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- Viking Danube Cruise Extension to Prague — Blog 7
From Nuremberg where our river cruise ended Viking provided a bus for those who signed up for a three day trip to Prague. It was a four hour pleasant ride. Viking provided a guide for the trip to answer any questions we may have and to comment on the areas we were passing on the way.
We arrived in Prague at the Hotel Viking booked for us, the Prague Hilton. They took our luggage from the bus we were introduced us to another Viking employee who welcomed us to Prague. It was about noon and she gave us a short but comprehensive talk on what we could do in Prague. She explained the next morning’s included tour and said our rooms would be ready by 3:00pm.
It was a nice day and a few of us headed out to begin to explore the city. Prague is a really beautiful city with quite amazing architecture. We headed to Republic Square and stopped for some lunch and great pastry. We then returned to the hotel to get into our rooms and relax before heading out again for some more touring and to find a place for dinner.
It is then we encountered the only flaw in the entire trip, the Prague Hilton Hotel. The hotel is being renovated and the noise in many of the rooms, banging and drilling, was unbearable. The service had to be the worst of any Hilton I ever stayed in and I was once a Hilton Gold Honors member. I am pleased to say Viking recognized the issues with the hotel and while they couldn’t do anything while we were there they graciously handled the issue to my satisfaction when I returned home. That is what you expect from a good company like Viking.
Hotel aside Prague was everything I expected it to be. Maybe because the hotel was so bad we spent more time wandering the city and seeing its beauty. Just aimlessly walking around Prague is fun. We walked toward the old town but didn’t spend too much time in any one place as we knew the next morning we would be getting a comprehensive tour, one arranged by Viking. We were warned the planned trip to the Prague Castle wouldn’t happen as there was a funeral going on the next morning that every politician and many people from around the country would be attending. We were a little surprised when we found out it was for a singer but apparently Karol Gott was an icon to Czechs. After looking around for a while we ended up going to a restaurant near the hotel that had been recommended by the Viking desk person called the GATE. We ate in their downstairs restaurant and the food was good, the wait staff wonderful and the wine cheap. By the time dinner was over it was 10:00pm and we headed back to the hotel.
Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm. We lucked out and the weather for our three days in Prague was perfect. Viking included breakfast in the package and it was the one thing the hotel did well. It was a good buffet and my group met at about 7:00am and our tour began at 8:15. They took us by bus to a location near the Old Town, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, and from there it was walking all the way. Once again we were provided with Audiovoxes and earphones to hear our guide. We saw the Tyn church and the Astronomical Clock which every hour comes alive with its “Walk of the Apostles”. Windows in the clock opening and figures popping into view.
We walked from there to the old Jewish quarter with its two synagogues and graveyard. Again so much of the city was left standing after the war and looking up one street after the other the architecture was impressive. We walked for a few hours around the city walking across the Charles Bridge and past what is considered little Venice in Prague.
We ended up in the courtyard of the Kafka Museum with its sculpture of two men peeing in a pond shaped like Czechoslovakia. We walked past some beautiful shops and wonderful markets. It is a vibrant city. We then met the bus which took us back to our hotel. Because of the construction noise we didn’t stay long and my group once again headed out to walk around the city on our own. We found out that anyone over seventy rides free on all public transportation in Prague. So some in the group rode free and others bought twenty-four hour passes. The public transportation system is great. As evening approached we started looking for a place to eat. We found a wonderful little Italian restaurant where we could sit outside under an arcade. Once again the food was great and the wine was good and cheap. Large glasses of good wine for four dollars. On the walk back to our tram stop we paused at one of the ever present ice cream shops for dessert.
Sunday morning after a hearty breakfast we headed toward the Palace District by public transportation. We needed three tram changes but it was easy. Within the massive Castle complex is the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. The entire complex is really impressive and the castle is home to the current Czech President and was the seat of Bohemian Kings and Holy Roman emperors of Old. In the afternoon some of us took a sightseeing cruise on the river and then went for coffee and some more pastry. The pastry in Prague is hard to resist. It was an early evening as many of us including me had very early flights back home the next day. Prague is a city I will definitely to return to one day.
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