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Published: December 15th 2014
I hope you are all well. I have been pretty busy lately, and haven't been able to post, so this will come in many parts. Firstly with the beginning of my long trip through Eastern Europe - 6 cities in 12 days:
On 13th March I flew out to Prague, and met my friend Marketa, whom I had lived with last semester, at the airport. The next day we went into the city and saw almost everything in a single day, which slightly annoyed Marketa, moaning about how we had seen "Prague in a day - Unbelievable". We went and saw Vyšehrad (a pretty park in the south of the city), Wenceslas Square, the Old Town (where the clock models were being replaced), the famous Charles Bridge, followed by a walk to the top of Prague Castle (the biggest castle in the world, where the national cathedral is located, along with the home of the Czech President). We then walked over to "Stalin square", the Czech Parliament and the riverside. After the sightseeing we went to Tesco to buy some snacks for the next few days. It was rather nice to be able
to buy a lot of the same stuff I can at home whilst away, and was made comical when Marketa exclaimed "Wait! Use my clubcard!"
On the second day, Marketa had class, so I walked round and saw the few bits we had not seen the first day, such as the Jewish Ghetto. In the evening I met with Marketa's friend Milan, whom I also knew from Bremen and with his friends, we visited a pub where you poured your own Beer!
By Friday it had warmed up considerably (T-shirts and ice cream weather!), and we went to the lovely town of Český Krumlov in the south of the country, not far from the Austrian border. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has a lovely castle looking over the town in the Bohemian Forest. The town was so much different to Prague, and gave me a really good insight into the Czech Republic as a whole, rather than just Prague. Taking the train back to Prague via České Budějovice (home of Budweiser) I packed the rest of my things for the long coach journey the following day to Warsaw.
The coach (which was going to Minsk after Warsaw) took 12½ hours and crossed the border through the Krkonoše mountain range (where despite being 20˚C and in the sun, snow and frozen lakes were still easily seen), and then across the Polish countryside and through the cities of Łódź and Wrocław before finally reaching the Polish capital. Whilst at the border, our passports were checked (despite both countries being in Schengen) and a Belarussian without an EU visa was found, searched and deported.
At the coach station in Warsaw, I was met by Halina, another friend from The Party House last semester, and I was taken back to her house where I was staying for the next few days. Whilst Prague had felt very Central European and rather modern, Warsaw on the other hand felt like it was very much behind the Iron Curtain. The next day we walked around much of the city, seeing the football stadium which is due to hold the opening match of Euro 2012, the Old Town, the Parliament and the city park, finishing off by eating dinner in the Złote Tarasy shopping centre, which felt rather like being inside the
The second day we went to see the Palace of Culture & Science - a Soviet style building that overlooks the entire city. And then took a bus to see Wilanów Palace - second home to many Polish kings, followed by a walk in the evening down the river to see all the lit up bridges. Having seen everything already, we decided to go to Krakow before taking the coach to Ukraine, and so took the train and spent the next day walking around the Old Town and the castle, which houses Pope John Paul II's former Cathedral.
Part 2 covers Ukraine!
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