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Published: July 18th 2015
Friday 17 July
We managed to get onto our train about half an hour before departure last night and found our compartment. We had 3 bunk beds as well as some storage space and a sink. It was all very cosy! The top level wasn’t that easy to get too and a bit squashed but we weren’t putting Zachary up there and if Heather had gone up there we would still be waiting for her to get down again with the state of her knees! Our steward, who I think was working in his school holidays, was very nice and quite onto it. We got ourselves changed and into bed. Tickets were checked and we tried to get off to sleep. Zachary was quite excited as you can imagine and he did well to not take too long. Once he was asleep he stayed asleep until our wake-up call at 6am. Heather and I slept a bit more fitfully but I think we both slept pretty solidly for the last few hours. Heather commented that she didn’t like the piece where we were going downhill and round corners and that it felt like a runaway train. I slept
through that bit.
We were woken and 6 and brought coffee / tea / juice and croissants and we got ourselves changed and ready to disembark. The sun was out and it was already warm at 7am. While Heather chatted to an Aucklander who was half-way through a six month trip, I got a small amount of Czech korunas (CZK) so we could get the tram and breakfast and headed for the hostel. This proved pretty easy to find and staff were very helpful and nice. Our room wasn’t ready of course, but we were able to use the showers, store our luggage securely, and have breakfast. That took us to about 9:15 so we just had time to walk to the beautiful Old Town Square where we got some info about the Prague City Card (we have decided against it) and I changed what I needed into CZK at a sensible exchange rate.
The hostel had a free walking tour to Prague Castle – the largest ancient castle in the world and current residence and office of the President. We joined this and on the way stopped and Mirek, the local guide, gave
us a lot of information about the city, the nation, and their history. We crossed the Vltava River by walking over the famous Charles Bridge. Zachary had a go at making giant bubbles with a street entertainer and Mirek also had his little dog, Sanka, with him, who Zachary was allowed to be in charge of!
We then climbed the endless steps to the top of the hill to where the castle complex is. There were excellent panoramic views of the city. By now we were all pretty warm as the temperature had hit an unusually warm 34 degrees. There was a truck at the square at the top of the steps spraying water for those who wanted to stand in it and cool down. Heather wasn’t keen but I thought Zachary might be. So I ended up doing that by myself. At that point the castle guards came marching past for the changing of the guards so we followed and joined the large crowd in the square to watch the ceremony. At this point it all became a bit much for Zachary who was exhausted and we ditched the group, walked back down the stairs, and
took a tram back to the hostel. Zachary quickly fell asleep and I went over the road to Tesco’s to do some grocery shopping. You have to get used to the larger numbers as €1 equals 26.6 CZK. But it is all incredibly cheap here. I got sausages, vegetables, a dozen muesli bars, chocolate, 2 large beers, 2 ciders, cheese, ham, butter, and bread all for 404 CZK or €15 or about $NZ23.
After that we headed back into town as we had spotted a good looking playground near the railway station. Zachary played there for a while and is now very brave on the flying fox! We then headed back towards the hostel and found a pizza restaurant that actually serves pizza, so we had that for dinner. It was just okay I thought but it was good that Zachary ate a decent slice as he has been very against pizza previously. Then it was back to the room and we were all asleep by 9.
Prague usually features at or near the top of lists of the world’s most beautiful cities. From what we have seen, it is hard to argue with. Saturday 18 July
Noisy, inconsiderate, arrogant, stupid Irish young tourists seem to be everywhere and we had another bunch making a huge racket at 3:30am in the morning. Heather asked them to be quiet and they were very rude. However at least they then went into their rooms and we didn’t hear them again. The future of Ireland is in good hands …
We managed to sleep in until about 7:30 and had breakfast at the hostel. After finding out about the KGB museum in Prague I decided to pass so we headed into Old Town Hall Square as we wanted a map of the public transport and to check out the price of a horse and carriage ride. It is 800 CZK for a 20 minute tour which is a bit steep but the money is donated to a charity for mentally impaired children. We may do this tomorrow. In the square where the usual variety of street performers including a Winnie-the-Pooh. Zachary had his new Tigger hat and went to say hello and had a cuddle and a photo. We then headed for the Metro station, passing by
a man who had a couple of pythons. After we assured Zachary that they were harmless and wouldn’t / couldn’t bite him he patted one and then held them and kissed them while we (and others) took some photos. He was very brave! A boy of about 10 was watching and his parents tried to get him to do it but he wasn’t having a bar of it.
To get down to the Metro you travel on a very fast moving, very steep escalator which is fun to get on and off. Who needs rollercoasters? We got on the Metro and went to Harfa Mall – not because we wanted to go to a mall but because on the roof there is an attraction called “DinoWorld”. As you might have guessed this is an area with a number of animatronic dinosaurs. It was oretty good and we knew Zachary would like it. While there we all had an “Ice-‘N’-Go”. This is a frozen dessert which is a bit like flavoured hailstones. It was interesting – I liked it the best of the three of us.
From there we had a long tram ride across
town to the “Kingdom of Railways”. The tram ride was a chance to see some other parts of the city which was good. The place itself was a large set-up of model railways (the largest in eastern and central Europe apparently) and was in several themed sections. The best of these was a large model of the city. All the models had various working parts and there were buttons to push – some of which did interesting things, most of which did not. The detail of the displays was very good and we quite enjoyed them. There was also quite a good Thomas the Tank Engine display as part of it. Zachary decided at the end of this to become very contrary so we went a bit earlier than planned and headed back to the hostel.
A bit of quiet time in our room and then we cooked the food I bought yesterday for dinner. That done, it was bedtime for Zachary. Not sure what we will do tomorrow. The forecasted “drenching thunderstorms” didn’t arrive this afternoon so they may still come or we may have another hot and dry day. It was about 32 today and
much the same is forecast for tomorrow. Forecast for next week in Istanbul is all sunny with temperatures around 29 although I’m sure it will be hotter in the crowds. Summer has well and truly arrived though.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t caught up with the news, the Greece situation looks to be sorted in terms of a bail-out. A massive loss of face for the Greek PM though.
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