|Church in Prague at Night|
Living in Venice means we are only a couple hours’ flight from about anywhere in Europe. This year are taking a cruise on the Danube, visiting a number of cities, such as Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and places in between. Our trip started in Prague. Not part of the cruise, but as a few days we tacked onto the beginning.
We arrived in Prague on November 21, 2011, in mid-afternoon after a delay of a couple of hours due to fog. We flew from Venice to Vienna, then to Prague. We later discovered that there is an inexpensive flight directly from Venice to Prague for about 39 Euros on Wizz Air.
A driver picked us up at the airport and we arrived at our hotel around 4:30 p.m. The hotel, Santini Residence, is very nice and the service is great. For example, the breakfast, which is included in the price of the room, can be delivered to your room for no extra charge. Deliver is prompt and friendly, and the food is very good. You fill out a card and order whatever you want, as much as you want.
We hadn’t had anything to eat since a small pastry at the Venice airport, so we went to a restaurant next door to the hotel called “The Three Violins.” The food was great and the service friendly (although at this hour he was not swamped). I had duck pate as an appetizer, and roasted duck as a main course, along with a glass of dark beer. The duck came with red cabbage, a sweet version of sour kraut, and a big pile of potato dumplings. Karen had goulash and then a cake of some kind for dessert. I recommend the place for its food. The only criticism I would offer is that the music was too loud and of a generally obnoxious variety. When will restaurants learn?
After that we walked around the old part of the city. The beauty of the place surprised me. Although some of it was built in the 9th century, for the most part it was built in the 18th century. Mozart used to hang out here.
It is obvious that after the fall of communism they put their backs into making at least the historic center comfortable for tourists. Hotels, bars and restaurants abound, as do touristy shops, from designer brands to crass souvenir shops. The streets are clean and safe, and the buildings well maintained.
The historic center has all the trappings of touristy Europe. During the lunch and dinner hours, many of the restaurants have people standing outside trying to get you to come in. I avid such places. There are also the occasional beggar, particularly on the Charles Bridge at night. They seem harmless, though, as they take a kneeling position where they rest their upper bodies on their elbows, and essentially lay in the street holding a cup and not saying anything. We were never approached by one.
The night was cold, we were full of hardy Czech food, and we were exhausted from our day of travel. We went back to the hotel for the night.