place was supposed to be the residence of Alchemist working for the king. Later it came to be occupied by servants of the court. Finally, many artists found this place quiet and peaceful and thus stayed here.


After visiting the golden lane, took a tram and went to Vysehrad Castle (Upper Castle in the Czech language) which is also a fortification and once was an area where the king lived. This castle presently has people living there, various parks and St Peter and Paul Basilica. It also has Vysehard Cemetry. Rotunda of St Martin is an 11th-century structure and the two gates are the only symbol left from its history.

Rotunda of St Martin


Finally, we went to Letna Park (very close to Prague castle). A massive park with well laid out trees and roads where people go for recreation. This park also gives a great view of Prague old town from Metronome, a raised platform fitted with a Giant vertical pendulum, replicating Metronome. It is at a place where once Stalin's huge statue stood.

Metronome, its a photo and not a video which was too big to upload

We were tired by the time we finished our trip to Letna Park. We came back to the Town Center, finished our dinner and returned to our B & B. This was our last day at Prague and also in the Czech Republic. We were to catch a bus tomorrow for an 8-hour journey to Budapest, our final destination

Day 20 - 08 May 2018.

Getting up early and getting ready, we set out to catch our bus. SInce journey was long, we picked up some eatables from a shop en route. We reached the Bus Station on time and boarded the bus. The buses in Europe leave on time.

Our bus also left on time and taking us through the countryside and through the Slovak Republic, finally reached Budapest (Hungary) by about 1600 hrs. The first thing we did after catching a taxi was to look for an Automat (ATM) to draw local currency. It took about 45 minutes by taxi from our bus terminal to our B & B.

After settling down in our B & B and having a refreshing cup of tea, we set out to explore some bit of Budapest. We were looking for a very famous Dohany Stree Jewish Synagog.  We were actually taking a stroll and took some time to reach there. Here is a street view.



We reached the Synagog around 6 pm. It has an imposing building and it is photogenic. Synagog can be visited as part of the Conducted tour but we were more interested to see the building (thought of going later for inside view but could not find time later).



As we were clicking photos to our heart's content the rain started. We had to take shelter in the weather shade of some shop till the rain stopped. Having accomplished our objective of the day, we walked back to our B & B after having dinner and slept off.

Day 21 - 09 May 2018

Getting ready in good time we set out for our first objective, Buda Castle. We were planning to take a Funicular (Technically a slant lift) to the castle. Taking suitable Tram we reached the castle foothill and went to Funicular. There was no crowd at all and that was a surprise. We found out, to our disappointment, that the Funicular was out of order for repairs.






We did not know at that time that there was a direct bus into the castle which did go through the point we were at. We looked around and found a road climbing into the Castle. People were taking that road. We followed the suit and reached the castle. It is a vast castle. We reached the castle through a combination of stairs and pathway. Here are the photos of the castle:-





The next place on our tour was Hero's Square. A grand square celebrating the Magyar Heros who established the Hungarian kingdom. Its a grand structure flanked by two big and decorative buildings. this is how Hero's Square looked.




Very next to Hero's Square to the right of it was a very good looking building which looked interesting. Our search indicated that it was the Pavilion of one of the biggest skating Rink. There is a lake which freezes in winter and that becomes the rink.



Across this lake in the city park is Vajdahunyad Castle. A small beautiful castle with a cute chapel in its bastion. It also has a Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. Visiting this place was a sweet surprise as originally it was not part of our plan.



After seeing this castle we took a tram to the Hungarian Parliament, possibly one of the most clicked Building in the world. A grand and beautiful building where one goes reasonably close to the building without any restrictions. See for your self.


It was already late evening and we had walked a lot. After visiting the parliament building we returned to our B & B.


Day 22 - 10 May 2018

This day was virtually a relaxation day. We got up peacefully, had breakfast, did a lot of window shopping in Vaci Street, a major shopping destination in Inner town, the heart of Budapest. We had lunch is one of the most famous cafes called Gerbeaud Cafe. This cafe has over since 1858 and has only one other branch in the world, at Japan.



 The evening was spent at Gellert Thermal Bath. Very neat and clean thermal bath set up with swimming pools and thermal pools. Visiting a Thermal bath when in Budapest is a must and one should not miss visiting one of the may Thermal baths. The trip to Gellert Thermal Bath had a mix of fun, relaxation and enjoyment of spending time in two hot water pools containing natural hot water. having medicinal property.




After this visit, the long trip of Europe had come to an end. After having dinner, we packed and prepared ourself for getting up early to go to Budapest Airport for a 7 am flight.

2 comments:

  1. It seems you had a blast. I too have been planning a leisurely tour of Europe, not so touristy and walk intensive places. Shall contact you for guidance once outline of the tour is finalised

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes we did have a blast. To my knowledge, travel in Europe, whether to Touristy or Non Touristy places would entail some amount of walking.

      Would wait to here form you once your itinerary is ready.

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