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Trip Report 19 days in Switzerland, Austria and Czech Republic in summer 2013

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This is a long overdue trip report on our first trip to Europe during summer 2013.

A little background: We are a family with two little girls, 6 and 4 years of age, who have traveled extensively in Asia but was travelling to Europe for the first time.
Special thanks to Dukey1, swandav2000, PalenQ and all other fodorites for their valuable advise during the trip planning stage..You really helped make this trip a memorable once in a life time experience!

rough itinerary
3N Montruex, 4N Wengen and 2N Luzern
3N - Salzburg
1N - Cesky Krumlov, 3N - Prague
3N - Vienna

Montreux - 3nights
16th JUL – We arrived in the Geneva Airport in the afternoon and caught the first available train to Montreux which was only a hours ride and arrived in Montruex around 4.30pm. At the train station we came across the golden pass tkt office and booked our tkts for train to Gruyere at 8.30AM.

We then walked down to the water front and then to the hotel, just a 10 mins down hill. The montruex jazz festival was on, lots of street performers were around, kids playing at the park, the atmosphere was great. The lake and the mountains were beautiful. The weather was perfect!
We were staying the hotel Eden Palace au Lac, the rooms were old fashioned but clean and lovely, no aircon though but they gave us a cooler for the room. Perfect location, just by the lake and close to Chillon castle and promenade.
We had friends living closeby and they picked us around 6.30 to go for dinner, we went to a small restaurant near a camp site by the lake, great fresh food with a perfect view!In the evening we walked a bit along the promenade to listen to some music and see the festival.

17th Jul – In the morning we went to the Migros, COOP just 2 mins from the hotel by the lake to get some snacks and also some breakfast croissants’, yogurt and milk/coffee. After having much by the lake we walked along the promenade to the Chillon castle. Beautiful flowers all over and the mountains across the lake had a bit of snow on top. It was a clear sunny morning. We took the audio guide for the castle and explored the castle and afterwards went to the pier to catch the boat to Vevey.

The ride was beautiful; And Vevey was a quaint lovely village. There was a merry-go-round by the water, the kids enjoyed a couple of rides. There were kids in the water fountain splashing about as it was quite sunny and the we had the greatest difficulty keeping the girls away from the water. We had our morning purchases for a picnic lunch by the kids park. After feeding some bread to the swans , we walked along the water towards the Charlie Chaplin statue. We walked inwards towards the town, explored a few streets and then caught the bus back to Montruex.
The jazz festival was in full swing, we listened to some music, had really yummy dinner from the festival food stalls and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

18th Jul – We took the morning boat to Cully. The views on the way were of the Lavaux vineyards were beautiful. We explored Cully and stopped by the small farmers market, then started our walk through the vineyards to Lutry. It was an easy walk, at one point we lost our way and there was no one to ask directions from, but somehow, we managed to get back on to the correct path and get to Lutry in a couple of hours. The views of the vineyards down to the lake were beautiful. The girls were happy to run along with a couple of snack breaks in between, except for a small way which was a step climb the rest was flat or down hill..an easy walk.
We entered Lutry near the lake playground, the girls went into wet their feet in the water and we rested a while at the playground. Lots of locals were out an about in the park having picnics and swimming in the water..We then went into to town and had lunch , the best Cheese and bacon Rosti we had during our entire trip…walked around the town after lunch and then took the back to Montruex..We stayed in the jazz festival area to listen to some music, watch street artisits, explore the stalls and grabbed an early dinner before heading to the hotel.

There was concerns that Montruex may be too crowded during the Jazz festival and that we should base ourselves in Vevely, but we are glad that we stayed in Montruex, we enjoyed our evenings of people watching and festival activities in Montreux..and we didnt feel over crowded at any of the sights or at the festival itself. we all enjoyed the food stalls, street performers and the music!

The long day from Montreux to Wengen via Broc and Gruyere
19th Jul – Early morning, we woke up to catch the train to Broc . Today was a long day with a visit to broc, gruyeres on the itinerary before heading to Wengen for the night. Hubby went and checked in the luggage for direct trf to Lauterbrunnen.

The kids and I walked to the lake front to pick up some breakfast and also to visit the morning farmers market..The stalls were just being set up..we were too early..but the bakery stall was open and we bought some delicious pastries and cheese tarts for breakfast.. We walked to the train station to catch the 8.45 train to Broc, with a change over at Montbovon.
We had booked the atelier chocolate workshop for the family which was a real treat for the kids!. We were given our very own aprons which we got to keep as a souvenir. There was a brief introduction of cocoa beans and chocolate and then we got down to business…To use melted chocolate from the dark/milk and white bowls to fill up the chocolate molds and use different flavor and topping to make our very own chocolate…After putting them in the freezer we unmolded them to take home our very own chocolate.. there were about 12-15 persons in the group, and were taken for the chocolate factory tour afterwards where we got to see how the machines work..didnt get to see much there but the kids were impressed. The free chocolate tasting room at the end of the tour was a nice finish to a great chocolate factory visit, which I would say was one of the highlights of the entire trip for the kids… The workshop is recommended if you have young kids!

After a quick look around the shop and making a few purchases, we caught the 12.30 train to Gruyere. The train station is just near the Gruyere cheese factory, so that’s where we headed first. After a quick visit to the factory to see the milk being churned in the huge containers and learning the process through the audio guides, we walked up the path to the Gruyere village.

The gruyere village is very picturesque, flowers all over, beautiful fountain at the entrance… our first stop was the Gruyere Castle. The castle was impressive, had a beautiful maze garden the kids enjoyed. We had a quick lunch of cheese fondue at one of the restaurants, had to rush lunch as were were to catch the 4pm train back to montbovon for the train to Wengen. When we got back down to the station, we realized we had a little more time for the train and ran in to the La Maison de Gruyeres shop to pick up some meringues and fresh cream..This cream was the best we had ever tasted!!1 and made for a wonderful dessert on the train whilst watching the views roll by..

The change over at Montbovon was easy and quick (a 4 min change over time which made me quite nervous was just perfect! Enough time to find our carriage and get a seat!) and we got to Lauterbrunnen late in the evening.. It was past 7 pm at the Lauterbrunnen station, the station office was closed so we didn’t think we could retrieve our luggage sent directly from Montruex, but when DH checked with an officer at the station, he helped to open the office and get our luggage just I time to catch the train to Wengen..The
views of the Lauterbrunnen valley on our way up to Wengen were stunning, we were tired and ready to get to our hotel, Romantik Hotel Schönegg. It was a 5 min walk from the station and we were shown our room with a terrace and fantastic views of the mountains. We had booked breakfast and dinner at the hotel, as we thought it would be nice to come back to the hotel after our long days of walking to a hot meal.. And the dinner the first night was fantastic.. All though the whole meal was very very good, after more than 6 months, I still remember how good the wild blueberry pie with cream was!!! All the dinners had at the hotel were excellent, some of the best meals we had on the trip!!

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    20th Jul – Hike from Grutschalp to Murren, Gimmelwald and Trummelback Falles

    Wengen was very pretty, a quiet little town with the main strip with a couple of restaurants/hotels and the bakery/grocery and the Männlichen lift just 2 mins walk away from the hotel.. The views of the mountains were great from Wengen and it felt much nicer and cozier compared to Lauterbrunnen, but in terms of ease of transport Lauterbrunnen would have been a better base as almost all trips required us to take the train down to Lauterbrunnen. This especially mattered on the day we were leaving Wengen to catch the boat to Breinz . However, we did really enjoy our stay at the Romantic hotel and of course, the meals there and the children’s park just opposite the hotel made for a wonderful stay..But if you are tight on time or travelling with very young kids, the waiting and travel time on the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen can be avoided especially at the end of a day of hiking if you opt to stay in the valley!

    First day we woke up late and after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we decided it may be too late to head to Jungfraujoch , so decided to take the train down to Lauterbrunnen to take the lift up to Grutschalp to hike to Murren. The weather was cool, but the sun was strong so we stripped our layers down to our t shirts at the beginning of the hike. The views were lovely, the fields were full of wild flowers which kept the girls entertained…the little stream on the way where we filled our bottles up had the best tasting icy cold water we had ever tasted! After a short while, we arrived at the alpine farmers restaurant where we had lunch, some cheese rosti (not as good as the one in Lutry), the playground there with swings and rides had to be explored…and then we continue on to Murren.

    The views from opposite Hotel Eiger were the best!! We enjoyed a snack break and ice cream to cool ourselves, rested our feet a while and went in search of the lift down to Gimmelwald. In Gimmelwald, DH stayed with the kids who wanted to play at the swings and the slide near the lift. It seems that every little town has at least one …which helped with the kids decision that Switzerland is the best country ever in the world:). I did a quick walk around the village, it seems quite deserted, I spotted the gnomes in the garden mentioned on a fodors report before..We then took one the very steep lift down to Stechelberg..The views were stunning and the ride was exhilarating. We caught the post bus from the lift station to the Trummelback Falles.

    The Trummelback Falles thundering inside the mountains were a sight to behold. We held on to the kids so tightly after seeing the warnings at the gate which made us quite nervous, however the falls inside the mountains were a great sight to see. When we exited the mountain, it had started to drizzle slightly..

    we put on our raincoats and decided that it will be nice to walk back to Lauterbrunnen rather than waiting for the bus..the drizzle was very slight and the views were incredible and we saw some other families starting off on the path so assumed that it will be a quick walk back to town..the kids were quite slow wanting to run around in the fields in the rain..and gradually the rain started to get heavier and thunder and lightning followed. we got a bit nervous, we were being over taken by other hikers, we hurried along as much as possible in the rain with DH carrying the little one on his back and finally arrived in town drenched!...we took the train back to Wengen to have a wonderful dinner at the hotel..so it all ended well..

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    21st July – Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe

    We started early this mornig, after a scrumptious breakfast we walked to the lift station , for the lift and the train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch and back to Wengen. ought ticketsand took the lift upto Männlichen . The views of the Lauterbrunnen valley the three peaks of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau were stunning.

    After clicking lots of photos, We started our hike to to Kleine Scheidegg. Wild flowers were blooming everywhere. It was a clear day , sun was shining the views were fabulous. I would rate this as the best hike we did in the trip and also one of the easiest for the kids to do..We had a picninc break midway through the hike and reached Kleine Scheidegg after a couple of hours, We caught the train up to Jungfraujoch from there, it was packed but we managed to sit on the steps. After a very long ride through tunnels we reached Jungfraujoch.

    First we headed to the Sphinx Observatory. After a ride on the elevator to the top, we went out on the terrace to catch the views of the Aletsch glacier. After spotting the snow fun area from the terrace we headed there afterwards. This place is lots of fun. We saw people on zip lines and sking. The view of the glacier was beautiful and the sun was hot!The girls want to go on the snow sleds(if thats what they are called) After waiting for 2 sleds (had to wait for a short while as they had run out) we went for our first ride down. The girls didn't want to stop, after at least 8 runs down the slope we managed to drag our DDs off the snow fun area to explore the rest of Junfraujoch.
    By the time we got back inside, our feet were frozen (none of us had snow shoes on) and our socks were all wet with snow. After changing the girls into fresh clothes, we went into the ice palace area to see the snow sculptures and then went to catch the train back to Wengen.

    The queues were long, but luckily they had an extra train running and we manage to get on to a train soon. The views from KS to Wengen were also very pretty.. . it was a long day and we were tired, so we headed back to the hotel for dinner and an early night in.

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    nikidi, thanks for taking the time to post this. I'm enjoying it. Plus its very useful, as I'm going to many of the same places and its good to hear how you strung together your itinerary on various days. Looking forward to more!

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    22ndst July- Grinderweld and First.

    We were hard pressed to decide on todays itinerary. I had read about northace train above murren and also about grinderweld..so opted for the cable car to first from grinderweld (and a possible hike to Lake Bachalpsee) . We took the train to Lauterbrunnen and then changed over to go to Grinderweld. It was a clear day , but was looking quite overcast. The cable car ride to the top which was approx. 25 mins provided us with fabulous views..

    We go to a nice spot to enjoy the stunning views and had a picnic lunch! We watched a few paragliders take off the end of the field..Their was wild flowers all over. Kids enjoyed a good run around..It was almost 1 pm and it was very overcast. We were not quite sure how easy the walk would be for the kids. After checking with a few others who were returning, we decided to give it a go and started our walk to the lake. After about half hour there was a point with fabulous views, it had started to lightly drizzle by then, the we could see the hiking trail ahead of us, seemed to be uphill for quite a while more …the kids were keen to get to the playground that we had passed on our way up to ‘First’ in the cable car…so we decided to turn back..the rain did come down a little bit harder whist we were at the playground and so we were glad of the decision we made (maybe this could be a reason for a revisit to Wengen:) ).. After some hot coffee and playtime..and a walk to see the cows with cowbells in the nearby field, we took the cable car back down to Grinderweld.

    The train back to Lauterbrunnen gave us tsome time in the town to see the Staubach waterfall again and a few souvenir shops. back to Wengen for a fabulous dinner and a good rest as the next day was one of our long travel days during the trip.

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    23rd – Lake Breinz, ballernberg museum and Luzern.

    We caught the early morning train from Wengen armed with a lovely packed breakfast from the hotel..we took the 20-minute train from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken West to catch the 9.15am boat on the Lake Breinz (the boat pier is just a 2 min walk from the station we were worried about being on time for nothing) begin a day of cruising on the lakes.

    The colour of the lake in the morning, the mountains on either side, the little villages and the castles we passed made for a beautiful journey on the lake. We reached Breinz in about 45 mins-1hr and then stored our luggage at the train station. (a few steps away from the pier)

    Breinz seemed to be a sleepy small village..we caught the bus to the ballengerg museum which was a disappointment for us (even though we did not expect much after reading the reviews) but the kids did enjoy the few animals and activities inside. We managed to get lost trying to reach the other entrance to the museum and then somehow after a lot of walking got back to the entrance we came in from to realize that the next bus back to the village was in about 30 mins..Not wanting to wait at the bus stop for so long, we asked the office at the entrance to call for a taxi, which arrived in about 10 mins..but then the girls were tired and hungry.., at the village, we grabbed some lunch from a place near the train station whist hubby did a quick trip to the migros nearby the get some ice creams, fruits and snacks for the train ride.

    If we were not taking the train to Luzern the same day, we would have opted to explore Thun, but as the train journey was shorter from Breinz we decided for Breinz..which ever village you pick, I would highly recommend a boat trip on one of the lakes here which was very different to the experience on Lake Geneva in Montruex.

    The train ride was uneventful, upon reaching Luzern ,we were told we could walk to the hotel, it was about a 10 min walk…perfectly located, great little business hotel!.Ameron Flora,large clean room! just 2-3 mins from the Kapellbrucke .We got to the hotel by about 4/5pm and had a good rest and the kids napped. It was raining hard and I felt quite annoyed that we only had 2 nights, which would give us only the next day for our planned trip to Mt Pilatus!

    In the evening around 7pm, the rain seized and we wanted to make the best of it. The girls were up, so we picked up a map from the hotel and walked to the Kapellbrucke which was just 2 mins away. It was so pretty with the flowers along the whole length of it and the buildings on the other side of the water were picturesque. Lots of picture clicking in bad light..and then we walked to the main town area where people were sitting along the water front….
    Then we discovered that there was a blue jazz festival happening here we happily walked along the water exploring the souvenir and food stalls. After grabbing some excellent sausages in fresh crusty bread, yummy waffles and ice cream..we headed to the area where there was a band playing…enjoyed the music for about 30 mins..the girls got highly taken up with the band.. we walked back to the hotel going back across the Kapellbrucke..The atmosphere in Luzern was great, may be partly due the festivities...we really enjoyed our time in the city..

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    24th JUL – Golden round trip to Mt Pilatus and exploring Luzern.

    Started off on a boat trip to Alpnachstadt, departing Luzern early morning around 9am. It was quite overcast and the peak of Mt Pilatus was clouds. The views of the lake were beautiful and we caught the cog-wheel rail ride up the mountain..As per advise here on the forum, we got seats sit facing downhill and on the right hand side for the views were fabulous.. By the time we reached the top, we couldn’t see out too far..we were quite disappointed. However, as we had got up to the top quite early, we grabbed some coffee gave the girls some snacks and peaked in to the souvenir shop in hope that the clouds will start clearing soon.

    A slow drizzle had started and we almost gave up hope..but after spotting lots of people climbing to Esel peak, we waited until it stopped drizzling and ventured out…we did a whole circle around peak and stopped just before going up to the platform, where we sat and watched the sun peaking through the clouds over the snow capped mountains in a distance (Jungfrau? I think)..Decided to wait a bit longer, in about 15 mins(it was almost 12 pm.).the clouds started to move away and the sun came through..After lots of picture clicking we climbed up to the platform to be rewarded with the most gorgeous views of the country side and the lake…breathtaking views!!

    Climbed back down from Esel peak and took the cable car down to Frakmuntegg, got off at the station to go on the Toboggan run..This was our first time and we had so much fun!..The kids wanted to keep going at it but after two run we took the gondola to Kriens and then caught the bus back to Luzern..

    Getting of the bus stop, we had a lovely (late) lunch at restaurant by the water (right opposite the train station, near the bahnhof)..Another icecream and then decided to walk around the fort wall and explore the old town area. The sun was shinning now, the views from the wall were great and we went into the clock tower to see how the clock works which tickled the kids..enjoyed the beautiful buildings in the area..took a bus to the lion monument and then finally walked back to the Kapellbrucke area to have dinner at Rathaus Brauerie..delicious dinner by the water and some yummy gelato was a perfect ending to our stay in Luzern.

    (My only regret in Luzern was that although our hotel was just steps away from the Rosengart Museum, I didn’t get a chance to go in..Oh well,you cant do everything you plan for I suppose.)

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    I am really loving your report! I'd love to know what was it about the Ballenburg museum that you found not worth the trip. It looks interesting online. Thanks and looking forward to hearing about the rest of your journey.

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    Iwan2go, The museum is in a huge area..and is basically model farmhouses and buildings and equipment to show how they lived a long time ago..there were no cheese making demonstrations etc that day..the kids had a bit of fun trying the equipment out, but we were not impressed!we felt that our time could have been better spent elsewhere. however the lake cruise is not to be missed...But this is just our personal view, some others really love the place!:)

    next up train to Zurich for a short stop and on to Salzburg and car to Cesky crumlov

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    25th Jul - Zurich stop and train to Salzburg.

    Early morning train from Lucern..We got to Zurich around 11am and checked in the luggage at the lockers in the train station and bought the tickets to Salzbburg.
    Then used a walking map and to follow a walking tour ..visited the St Peter's Church, then the Fraumunster, and across the Munsterbrucke to the Grossmunster. Then we walked along the river to the Zurich Lake and had picnic lunch and rested our feet. Our train to Salzburg was around 2pm and it was getting close to 2, so we decided to catch the tram from the lake to the train station. We had about 25 mins to the train departure time, so we grabbed some ice cream before getting the luggage..and I think we still had atleast 15 mins to get to the train. But no one knew to help us with the location of the train!! Finally with lots of running around we finally got to the train when it was about to start off..we could barely get our luggage in when the train doors closed and it started moving away..

    It was a very close call…way to close for comfort..so anyone who is planning to catch the train to Austria from Zurich, need to please get to the station well ahead of time to find the correct train!!.

    It was an uneventful ride to Salzburg. Upon arriving we caught a taxi into town and then found our hotel in the Alstad, Hotel Elefant ! just 1minute from the resdintplatz and the horse Trough. The location was fantastic!! Lovely room, great breakfast in the morning with delicious pastries and cake and the kids got yummy hot chocolate. The lady in the hotel reception was super sweet, very helpful and really made our stay in Salzburg a great one!

    We got the Salzburg cards for both of us from the hotel, which gives free access to all museums and attractions in Salzburg, plus all transport, including the somewhat expensive furnicular ride up to the fortress.
    She also booked us on the sound of music bus tour for the next morning a specifically requested for peter as the guide..(a bus tour was opted for although we are not big fans of tours due to wanting to make the best of our short stay in Salzburg..plus to have a trip out of Salzburg rather than renting a car and doing it on our own.)

    In the evening, around 8pm , we went out to explore the atstad area, walked along enjoying the street performers and soaking in the atmosphere of the area. After some delicious icecream we returned to the hotel for an early night in.

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    26th – Salzburg, SOM tour and puppet show.

    Next day early morning, we were picked up from the entrance to the Alstad area (a 5min walk from the hotel) by a van which drove us to near the Mirabell castle where the panaroma tour office and the SOM tour buses were. We got onto the bus with ‘Peter’ as our guide.

    The bus tour was fine..it did allow us to see the highlights of the SOM highlights in a time efficiently and easily. We first visited the Leopoldskron palace. E then continued on to Hellbunn castle to see the Gazebo. After the obligatory photos, the bus drove to Mondsee in order for us to visit the ‘wedding church’ The scenery on the way was beautiful and Peter did point out lots of sights and provided bits of interesting information. The SOM songs were played on the way to Mondsee. We were given about an 45 mins to explore the church and then have some apple strudel and ice cream before heading back to the bus for the ride back to Salzburg.

    On the way back, they played a documentary on SOM sights and background story which made the sights we saw a little more interesting.. we were dropped of again at the same spot and were provided with directions and some info on Mirabell gardens plus with directions to the Augustine brewery for a lunch.

    So we walked to the Mirabell gardens , it was a beautiful well laid out garden with a lovely fountain.. after seeing the Pegasus fountain we made our way across the river to the Augustine brewery around 2.30 PM. After a bit of an uphill walk we found the place. There were food-stalls in the building from which we all picked up some salad and bread, sausages and lovely roast chicken, then sat in the beer garden outside under the leafy trees and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.
    The kids played in the play area on the side afterwards. There were tourists and locals in equal numbers in the beer garden and was almost full by the time we left. Recommended for a meal in Salzburg! We had some delicious cream filled pastries for dessert. Had peep at how the beer is sold in the stone mugs and walked through the Altermarkt.. .in search of St Peters church as we wanted to listen to the pm concert.

    We got there just in time, the church was full of people and we found a place at the back. The choir sang a 15 minute Acappella..we all enjoyed it very much and the interior of the church was beautiful . We decided to return here to explore it on a later day and headed back to the hotel for a rest.

    The puppet show tickets were pre-booked online before our trip and I had collected the tickets when we had visited the Mirabell gardens in the afternoon and knew where the theater was. A quick walk across the bridge and we were in the puppet theater. It was an excellent show!! The puppeteers were amazing and showed themselves at the end of the show. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the show and is a must do in Salzburg in my opinion.

    After the show, we walked back to the Altermarkt area had dinner at a little restaurent in the courtyard near cafe tomaseli! and ended at café tomaseli for dessert and coffee. A great ending to a great day in Salzburg.

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    28th July – Sunday – Cesky Krumlov

    we chose this day to travel to Cesky Crumlov as the castle in CK is closed on Monday. APrivate car was arranged through mike-chauffer.cz recommended on the forum. The email communication was efficient and we booked a car trf from Salzburg to CK , 2 ½ hours and then onward to prague the next day afternoon 2 ¼ hours.

    We had mike himself pick us up in a comfortable large car on time from Salzburg and we had a comfortable drive to CK. He provided us with lots of useful info and was great company during the trip. He also suggested taking a canoe down the river in CK and we agreed to meet him at the office around 6pm that day evening for the river adventure..

    The hotel we were staying at in CK was Hotel Konvice, lovely hotel, beautiful large room , I think the biggest room we had during the trip and at the cheapest rate.. and a great breakfast too. Perfectly located near the town .square. Highly recommended.

    We arrived around 1pm in CK and had a lovely lunch at the hotel restaurant. After a short rest we walked through the town. Through the beautiful square and streets lined with interesting shops to the prague castle. We did a bit of a walk around the castle before finally finding the entrance and bought the tkts for the castle tour and the baroque theater tour. After a look at the bears in the castle moat, we joined the castle tour which was interesting but the baroque theater tour was even better and gave us an insight to how the stage setting really work and even got my older daughter interested..

    we walked back into town in order to go to mike’s office to do the rafting..after getting lost for a while we found the office and then helped the assistant to drag the raft to the river a little away from where the office was. We all got into life jackets and got our paddles and got on to the raft. The only thing was we started of just before one of those places where there is a passage sectioned off on the side of the river where you are supposed to go through..the current was strong and we really struggled to get the raft into the passage..it was my first time rafting, hubby had done it only once before..so after a bit of struggling and lot of panic we managed to navigate the raft to the passage..(a word of advise, do start well away from a place where there is a rapid) the rest of the journey was very enjoyable…we had to get off at one point near the castle and drag the raft along and then get back in..the girls had a wonderful time and after the first bit of excitement and getting used to the raft it was a smooth slow journey afterwards. After about 45 mins on the water we were picked up and driven back to town.

    After a change at the hotel we decided to try the At Two Mary’s restaurant for dinner and got a river side table. We had a lovely traditional Czech dinner.

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    29th jul - Prague

    Decided to walk around town for some pictures and explore the shops while hubby and kids had a late morning in the hotel. I bought 2 beautiful toy puppets for the girls and after lots of photos of the colourful buildings in town headed back to the hotel. We all then walked back to the square for another quick walk…we didn’t feel like leaving CK..it was beautiful and quaint..but we had asked mike to pick us at 11 am as we planned to get to prague before 2 pm.

    It was an uneventful drive to prague, mike drove us to our hotel which was K+H hotel, again highly recommended, great hotel..nice BF,lovely room, perfectly located !! a 2 minutes walk from the municipal council and a couple of minutes further down, the old town square.

    I had seen recommendations for the sanderman's free walking tours which were starting at 2pm from the square, so we hurried there after checking in..it was drizzling a bit..but it stopped after a while..the tour guide gave us lots of info on the history and the signts visited and was a great introduction to prague and for us to get our bearings. We saw quite a bit on the tour ..starting in the Old Town Square & Astronomical Clock,View of Charles Bridge, ,Church of Our Lady before Týn, View of Prague Castle, Rudolfinum – Czech Philharmonic, Old New Synagogue & the Golem, Art Nouveau Municipal House, Spanish Synagogue, St. Nicolas’ Church, Old Jewish Quarter etc..we had a quick snack when we stopped for a break at a bagel place during the tour. At the end of the tour we tipped the guide..but was surprised to see lots people actually walking off without tipping at all saying that they forgot the wallet etc..

    We walked back to the municipal council for the 4pm tour inside…beautiful interiors..we bought a tkt for a concert on a later night..but wanting to take the girls for a ballet realized that there was one playing there the following night opposite the municipal council at the hybernia..bought tkts for that..
    A little more exploring of the town square and dinner before walking back to the hotel..

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    leely, it was the room facing the street ..a lovely airy one ..and yeas no a/c..but we were accustomed to it by then, as all of our other hotels before CK except the one in luzern, didnt have ac.

    Gosh summer in europe is hot!! being our first time we were really surprised ..especially in the swiss..so hot!!

    p.s. - some thing i forgot to mention that we did have a stroller with us..and our 4 year old was on it where ever possible:) and on the longer walks the older 6 year one hopped in as well..but the really yummy ice creams found everywhere was a treat readily available which helped them to forget all about the walking they were doing;)

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    30th Jul – Prague castle, Charles bridge and the Ballet

    This morning we walked to the old town square , enjoyed watching the street performers and then went further along where we caught a tram upto the prague castle.

    It was quite gloomy.with a bit of drizzle coming down now and then. We bought tkts for the castle with an audio guide and then went to the changing of the guards ceremony at 12pm which was quite entertaining for the kids especially. We then continued on to see the St Vitius Cathedral, the old prague castle, had to take a break inside the st George basilica to sit out a bit of rain then continued on to the golden lane. Finally we back tracked to the castle gate and by then the clouds had cleared and sun had come through. After enjoying the beautiful view of the prague city red roofs, we walked down the Nerudova, trying to spot the unusual buildings on the way..

    Quick look at st nicholas church and then strolled along to Charles bridge. We spent quite a bit of time here looking at the statues either side and the street performers and artists.. enjoying the atmosphere.

    After crossing over to the other side we had a early dinner at the restaurant. after enjoying some rolled bread with cinnamon sugar (I’ve forgotten its name)

    we headed back to the hotel for a change before the ballet, swan lake. A 2 minute walk to the hybernia, the ballet was superb..we all enjoyed it very much!. Some coffee and dessert at the municipal council café before walking back to the hotel.

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    31st July – Jewish quarter tour, Clock tower and astronomical clock and concert at the municipal council building..

    The next day, we took the JEWISH QTR tour with Wittman tours which started at the inter continental hotel. We prebooked it online the day we arrived in prague.. We were to meet the guide near the hotel at 10 am and after getting directions from the hotel we walked there. The tour guide was very informative..it was a great tour covering the old new synagogue, spanish synagogue, the museum etc.. Terezin ‘s children’s drawing collection were very touching..

    After the tour we headed back to the old town square and had lunch at restaurant just near the Church of Our Lady before the Tyn I think. Great lunch finished off with some yummy cake! We then decided to finally watch the astronomical clock on the hourand after watching the spectacle which lasts not even a minute, we bought tkts to go upto the clock tower.

    There was a short wait to go up, so ice creams whilst we waited and then we took the elevators to the top. The view of the city and the old town square was fabulous. Some great photos and we came back down. The girls wanted to go on a horse carriage and we took a ride around the old town..quite an enjoyable way to spend some time..kids had a ball!!

    We explored the streets nearby and headed back to the hotel for a change before walking to the municipal council for the concert. It was a lovely concert.. as it was not full we were able to get better seats than what we paid for..quite an enjoyable concert with a full orchestra playing and a few dance acts and a few opera acts..

    After the show we decided to walk to the Charles bridge to see it after being lit up..it started drizzling so after a quick look we found a restaurant for dinner and headed back to the hotel.

    This was our last day in Prague..we really enjoyed our time there..great atmosphere..would have a loved another extra day to explore a bit more..but we are really glad we did stop a night in CK rather than doing it as a day trip.

    next day, morning train to Vienna for the last stop in our trip!

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    01st August – Morning train to Vienna;belverdere and prater.

    We arrived in Vienna around 12 pm..took a taxi to the hotel.Best Western Plus Hotel Das Tigra . It was a small business hotel but very nice and perfectly located!!. Just a few minutes away from the Spanish riding school and a short walk from st Stephen's Cathedral.close to the tram lines as well. recommended.

    We took a short rest and then took the tram 1 to Belverdere. Explored the grounds and then went into see artwork. As advised in the forum we bought 24-hour transport cards from the hotel reception. The gardens were beautiful . Gustav Klimts the kiss and other work was seen here.

    Thereafter we exited the castle and saw the restaurant adjoin the premises..I remembered seeing this place being highly recommended in the forum or in a book so decided to have dinner here. The service was a bit slow as there were large Japanese and Chinese tour groups..but the food was tasty..however, I think I’m the only who had a bit of the cold potetoe salad which came with the meat…which could have been the reason for me being sick the night!!...

    Next stop was Prater..we took the train there and kids got a burst of energy after realizing it was an amusement park..We went on dodge em cars..decided that the slow giant ferris wheel looked too boring, so the girls and hubby tried the smaller ferris wheel…we walked around the park and saw some amazing thrill rides..wasnt brave enough to try any of those..and at last at the 6 year olds insistence decided to do one of the water rides. We heard a few screamers near the ride..but looking at the bits we could see it seemed a innocent ride of people sitting on a giant rubber tube spinning in the water channel..However, at the ticket counter, I asked the lady whether our 4 year old can go on the ride but she just kept insisting that we all needed to pay 4 euro each for the ride….we got on the tube , the first bit of the ride was quite calm and then it started spinning and hitting the sides of the channel..there were no seat belts..I hung on to the child closer to me for dear life not wanting her to get thrown out(I cant quite remember which DD was next to me..)and my insides were churning by the time we got out of the short ride….It was definitely not suitable for a 4 year old..so mis-communication at the counter for sure…

    I am not quite sure whether this ride was reason for me being sick and right through the night and most part of the next day..

    We had planned for Schonbrunn the next morning together with some walking around in stehanplatz area..However as I was feeling really bad, we headed out of the hotel a bit late around 10 am, ..I was still feeling pretty bad ..so hubby volunteered to take the girls to see the zoo and we bought tkts for the tour around 2pm ..SO I had some coffee at the café while the others went to the zoo..The details of Vienna are bit hazy due to me not being a 100% and I suppose I didn’t really enjoy it as much as the other cities due to this..

    We did the tour and then explored the gardens, kids and hubby went to check the maze out..we skipped the glorriette..headed back into town a bit after 4 pm….decided to rest for the remainder of the day…hoping the next day would be better..

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    03rd August – Central Vienna and a lot of walking

    woke up feeling somewhat betterhad an early started and walked to the Spanish riding school..Micheal church..walked through to Hofburg..and continue on to Albertina. I was feeling much better by then…enjoyed the paintings by Monet and the 6 year chose Venice the pink cloud by Paul Signac as her favorite painting!

    We walked pass hotel Sacher and did a walk around the Staatsoper…Then we walked across to stephanplatz ..The beautiful old buildings and the Hass haus..When into St Stephans cathedral..rested our legs a while people watching nearby…Here we came across people selling tickets for various concerts and one person was offering the tickets for a concert at the Musikverein which we just couldn’t pass up..bought tickets for that nights show..

    then headed to Café demel for lunch. Lovely food and divine cakes for dessert…
    and then we took the train to the Naschmarkt ..and caught the tail end of it…most of the stalls were closing up but we did a quick walk around the food stall area had some lovely fresh orange juice and headed back to central vienna..stopped at St Charles cathedral with the little pond in front..
    It was time for an snack break and the girls walked in the pond …when they got a bit too cheeky in the water we decided to move on ..
    we took the tram car for a ride around and decided to hop off when we passed the parliament buildings..A couple of photos of the beautiful building and we took a tram back to the zanoni & zanoni icecream place I had spotted just a bit before the parliament building opposite the park.. After buying icecreams for everyone we decided to go into the park to enjoy the them..While we were eating there under the trees..we saw lots of people gathering on one side of the park… Lippizanner horses were in the park..the girls enjoyed watching the horses running around and a little while later they were walked back to the Spanish riding school...

    It was a long day, we headed back to the hotel for a change and then walked to Musikverein for the concert. It was a great concert..after that we walked of to café Sscher to try out the sacher torte and also had the most delicious cold chocolate…to make it a perfect ending to our stay in Veinna…

    Next day morning was our flight back to SL.

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