In getting from Budapest to Prague, I booked a sleeper couchette reservation by train, which in theory would let me fall asleep in one place and wake up in another, leaving me refreshed and ready to see what adventures the new day has. I have to say, the information available from The Man in Seat Sixty-One was invaluable in getting me around Europe by train. On his advice, I did the wacky thing of purchasing my ticket for this train from the Hungarian website, but booked a couchette reservation through the Czech train website. I had printed my reservation ahead of time (as instructed), and picked up my train ticket the day of (as instructed). No problems. The only “issue” (as I had never done this before), was that I didn’t realize how compact it can be inside. I splurged for a bit for a 4 person compartment, but it was still set up in a 6 person arrangement. And luckily had it all to myself for like 3 hours before we pulled into a station and someone else came into my compartment at like 11:30pm. But the provided bed was comfortable enough, I’m guessing in combination with the gentle rocking of the train throughout the night.
I had also sprung a bit more here in Prague for a hotel room, as this was now day 10 of my trip, and I’d gotten a little tired of the hostel life (especially at the last once in Budapest, where it was hot as hell inside). But it was nice and cool in Prague, with some heavy precipitation to boot, so you never know what you’re gonna get in Europe lol.
The problem here was, I used booking.com to get a reservation a place called Hotel Olympik. I got there, and they directed me like 800m around to something called Hotel Cechie/Cechie Praha. All the information and research I’d done for my original booking now meant nothing as I was put up in another location, not to mention how much further it was from the metro station. But the price was the same, and I guess the room was equivalent. But the exteriors were a two different stories, as Hotel Olympik was this beautiful like 20 story hotel, whereas Hotel Cechie was this downtrodden hidden hotel of 5 floors. Eh. I was not pleased, but I had no recourse. Other than to never use booking.com again.
Now what to say about Prague. Again, there’s a currency difference, as they’re once again not using the Euro, but the Czech Koruna, at a rate of 1 USD ~ 24 CZK. But just like Budapest, Prague is a wonderful city of cheap beer and cheap food. I think at most I paid 50 CZK for 50 cL of beer (or 16.9 US fluid oz aka just over a pint). Just over $2 for a pint of beer? Fantastic. I had like 8 beers in 2 days here. Not necessarily a good thing, but it was enjoyable.
I think for a lot of people, their learning of the word defenestration came from a facebook app (Superpoke?) that was popular in my high school days, but the Defenestration of Prague was an actual thing that occurred multiple times in its history. They literally threw people out of windows as a form of rebellion and uprisings. I got a damn good chuckle out of that on the walking tour.
As many of these European cities date to medieval times, or even older than that, the general idea of utilizing the high ground for defense and observation of the land is a repeated theme for these various cities I’ve visited. Each of Bratslava, Budapest, and Prague have a castle on the highest point, and while none of these have any defensive purpose anymore, they still each harbor huge amounts of history within them.
Prague is also the first city I’ve visited on this trip to seem to have a nice blend of old town history with new town feels. And by that, I’m mainly referencing the fact that Prague has a shopping mall with a free toilet. I tried so hard to avoid paying for WC usage in Europe, mostly based on the fact that I’m so used to not paying for it back home here in the States. So, thank you Palladium for your hospitality. But why you gotta put the restrooms on the top floor?
Prague is definitely a beautiful city, with many historical buildings scattered about the town. But to encapsulate how well weathered this city is, you could easily spend a day touring the Prague Castle grounds and its various buildings on site, not to mention the beautiful views it offers overlooking Prague and the Vltava River. Again, just not enough time.
And of course, since I probably didn’t have enough time in Prague, I said to myself, why don’t we do a day tour of a city away from Prague? That’s a good idea. And so that’s what I did, going out to Kutna Hora and visiting the Sedlec Ossuary, better known as the Bone Church. Really, that’s the main attraction of the tour, as Kutna Hora is just a nice little small town to walk around and be done with. The bone church is estimated to contain skeletons of between 40-70k people. And while we were there, we saw people excavating around the chapel and digging up more skeletons. Pretty insane.
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