A Travellerspoint blog

Czech Republic

Czech Republic - Prague

overcast 16 °C
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We had been intending to catch the bus from Pilsen to Prague, only about 1.5 hours drive (we love the fact that everything is so close here, we’re used to the distances in Australia!), but our friend John insisted on driving us so we enjoyed the luxury of being taken directly to our hotel without having to make our way from the bus terminal/train station on the public transport system (thanks John!).

We’d only booked for three nights, but realised that there was a lot we wanted to do so extended our stay to 7 nights. We also wanted to keep chipping away at the school work, so we started a routine of school in the morning, then lunch and sightseeing in the afternoon. With the incentive of ice cream the boys did a great job!
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Prague is full of amazing architecture, history, art and entertainment. We spent a lot of time walking (sorry boys!), but it’s really the only way to see Prague and enjoy it. There are particular stand-outs of course, like the Town Square with the gold Astronomical Clock and Prague Castle and its amazing views. This is probably the biggest castle complex we’ve seen, with a huge cathedral, St Vitus Cathedral, in the middle and four storey buildings all the way around.
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It looks particularly beautiful at night!
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The Opera House
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and Charles Street Bridge, (full of buskers and stalls, and a very good honky tonk band that Cameron loved!)
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but you can walk along the streets, turn the corner and have an amazing statue or building in front of you.
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Or the Czech Senate that we stumbled across, with gardens opened to the public which happened to have a small orchestra playing that we sat and listened to for a while.
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We learned about Wenceslas, of the Christmas song “Good King Wenceslas”, who is a very important historical figure to the Czech people (he lived over a thousand years ago) and who is recognised with a statue in Wenceslas Square.
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The square is an important part of Prague, the site of historical moments like the Declaration of Independence 1918, protests, and Jan Palach who set himself on fire in protest of the Russian invasion in 1968.

We enjoyed a beer every night (it’s cheaper than softdrink!), one night was along the river bank with a great view of Prague, very enjoyable!

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To try to balance out the walking and looking at churches/castle, we found a couple of parks for the boys to play in, one of which had a flying fox that they both loved. There were Czech kids there, some of whom could not speak English, but that didn’t stop them pushing each other on the flying fox, or playing hide and seek, love that! One of them pulled out an English book and Lachlan sat down and read with him.
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We met a lovely Irish family staying at the same hotel, their daughter Ava loved playing with Cameron.

After a fun week in Prague, we boarded the bus and headed to Austria (it's a great international bus system here!).

Posted by tollidaytravels 02:44 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Czech Republic - Pilsen and surrounds - part 2

semi-overcast 22 °C
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And the adventure continues!

Nadia’s House
After one working-bee day, John took us back to his sister-in-law’ (Nadia Skardova nee Kubaskova) house for lunch. Nadia is absolutely lovely and spoilt the boys with gifts and cooked us a delicious lunch. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of our eating spot. It was a beautiful day and very relaxing for us having lunch and enjoying a beer. Nadia is also an internationally recognised artist and was assistant professor of Art at the University of West Bohemia. I don’t think we really got to understand the full extent of her work. However she certainly loved Cameron’s picture of a train that he drew and agreed to paint a picture of the Pokémon character Charizard which we are looking forward to seeing sometime in future.
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Dino-park
It wasn’t all castles and old towns, we did manage to find a pretty cool Dino-Park to entertain the boys. Lachlan had a report to write for his schoolwork and took off taking photos of all sorts of Dinosaurs. The boys even had a chance to undertake some digging for dinosaur fossils in the Dino-park sand pit.
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We also found a good park with climbing walls for the boys
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Brewery Tour
Pilsen quite obviously is the home of Pilsen beer courtesy of the Pilsener Urquell brewery. We walked around the production area and got to sample the unfiltered beer straight from the barrel. Tan and Ash agreed that the filtered product was far better!
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Underground Tour
There is a fairly extensive underground passage network in the old town. This consists of around 7-8 kms of tunnels and we took a tour to have a look around. These tunnels were primarily there for food storage and safe passage during town invasions in earlier centuries.
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Tower Climb
There is a 12th century cathedral in Pilsen (as there are in nearly all towns) however this is fairly prominent with a 100 metre spire (a photo of the cathedral is in Part 1). We took a walk to the top of the tower to take some photos of the surrounding city area.
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Rokycany
After initially taking a train in the wrong direction, we ended up arriving in Rokycany to visit the Demarcation Line. This is the spot where, on the 7th May 1945, American (travelling East from Normandy) and Russian (travelling West) troops came to a common point during the last days of WWII as they liberated Europe from the Nazis. The Americans agreed with Russia to move no further East than this point. We weren’t quite sure of the exact location of the monument, however we happened to run into very friendly and helpful town police, who happily escorted us to the site. They couldn’t believe we were from Australia and we had a great interaction with them (despite my non-existent and John’s limited Czech language skills).
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So after an enjoyable stay in Pilsen, which of course flew by with everything we'd done, we are off to Prague now.......

Posted by tollidaytravels 08:02 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Czech Republic - Pilsen and surrounds - part 1

22 °C
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Czech Republic – Pilsen and surrounds - part 1

Pilsen was our first port of call in the Czech Republic. We booked 3 nights in Pilsen with the aim of catching up with one of Ash’s former work colleagues and good friend, John, but ended up staying 12 nights! We also met John’s wife Sasha and daughter Sharon, all of whom gave us great information, shared some good meals and looked after us while we were there as you will soon see, from the text and photos.
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Chudenice
John and his wife Sasha have a house that they bought in a town called Chudenice (pronounced phonetically as Who-din-it-sa) which he is renovating. Ash jumped at the chance to go with him to help and this turned into an all-in family event of renovating in the mornings and sightseeing in the afternoon. We would stop work at lunch time and then head off to a nearby village for some sightseeing. We did some cementing, drain pipe work, water barriers and just general cleaning and it was great to be able to help out. I think we would have been happy to stay longer!
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Klatovy
Our first afternoon visit was to a town called Klatovy, where we went for lunch. There is a 350 year old church here and large watch tower which strikes you as soon as you enter the town square. Of interest though, are the Catacombs in the rear basement of the church which exhibit mummified bodies of the devout Jesuits that built the church and did a lot of work in the area. The mummification process occurred naturally due to the clever design characteristics of the air flow passing through that area, basically, the people were left in oak coffins filled with hops and allowed to dry out!
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Horskovy Tyn
The following day, John took us to Horsokovy Tyn, another village around an hour from Chudenice. The architecture of the buildings here was amazing and was heavily influenced by Italian designers during the Renaissance period. The castle was present for bishops that resided here hundreds of years ago.
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We also got introduced to Tocena – one of John’s favourite treats
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Pilsen
Back to Pilsen and as we found out, there was more for us to see than we expected. Here is our accommodation (where we ate an amazing breakfast every morning), buildings in the town square, town cathedral and the town hall.
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There is a lot of history in Pilsen, filled with all sorts of conflicts, one of the more recent being World War II. Pilsen was one of the last outer lying areas that the American’s liberated as part of the war. The Patton Museum and ‘Thank You to America’ monuments are there to recognise and thank the American’s for liberating Pilsen from the Nazi’s.
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See more on the Demarcation Line in part 2.

Posted by tollidaytravels 07:53 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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