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Czech Republic

Prague, the Finale

The moving your kid across the world for college edition.


Back to Prague for Move-in Day

We took the train from Vienna to Prague without any problems. The nearly four hour journey was relaxing and scenic. Upon arrival, we headed directly to DD#1s new student housing. She was so excited not only to see her new apartment but more to meet her roommate. Her roomie had become her best friend over social media for the past eight months. They were beyond thrilled to finally meet face to face.

The studio apartment was huge by US dorm standards. The exposed beams, skylights, kitchen, bathroom, and view made this something really special. Her share of the rent is less than $500 per month. Best of all is that it is in a very cute neighborhood that we would really get to know over the next six nights.

After all the excitement of getting checked in to the new apartment, mom and I walked a short five minutes to the Plaza Prague Hotel. This would be home for six nights. We had a great view and loved the quiet character of the neighborhood. It was around 80 Euros a night including breakfast, so quite a deal for Prague!

We walked to a nearby restaurant where we enjoyed dining with local families. The salad and schnitzel were yummy!

I went for a night walk to get a feel for the neighborhood in the dark. It felt safe, quiet, and surprisingly modern.

I discovered some incredible art on one of the new buildings.

We had a great night's sleep and were happy to be back in Prague

Letna Park and the Great IKEA Run

After a morning run, we enjoyed the huge breakfast spread at our hotel.

Today's big accomplishment was hitting IKEA on the outskirts of town to help outfit DD#1's new apartment. We took an uber to the giant IKEA with DD#1 and her roommate where we met up with her mom. We spent between 2-3 hours buying everything from shoe racks, a kitchen cart, to basic kitchen utensils and appliances. We hired an uberXL to take us and all the new gear back to the apartment. This affair took up a huge portion of our day. And I have no pictures to show for it.

Mom and I rewarded ourselves with a trip to Letna Park for happy hour. We found a beer garden that overlooked the river and city.

It was all lovely until a major thunderstorm rolled in. We were trapped under an umbrella with lots of locals for nearly an hour!

We had a simple dinner at the restaurant right next to DD#1's apartment.

After another night walk, I called it a day.

Charles Bridge, a Tower Climb, and a Grocery Run

After another huge breakfast, we took a tram to the old town where we crossed the Charles Bridge. It was such a pretty day!

We walked around Prague's lesser town before coming upon St. Nick's Church. I climbed the tower to the top and loved the history within the tower. There were two apartments in the tower that housed watchmen back in the day. From the top, there were explanations on how the tower was used during WWII for reconnaissance and communications. The views were incredible of the neighborhood below. I could even see the park surrounding the US Embassy.

Here is the church and its tower from the outside.

We took a tram across the river to do a little garnet shopping. Mom bought a couple pretty jewelry items to bring home. We passed a recommended bakery for a traditional kolache. I had a berry one and it was delicious.

It seemed to be happy hour already so we found a brewery on a boat! I had visited this place last summer so we checked it out once again.

We met DD#1 and her roommate at a large supermarket to help them buy groceries and supplies. This was another two+ hours dedicated to getting them set up. It was fun shopping like a local. Again, no pictures from this everyday experience.

After a break in the apartment, Mom and I walked across Prague's newest footbridge to the Karlin neighborhood to a nifty microbrewery/food cart place called Dva Kahouti. Highly recommended! The brews were fabulous and the food cards had some fun ethnic foods. I loved the bao buns.

Meanwhile, DD#1 was adjusting well to college life meeting new people, staying out too late, and getting moved in.

Fast Forward to the Last Three Nights in Prague


I'm skipping ahead past our time in Wroclaw and Dresden to our last three nights in Prague.

Bike Ride and Old Town

I started the day with a bike ride along the river. It was my first time biking in Prague and it was great! The city has lots of dedicated bike lanes and trails.

I even found people surfing on the river!

Mom and I took the tram into the old town and popped in and out of lots of churches. It was busy with tourists so we only lasted a couple of hours.

We took a break along Wenceslas Square where we found a cute balcony to have a coffee and lemonade.

We met DD#1 at a bank so we could help her open an account. It was an easy process but it took over an hour. We did a little shopping on the square and bought DD#1 a few more things for her apartment. We decided to return to the prettiest beer garden in Prague for another beer.

We took a tram to the tallest structure in Prague, the TV tower. We took the elevator to the top and took in the views of the expansive city. It was interesting to see how many apartment buildings were built around a park. You can see the strange crawling babies headed up and down the tower.

The cool hanging chairs were comfortable at the top of the tower.

Mom and I headed back to the apartment and mustered the energy to have a drink before getting takeout doner kebab for dinner. So good!

Last Day in Prague and One Hard Goodbye

Last European run for a long time. Oh how I will miss these views and running in new terrain.

I knew today would be hard. Getting DD#1 settled and ready for her new life in Prague was really the goal of this entire trip. I had to come to terms that we had done all we could to get her set up and ready for success. What an opportunity she has been given!

DD#1 met us for a trip to the Vysehrad Fortress and park. I had visited this area in the winter of 2003 and always wanted to return. The fortress is topped by a famous cemetery and a beautiful church. The grounds are a giant park with cafes, walls to climb, and beautiful views over the river and city. We took tons of pictures.

The interior of the church was stunning. Every surface had been thoughtfully painted. What a work of art!

We found Dvorak in the cemetery.

We stopped for a cold drink at one of the cute cafes. Oh how I'm going to miss this kid!

We used the metro a few times today and Mom was especially impressed with the longest and fastest escalators she'd ever seen!

We did a little last minute shopping for snacks and chocolate before finishing up our day. We found yummy potato croquettes for a snack and headed back to the beer garden for one last dinner with DD#1.

Goodbye to Plaza Prague Hotel. DH will be staying here in October when he visits DD#1. I think he will enjoy it!

But the biggest goodbye is to this girl. I wish her all the success and happiness as she embarks on her own adventure.

Posted by familyineurope 22:13 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague Comments (0)

Prague and Cesky Krumlov

Welcome to your new town, DD#1!


Prague Travel Day

I can hardly believe that I have had two long-haul flights in ten days. Yuck! In case anyone is new around here, I just spent a month in Vietnam and am now with a different crew headed to Central Europe for a different reason. DD#1 is 18 and headed to college in Prague! My mom and I are accompanying her on the journey and have a few destinations planned for this almost three week adventure.

There were some hard good-byes.

Here is DD#1 with her many bags ready for her big move.

DH was kind enough to drive us two hours to the airport to catch our long flight to Frankfurt and then Prague. The flight to Frankfurt was long, cramped, but uneventful. The drama started upon arrival in Frankfurt. We had a tight connection and barely made our connecting flight. The gates were at least a mile apart plus we had to ride a bus between them and clear customs. We ran our tails off and somehow were the last ones aboard the flight. We were traveling with more baggage than usual and naturally, the baggage didn't make it to Prague. We were assured it would be delivered in the middle of the night.

We took a taxi to our very nice hotel (Green Garden Hotel is recommended!) in the New Town in Prague. Despite the jet lag and baggage drama, it felt so good to be in the big city! Our room was perfect with three twin beds.

We resisted the urge to nap and walked about 10 minutes to a cute brewery for happy hour. It was afternoon in Prague and we were determined to stay up until evening even though no one slept on the plane.

We wandered more through the pretty old and new towns enjoying the architecture and atmosphere that only happens in Europe. We settled on a pizza/pasta place that we visited last year. It was still very tasty.

We took a tram home. (Love love love the public transportation here!) Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse just across from our hotel when my mom slipped and fell on an uneven part of the sidewalk. She fell hard hitting her head, knees, and hands. She twisted her ankle. It was so scary! I finally helped her up and she hobbled back to the hotel. Luckily, things were not as bad as they could have been. I was confident she did not have a concussion and was just banged up a bit. Not a great way to end a very long day. Somehow, we all managed to sleep despite waking up at weird hours due to jet lag. I was ready to be done with this day!

First Full Day in Prague

After a fairly decent night of sleep, I was relieved to find three giant suitcases had indeed arrived in the middle of the night. DD#1 was one happy kid! My mom was still banged up but was managing. We had a delicious breakfast at our hotel. The buffet was huge with so many choices. We were all happy and full.

I hired an Uber XL to take the three massive bags to DD#1's student housing. We stored it in a basement and enjoyed spending a little time in her non-touristy neighborhood. We took a tram near her university and visited the lovely Wallenstein Garden. So pretty!

Unfortunately, my mom's foot was not feeling great. She decided it would be best to visit the emergency room to make sure nothing was broken. Our hotel had directed us to a nearby hospital where we finally found the ER after many wrong turns. The building was incredibly old with narrow hallways, stairways, and confusing signage. We got checked in somehow even with the language barrier and waited in the narrow hallway (no waiting room) for a couple of mysterious hours. People were called in and out and there was a numbering system that didn't make much sense. She was finally called back and the nice doctor spoke English. He sent her down for X-rays and things moved more quickly from this point on. Long story short, she did not break anything but had swollen and bruised tendons. Her US insurance will probably reimburse all or part of the experience. The doctor visit, X-rays, and pain medication cost $135 total. That was the full and complete cost. Wow.

To celebrate she wasn't broken, we took a tram to a really cool beer garden wedged between two old church walls. This was probably the neatest beer garden setting I have ever seen. We relaxed after a stressful day and enjoyed a traditional pilsner.

Meanwhile, DD#1 was living it up! We left her to explore the area around her university where she sang an impromptu song on Charles Bridge with a jazz trio and helped some locals haul in some restaurant supplies. You never know what she might find! She had a meeting at her school where she learned a few practical things before meeting up with us.

We did a little shopping before taking a tram up to the castle. My mom was ready for some rest after the long day so DD#1 took her back to the hotel giving me some time to check out the castle and walk around the beautiful city. The castle was closed for the night but the outdoor areas were open for wandering. It was perfect timing for pictures.

After a very long walk, DD#1 met up with me for a drink (she can drink legally in Europe. So weird.) and we grabbed delicious doner kabab for dinner.

What a first day in Prague. Off to Cesky Krumlov tomorrow.

Travel Day to Cesky Krumlov

I set my alarm so I would have time for a glorious run in the city. I was out by 7:30am without realizing it was pouring down rain. Buckets of rain! I persevered and had one of my favorite runs. Czech people must not like the rain because even the packed Charles Bridge was empty.

I ran 6.5 miles without even realizing it! It felt great and I loved seeing the city wet with rain and without the crowds. It's pretty clear I'm an Oregonian!

We enjoyed our hotel breakfast and had a little time to kill before our bus to Cesky Krumlov. We visited the very small Dvorak Museum. It was underwhelming but somewhat interesting.

The bus station was easy to navigate and we rode our comfortable Flixbus over three hours to the glorious Cesky Krumlov.

Our pension was on the top floor in the attic but so cute and rustic.

We wandered the old town and couldn't stop taking pictures.

We found a cute place for afternoon cake and drinks. The berry cheesecake was tasty.

DD#1 and I hiked up some stairs to see the castle. So gorgeous! The town is small and easy to navigate.

We even spotted a rainbow over the castle!

We found some shops and pretty viewpoints. The rainy weather had cleared and we had such a nice late afternoon exploring this charming little town.

We found a nice traditional restaurant for dinner. It was just outside of the town center so prices were good. Tasty and affordable food!

I went for one more walk after dinner to capture some sunset shots and the castle lit up with lights. Today was a good day.

A little more Cesky Krumlov and travel to Salzburg!

We all slept really well and enjoyed a delicious breakfast. I think the thick pancakes with blueberries and cream were the winner.

We walked back up to the castle where DD#1 and I climbed to the top of the colorful tower. Such great views from up there!

We wandered around the castle and the gardens taking more pictures. DD#1 met some dancers from a production in the park's theater. They offered her free tickets for when she hopefully returns this fall!

We checked out the enormous St. Vitus Church before checking out of our pension.

We backtracked to the bus stop and relaxed on a very scenic ride to Salzburg. To be continued soon!

Posted by familyineurope 19:57 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Bratislava, Brno, and Prague

College visits, bustling metropolitan cities, great public transit, another luge, and beautiful architecture


Day 29 Continued. Arrival in Bratislava

We had an easy drive from Eger and found our apartment in Bratislava, Slovakia. Another country! The apartment was so stylish with unique art and finishings. We were a bit away from the city center and paid around $100 for this two-bedroom unit.

We took the bus into the old town and wandered around for a couple of hours. DH and I found a craft brewery and had fun watching how many people admired and took pictures of a parked Lamborghini. I wish we had taken pictures too!

We met the kids for dinner at a local outdoor place and called it a night. Zzzzzzz.

Day 30 - A full day in Bratislava

We took the bus to the old town once again to a special breakfast place, Five Points Bistro. Not only did we have great food and coffee drinks, but I had my first selfuccino! No kidding. I sent a picture of myself and they used some crazy printer contraption to make my one of a kind coffee drink! I laughed so hard and thoroughly enjoyed starting the day there.

We took several pictures around the old town and loved being in a more metropolitan city. The vibe was energetic and young and boy is Bratislava ever growing! There were cranes everywhere and modern high-rises being built just outside of the old town. Such an inspiring clash of old and new.

The girls enjoyed finding not one, but three different malls to explore. They found a few back to school clothes. Somehow DD#2 has managed to purchase four pairs of jeans while in Europe. It will be interesting getting all the new swag home. DD#2 is having a blast. Zara is her favorite!

We found an original Pilsner Urquell restaurant for lunch. This is DH's favorite beer in the world so he was quite happy to have his first full liter of the stuff! The restaurant was located along the Danube River in a new upscale part of town. I loved people watching and relaxing on a perfect weather day. The cheese plate was phenomenal.

We all did a little shopping and DD#2 and found a funny shirt. It was a Portland, Oregon t-shirt in the middle of Bratislava. Since it was only $4, she bought it.

We took a few pictures along the Danube and continued our wandering. We were very impressed with Bratislava and how much it had grown and changed since we were there in 2003. This guy seems to have lost his ear. Funny art in this country.

We took the bus back to our apartment and called it a day.

Day 31 - Brno and Prague

We checked out of our cute apartment wishing we had another night. In one short hour of driving, we were in the center of Brno to visit Masaryk University. DD#1 had an appointment with the arts department to learn more about a bachelor's degree in Culture, Media, and Performing Arts. The university is large and the city is vibrant and bustling. However, that particular degree is new and has a small co-hort. She may still apply.

Our lunch in Brno was a highlight. Vietnamese food and some sushi. Such a nice change of pace.

We took some pictures around the main square. I wonder if I will ever get tired of discovering yet another impressive European city?

We drove another couple of hours to Prague. Our apartment was on the outskirts of town in the Jinonice neighborhood. DH skillfully parked the car into a spot with mere inches to spare. This was a small apartment but had everything we needed for around $65 per night. It was an 8 minute walk from the metro station which had us in the center of town in less than 20 minutes.

We rode the metro into town for dinner at a brewery we enjoyed during our last visit in 2014. Delicious! We walked around a bit before returning to our apartment on the subway. The subway is still such a novelty for us and a fun way to get around.

Day 32 - Anglo-American University and touristy Prague

We had an early appointment at a small private university near Prague's Vltava river. DD#1 was impressed with the campus and the Humanities degree. Anglo American University (AAU) might be a real possibility.

We took some pictures in pretty Wallenstein Park and made our way to Charles Bridge. Tourists were out in force but we were all in a good mood and enjoyed the views and energy.

When we approached the Old Town Hall and famous Astronomical Clock, I knew I had to climb it. I ditched the family and climbed to the top myself. The views were amazing with the awkward selfie and all.

The old town square was busy but so beautiful. The weather was in the low-80s making for a really lovely day.

Prague knows what is up. It is nice to be in a progressive city. Pride week also started the day we arrived.

We took a tram ride to a different neighborhood in Prague to see the building where DD#1 might potentially live if she attended AAU. It was a great way to escape the tourists for a bit.

We took a bus to Letna Park and found a beer garden with great views over the city.

After that, we wandered downhill to the river where we found a boat that had been converted into a brewery. So cool!

Finally, we settled on a popular Italian place for pizza and pasta. We were very hungry by this point!

After a little gelato and a few more pictures, we finally took the metro back to our apartment. We managed to spend the entire day enjoying Prague. It was easy to do!

The long escalator from the metro to street level. Fastest and longest escalators I have ever seen.

Day 33 - Last full day in Prague

DD#1 had another college appointment, this time at Charles University. CU is the biggest university in the Czech Republic and we met someone at their very helpful student center. She answered loads of questions about logistics and how things work as an international student in Europe.

We returned to a special cafe for a late breakfast. In 2014, we enjoyed cakes and coffees at this very same place and tried to recreate the moment. Grand Cafe Orient is still a beautiful spot for a special occasion.

Here's the picture of the same place in 2014. They have grown just a bit!

Next, we walked around 20 minutes to the start of scenic tram 23. We had purchased all day passes on Prague's impressive public transport and wanted to take advantage. We rode the tram all the way across the river to Strahov Monastery where we enjoyed lunch and their homemade beer.

We walked down loads of stairs near the castle and saw the US Embassy before stopping in Kampa Island to see the giant babies. Yes, I said giant babies. Prague is known for its unique and funny public art.

Check out the funny "horse-power" art near our apartment.

After one final walk over the famous Charles Bridge, we left the city center.

Time for one last luge. First we took the metro, and then a bus to a luge on the outskirts of town. Yes, there is a luge in Prague! This was our 6th luge of the trip. It wasn't long or fancy but it was fast and friendly! It was a scenic contrast to the busy city center. And we were getting our moneys worth from those public transport passes!

We bused and metro'd back into town and found a nice local place for dinner close to the river. We had really made the most of our two full days in Prague. It felt like we revisited some of our favorite places and mixed in a few new ones.

Day 34 - Last college appointment

DD#1 and I took the metro to her last college appointment. This one was extra special because she was meeting with the Dean of Music Education and Choral Conducting at Charles University. We learned a lot about the program and she even played piano and sang for him. The professor also tested her musical skills on the spot which must have been terrifying! I was so proud of DD#1 and of how she conducted herself. She will be applying to this program which is exciting and also very scary!

After the appointment, we got in the car to head to Plzen, Czechia for a very different appointment. Next up was a tour of DH's favorite brewery in the world: Pilsner Urquell! To be continued....

Posted by familyineurope 06:08 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged bratislava prague brno Comments (0)

Bayern Park & Prague

A little rain doesn't stop Oregonians from having fun!

Day Nine - Bayern Park
I forgot to mention how much fun it has been to be in a country with an amazing soccer team during the World Cup. It seems like all German people are excited. After Germany beat Brazil, the horns and racket in the streets went on and on! We were in a very small town so I'm sure the celebrations were even louder and bigger in larger cities.

We were all especially excited for a fun day at a smallish German amusement park. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great but we didn't let it stop us from having a ball. There were no lines for any rides and we could continue riding the same ride over and over again without exiting. DD#1 is fearless and would have liked to go on every ride by herself. DD#2 is more cautious but warmed up to some of the more daring rides. The wet log ride was a favorite today. The park was nearly empty and felt like a ghost town. Most of the park employees were senior citizens who seemed friendly and patient. The girls went on a little roller coaster around 15 times without getting off! Sadly, the park closed two hours early due to the cruddy weather. We couldn't understand the announcement and didn't see the written explanation at the entrance. DD#1 and I were saving the best roller coaster for last and struck out when the park closed without warning. Darn it! It was such a low-key, inexpensive (relatively) park that I wouldn't be surprised if we return someday.
Notice how we are the ONLY ones on the ride. This was the norm for the day.
There were very few staff members or warnings before getting on a ride. These cool frog pendulums had zero staff around. Completely self-operated!
They even had an enormous rock climbing wall.
A few more pictures from our fun, rainy day:

Day 10 - Drive from Germany to Prague!

We tried to get up sort of early so we could make a couple of stops on the way to Prague. The weather was still cool and rainy. The big bummer about the rain is that luges and bobsleds are unable to run. The tracks must be dry so that the brakes can operate. Both the luge and bobsled track were closed at Bayern Park yesterday. We would encounter the same problem at Zilverberg mountain on the way to Prague today. Drat!

However, we were able to stop at an amazing glass blowing operation called Joska Glass. The forested area between Germany and the Czech Republic has been known for its glass for hundreds of years. The tradition goes back to having access to all the trees for burning hot fires required for making glass. Joska is unique because they allow kids to blow their own glass for 5 Euros - and they get to keep their creation! The girls were so proud of their beautiful creations. Now I wonder how we will get them home in one piece...
As always, another cool German playground:
We made our way into the Czech Republic and stopped at Karlstejn Castle. The drive was less than three hours but we were still ready to stretch our legs.
We stopped on the outskirts of town at a grocery store. We spent less than $30 on two bags of fun grocery items! We would finally have a kitchen in our new digs. After some serious old city driving, we made it to our apartment for the next 5 nights right near the famous Charles Bridge in Mala Strana. DH was happy to have a private courtyard to park the new wheels.
We found a neat basement restaurant with typical Czech food.
The rain had finally stopped so we took a quick stroll and decided to climb the tower on our end of the Charles Bridge. We were the only ones up there!
The girls couldn't resist a big smooch by all those love locks near the Charles Bridge. Cracked me up!

Posted by familyineurope 23:07 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

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