Prague - The Journey Begins

Saturday 9th May, 2015
Sunday 10th - Monday 11th May, 2015
Tuesday 12th May, 2015
Wednesday 13th May, 2015

Saturday 9th May, 2015

Drop Cap ff we go! Our shuttle picked us up at 1300, right on time and delivered us safely through the Saturday lunchtime traffic to the Rydges Hotel. Everything was ready, all packed up, Geoff catered for (for a while at least) Cadfael ensconced with Janene. I hope he settles soon, his piercing yeep is very loud, I can see Janene's neighbours complaining!

Drop Cap t is hard to believe that the long-awaited European River Trip is at hand, it seems to have been a long time in the planning. We have our boarding passes for the first two legs, Sydney - Singapore, and Singapore - Munich but will have to go to the check -in to get the Munich - Prague passes, and get rid of the luggage. We will have an evening meal here, some TV and hopefully a good night's sleep, then tomorrow it is up - up and away!!


Drop Cap e enjoyed a delicious non-WW meal here. I had fillet steak with mushroom sauce, truffle mash and tomato and chocolate brownie plus a glass of pinot grigio and espresso. Mac had kangaroo with pepper sauce, sticky date pud, a flat white and a glass of wine. Oh well, we are on holiday! Mustn't eat like that every day though.

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Sunday 10th - Monday 11th May, 2015

Drop Cap n and out of aeroplanes, sitting for hours, walking a little, eating far too much at all very odd hours of the day and night. I had a better, more comfortable trip than I usually find, seat and pitch room much better - losing all that weight helps.

Sydney to Singapore was uneventful. On arrival we had quite a walk around the huge Changi Airport trying to find our next departure gate. We managed to acquire boarding passes from Munich to Prague here from a Singapore Airlines desk, so that was OK.

Singapore to Munich was also uneventful, then we arrived in Munich to find we had a few hours wait for the very small local plane to Prague. It was operated for Lufthansa by Air Dolomiti and was a very small aeroplane, like the one we caught from Vancouver to Seattle all those years ago. The friendly Italian stewardess nevertheless provided us with snack packs of local juice, cheese and grissini, all with the nutritional values emphasised (in Italian). Half an hour later we arrived in Prague.

Drop Cap e met two other couples in transit who are doing the same tour, Roseanne and Chris and Kyra and Leigh (the latter two became good friends and tablemates) and we were all met by the APT Rep, a charming young man named Mateuj (Matthew) who greeted us warmly and took us to the transport which whisked us into Prague to the stunning Art Deco Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel. Here we met another very enthusiastic APT Rep, Adele, who gave us info packs and organised us into our rooms. It was not yet 10 am but we all felt it was late afternoon, we have been travelling so long.

We went up to our rooms, so happy that they were ready (usual check in is 1500) unpacked a little and had showers, then collapsed. We have welcome drinks and briefing tonight at 1800, then an orientation walk. Might feel like more food by then.

Prague streetscene photograph

Prague Streetscene

Prague Castle & Bridge photograph

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Drop Cap e went out for a fairly long walk of exploration, finding our way from Wenceslaus Square to the Old Town Square via the famous Charles Bridge. Prague is very beautiful, we loved it. It is crowded with a mainly young crowd, lots of music and laughter and many Western icons from McDonalds and KFC to Samsung and Sony. The view over the river towards the hillside setting of Prague Castle was stunning.
We bought a couple of souvenirs and staggered back for our briefing.

Mac by the River photograph

Mac by the River

Souvenir Shop photograph

Prague Souvenir Shop

Old Town Square photograph

Old Town Square

Astro Clock photograph

Astronomical Clock


Drop Cap s it happened we did manage to feel like food. After our orientation walk (much of which we had already done by ourselves) we ended up in the Old Town by the wonderful 14th Century Astronomical Clock, a real tourist icon. It has so much going on and so much symbolism that I never did really understand it but it is beautiful!

Drop Cap earby was the Museum of Communism, a casino and McDonalds, all of which we ignored and headed for a traditional Czech Beer Hall where we really enjoyed favourites like gulash and dumplings (Mac) and smoked lamb sausages with both green and kidney beans and bacon (me) With two glasses each of rose (neither of us care for beer!) it came to 650 crowns (about $42) and it was great!

Tomorrow, more touring and our welcome dinner.

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Tuesday 12th May, 2015

Drop Cap reakfast was a bit strange - all sorts of things we don't normally associate with breakfast, but quite good. We joined the rest of "green" group (the ones whose tour started in Prague as opposed to the blue group whose tour started in Berlin) for our guided walking tour of the Castle with our local guide Helena who wielded a green lollypop on a stick to keep us together.

Prague Castle photograph

Entering Prague Castle

St. Vitus Cathedral photograph

St. Vitus Cathedral

Drop Cap he so-called "castle" is really more of a small fortified town on the top of a hill and contains St. Vitus' Cathedral, several palaces , parade grounds, restaurants and just amazing architecture. The Cathedral is wonderful with many gorgeous stained glass windows. The place was very busy, seething with tour groups of all nations and including crocodiles of schoolkids.

Buskers at Castle photograph

Buskers at Prague Castle

View from Castle photograph
View from Castle

Drop Cap e had a break in the middle and enjoyed a cappucino and shared a slice of yummy cake, then went out to see the guard changing and enjoy the incredible views over the city from the parade ground outside the gates. There were bands and costumed buskers as well .

House of the White Swan photograph

House of the White Swan, Mala Strana

Mala Strana photograph
Mala Strana

Drop Cap e then walked down the hill, passing amazing vistas of Prague, through one of the old neighbourhoods, the Mala Strana or Small Town. We went down a medieval street where the houses did not have numbers originally but had painted panels showing "The House of the White Swan", "House of three violins" etc. Fascinating area.

From Charles Bridge photograph

View from the Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge Bastion photograph

Charles Bridge Bastion

Drop Cap his led down to the Charles Bridge, which we saw yesterday from the other side. It was very busy and crowded with artists and their stalls etc.

We toiled through the Old Town Square to the Astronomical Clock, then back to Wenceslaus Square where we met up again with Tomas, our Tour Director. We decided that we would not find a café for lunch, although they are three a penny in this area, but we bought delicious baguettes from a takeaway with a bottle of fresh squeezed (dated to prove it) orange juice and took them to the Franciskan Gardens for a picnic on a bench. Mine was tuna with hardboiled egg, lettuce and tomato, and Mac's was roast beef. Both delicious. We have decided we don't have to be too WW conscious because in the last two days, (day and a half really) my pedometer shows I have racked up six activity points, 22, 384 steps, 13.43 km.!! No wonder my feet hurt.

Prague Millstream photograph

Millstream from Charles Bridge, Prague

Drop Cap onight we have a special dinner in the Rotonde Restaurant, so that will be good. The restaurant here has a Michelin star, one of only two in the Czech Republic. Now, I'm going to collapse until time for a shower etc.


Drop Cap he dinner was very enjoyable. We shared a table with Roseanne and Chris Titcombe from Tasmania (whom we met enroute) and Ross and Kerry Fletcher from Fremantle. The meal was very good and the company very congenial. We all signed the menu and I brought it with me for my journal. They brought a tiny "amuse-bouche", then Mac and I had a goats cheese salad, very tasty, Mac had goulash and dumplings while I had chicken breast, then we shared our desserts. Two glasses of wine, water and coffee. There was a string trio who played throughout, even "Waltzing Matilda" - we all applauded that one. A good night.

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Wednesday 13th May, 2015

At the Chateau photograph
Rosemary and Mac at Chateau Jemniste

Drop Cap oday we had an excursion about an hour out of Prague to a Chateau in the countryside. This was a quiet and beautifully located mansion surrounded by parkland. We were welcomed by the owner, a member of a noble family whose family had owned the place in between annexation by both the Nazis and the Communists. He has had it returned to him but the place could do with a bit of refurbishment.

Rear Chateau photograph

Rear View of Chateau Jemniste

Falcon Handler photograph
Falcon Handler at Chateau Jemniste

Drop Cap owever, we had a tour of the baroque style interior and a falconry display in the grounds which was very entertaining. They displayed a gerfalcon, a harris hawk, an eagle owl and a golden eagle. One of the handlers was a young woman and the other was a uniformed gent on a white horse, which was trained to let the birds fly under his stomach and land on him while lying down. Quite amazing.

Chateau Grounds photograph

Strolling in the Grounds of Chateau Jemniste

Wildflowers at Chateau Jemniste photograph
Wildflowers at Chateau Jemniste

Drop Cap e had a three course lunch in the dining room and a stroll around the grounds where there is a small zoo and lake.

Drop Cap hen we returned to Prague Mac and I went to the Old Town to see if we could find the Cat's Gallery, a quirky shop mentioned in my guide book. After circumnavigating the cathedral and several small streets, we found it and bought a couple of cat fridge magnets for Janene and Lorraine. We then trolled through some other souvenir shops where I bought myself a cap and a pillbox and Mac bought himself a leather belt in a fur and leather shop.

Drop Cap hen we staggered back to the hotel. My pedometer says 14,256 steps, 8.55 km, which I find hard to believe. Going out soon for a meal, off tomorrow for Budapest and the boat! We have had a communication from APT to the effect that the Danube is a meter higher than normal which means the ship won't get under one of the bridges - at Regensburg, I think. So what they are doing is replacing our ship, the Amavenita with its sister ship the Amareina, which is already in Budapest and we will have to pack up and transfer to the other ship on the other side of the bridge! They can't help this sort of thing and at least we are not missing any of the cruise, but it is a bit of a bind having to pack up again in the middle of the trip.

Notes on Prague and the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel.

Drop Cap rague is a delightful city with beautiful medieval townscapes. The Communist blight only seems to have occurred in the outer suburbs. It is constantly alive with music and drumming and people laughing. Many young people and lots of elderly tourists, like us.

Prague Hotel Room photograph

Our Room, Alcron Radisson Blu Hotel

Prague Hotel Bathroom photograph

Prague Hotel Bathroom

Drop Cap he Alcron is a lovely art deco hotel which looks like something out of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. The pictures in the corridor are from Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, fabulous. The doorman wears a top hat and there is a revolving door. The room has many art deco touches and the lifts have tiled art deco floors. I really like this place!

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