So I'm going to try to do a blog post a day on the epic Eastern European Grand Tour my friend Briana and I embarked on in July. And by epic, I mean epic. We traveled to 10 countries in 14 days . . . which sounded like a great idea in February (oh, and we thought we could do even more back then--how young and naive we were). But by the time it's high July in central and Eastern Europe and you're backpacking and traveling from city-to-city on a daily basis . . . it gets exhausting. Amazing (like, I have no regrets about doing the trip, and it's something that I will tell to my children and grandchildren), but it's exhausting. And next time I decide to do something this big, I will factor in more time for sleeping.
Our journey started in Prague. After a rough flight (literally--I am never flying with cheap Czech airlines ever again), we arrived safely in that beautiful city. Briana had traveled to Prague before, so she knew exactly where we needed to go, and also knew that the best place to take me to have my first taste of Prague was the Vltava River.
[Isn't that beautiful?]
[This is us after the flight.]
[Just kidding. THIS is us after the flight.]
I fell in love with Prague's charm and beauty. It has the feel of an Old World capital (which makes sense), and it had this fairy-tale/medieval rustic-ness about it. At the same time, you can tell that it was a Soviet satellite years ago. We decided that it felt like "Austria with Soviet sauce."
Highlights of our time in Prague included, among others . . .
-- A stay in the Botel (a hotel on a boat--coolest thing ever. Also, the demographic was 60-70-year-old retirees, so we were the only ones under 30 at breakfast, which was funny. Also, the choice of music was interesting--who knew that pan pipes playing 90s love songs was in demand for botels?).
--The architecture in general.
--The cobblestone streets and alleyways are magical.
--The cathedral in the centre of town is also incredibly beautiful.
[The stained glass windows were rich and vivid. The pictures definitely don't do them justice.]
--The views were also incredible.
--One of the highlights was the history of the city. I got to visit Wenceslas Square, which is where Prague Spring in 1968 took place. We also went to a KGB Museum, which was one of the more, um, interesting parts of the trip. We are 300% the curator was former KGB. He didn't tell us his name. But I'm guessing his name was Viktor. Or Boris Badunov.
[At Wenceslas Square.]
--I wasn't too impressed with the food in Prague (we had bad luck), except for one thing: TRDELNIKS. They are this sweet pastry with wrapped around a stick, with walnuts, cinnamon, and almonds on it. You can fill them with all sorts of delicious goodness--whether sweet or savoury. Mmmmmmmmmm, boy.
--Also, the doors and walls in Prague are pretty cool. Just sayin'. If I lived in Prague, I think I would start an Instagram account called "Doors of Prague."
[Just one of the cool doors of Prague.]
The walls were also cool. As this one demonstrates:
[Proof that emoticons existed in the 15th century. And that I'm a dork.]
All in all, even though it was a rough start, I really enjoyed Prague. And it provided the perfect jumping off point to our next stop . . . Budapest.