A Travellerspoint blog

Prague, Czech Republic - Wednesday, 10 August 2011

overcast 18 °C

Walked to St Clement's Church to see the shrine to the Czech para-troopers who assasinated Heydrick - a Nazi chief in charge of Czechoslavakia during World War Two. Their story is told with photos and dialogue and then you go down into the crypt under the church where the Germans found them and they committed suicide and were shot by the Germans and there are bronze busts of them all. It is a very, very moving shrine. A stark reminder of times past.

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We walked back to the Charles Bridge and did a river and canal cruise on a small boat.

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then walked over Charles Bridge again with Makis and Anetta. We went to the Charles Bridge museum and had lunch in the old town and walked and walked and walked.

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In the early evening we went to a classical music concert in old St Michael's Church. There was a four piece orchestra with a mezzo soprano. The performance lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes and was wonderful and so atmospheric sitting up the top of an old church. We paid extra for seats in the front row and were greeted with champagne on arrival. The orchestra played The Slaves Chorus, but I would have loved to have heard the mezzo soprano sing it. Just lovely.

We had a very nice dinner at an Italian garden restaurant then back to the hotel to pack for Istanbul. Prague is a wonderful city and well worth a visit.

Posted by gaddingabout 23:33 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague, Czech Republic - Tuesday, 9 August 2011

overcast 16 °C

Phil and I went on a morning guided tour with our Scenic Guide, Martina. We started off at Prague Castle. An absolutely freezing wind was blowing and it was explained that the castle was built to take advantage of the winds because in mediaevil days, there was no sewerage or rubbish collection, so people used to tip it all out the windows into the street. Charming! We watched the changing of the guard and then walked through the lovely old streets to a restaurant overlooking the city, where we had morning tea - tea/coffee and apple struedel. Very nice.

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We continued walking down, down, down

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and came across this statue of a naked boy and there are no prizes for guessing what everyone has touched for centuries!

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and then onto the Charles Bridge - a very famous, ancient bridge. 30 statues of Saints line the bridge and one very famous one - St John.

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The story of St John goes like this. In 1393 St John was the Queen's confessor and the King suspected that the Queen had a lover. He asked John and he wouldn't tell, because confession is a private thing. The King arrested John, put him in jail and tortured him. He still wouldn't tell, so the King sentenced him to death, but granted him one wish. His wish was to give his last confession to his best friend. The King was very happy because he felt sure that this person would tell him about the Queen's lover. St John's best friend turned out to be a dog! The King was furious and immediately threw John into the river. Weakened from torture and perhaps he couldn't swim, John drowned. Immediatley a circle of five stars appeared in the sky, so John was named a Saint and is the Patron Saint of Bridges. His statue has a gold halo with five stars.

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After the bridge, we walked through the cobbled streets of the old town and ended up at the archological clock. People everywhere, waiting for the clock to chime on the hour.

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Our tour ended there and we walked back to our hotel and hooked up with Anetta and Makis and then took them on a tour of the old town and the Charles Bridge. We had lunch at a Czech Restautant and it was awful - heavy stodgey and tasteless!!

We walked around all afternoon

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and Phil and I had to hurry back to the hotel to get ready for our group dinner that evening. We sat with Peter and Denise; Fiona and Rob and Kay and Frank. We were entertained by a Czech band, singer and dancers. Phil and I got up and learnt a Czech folk dance. We had a good night.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:43 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Budapest, Hungary/Prague, Czech Rep, Monday, 8 August 2011

all seasons in one day 21 °C

Sad day today - the end of our cruise - leaving the Scenic Ruby at 8.00 am. We are so sorry that the cruise is over. It has been fabulous. Bags out at 7.00 am and on the bus for Prague by 8.00 am. We have a full bus - 45 pax.

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We thought the trip would be long and tedious but surprisingly it wasn't.

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We watched a movie for the first two hours, "Something's Gotta Give" with Jack Nicholson and Dianne Keaton. We had seen it before but it was even funnier the second time around. We had a loo stop and then continued on.

As I am wont to do, as soon as a bus starts moving, I fall asleep and slept all the way until our lunch stop. Apparently I missed a really good experience with our Czech guide talking all the way and telling us what it was like for her as a child growing up in a poor Communist country. Sorry I missed that!

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Looks like I wasn't the only one!

We stopped for lunch at a Service Station and we had two choices - greasy servo food or a MacDonalds!! Not much choice however I had a crispy chicken wrap at MacDonalds and it was very nice and even healthy!

We arrived at our hotel, the Radisson Blu at 3.00 pm. It is very nice.

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We all met 30 minutes later and went for an orientation stroll. Our hotel is not in the old part of the city, but not very far away by foot, and we are just a couple of blocks off Wenceslas Square. The sun came out in the square and it was very pleasant. I still love Budapest best, but I haven't done a tour of Prague yet, so I will reserve my judgement.

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Where are we? Ireland, Bangkok or Prague?

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Anetta and Makis arrived from Vienna at about 6.00 pm and after settling in and a pre dinner drink and a chat in our room, we all went out for dinner to a very nice Italian restaurant. It will be nice spending some time with them.

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Then home to bed.

Posted by gaddingabout 20:03 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Budapest, Hungary - Sunday, 7 August 2011

semi-overcast 29 °C

Arrived in Budapest at 8.00 am.

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Went ashore for a guided tour - first to Pest and Hero Square (fabulous statues)

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and then over the bridge to Buda and up to the castle overlooking Budapest. The buildings are simply amazing. I love Budapest, even better than Vienna. Everyone thinks I am mad.

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After lunch, did packing ready for disembarkation tomorrow.

Had dinner with Jack and Luise from the USA. They are leaving the ship at 4.30 am tomorrow for their flight to the US. After dinner, there was some Hungarian music and dancers

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and then we went up on the sun deck and the Captain took us on a cruise of Budapest harbour at night to see the lights. It was magnificent. Budapest is my favourite city, so far, but everyone else loves Vienna.

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Wrapped up some wine for Devi, Paval and Ivan. Weighed myself on some scales in reception - eek! have probably put on about 5 kgs!!

Photos of some of the great crew.

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I haven't yet mentioned Ivan, our Butler. He has been marvellous the whole two weeks. He does our washing and ironing and every morning sneaks into the cabin with a hot cup of tea before breakfast. Every time we come back to our cabin from a shore excursion, there is a little appetising snack waiting for us, and every evening after dinner when we come back to our room, there is another little sweet snack waiting for us. No wonder I have put on 5 kgs.

Posted by gaddingabout 19:50 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Bratislava, Slovakia/Vienna, Austria - Sat, 6 August 2011

sunny 30 °C

Sunrise.

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Morning bus trip to Bratislava, Slovakia - one and a half hours. Got there early which was good as there weren't many people around. Wonderful medieval town.

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In free time, Phil and I walked up the top of the castle. What a hike! It was very, very steep but the view was worth the climb. Great photos.

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Back on the boat at 1.00 pm and Makis and Anetta joined us for lunch. We didn't have to pay for them but Tamas asked us to put some money in the staff tip jar. They had to leave at 4.15 pm and we sailed at 4.30 pm.

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While we were having our Port Talk, Anetta was standing on the dock, waving goodbye frantically. One of the other passengers alerted Devy that maybe a passenger had been left behind, because there was a person on the dock, waving frantically. We all laughed - it was only Anetta.

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Dress up for our Farewell Dinner with the Captain. Very nice evening. Sailed through our last and 68th lock at 11.00 pm. A bit bumpy!!

Posted by gaddingabout 19:17 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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