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My Trip to Central Europe – Part 2

Greetings!  Here’s Part 2 of my November trip to Central Europe.  Today’s post will include my time in Prague, Karlovy Vary, and London.

Day 4 – Prague, Czech Republic

Our tour’s last stop was Prague, and it’s a truly stunning city.  It was barely touched by bombs during the second World War, so it’s a wonderful place to see historic architecture dating back centuries.


After checking in at the hotel our group took the streetcar down to the Charles Bridge.


Infant Jesus 1

I also visited the church of the Infant Baby Jesus, whose altar is over-the-top ornate. The statue of the baby Jesus has hundreds of lush, ornate outfits, and the church is a pilgrimage destination for many.


That evening we had a group dinner at a local restaurant. The food wasn’t spectacular, but a lively older gentleman played music (keyboards, trumpet, violin and vocals!) and it was a fun outing with my tour mates.

Day 5 – Touring Prague (Last day of the official tour)

We started our day at Prague Castle up on the hill. We only saw a tiny bit of the castle complex, but what I did see was fantastic! We started at St. Vitus Cathedral, took in the changing of the guard, and looked out over the river and the city.


St. Vitus Cathedral’s main entrance


St. Vitus Cathedral interior.  Wow.  Just wow!


There were at least 6 stunning windows this size and shape featuring colorful scenes.  


Another view of St. Vitus Cathedral


The changing of the guard on Castle Hill


We also visited Old Town Prague, and saw the famous astronomical clock. The square there has a bit of a carnival feel, with live music, horse drawn carriages, and street performers – oh, and loads of tourists. I wandered the streets and did a bit of shopping that afternoon.


Closer shot of a section of the astronomical clock

Czech Pub

That night I grabbed dinner in a pub that seemed to be a hangout for locals – Restaurace U Parlamentu. People drinking beer (Czech’s love beer!), smoking, and visiting with friends. I have an aversion to cigarette smoke, but put that aside in order to take in a non-touristy scene.


I had Czech goulash with dumplings, and was super curious about the table of eight older men who were drinking, smoking, and visiting at the table next to me. I wish I’d been able to tell what they were talking about – who they were. :]

Day 6 – Old Town Prague

After sleeping in and grabbing some breakfast, I took the streetcar to Old Town and visited a few antique stores. I also visited the lovely Tyn Cathedral and the Old Jewish Cemetery.


Such history…


The fall leaves were just gorgeous



Later in the afternoon I crossed the Charles Bridge again and revisited Lower Town, and then had a picnic in my room for dinner.


Lower town


Hotel room picnic with food from the market near the hotel…

Day 7 – Karlovy Vary


For my last full day in the Czech Republic I signed up with a local tour company and took a day trip to Karlovy Vary. Approximately 2 hours away, this town is known as a bath town because of the numerous mineral hot springs. People come from all over to take in the healing waters, and I tasted water from at least four of the springs. They didn’t taste too good, but I like the idea of improved health. :]


One of the springs we drank from…


Our tour meandered through the town, stopping at many of the springs and the geyser. We had lunch, and then had time to wander along.KV_hotel

I saw the Grand Hotel Pupp, which was in Queen Latifah’s movie “Last Holiday” and the Bond film “Casino Royale” – fun. Mostly I just wandered, and drank in the sights of the lovely town. It was such a treat to be there and to see another part of the Czech Republic.


I loved this horsie – so cute and sweet natured! :]



Happy to be spending time in Karlovy Vary…

Back in Prague, I saw the astronomical clock do its “on the hour” thing again, and had a tasty dinner before heading back to the hotel, packing, and preparing for my trip home.

Day 8 – Missed connecting flight and my night in England


So, yeah. I was supposed to be home Saturday evening. Unfortunately, I missed my connecting flight at Heathrow in London. Booking agents are supposed to allow one and a half hours between flights, and I only had one hour and ten. I didn’t get to the next terminal (you’re bused to other terminals), through security and to my gate in time, so I stayed overnight in London. I wish I could’ve gone to London proper and seen more than the airport area, but by the time I got to my hotel it was too late and it just wasn’t in the cards.


However, after breakfast on Sunday I did go for a walk in the area surrounding the hotel. I saw some residential streets, visited a park where some adorable kids were playing soccer, and got a tiny bit of a glimpse of life in England on a Sunday morning. The missed flight isn’t something I would’ve chosen, but I made the best of it and saw yet another tiny bit of the land of some of my ancestors.


Sunday at the park…


A cute front garden in the residential area…


Standing on English “soil” – so cool!

Summing It All Up

I really enjoyed all the countries and places I visited. I had the best time, and am so thankful for all I did and saw! I’ve just provided highlights here – otherwise this post would be (even more) forever long – but I hope you enjoyed a peek at my travels. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Oh, and if you’re interested in a similar trip, I’d totally recommend Gate 1 Travel’s Affordable Central Europe trip. Gate 1 did a great job (except for the London connecting flight timing – LOL) and this is my second time touring with them. (Also went to Peru with Gate 1) I added two days at the end, which worked out well, and hope to travel with Gate 1 again. Next on my list? Maybe Thailand, India, or China.  Something to work towards…

Warm regards,

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My Trip to Central Europe – Part 1


Greetings! I hope you’re all well and happy, and hope you have a wonderful December. Whatever holidays you celebrate this December, may they be joyous. :]

I traveled to Central Europe last month, and thought I’d share some of the photos here. I went on a quick tour with Gate 1 Travel, and had a fantastic time. The trip started in Budapest, Hungary, went on to Vienna, Austria, and finished up in Prague, Czech Republic. I also took two excursions to Bratislava, Slovakia (Woo hoo – a fourth country!) and Karlovy Vary – which is west of Prague. Bratislava was a half-day, and the Karlovy Vary excursion was the whole day. Since this would make a very long single post I’m breaking it up into two parts, and the second post will be shared tomorrow. Part 1 will include my time in Budapest and Vienna, and Part 2 will include my time in Prague.

This trip fed my spirit in so many ways. Not only did I have a change of scenery and see new things, the artist in me was jubilant. The architecture, fall foliage, and overall environments were truly amazing. I was also able to see the work of many masters at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, something that this art major was super happy about. Seeing work by the masters in a museum in Vienna? Pretty freaking cool!

The eternal student in me was happy to learn so much about these places I’d heard about but had never been to. Kudos to all the guides on the trip who taught me so much – particularly our Tour Leader, Dean. He kept our group of 40+ on track, taught us along the way, and always had a big smile on his face.

I was also so thankful to have an opportunity to travel to parts of the world that some of my ancestors reportedly hailed from – including Austria and the Czech Republic.

Day 1 – Budapest, Hungary

My time in Budapest was brief – one day of sightseeing – but I saw so many wonderful things.   Our tour started at Hero’s Square then moved on to Castle Hill where we saw the stunning Mathias Church. We took in views of the Danube River and the city Pest side of the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion.




Next came an optional afternoon excursion that took us to the Great Market Hall, where many locals were shopping. I did a bit of shopping and grabbed a quick bite to eat.



The second stop was St. Stephen’s Basilica. The stunning architecture housed the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Oh my!

St.Stephen's St. Stephens2

The final stop of the afternoon was the Parliament Building. Amazing architecture, Hungary’s Crown Jewels and a changing of the guard were just a few hightlights…




Day 2 – Moving on to Vienna, Austria

It didn’t take long to get to Vienna, and we stopped in the center of town for an hour or so before meeting a local guide for our tour of the Schonbrunn Palace. Schonbrunn Palace was spectacular! The “modest” summer home of the Hapsburgs, it’s truly stunning. Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed inside the palace, but some of my favorite details included the blog room with hand painted wallpaper, an exquisite room walled and furnished with inlaid wood, and “the backyard”.






I took the subway from the hotel to the Karlsplatz stop and found some dinner. I was proud of myself for managing the subway in a foreign land on my own, and enjoyed seeing the buildings lit up at night.


Day 3 – Bratislava & Vienna

I jumped at the chance to go across the border into Slovakia, and really enjoyed the morning’s trip. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and we went to the historic old city center. Some of the buildings and architecture I saw date back 500 years. Crazy and cool. :] Many famous musicians lived, studied and played there – like Beethoven.







Back in Vienna I visited the spectacular St. Stephen’s Cathedral (no mummified hand in this one! I had a late lunch/early dinner of bratwurst with fried potatoes and sauerkraut – it was yummy! Next I visited the Albertina and was treated to the work of artists like Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Munch, Kandisky and Magritte. There was also a whole exhibit on Miro. I finished up a wonderful day with Apfelstrudel at Café Mozart and took the subway back to my hotel.




Durer's Hare



Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of the pictures from my trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed Budapest and Vienna!

Warm regards,

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