Thursday, October 12, 2006

Eastern Europe, part 1 (Prague)

I got back from Eastern Europe almost two weeks ago, but due to my subsequent San Diego/Los Angeles trip, I haven't had time to organize my photos and/or (until now) post anything about the trip. I've decided that I'm going to write about each city separately, in chronological order, which means I start with Prague.

We arrived in Prague early in the morning, and spent three days there. Prague is an eminently walkable city, especially the "Old Town" touristy areas, and is very charming; the buildings have character and the bridges are gorgeous. In some respects it doesn't feel like Eastern Europe at all; the locals are trendily dressed and speak English fairly well, it's easy to find international cuisine, and even the restaurants serving Czech food have creative decor (for example, we went to a medieval-themed restaurant serving huge platters of meat).

We spent the first two days covering the main tourist attractions: the Town Square with the astronomical clock, the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Jewish Quarter, etc. We also walked up a fairly large hill with an observation tower at the top, to get a bird's eye view, and to take lots of pictures.

On the third day, we took a day trip to Karlstein Castle, which was about an hour away. It was nice to get out of the city, away from the hordes of tourists (really the only downside of Prague) and see a smaller town. The castle was sufficiently historic (having been the home of Charles IV, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the King of Bohemia), the hike was quite pretty, and the nearby restaurants served even cheaper food than we had found in Prague.

That night, we checked out Radost FX, a cafe/lounge/bar/club in the "New Town" area, which is where most of the locals live and work. It was really fun; the mostly vegetarian menu was yummy (coming from me, that's a big compliment), they had cheap cocktails (Brandy Alexander for $5), there were live band advertisements strewn on the tables, and best of all, we were probably the only tourists there.

The next morning, we took a 5-hour train to Vienna, arriving in the mid-afternoon.


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