Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 2: First visit to Prague

The plan for today is to visit the city of Prague and try to see as much as we can.

We got out of bed at about 6:30am, and had breakfast at about 8am. The dinning hall was rather packed, there was plenty of food, but the quality was so so. The table service wasn't that great either, but we didn't care that much.

The staff manning the reception this morning were much more helpful than the ones from last evening. We got a bunch of maps and good direction on how to get to the city (our hotel was in a rather new suburb of Prague).

To get to the city, we had first take a bus (No. 155 or something like that) from in front of hotel to the Chodov (spelling?) metro station, then take the subway train to the center of town.

Prague's public transport is such that you can buy a ticket during working hours for about 20 crowns from the train stations, or 25 crowns from the buses, and the ticket will be valid for 70 minutes from the first time you validate it, and you can take as many train and bus rides as you like during the 70 minutes.

We bought our tickets from the bus, or rather, we paid the sneaking bus driver 50 crowns, but he didn't give us a ticket and just waved us to sit down. I thought it was a bit strange at the time, but since I didn't know how it was supposed to work, I did as I was told. As a result of this, we had to buy 2 more tickets when we got to Chodov station.

Prague's metro was pretty good. The trains were clean and pretty frequent. We got off the train at Muzeum station. As soon as we got out of the subway, we were faced by a beautiful street with lots of nice look buildings on each side which gave us a very good first impression for Prague.

As we didn't have a plan, we just wandered around the streets of Prague, going from one interesting building to another and taking pictures as we went. Here are a few other pictures of the old town of Prague:

(this one is near the municiple hall of Prague, we got offered concert tickets here ... sounded very enticing, but we didn't buy any)

(this one is in some sort of main square, I have no idea what it's called now)

(we saw a tiger skin on a balcony)

Anyways, after walking around for like 2 hrs, we finally reached the river that separates the old town of Prague of its new town. There were a few benches along side the river, and we sat down for a while and drank some water ... it was very pleasant. Here are a few pics of the view of the new town from the river bank:

(you can see the Prague Castle in this one)

(a few men doing some stuff on the roof of another building)

After we got enough rest, we crossed the river to the new town of Prague, and set off to the Prague Castle ... it was a rather uphill walk, and after about 30 minutes, we finally got to one of the gates of the castle, and were just in time to see the changing of guards. Here are a few pics:

I felt a bit sorry for the guards -- it was a 30ish degree day and I was in t-shirts and sweated a lot, but these guards had to wear full body suits and stand motionless for hrs.

Anyway, we got into the castle, had a look around and it turned out that the highlight of the castle was a cathedral. The cathedral was Gothic style, and it had several towers. One of them was open for visitors but it had 287 steps. Well, I climbed on top of the tower, and the view was really good ... but maybe not worth the 287 steps.

Here is a pic of the cathedral (it was really impossible to get a picture of the full cathedral as it was really big and there wasn't enough space in front of it for a full picture):

Here is a pic of the view from the top of the tower:

Anyway, after the visit to the Prague castle, we slowly made our way back to the Muzeum station, but not before having lunch at a small restaurant ... where I learnt that beer in Prague was much cheaper than bottled water.

We took the train home and it started raining rather heavily after we got back to our hotel, and I met up with Karl from the office (he smsed me earlier in the morning). We had a few more beers, and watched some tennis in the casino of the hotel, then called it a day.

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