Monday, June 13, 2011

Dobrý den, Praha! Wien und Praha, Part X

We're finally moving on to the Prague part of my big European adventure in April!

April 11, 2011

After spending a day in Bratislava, I left my wonderful Viennese home (Hotel Alexander), U- and S-Bahned to Wien Miedling, and waited.

Leaving Vienna

My trusty travel packs

I settled into my seat, where I napped, read, listened to music, drank coffee, and enjoyed the view for the next five hours.
I'm back on a train!

For the first few hours, I shared my compartment with a young, overly-affectionate Czech couple. Note to young couples: people stuck in a small room with you for three hours do NOT need to see demonstrations of your love for each other. Ever.

They left in Brno, though! Welcome to the Czech Republic! :D
Pretty cathedral

Like when we crossed into Slovakia, I was thrilled when signs switched from German to Czech. :)

Soon, we arrived in Prague! I admit, I was a little apprehensive. Mostly excited, but a bit nervous. Again, the language question bothered me, but then every single travel guide or website about Prague emphasized over and over: The Pickpockets. The cleanliness and shininess of the interior of the Praha hlavní nádraží (main train station) was a good sign.


The crowded of smoking young folk around the exterior was not. But whatever. By the time I got outside into the sunshine, my practically-unquenchable excitement for New Places displaced the concerns. Prague was toasty-warm. After removing layers of clothing, adjusting my bags, and orienting myself to the map and surroundings, I trudged off in search of my next home-away-from-home.

My first attempt at crossing the busy Wilsonova and Legerova streets was not the most efficient, but I eventually found a pedestrian tunnel. In about ten minutes I arrived at the Náměstí Míru (Peace Square), with a charming Easter Market, and then it was a short couple-minute walk to Americká street (easy to remember!) for my hotel.

The family-run Holiday Home Pension, Vinohrady, looked like a nice, old-ish apartment building. The reception office was completely dark, but the door was open. English instructions on the door said to ring the buzzer on the door, but this just made the phone in the reception office ring, as far as I could see. A few minutes later, someone ran down from upstairs and breathlessly asked how I got in. "The door was open..." "...oh." She took my pile of Czech Korunas (not Coronas), told me about included breakfast and airport shuttles, and showed me to my room. For one person, the room was quite large. I had access to a kitchenette, but never used it. The closet was spacious and had safe. The bathroom was TINY, but had all the conveniences I needed. The bed (two twins shoved together) was comfy. (My only real complaint: the towels were so SCRATCHY.) I'd stay here again: I felt quite safe and was not worried about my possessions at anytime. For the price, the comfort was perfect. :)

After a brief rest, I explored the neighborhood of Vinohrady. First, I stopped at the Easter Market in the Náměstí Míru and ate a sweet pastry Edmund and Amber recommended: a Trdelník. They wrap pastry dough around metal cylinders, bake them, and dip them in sugar, cinnamon, almonds, whatever. So good, and I lost count of how many I ate. (Five in 2.5 days, possibly. They were really, really cheap. And good.)
Settled in my hotel and found tasties at the easter market
Cathedral in Námestí Míru

I set out on a Lonely Planet guidebook-suggested walk around Vinohrady. From the square, I headed down Americká, past my hotel and through pretty shops, until it turned into Kopernikova and hit a big park. Amid much construction, I couldn't find an entrance to the park, so I walked back up Rybalkova and up to Hradešinská.

Sights along the way:
Pretty building
I walked through a lovely neighborhood
Narrow, pothole-y streets with lots of cars
Green trees
Gate and view

And what?!

Suddenly, amid the yellow-ish brick and cement of the shops and homes, the Žižkov TV Tower loomed over the landscape:
First view of the TV Tower!

The Soviets built and left this for Prague. It's quite out of place--one might call it even an eyesore--but the giant creepy babies crawling up the side (by David Černý) turn it into art. Strange, media-loving, zombie-baby art.

More beautiful examples of spring in Europe:

Getting closer to giant crawling infants:
More of Zizkov's TV Tower

On Vinohradská, I passed the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord:
Crazy church building.

I ended back near my hotel and had dinner just off of the square. The restaurant had free wifi, good red wine, and delicious cheese. I ordered a fried cheese appetizer and a Greek salad...which had a ton of cheese. I left so full of cheese. Mmmmm.

Tired from travel, I called it an early night. :)

See the creepy babies crawling up the tower?

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