SHERRY

SHERRY

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Prague, Czech Republic

Before we arrived at Prague, we had heard of how beautiful and nice Prague was, the interesting history of Prague Castle, and it was definitely one of the city that we must visit during our stay in Europe. No doubt Prague has a beautiful old town and a rich history, we didn't really enjoy our trip there. It was too touristy and we preferred the feel of other cities instead.

Upon arrival at Prague, we checked-in to MH apartments. The apartment was modern, clean and nice. The bed, pillow and blanket was very comfortable. And we were provided with all amenities such as the toiletries, towels, washing machine, coffee maker, dishwasher etc. Trams to the Old Town and Prague castle was 5 minutes walk away. The staff were also patient and nice to explain to us how to get around prague from MH Apartments.


However, one thing that we disliked was the design of the toilet. The toilet has a pretty Jacuzzi bathtub which we were unable to use as we were not given the drain stopper. There was no additional shower area so we could only shower inside the bathtub. There's no shower curtain and hence, water splashed all over the floor and the worst thing: there's no drainage outside the bathtub and so, our toilet was flooded everyday.


In Prague, the currency they use is Czeck Crowns so we gotta change our Euros before we could start our trip. There're many money changers in the old town area but beware, and look carefully at the bulletin board displaying the exchange rates before deciding to change the money. There's this group of money changer franchise that offered 2 different rates: Change more than 500 Euros, rate will be 25 Crowns to 1 Euro; Change less than 500 Euros, rate will be 17 Crowns to 1 Euro. We didn't see clearly before we changed money with them. The difference was too big la, and we were shocked! We argued with them and we were lucky that we got the good rate at 25 Crowns to 1 Euro in the end. There're a few money changers that offered the good rate at 25 Crowns to 1 Euro regardless of the amount of money changed. But those were hard to find.

The name card of the franchise money changer


After changing the currency, we proceeded to our destination, Prague Old Town.

Prague Market

 Witch dolls for sale


Prague Astronomical Clock Tower


Us in the center of Prague Old Town



Dunno what're these buildings




After roaming around old town and had our lunch, we joined a free walking tour in the afternoon. There're many free walking tours in Prague, you can Google search for free walking tour Prague and there's a few websites that you can visit and decide which one you wanna go. We chose the yellow umbrella.
The website of the free tour we joined:
http://www.discover-prague.com/

Our guide with the yellow umbrella and yellow shirt. I think he looked a bit like Mr Bean.. Hahaha..

Jewish Synagogue, a place that tells the history of the Jews. It was built on a ground that was lower than the normal ground, because in the older days, the Jewish quarter was the poorest part of the town,and it was low-lying and subjected to floods. But now, it became one of the richest area in Prague because after the Jewish gain wealth, they developed the area.

A church

Gate to the Old Town

 Liberty Square, and that's where the people protested and finally, gain independence from communism.

The guide provided a lot of historic information of Prague, which I, a not very attentive student, couldn't catch much of the history. Haha. But if you are interested in Prague history and will be visiting Prague soon, I will recommend you to follow a free walking tour.


While walking along the streets, I'm surprised that there're a few Thai massage parlors in Prague. Of course, I'm not gonna miss it and we had an hour full body thai massage. Shiok. Haha..


We had our dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Prague Old Town. Nothing fantastic to rave about the food there, except for the menu..

Ham and the rape fried rice.. Lol..


After the dinner we walked around the old town and at about 9pm, we saw something that caught our eyes. Everyone was looking up at the astronomical clock tower. We joined the crowed and were curious what would happen.

People started looking at the astronomical clock

1 minute to 9pm. Crowd gathered and cameras ready..

In the end, it was just some bells ringing and some small figurines moving around the clock -.-''' We were like "huh??!!" We were so disappointed that we didn't take any photos.. Lol..


After that, we just roamed around and took some photos of the sunset and night views.







The next day, we visited the Prague Castle. We bought the long visit ticket which we could visit all the attractions in Prague Castle for 350 Crowns. The ticket did not include the audio guide which cost as much as the long visit ticket. We thought it was too expensive and didn't take it. We were glad that we didn't take the audio guide as there were descriptions written on boards when we were visiting the attractions. Just need to spend more time reading.

Purchasing the long visit ticket allows us to visit:
- Prague Castle Picture Gallery;
- St. Vitus Cathedral;
- Powder Tower;
- The Story of Prague Castle;
- Old Royal Palace
- Rosenberg Palace

Before our tour of the Castle attractions, we watched the daily changing of guards ceremony at 12pm.

Entrance to the Prague Castle

Changing of guards ceremony started

And it started raining -.- 





Our first stop was the Prague Castle Picture Gallery but no photography were allowed inside. Anyway, I am not an art person so most of the time in there, I dunno what I am looking at.

After that we went to St. Vitus Cathedral. It was a big cathedral with rich history. Again, I couldn't remember the history and it didn't interest me much either. Guess I had seen too many cathedrals in Europe already.



Then we went to the Powder Tower where they showcased all the police and military stuff, and the defence of the castle. Not much of an interest to me too.







Ohh.. Suddenly, I felt hungry but the choices of eateries/restaurants were quite limited on Prague Castle. So we settled for a quick bite and continue to "The Story of Prague Castle".

We were brought through the history of Prague Castle and it was quite interesting, at least at the point when I was there. By now, I had forgotten most of the story because, again, it was full of those kings and queens names, and the ancient years that I just couldn't remember. When we were about to end our visit in the Story of Prague Castle, we were told that they would be closing in 15 minutes. We were shocked! It was only 445 pm!

We ran to the Old Royal Palace and managed to visit it for 5 minutes, but we were kinda happy that we didn't missed much because there's nothing much in the Old Royal Palace.

A very big empty hall in the Old Royal Palace

We walked further down to the final attraction, Rosenberg Palace. Oh my, this was the luxury and well-decorated palace that I wanted to see! But it was already closed at 5 pm. The brochure given to us together with the ticket stated that the closing time was 6 pm lor! The staff told us that the full ticket was valid for 2 consecutive days so we could come back again the next day to continue the Prague Castle tour but we were flying off at noon the next day and we couldn't come back! Okay, poor planning.

It was raining heavily and we slowly walked down the hill from Prague Castle, and chanced upon a medieval tavern styled restaurant. It was gloomy and dark inside, with scary figurines placed around the restaurant. I was so scared that I dun dare to walk around and go to the toilet. We were told that there're dance and some performances going on at 8 pm everyday except Sunday and Monday, and we visited on a Monday -.-''


There were skulls on the ceiling

Scary candles reflection in the mirror



Last stop, we just passed by the famous dancing house and took a picture in the rain. Didn't explore further as it was raining.



Generally, Prague didn't interest me as much as I thought it would be. I initially had thought that Prague would mark a beautiful end to our Eastern Europe trip. But it turned out that both my hubby and I liked Budapest and Vienna more.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Bratislava, Slovakia

We rushed a short half-day trip to Bratislava from Vienna so that we're able to step foot in another country. Hahaha.

We took a train from Vienna Sudtirolerplatz Train station to Bratislava Main Train station. The train journey was around an hour. We could see a difference between Bratislava and Vienna, Vienna was really more well-developed than Bratislava.





Slovakia joined the Eurozone in year 2009 and they were using Euros as their currency when we went. So it made things a lot easier for us.

From the Bratislava Train station, we took a bus to the city center and joined the free walking tour. If you're gonna be at Bratislava for a few days, it's good to join the walking tour first because the guide would provide useful information such as traditional Slovak food to try, restaurants at which part of the Old Town were the more expensive ones, and some other interesting things to do or see in Bratislava. If you're interest, here's the website for the free walking tour.
http://www.befreetours.com/

Our walking tour guide

Look at the road sign.. 

It's this! It just popped out in the middle of a street in the Old Town.. Hahaha.

The guide told us that the coming weekend was the coronation weekend and the following day was a cosplay event where the people re-create the coronation of the king! A pity that we were only at Bratislava for half a day and totally missed that.

Bus tour in Bratislava.. Cute..

Bratislava Old Town 

Old Town gate

The Plaque of witch hunting.. "In commemoration of the first witch burnt to death in Bratislava".. 

At the far end of the picture stands the Bratislava Castle. A pity that we didn't have time to go up. The guide told us that we could see 3 countries from the castle, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia. But other than the views, there's nothing much in the castle, so dun have to waste money on the entrance fee. Heehee. (In case you would like to know, there's another castle called the Devin Castle. But it's not near the Old Town, it's around 30 minutes bus ride from the Old Town to Devin Castle. It's the ruins of a old castle and you could see views of the Danube river from the Devin Castle.)

The Blue Church.. Was informed that this was a very popular church in Bratislava and many couples wanted to hold their wedding ceremony here.. 

Despite the main door of the Blue Church was facing this -.- This was the communist style building..


After the 2.5 hours free walking tour, it's almost time for us to catch a train back to Vienna.. As we gotta catch another train from Vienna to our next destination, Prague. It's so rush.. -.- Okay, bad planning.