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Tuesday, June 24


It’s convenient to be in the middle everything, geographically. Nürnberg isn’t a big city but thankfully there are enough trains/planes that depart from here to few destinations we are lucky. Prague is one city that is extremely close. There are trains but due to its proximity Deutsche Bahn has a bus trip for 19 euros/one way. The bus departs from the main railway station and arrives at Prague main station 3.5 hours later. Tickets can be booked at either stations but it’s highly recommended to book tickets in advance because prices increase. 

I’ve been to Prague couple times and enjoyed each visit. The important sights include the main square with Astronomical clock, Jewish quarter, Charles Bridge, Monastery and Prague Castle. 2-3 day weekend is adequate but 4 days are ideal. If time permits, the communism museum is a must. My friend had it on her list of sights and I am glad because the museum is eye-opening. It documents life under the occupation (rejection of art and culture, secrecy from one’s family & neighbor) as well as the velvet revolution that stood up against and toppled the regime. Also, it's a tongue in cheek to the times. (Click on the photo to read the words)

The Jewish quarter has a synagogue, cemetery and Museum all worth a stroll. There is in depth history of the Jews forced to live in this small area enclosed in the city, ghetto, during Nazi time. Although many Czechs were anti- Nazi beliefs, they were voiceless. Franz Kafka (novelist) was born in the city to Jewish parents and therefore has monuments throughout the area.

Klasterni Pivovar Strahov is a brewery in a monastery and has restaurant with food. The monastery is a steep (and scenic) hike but you will be rewarded with appetizing beer and food. Close to the Strahov is the Castle, residence of the President, and St. Vitus Cathedral. There are sights in and around the castle so plan to spend an afternoon in the area. (Pair it with the Monastery because it’s nearby.) Getting a tour guide for the castle sights is crucial to understand the church and castle’s history. We also toured other sights (Charles bridge, Jewish quarter) with a tour guide which was helpful. She explained the area known as Czech Republic has experienced many changes (including a revolution) and with it came sleuth of names (Czechoslovakia, Czecho-Slovak Republic and etc) for the country.

Another memorable meal was at Lokal. Unlike many Europeans restaurants Lokal is large and spacious. And even with its size and many tables, reservations are a must. Amongst the locals Lokal is a favorite and it’s become a favorite for the tourists too. Rightfully so, Lokal serves authentic Czech food with simplicity. The food reminisces of grandma’s cooking and the food isn’t fussy. This is the first place I tried beef, beef tartare at that. (Who eats beef tartare as their first beef experience? I do!) It came with raw garlic cloves to rub on the grilled bread. I don’t have anything to compare the tartare to but my friend and I agreed it was outstanding. Tartare is very common on Czech restaurant menus and freshness of the meat is important for health safety so ensure the restaurant and the tartare gets high reviews (from the locals). We ordered other food that was also excellent.

Amongst the Germans and visiting Americans, Prague is known as the party town. There are many bars and clubs for the night crowd. Beer is cheap and good, surprisingly. U Zlatého Tygra is one beer house to drink with the locals. It’s small and always full of people for fun and chatter. Smoking is permitted indoors so that can be annoying but few beers won’t hurt and you may even make friends.

The city has dependable public transportation with trams, buses and trains that cover the city extensively. On the first day we’d bought the 24 hour pass. The next day when we were on a tram to get to dinner, we were stopped and checked for tickets. The checker asked for our tickets and told us to get off with him at the next stop. (We knew our ticket had expired and we were planning to renew near the restaurant.) As soon as the tram departed, the checker and his “partner” asked us few questions. Do you know your ticket is expired? Yes but we were planning to buy at the next stop. Do you have your passport? No. How much money do you have? (the husband and I gave each other a look). We have 40 euros. How much money do you really have, he asked? The husband lied again and said 40 euros. He pulled out 40 euros from his pocket and showed him. Clearly, not happy with this answer he said something to his partner in Czech. Then his partner proceeded to call the “head office” we think. This is when the checker told him to stop calling and hang up. He said he’d take the 40 in exchange for fine/penalty. We gave him the money and parted ways.

We will never forget this because of the sketchiness. Here are few things to know, the checker was a bum-looking character with missing teeth, someone we wouldn’t identify as a ticket checker. His partner had a neon vest making them legitimate. Asking how much money we had was a clue that bribing is common with legal officials and tourists. Germans rent cheap cars to drive to Prague because they say there are break-ins, theft and crime is high. This experience clarifies why that is.

To return home on the last day we arrived at the main train station 30 minutes before the scheduled departure. 5- 10 minutes before departure we learned our bus was delayed in border patrol issues and would arrive as soon as possible. We learned Deutsche Bahn was working on getting a Czech bus to drive the passengers to Nürnberg. In the meantime there were more passengers than before, departing on a later bus. A Deutsche Bahn bus finally arrived and we all lined up. We (the initial group) were told we can’t board because this bus is for the later departure. Confused and shocked, we protested why? The driver repeated this is for later departure therefore the passengers scheduled are only allowed; he proclaimed these are the German rules. The husband says rules don’t matter when there’s a missing bus and if there are available seats the (initial group) should be allowed to board. Minutes before leaving the initial group was confirmed to board by the driver. We have no idea what happened to our original Deutsche Bahn or Czech bus.

A note of traveling to the east from Germany, always have passport on hand. I have been checked for passport on each trip. (Keep the passport nearby and don’t give it to anyone that asks for it, especially a toothless ticket checker.)

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