Our train wasn’t leaving until about 6:30pm, but we had to check out of the hotel room by 10:00am. We stored our luggage with the hotel and walked around the city with no set agenda except to buy some souvenirs and see some stuff we hadn’t seen before.
We had a late lunch at a local Italian eatery and headed back to the hotel with hours to kill. We basically hung out in the hotel bar/lobby for several hours. We took a taxi out to the train station. The train station wasn’t very helpful, information-wise. All of the information booths we were finding were closed. We finally found a place to get information regarding the train out of there.
The train ride was an all-nighter, it took us out of Czech Republic and to Cologne, in the northwestern section of Germany. For the most part I enjoyed the train ride except for the pair of people who joined the cabin around 1:00am somewhere in Germany. We had already been asleep at that point and had to move some stuff to make room for their luggage.
We arrived in Cologne around 6:30am.
We got up this morning in anticipation of going on a tour to Terezin, a concentration camp used by the Germans during World War II. After another filling breakfast we contacted the agency we made the tour through and found out that they didn’t have enough people to sign up, so their tour was canceled today. We talked to the front desk at the hotel and they knew of another tour. They called for us and booked it, but we had to hurry because the tour was leaving in about 20 minutes time.
We made it there after a wrong turn or two. Terezin is about an hour or so north of Prague. A tour van took us to Terezin. Terezin was built in the late 18th century as a fortification against the Prussians, but it was never used due to the Prussians not making advances in that direction. The place is divided into two sections. The first section is the small fortress. This was used for imprisoning people, not only Jews, but basically anyone who disagreed with the government for any other reason they saw fit. This concentration camp didn’t have any gas chambers, but so many people died here from other reasons. Seeing a concentration camp in person makes you really realize what people went through. They would literally have 600 prisoners in this fairly small room, I just can’t even visualize how that was even possible. The second section is the large fortress, this was the Jewish Ghetto. People who ended up here hoped it would be their last location and they could remain there for the rest of the war. However, people who passed through there would end up being transferred out to other concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
After the tour we were taken back to Wenceslas Square in Prague. We grabbed some really good sausage as an on the go food. We walked around for a bit before making our way back to the hotel room. We ended up grabbing a couple slices of pizza a few blocks down from our hotel room for dinner.
Tomorrow is our last day in Prague. We leave by train tomorrow afternoon for an all night ride to Cologne, Germany.
I slept so well in the hotel, probably the best I’ve slept for far on the trip. We got up early and stopped downstairs to eat breakfast. Since I’ve been gone I’ve managed to eat pretty good breakfasts almost every morning, not eating again until dinner) and this one was no exception. I had cereal, fruit, bacon (more ham-like here), sausage, and toast… oh and several cups of juice (apple and orange). I’ve missed having juice. While I was in the hostel in London I would drink a Coke for breakfast because they only had tea and coffee available…. blech. Anyways, after the nice breakfast we stopped off in the lobby area and browsed the tourist brochures.
We planned several stops, all within walking distance. Now by walking distance I don’t mean a couple blocks. We walked several miles today, even more than we did in London due to us not using a mass transit system. First stop of the day took us to the Communism Museum, which covered the history of communism in the Czech Republic and how they broke away from it twenty years ago. There were a lot of communist posters and other items from that era in the museum. Reading all of the captions was really interesting because when I think of communist countries, Czech Republic isn’t one that comes to mind as a country who used to be under communist rule.
We headed a few more blocks and ended up in Old Town Square. There are some really beautiful buildings in this square. The next museum that we were going to was in an alley off of the square. The museum that we stopped at was the Sex Machine Museum. It’s there, you pretty much have to visit it. I’ll let the pictures I took tell the story there.
After the Sex Machine Museum, we walked down to the river to the area that was the Jewish Ghetto. This area of town houses the Jewish cemetery as well many other interesting places. We paid to tour about 6 places, including the cemetery. The cemetery first started being used around 1600 or so. There are just so many gravestones here. Once again the pictures will probably give you a much better idea of just how crowded it is.
After we finished the Jewish Ghetto tour, we decided to head back to the hotel room for a bit before grabbing dinner. Exhausted, I came in and took a nap. We decided to eat down the street from the hotel at a Czech restaurant. I had some Czech dish with beef, gravy, bread, and a cranberry sauce. It was really good and filling.
After dinner we came back to the hotel room and hung out for the rest of the evening.
We got up crazy early at the hostel because the train from the station going out to Luton Airport was leaving around 7. We took the train out to Luton, about a 45 minute or so ride. This was a smaller regional airport compared to Heathrow. Having some time to kill before the WizzAir check-in was open, we grabbed some breakfast at the Burger King in the terminal. The plane ride was a fairly short one probably an hour and twenty minutes or so.
Arriving out at the Prague International Airport (the actual name escapes me), we quickly made it through customs. There were shuttle buses that would essentially take us wherever our destination was from the airport for a small fee.
Driving in this city is pretty much insane. For the most part there is a complete lack of traffic signals and pedestrians have so many crossings as well. There are also cable cars that ride through the main streets.
They dropped us off at the hostel. This hostel, the Manhattan at Charvatova, was absolutely horrible. This is not the “American” in me needing the best. The place itself was on the second floor of a building that smelled of mold. No one at the front desk spoke any english. The wireless Internet connection was non-existent and the machines for Internet access were old P2 machines from about 1997, no kidding. Outside of the rating, the things we looked for in the hostel was that it had wireless Internet access and the staff could communicate in English. This wasn’t the end of the problems with this hostel. In the common room there were a couple guys actually smoking weed.
We met a gentlemen, from New Zealand, who had stayed in the hostel for a few days. He was a really nice guy. He had been traveling in Europe for a month or two. Unfortunately he had been pick pocketed not far from the hostel on the street while he was there. Two guy apparently got buddy buddy up to him. He checked his pockets afterwords and his money and passport were gone. He didn’t have much money on him, luckily. He backtracked and found his passport, but his customs stamps had been smudged from where the passport landed in water. He had come to Europe through a connecting flight in the United States. Unfortunately, if he returned that way, he would be given a lot of grief in customs. He was going to have to return home by connecting through Hong Kong now. We grabbed some Chinese food down the street with him before we left for our new lodging.
We ended up booking a nice Best Western hotel (Hotel PAV) on Kremenkova. It was a bit expensive for three nights and a bit complicated to book because we didn’t have Internet access, but to be sure we were in a good location it was a really great decision.
What a day….