Posts Tagged ‘Prague’

Euro2019 Trip | Leg One | Leaving for Toronto to Prague, Czech Republic

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

I arrived in Ajax the night before to meet up with the kids and talk about the trip and stress that we are packing light and using backpacks for this trip.  I brought my tent and camped “stealth” in Ajax and the “Mom” brought them to the Go Train with their passports.  Noah broke his arm a couple of weeks before the trip.  Days before the trip he got a new swimmable cast.  So with that and some travel insurance we were off to the Airport with our 3 backpacks.

Day 1: July 28th Plan

  • Get ourselves to the airport in time so we are not rushed for our flights
  • Fit the 3 of us on one of two different flight options
  • Try and get some “real” sleep on the flight
  • Arrive in Prague the next morning and book somewhere to stay the night

We took off on the GO Train from Ajax to Union Station in Toronto.  We got out of Union and walked across the road to Movenpick Marche at Brookfield Place for some lunch.  $50 later we were on our way on the UP Express that runs from Union Station to Toronto Pearson Airport that is always a reliable 25min trip.  Kids are excited and so am I to finally be able to take them to Europe.  On our way to the airport, I started to shoot some video on my iPhone to make a little travel vlog of the trip, since I’m sure it will give me something to do on the flight and late at night not sleeping due to the JetLag that was coming.

With my flight benefits at work, I decided to book us on Air Canada since the direct flight with Air Canada Rouge leaves Toronto close to 5PM.  As a back-up, we booked on a credit card the 8:20PM Toronto to Munich flight with Lufthansa.  I’ve been checking the flight load all week leading up to departure and LH471 to Frankfurt was at capacity and it looked like LH495 to Munich would fill up also.  The space on AC1922 with Air Canada looked good all week.  A night before the Air Canada app will show you how many people are on the plane for those who are flying “Standby” and it had about 80 open spots… so I knew we would be leaving on the direct flight at 5PM.  Once we land, I would refund the Lufthansa ticket.

The configuration of the flight is a 2-3-2 for economy and we were put in the middle 3 seats with Noah riding in the middle.  With the early departure of 5pm and us landing in Prague at 7AM local time… I knew it would be tough on the kids since it was only 1AM Toronto time and we had our whole day ahead of us so trying to get some sleep on the flight was important so after dinner I would force them to use the eye-mask and ear plugs I packed to try and get some sleep.  At the airport we went through security with no issues.  A bit of juggling since we took some stuff out of our main packs and had little bags for our personal items to distribute the weight.  They didn’t weigh or measure any of our bags.  We also asked the gate if we could get on first with Noah’s arm and that helped secure space in the overhead bin for our backpacks all together.

 

Below is the first episode of our travel vlog:

 

I’ve never flown Air Canada Rouge before.  I’ve heard stories that the cabin in economy is tight.  I also heard that there are no screens on the back of the seat and you have to download the AC App and you can stream movies on your device.  I knew were would get food.  I was hoping to fly with Lufthansa so the kids could experience our airline on a long haul flight.  Maybe on the way back we will fly Lufty.

On the flight, I was really pleased with the food and the room.  My legs fit… so I was happy.  I just couldn’t enjoy a cold beer on the flight like LH471.  The boarding and gate staff were great.  Noah and Chantal tried to sleep and I think they drifted off for about two hours.

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Two | Landing in Prague, Czech Republic

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Day 2: July 29th Plan

  • If we made the flight then we had to book somewhere to stay when we land
  • Make our way downtown Prague and drop off our bags
  • Go find something to eat and see how we feel with JetLag
  • Check-in to our accommodations
  • See if we feel like going out again to check out the city.
  • Get some much needed sleep.

Episode Two below capturing hitting the ground in Prague:

After landing in Prague we found a quiet place to sit down and login to the wifi to book somewhere to stay.  I used Hostelworld to find and book PLUS Prague for 2 nights.  Since I didn’t know if we would get on a the plane it was better to book something after we land.  After booking… it was time to go through customs and find the express bus that would take us downtown to the Hostel so we can drop off the packs and go out for breakfast.

 

Getting tickets is easy.  We just picked up 3 24hr metro ticket that is good for all the busses, subway and trams.  It didn’t take too long to get downtown via the express bus that takes us to the “Yellow” subway line that we can take to our hostel to drop off our packs.

Below you will see the start of the “Yellow” line to the far left.  That’s where the airport bus drops you off at and we just took the yellow line west to the “Red” line where we simply go north 3 stops and the Hostel is right there.  Downtown Prague is where Yellow and Red touches the Green line.

It was too early to check-in so we took off downtown to look around a little and get something to eat.  We got off at Muzeum and went up to the surface.

We walked around and snapped some pictures and took in the first sights of Old Town Square.  I wanted to take them to a place that the Honest Prague Guide talked about Lokal so we had to walk and check it out.  We wanted to get some traditional Czech dishes to try.  I wanted a mid-morning Czech beer.  We ordered Roastbeef with Tomato sauce with Czech Bread Dumplings, 6 week old ripened fried cheese, Pork Leg Schnitzel fried in butter, Pork braised with Kohlrabi and buttered potatoes.  After that we got some local Czech money and off we went to explore a little more.

 

At 3PM we made our way back to get our room at the PLUS Prague Hostel.  We selected a private room and headed up to unpack our bags a little.  This is a cool little place.  Very large and clean with many rooms to mingle and chill.  It has a pool and sauna downstairs with a little gym and a big kitchen to cook meals and eat.  Outside in the back it has a beach volleyball court and ping pong tables and attached is a bar that serves pizza, burgers and bar food.  In the mornings there is a buffet for about 7CAD that has eggs and bacon and other breakfast stuff to fill up for your day ahead.

After getting upstairs… we all claimed our beds and had a nap.  Our room had this layout bottom-right above and I had the bottom bunk over to the left and the kids had each a twin bed.  You pay for the fourth person to get a private room.  It was 3PM in Prague.  We have been up for 26 hours straight at this point and we were cooked.

We slept for about 5 hours and got up and went downstairs to get some food and we took it easy and caught up with friends in Canada while I edited video and we talked about the things we could do the next day and what I wanted to do since I did some researching on what Prague had to offer.  My evernote Prague folder was full and I made the kids put evernote on their phone so they had all the access to everything on the trip and they could see the agenda.  It was peppered with “Don’t tell Mom any of the details”.  Since I didn’t want to answer a thousand questions about what we were doing every day of the trip.

 

 

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Two | Exploring Prague, Czech Republic

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Day 3: July 30th | Prague, Czech Republic | 2nd Full Day in Prague

After taking the subway back downtown.  We hit up Prague’s City Hall and it’s historic Paternoster Lift shown above.  AKA “The Elevators of Death”.  This doorless 20th-century elevator doesn’t stop or slow down and don’t get crushed if you slip.  Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it.  If you enter City Hall just keep walking to the right and skip the normal elevators and you will stumble one of 9 of these working in Prague.  These are a dying breed after modern day safety regulations having banned their construction.  These were created in the 1860’s in England these were in government buildings and stores in Germany and around Europe.  These elevators travel in a loop.  Thanks to the Honest Prague Guide for pointing this out to me to check out.  It was Noah’s fave attraction.  This one consists of 12 cabins.  You have to be fairly quick to jump on and off.  Be careful not to loose your cellphone in the crack of the floor.  More on that later.

We continued to wander the crooked streets of Prague wandering around the old city centre.

Prague’s famous Astronomical clock which was first installed in 14fucking10.  Third oldest in the world and only still working.  It’s mounted at Old Town Hall and the clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial representing the position of the sun and moon in the sky displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock.  When the clock strikes at the top of the hour the 12 Apostles do the walk to present themselves in the two windows.  The figure of Death represented by the skeleton strikes the time.  The calendar dial represents the months.  Local legend says the city will suffer if the clock stops and neglected.  A ghost mounted on the clock nods his head in confirmation of this.  The clockmaker was blinded after it was created so he could not make a clock like this for any other city in Europe.  He later threw himself into the gears of the clock killing himself and disabling the clock for a couple of hundred years before it was repaired.  Gothic figures were added over the years and also with the Golden Rooster crowing was also added.  If you look closely nets were added to keep Pigeons away.

The weather was good, so we decided to hit the “Yellow” subway line north west and out of the downtown to Prosek.  We wanted to ride the Bobsled Track shown below.

Bobova Draha Prosek is a cool little track that is open all year round.  If you get a group pass it works out to 2.70CAD per ride.  Once out of the main starting block… out comes the phone to record.  Chantal slowed down at the beginning and waited for me to be right on her tail.  The heavier you are the faster you go.  I was a little scared and I was using the break on some of the turns since you go up to the top on the corners.  I’m not 11 years old anymore and weigh 68 pounds anymore.  I’m now built for speed to match my moniker.

Such a great place.  10 minutes away is Kart Planet that has really fast Go Karts but kids are not allowed and with Noah’s arm he could not drive since you can convince them to let kids ride if they really can drive a racing kart.  So with “Lighting McQueen” having a messed up wrist we will have to pass and maybe we will come back in the future.

Coming back into the city we wanted to go out for dinner in Old Prague and picked Caffe Italia under the towers and sit out on the patio.  Big up’s to them on the beer glasses.  We sent home to Mom the photo of Noah below enjoying Prague.  Beer is cheaper than coke.

Last night in the PLUS Prague hostel and in the morning we will switch venues for two more nights in Prague.

 

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Two | Exploring Part II | Prague, Czech Republic

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Day 4: July 31st | Fourth Full Day In Prague

We checked out of where we are staying and checked-in to the Prague Pure White Hotel located along the route of Tram 22 and 3 subway stops from downtown.  100CAD per night.  Really nice posh hotel that is very clean, quiet and comfortable.  We also picked up Vodafone SIM card that we picked up for 40CAD that gave us 3GB of data within Europe.  So much better than getting a Canadian Europe plan added to our cell phones.

Explored a different part of the city and wandered and always stopped for snacks.

Charles Bridge in the Day looking out of the Bridges West Tower and Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral in the background top right shown below.

The other night we were out till 3AM since we decided to take Tram 22 across the city (9PM) to the end and take it back into the city and walk along the Royal Route backwards and across Charles Bridge.  Tram 22 is the best tram to get a feel for the city…. so off we went.

(Below) Walking along the Charles Bridge at night.  We had to stop and rub the popular statue of St. John Nepomuk who was ordered to be killed by King Charles after he would not tell him what his wife said in confession.  So he was thrown off the bridge to die and there is a statue of him where people rub for good luck and makes them come back to Prague.  Tradition is that you need to use your left hand and use every finger touching him lying down.  Some people do it wrong rubbing the dog or King Charles.  It’s crazy to think about how many people have touched this in all the years of the bridge.

So where does getting back to the room at 3AM come from.  It was midnight and we wanted to take a night route bus back to the hotel.  I forget the number but when the bus came by we got on it.  Trouble is it was going the other way and out of the city.  The entire loop took 3 hours.

So tonight it will be a early night with a late night spontaneous Kabab run close by the Pure White Hotel for a late night snack.

Last Day in Prague

We took Tram 22 across the city and got off at Prague Castle and walked around the grounds at this incredible palace.  Let’s call it a complex since it’s huge and built in the 9th century.  It’s the official office of the President.  It ranks as the largest ancient castle in the world.  It’s the most visited place in Prague and it’s hard not to notice sticking out at the top of the skyline with it perched up on a hill.

After hitting up St. Vitus we got stuck in a little downpour and found shelter under a overhang with 48 people huddled around us.  It wasn’t that long.  After that we wandered through the Palace’s grounds and stumbled upon Lobkowicz Palace Cafe with a Terrace overlooking the city.

So we each got a drink and waited out the rain that was to clear in the next 30 minutes.

We snapped lots of photos and pano’s of the city.  After the rain we wandered down to the Charles Bridge before finding cover under it.  We bought poncho’s and walked to the Subway and took a the metro to

Below is Noah killing it over his little sister at the Museum of Senses which was awesome.

With the last night in Prague… Noah wanted to pay for a uber to take us back to City Hall for one last ride in the Elevators of Death.  While getting off the elevator he dropped his phone down the shaft.  The place is closing in about a hour.  Nobody is around.  Nobody speaks english.  I went up to the security guard and tried to explain what happened.  He understood and told us to come back in a hour when the place is closing.  Noah was gutted.  When we went back there was a different guard and he didn’t understand any english.  I typed it out in Google Translate and let him listen to it 6 times and he handed me his phone.  When we were gone they must have went into the basement to grab it.  Noah was so happy and we made him pay for a uber back to the hotel.  We were kind of exhausted from our first couple of days in Prague and not sleeping that well with the JetLag.

Next up is a early morning train ride into Germany to visit Tropical Islands.

 

 

Don’t Tell Mom Summer Europe Trip 2019 | #shesaidyes #timetoplan

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Time to plan.  She said yes.  She has said no to Europe in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

I’ve lost deposits on things when she said caved in 2016 and 2017 with a simple trip to Lisbon.  That didn’t work… so we were listed as a “no show” in 2017 at a pretty wicked Waterpark in Germany that has been on our bucket-list.  Who would not want to sleep over inside a Waterpark!!

Will this summer be different and it all happens?  Will we finally fly to Europe from Canada and visit some neat cities & Tropical Islands just south of Berlin?

(below: Chantal asking since she never replied to my email asking…)

(Above: Chantal telling me it’s a go!  Karen also emailed me the next day with a “Yes”.)

So time to plan.  I work at Lufthansa, and that provides me and the kids with flight benefits.  There is so many great websites and apps for your phone to help you plan a trip to get away.  All our trip information is going into Evernote now that my Daughter also has access to.

 

Time to use Evernote, Google Earth, Trip Advisor, Couchsurfing, Hostelworld and see what our options are.  I have 16 days to plan out since the kids are at a cottage till the evening of July 28th.  We are using Google Sheets to track and plan how much money we need.  We are creating a google cal that will track some of the basics of the general timelines to show the kids the blocks of time.

I really wish the Canadian dollar was strong against the Euro.

When you start to look at the logistics on how to travel to hop from city to city… it’s kind of nuts and also equally hard to plan out.

Here are the basic details of the trip:

Right now, we have decided to fly Air Canada into Prague in the Czech Republic since it’s a little east of Munich and South of Berlin.  We are flying standby so if we don’t fit on Air Canada Monday night, we will have a backup ticket towards Munich, Germany so we can easily catch up and get to Prague.

AC1922 departs Toronto (YYZ) at 4:50pm on July 29th and arrives next day into Prague (PRG) at 6:55AM on July 30th.  We will have two full days in Prague before moving north.

After the two days in Prague we will get on a Train and head north to Krausnick, Germany that is about a hour south of Berlin.  We will be staying inside Tropical Islands Theme Park in a little tent.  We will have access to the water park for a crazy amount of time so I’m sure we will be pale Canadian prunes by the end of it.

After checking out of the park we will jump on a train north to Berlin Germany… where the next day we will have a full day exploring the really interesting city.

The next morning we will make our way to the airport and jump on Lufthansa to zip southwest to Lisbon Portugal by the ocean for four days.  The city of 7 hills and we can get lost in the streets of Lisbon and also hop on a train and hit two beaches along the coast.  Will update this blog post soon with more information since we are looking at places to explore to roughly block off some time to do and explore.

After Portugal, it’s on a plane North East towards Zurich and into the mountains of Switzerland and Austria as we make our way back to Prague.  TAP Portugal will fly us to Zurich since it’s a gateway into the Alps.  This will be a short stay and we will have the second part of the day to taste some food and hopefully jump into the river for a swim and a late night to try and see a bit of the city before bed.

The next morning it’s on a train through the mountains to Innsbruck to spend 3 days in this small city in the valley of the mountains.  The reason we wanted to go here is the huge steep mountain coasters and do some hiking in the mountains with the help of the gondola to get up there.  😉  Below is two of the rides that we hopefully not hit the breaks on.

After the the days of going hard… it’s rest day on a train as we travel from Innsbruck to Vienna to stop for lunch for a couple of hours before getting on another train to hop back to Prague for a last night of spending any money we have left on some food we can’t spell.  I’m sure I will be editing videos on the train.

The next day it’s off to the Airport in Prague to hop on a plane and fly back with Air Canada back to Toronto where we will be back in the same day and the kids should be home by about 8pm local time and off to bed to sleep for 4 days.

 

More info to follow.  Please don’t share with the Mom if you know her.