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Czech Republic



  • Czech CESKÁ REPUBLIKA, landlocked country in central Europe. It comprises the historic lands of Bohemia and Moravia (collectively often called the Czech Lands) and the southwestern corner of Silesia. The modern Czech nation was inaugurated on Jan. 1, 1993, when the union with Slovakia, dating from 1918, was dissolved; the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia controlled the federal government from 1948 to 1989. The Czech Republic is bordered by Poland to the north and northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest. It has an area of 30,450 square miles (78,864 square kilometres). The capital is Prague (Praha).

Canadian Embassy/Consulate: Mickiewiczova 6, Hradcany Tel.02/2431-1108

Our plan was to spend roughly 7 to 10 days in Prague and forgo travelling around the country although we are probably missing out on a lot of beautiful scenery, people, and cities. None-the-less, some essential travel information on Prague follows.

Hlavni Nadrazi Train Station

  • International trains arrive at and depart from the main station on Wilsonova ulice, about 500 yards east of Wenceslas Square
  • Or the suburban Nádrazí Holesovice (tel. 02/2461-5865), situated about 2 kilometers (1 1/2 miles) north of the city center.
  • Main station has information offices upstairs, open daily 6 AM-10 PM, or downstairs near the exits (under the CD Centrum sign), or call 02/2422-4200. The Cedok office at Na príkope 18 (tel. 02/2419-7111) also provides train information and issues tickets.

Ruzyne Airport (Tel. 2011 1111)

Located 10 kilometers from the city center, Prague's only airport is accessible by local bus (119 from the Dejvicka metro stop, the last stop on the A line); Cedaz express airport bus (Tel: 20114296) which picks up passengers at both the Namesti Republiky and Dejvicka metro stops, for 90 and 60 Kc respectively; and by taxi, which should cost about 300 Kc for a ride from the center of town.
Traveling in the other direction, from the airport into the city, there are also three options. Visitors should be aware that the line of white cars lined up in front of the airport may look like taxis, but they aren't. Belinda, a private shuttle company, has exclusive rights on transporting airport travelers one way only--into the city. Because of this, they are somewhat higher-priced than the average taxi, about 25 Kc per kilometer. If you're on a tight budget, you may want to lug yourself and your bags into town on bus 119, or take the Cedaz shuttle bus (both mentioned above). Taxis Taxi prices in Prague are not regulated. Cab drivers can charge whatever they like, as long as they post their price-per-kilometer, usually on the door. It's a good idea to agree on a price with the driver before committing to the ride. As in many big cities, cab drivers sometimes prey on foreigners who are unfamiliar with the language or currency. Whenever possible it's better to call for a taxi in advance. An approximate price for the ride can be provided over the phone by the dispatcher. Two usually reliable companies whose dispatchers speak English are AAA Taxi (Tel: 10 80) and ProfiTaxi (Tel: 6104 5555).


Prague Information Links

The Prague Post - Online english newspaper. Also has tourist information, an online city map, day trip suggestions, and more.
Rental Flat in Central Prague - A link to our probably choice of accomodation. Private flat, good location.
A - Z Prague - Online guide for tourist information, shopping, culture, etc. Many links for hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants, etc.
jsc travel agency - Cheap cheap cheap links to hostels, hotels starting from 9 USD a night!


SUBWAY

Prague's subway system, the metro, is clean and reliable. Trains run daily from 5 AM to midnight. Validate the tickets at the orange machines before descending the escalators; each ticket is good for 60 minutes of uninterrupted travel. Trains are patrolled often; the fine for riding without a valid ticket is 200 Kc. Beware of pickpockets, who often operate in large groups, on crowded trams and metro cars.

BUS AND TRAM

Prague's extensive bus and streetcar network allows for fast, efficient travel throughout the city. Tickets are the same as those used for the metro, although you validate them at machines inside the bus or streetcar. Tickets (w jizdenky) can be bought at hotels, newsstands, and from dispensing machines in the metro stations. The price of a ticket increased in 1996 from 6 Kc to 10 Kc; the new tickets permit one hour's travel throughout the metro, tram, and bus network, rather than the current one ticket-one ride system. You can also buy one-day passes allowing unlimited use of the system for 50 Kc, two-day for 85 Kc, three-day for 110 Kc, and five-day for 170 Kc. The passes can be purchased at the main metro stations and at some newsstands. A refurbished old tram, No. 91, plies a route in the Old Town and Lesser Quarter on summer weekends. Trams 50-59 and Buses 500 and above run all night, after the metro shuts down at midnight. All "night tram" routes intersect at the corner of Lazarská and Spálená streets in the New Town near the Národní Trída metro station.


Tourist Offices

Cedok is the first stop for general tourist information and city maps. Cedok will also exchange money, arrange guided tours, and book passage on airlines, buses, and trains. You can pay for Cedok services, including booking rail tickets, with any major credit card. Note limited weekend hours. Main office: Na príkope 18, tel. 02/2419-7111, open weekdays 8:30-6, Sat. 9-1. Other downtown offices: Rytírská 16 and Parízská 6.

The Prague Information Service (PIS) (Staromestské nám. 22; Na príkope 20) is generally less helpful than Cedok but offers city maps and general tourist information and arranges group and individual tours. It can also exchange money and help in obtaining tickets for cultural events.

For low-priced bus tickets to just about anywhere in Europe, try Bohemia Tour (Zlatnická 7) or Cedok's main office (Na príkope).

Student Travel Info can be procured from CKM Youth Travel Service, Zitna 12, tel.02/2491-5767


Accomodation Agencies

Cedok can help you find private accomodation but there are a few others that can be just as helpful.
AVE Accomodation Agency - in the train stations and airport. tel.02/2422-3226
City of Prague Accomodation Service - Hastalska 7, tel.02/231-6663


Wining and Dining

So far a few recommended places for cheap food and drink:
U Tri Pstrosu - Drazickeho namesti 12 (west side of Charles bridge)*****
U Anezky, areal Anezskeho Klastera (St. Agnes Convent) tel.231-0084*****

Pivnice
U Pinkasu - Jungmannovo namesti 15
U Bonaparta - Nerudova 29
U Fleku - Kremencova 11
Ve Skorepse - Skorepka 1
U Zlateho Tygra - Husova 17
Cerny Pivovar - Karlovo namesti 15


Night Entertainment

Although we won't have much money to go out a couple of places that I'd like to check out are:
Jazz Club AghaRTA, Krakovska 5 tel.2221-1275 and Jazz Club Reduta, Narodni trida 20 tel.2491-2246
 
 


September 5, 1999. PRAHA, CESKA REPUBLIKA. Yeah, we're locals now. Last night we spent an interesting couple of hours drinking in a SPORTS BAR! That made at least one of us happy. ;) Anyway, the Czech soccer team killed the Lithuanian team 4-0. A few guys in the bar were pretty happy about that. Unfortunately, nobody really understood english, german, slovenian, or Canadian. That made life fairly difficult. Even buying beer for a guy didn't help.
Rocky is going for another really strong Czech coffee so he's actually letting me write again - you poor suckers. Well, we also went to the Prague Castle yesterday which was fabulous. We walked up 284 stairs in a giant spiral to get to the top of the tower in a beautiful Gothic Cathedral. The view from the top was absolutely fabulous. Then we wandered around the area and decided to treat ourselves to a great meal, soup, meat, dessert, the works. The food in Prague is generally cheap by comparison, great meals are $10 - $15 Canadian but we are starting to run out of crowns and don't want to exchange any more so we're trying to cheap out today.

I think we'll be heading downtown one last time and are going to split up for a few hours walking around, so I'll probably get really lost. Also, you have to be careful crossing the streets because they only give you about one second to cross - it's amusing. I think that I'll try out a horse and carriage ride around the old town, Rocky doesn't find that interesting but I think it'll be great, so as long as it's not too much money I'm going to give it a try. The city really is beautiful, yesterday night (before the Sports Bar.....) we were walking back from the castle and ended up sitting on the really old beautiful bridge, talking to the local artists (who sell gorgeous paintings - if only they'd travel well in a back pack) and watching the sunset behind the castle - what a view!

I can't really think of much else, except that with lots of money you could go nuts in Prague. They mine garnets here so there are many beautiful garnet rings at excellent prices, that would be a nice purchase here (anywhere from $20 up for gold and garnet rings). I actually was mildly domestic today and did laundry - let's hope it all dries before we have to leave for the train to Vienna tomorrow. I never realized how hard it was to wash clothing in a sink - I have a whole new respect for the women in the olden days. Well, I guess our next report will be from Vienna, looking forward to the city but not the prices, it is going to be very tough on our budget and especially after being used to the cheap beer and food in Prague, living on Peanut Butter sandwiches doesn't thrill me (there is NOTHING wrong with pb sandwiches -R). We've been really lucky with weather and hopefully that keeps up, talk to you all soon!!!

September 3, 1999. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC. Well, we finally made it - the trip has officially begun. Rocky is letting me write the first update, so for all of you who have been reading - HELLO. We arrived in Prague on tuesday night and found our first place to sleep, the Welcome Hostel. That was all we were pretty well up to after a 7 hour flight to London, then 6 hours at Heathrow airport and another 2 hour flight to Prague. We basically had showers, had a beer - that's a must - and went to bed. Unfortunately it wasn't the soundest of sleeps. Our hostel is a bit of a party place and we were awoken - or at least I was - throughout the night, my personal favorite being by the guy throwing up for half an hour at 5 a.m. Ahhhh, the first impression of Prague. Being a wimp and this being my first hostel, needless to say I wasn't impressed with the place, it wasn't overly neat or comfortable - but very cheap and probably not too bad.

First on the list for the day ahead was to find the centre and a new place to live. This doesn't sound too tough but with a advertursome spirit we decided to walk - we were told it was only 20 min. or so from the hostel. That was a bad idea, after walking around in circles for 3 hours we finally found the water. Here is the first lesson in travelling, on the first day take the metro. Anyways, we followed the water, hoping that would lead us there and ended up stopping in a pub for a beer - we were thirsty and it was 11 by this time. We asked the bartender where we were, and we hadn't made it on our Prague map yet - OOOPS. We had been going East instead of south and done a big giant circle and were nowhere near where we wanted to go - and about 10 minutes from where we started. So, we finally found a metro and got there in 5 minutes. It was beautiful, the buildings are incredible, anyone with a love for architecture will be in awe. Very intricate and colourful city - they like pink and yellow brick... We ate at a nice restaurant in the Jewish quarter, decided we deserved a little splurge after our excursion and starting to feel a little exhausted. For anyone coming to Prague, until you get used to it, wear good shoes when walking around, all of the streets are cobble and bumpy making it like hiking over rocks, plus, everything is uphill, if you're not sure where to go, go uphill and you'll get there. We decided to look for a hostel that Rocky thought looked nice in a guidebook in the Jewish quarter, unfortunately when we got there the whole building was torn down. We then went to find an accomodation agency, which was also gone - but luckily across the street there was one called RHIA - on the corner of Zitna and Skolska. Go here and get a room. We got so lucky, the room was supposed to be 1580 Kc, but after saying we couldn't afford it, the woman gave it to us for 1000Kc - about 25 CDN each. And it is perfect, nice, clean and across the street from Dvorak's old residence. It's 10 minutes to the National Museum and 5 to three different Metro lines. If you go to Prague try out this room, it's really great. Our spirits were lifted, we went back to the hostel, had dinner and went to bed.

Rocky is now laughing at me because I'm writing so much - sorry everyone, but I'm long winded and I know my family wants to know everything, so tough - although he probably won't let me write the next one. Thursday was a great day, we booked into our room - yah. We went to the Dvorak museum, the building was cool and it was interesting but doesn't take long to get through. We went to the old town square which was fabulous. I would have liked to take a horse drawn carriage around but we were too poor, we got caught being thirsty and spent 200 Kc on a bottle of water and an espresso. Don't buy food or drink near the square if you can help it - the prices are outrageous. We took lots of pictures from the top of the tower, a 220 ft. climb well worth it for the spectacular view. The square is a great place to look around, people watch and hang out. We had sandwiches for dinner - starting to think budget now, and went to an excellent jazz club down the street from our room called AghaRTA. The show was good and we ended up talking to the singer for awhile afterwards which was interesting.

Our first night in the room and we almost slept for twelve hours. Got up and decided to go to the National Museum - they have a good discount for students. It was interesting, they had a great piano exhibit and a show of national medals - these were the highlights, lots of rocks though. Now this is close to the end of the update. We'll be going to the Castle tomorrow and taking off to Vienna on Monday morning, our next update will most likely be from there. The train is only 560 Kc - about 25 cdn for a five hour ride - not bad. Oh, and two things that I have to add, the escalators move really fast on the Metro, I almost got smoked the first time I went on one, and so far Branick beer is my favorite for about 40 cents CDN - 9 Kc - for a 0.5l bottle at the store. Gotta love Prague.

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