Tuesday, November 19, 2013


To view all photos from our Prague holiday, click here.

Not sure if anyone has noticed... but we haven't posted in a while.  There a lot of things going on in our lives right now and in a lot of ways, Europe or, Germany was not what we thought it was going to be.  We really thought we were going to be traveling all the time.  Seeing a new site every weekend... that kind of thing.  Then reality hit us like a smack to the---well, you get my drift. Although it hasn't been what we thought, we have been really blessed to see what we've seen.  Don't want to come out sounding like a downer. 

The hardest thing for us to swallow is the price tag.  Stuff is expensive here.  Not everything, I really think everyday stuff isn't too bad.  There are a lot of folks who might disagree with me but I really think once one gets the hang of things, they can find things on the cheap.  I think I've blogged about this before but I may need to add a tip or two in there.  The "expensive" part is the traveling part.  Getting around isn't as budget friendly as we thought it would be. 

Recently, we visited a city that was friendly on the wallet and a fabulous place to experience:  Prague, or as the locals call it, Praha.

I'll preface this by writing that I really hope I don't offend anyone out there. Please gather comfort in the thought that I am being honest and naive in my writings. Slowly but surely I hope the reader can understand that I am learning as I go.  

I have to be honest, I wasn't really all that thrilled about the idea of visiting Prague.  Even with all of our friends raving about how wonderful it was.  Prague is in the Czech Republic.  Eastern Europe... when I think of Eastern Europe things like Heavy Metal (which I actually enjoy but it can be dark and scary), the movies "Dracula" & "Black Hawk Down" spring into my brain.  Rest assured, Prague couldn't be further from this stereotype.

Our family decided to drive.  From where we live (in the Kaiserslautern area) it took us a little over 5 hours to get there.  At about an hour before the border, we decided we should stop for some dinner... there was literally nowhere on the A6 (stretch of autobahn) to stop.  A word to the wise, if it's close to meal time and you've got kidlets, be sure to stop around or before Nuremberg for a bite. There are rest stops but no eateries for about an hour past this point.  Once we crossed over the Czech border, about 20 minutes in, there was a Shell Gas station and McDonalds...yes, we eat at Mickey D's when we are traveling.  Get over it. We have kids. 

We arrived in Prague in the evening.  We stayed at the Hotel Amigo This was a great place.  The price we paid for 3 nights in a suite (3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom) is equivalent to what we would have paid for 2 nights in a basic hotel in a major city in the States. The suite was clean and included breakfast (fresh fruit, veggies, Muesli, bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc.).  Hotel Amigo was located very close to the city center.  Easy for us to catch the metro to wherever we wanted to go. Again, this place was very reasonable. Parking ended up being 19 Euro a day, but even at that price the overall room cost was cheap.  Not too different than many other hotel prices for parking in a city.

Our first day was spent in the Jewish Quarter.  This was fascinating.  Prague has an incredibly rich Jewish history dating back to the 13th century.  Also, the oldest intact synagogue in Europe is located here. Even if you're not Jewish, this is a historic gem.  An absolute must see. Like any tourist, I absolutely had to get my Golem.

We were able to get weekend tickets at the Metro information booth.  I believe for 3 days it was around 15 Euros a ticket.  Using the metro, which by the way, is very easy to navigate, we headed to a mall where there was plenty of places to eat.  Also, there were a ton of little stands selling street food.  Czech street food and drink during the winter consists of hot wine (honey wine and black currant YUM!) dark beer, sausages, roasted ham (also assorted plates of mixed ham with potatoes), fresh fried potato chips, potato pancakes with saurkraut (they were about the size of my head!) crepes, and trdelník.

By our second day, all we needed to see was the astronomical clock.  This is the 3rd oldest astronical clock in the world and the oldest one that is still working.  Over 600 years old.  You know what they called "America" back then?  Nothing! Because Columbus hadn't even found it yet!  Joshua really got a kick out of this.  In fact we all did.  This was truly a treasure to experience.  Be sure to watch it go off at the top of the hour.

We ended up having a little more time than we thought we would have so we took a detour to the Bone Church or, more appropriately the Sedlec Ossuary.  We were so glad that we did the drive, about an hour outside of Prague in Kutna Hora.  This small chapel was built in the 1200's.  The abbot of the monastery took a trip to the holy land and returned with dirt that he sprinkled on the property.  Because of this, it became a popular place to be buried.  Sadly, because of the plague and brutal war, the chapel was burdened with too many burials.  There are several stories as to why the bones became a visible part of the church, but somewhere over 40,000 people are part of this church. After seeing the church, we did a little shopping and lunch where we dined at a local restaurant and drank local wine and beer.  Czech beer is fabulous!  Their wines are sweet and wonderful as well.

3 nights was a perfect amount to have a relaxing tour of the city and outskirts.  We didn't feel too rushed.  Of course, if we wanted to push it hard we would have been able to see much more, but really, these were the most important things we wanted to do and we wanted to have a laid back kind of time.

The Czech people are incredibly welcoming and warm. The art and music culture thrives here.  Like most northern European places the majority of folks know English so it's easy to communicate.  We felt incredibly safe and comfortable while touring.  There are tons of things to do and shop!  Prices are reasonable and the food & drink is divine!  A must see if touring in the area.

For more info check out Rick Steves' site.