I've decided to go to Prague...have Qs

Dec 24th, 2003, 10:50 AM
  #1  
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I've decided to go to Prague...have Qs

I've heard/read nothing but accolades for Prague and have spent a few days going over the posts here. Can you spare a few questions?

First if I go for a full week will I have enough to do? I figure I'll lose most of the first day from jet lag anyway. Should I plan on a shorter vacation or should I combine it with another easy-to-get-to-from-Prague destination?

Second, there have really been some good recommendations on accomodations here. Unlike a tropical vacation where the beach is the main attraction and my room is relief from the sun, I don't plan on spending a whole lot of time in my room. I know I don't want a large chain-type property but would really like something that is old, refurbished, comfortable, intimate, quiet. I am also a single woman going alone so want to be in an area that feels safe. I also want something in the mid-price range. With that information can anyone recommend a property?

Third, are there must-dos or must-avoids both for sightseeing and meals?

Fourth, is english well understood or is there a language barrier? I've heard they also speak German but that is even worse than my Spanish and that's pretty pathetic.

TIA!
Minooka is offline  
Dec 24th, 2003, 02:55 PM
  #2  
 
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There's enough of Prague that a week isn't too much, but having been all around that part of the country, I would suggest you consider a day trip or a couple of days in Vienna or Budapest. Vienna would be easier to reach. On the other hand, if your approach to foreign travel is to explore a destination thoroughly, you can easily spend a week very enjoyably without leaving Prague. It appears to me you will be arriving by air in Prague and will probably leave there as well.

One thing you might consider, if indeed you want to try another city as well, is to continue to Vienna on your day of arrival. It isn't too far. Then after a day or two there, go back and enjoy Prague for the remainder of your trip.

If I sound noncommital, it's because I don't know what your own tendencies are. My own choice would be not to spend a week in any destination, but that's just me. I like to get a whiff of other places in the area I'm visiting.

If you travel frequently, you might prefer to focus on one city or area. Over time, you gain familiarity with many places. My concern is that I might not ever get back, no matter how well intended my plans may be. So I always want to hit more than one spot in a week's time. Normally, if I haven't been there before, I'd probably go to three different places in a week's time.

Having been to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna, as well as a number of other places in that general geographical area, I can tell you that you can't go wrong no matter what you decide. You can also stay closer to Prague and make day trips to smaller villages that have a lot of appeal---such as Cesky Krumlov, Ceske Budejovice, and Plzen.

So I suggest you read up a lot on all of the Czech Republic and then decide for yourself whether you want to stay put or wander a bit. Good luck.
Wayne is offline  
Dec 24th, 2003, 04:51 PM
  #3  
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Thanks Wayne. I haven't been to Europe in years and did the whirlwind post-college thing. I will look into exploring some other areas or going back to Vienna.

Quick question on that...can you reach the other areas in the CzR and Vienna by train or would I need a car?

Minooka is offline  
Dec 24th, 2003, 05:12 PM
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I am sure that you could fill in a week in Prague, but I think that you could see most things in three or four days, we had only two and covered most of the sites.

Back in 1997, we stayed at the Hotel Pariz, which my diary notes was ?a gently decaying building on the edge of the old town.? A Czech colleague selected it for us, so I presume that it was the best he could find that met our criteria of being in the old town. On an earlier trip I stayed in the Hilton, which could have been anywhere in the world.

We didn?t have any security concerns, but Prague does have a reputation for pickpockets, so you need to be aware.

We had no communications problems; all menus and so forth were in English, public announcements on the railway (not the metro) were in Czech, German and English.

I would second Vienna as an additional destination, my favourite European city. We flew into Vienna, took a train to Prague and then went on by train to Berlin, a very pleasant way to travel, with some good views. Do email me ([email protected]) if you would like a copy of my diary.
Tangata is offline  
Dec 24th, 2003, 09:25 PM
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Vienna is at least a 5-7 hour train journey. I would take daytrips from Prague to several great Czech cities. We stayed at the Penzion Balbin on Balbinova near the Muzeum Metro and Wenceslas Square. We were there in November so not so many tourists or pickpockets. The Penzion is on the upper floors of apartment building with locked door to outside so safe and the buffet breakfast was very good. The staff was nice and the room clean with shower & toilet. The buses and cars seem to be faster than the trains.
LindaW is offline  
Dec 24th, 2003, 10:25 PM
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You can easily spend a week in Prague & have plenty to see & do. Especially if you like attending cultural events! You can see great opera, ballet, symphonies, chamber music, etc, etc, etc.

I have stayed in many different areas of Prague. As a single woman traveller, myself, I have never felt unsafe, but it really helps to know the layout of the city, so you are comfortable walking around. Go on www.travel.cz , or www.marys.cz for hotel ideas. Old Town and Mala Strana (both Prague 1) have the most "old & refurbished" places. The Waldstein was a great hotel for little $, when I went a few Novembers back. The best prices will obviously be in the winter & fall, when you can get a LOT for your money.

Daytrips to Cesky Krumlov, and perhaps Karlstein Castle, Terezin, and maybe a spa town, would certainly fill up your week. Guided tours can be arranged, once you get to Prague. There are tons of tourist busses that go to those places.

Enjoy!!!!
amp322 is offline  
Dec 25th, 2003, 03:49 AM
  #7  
ira
 
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HiMinooka,

I think you will have a great week in Prague and vicinity.

We greatly enjoyed our stay at the Pensione Dietzenhoefer

http://www.hotels-of-prague.com/dientzenhoefer/
ira is offline  
Dec 25th, 2003, 01:14 PM
  #8  
JonJon
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I'm not sure I understand why someone would say there is enough for you in Prague to take up a week and then in the next breath advise you to consider seeing Budapest and/or Vienna as well Guess I'm missing something here.

Prague can easily take up three or four days, if not more, but a lot of that may depend on what you are interested in seeing and doing. If you enjoy baroque adornment inside and outside, a city with a central area that has an unmistakable medieval ambience, and a population that is friendly then you'll enjoy the city a great deal.As to timing, you can easily do the Castle complex in a day as well as a couple of other sites if you want to. The main "tourist" areas are easily walkable and the tram network along with the Metro is easy to negotiate. You may want to look into the Prague Welcome Card which provides for unlimited public transport use. I'd strongly suggest you consider taking one of the tours of the city that gives a general overview and explanation from a local guide. After that, you can spend some more concentrated time on your own exploring at a more leisurely and in-depth pace. I also agree with trying to see a couple of the nearby towns and sights WITHIN the Czech Republic. If you had more than a week I would agree that Budapest and even Vienna could be combined in one trip, but with only a week to spend I wouldn't advise it. An alternative fairly nearby location out of the Czech Republic would be Dresden but only if you're willing to give it at least a couple days.
Have a wonderful trip. And on another note, don't be too put off by that recent post that described Prague as "touristy" (yes, there are a lot of tourists during the high season) because "there was too much crystal [for sale]" Kinda like saying there was too much water at Niagara Falls!
 
Dec 25th, 2003, 04:31 PM
  #9  
scumpy
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Minooka, you won't run out of things to do in Prague in a week. We spent a week there in October. Before we went everybody who had been there told us, "you will LOVE Prague." And I thought maybe there is some kind of brainwashing thing going on there. Having been to Prague, I now understand. What's NOT to love about Prague. You could get a car, I suppose, if you just really wanted to get around that way, but as others have mentioned, it is a city very easily explored by public transit. We got a weekly Metro pass, good on all trams, buses and Metro, for 250 Koruna, about $10 US. You can get one of those right in the Prague airport, to the right just before you go through the doors to the outside.

There are all kinds of tours going wherever else you might like to go. Your hotel can help you with that, or you can just stop at a tour kiosk on the street. We took a day trip to Cesky Krumlov with a tour company. It cost around $50 US, and we thought it was worth it.

English is widely spoken, which I found just amazing.
 
Dec 25th, 2003, 05:22 PM
  #10  
 
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Scumpy is correct - English is widely spoken in Prague, as well as all the major tourist destinations in Czech Rep. It is nothing to be amazed at, however. German & Russian were taught until the Velvet Revolution, and now EVERYONE in Europe is learning English in school. Is it that much of a surprise to some people?

If you need to ask for directions or assistance, your best bet is to ask a college aged student. They will be extremely well spoken (in probably at least 3 languages, including English), and will be more than happy to help out a visitor. In fact, I have met many teenagers in Prague who were eager to try out their English on a "real" American!
amp322 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2003, 03:11 PM
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I think you will have plenty to do and should just stay in Prague and do some day trips if you want. It's hard to say for sure without knowning your travel habits, but that's what I would advise. There are lots of good day trips from Prague that are easy by day trip bus company (they have several excellent ones) or train or bus -- such as Cesky Krumlov or Kutna Hora. See www.pis.cz

There are getting to be many more nicer, older but nicely refurbished hotels in Prague. I'm not that familiar with those in Mala Strana, but you can find them on many web sites. I like the Hotel Maximilian in the JOsefov area which does suit your description perfectly except I don't know what you might mean by mid-range. It is somewhat expensive now, but it's worth it to me (probably around $200 per day). Hotel Pariz and some other really nice ones would probably be about that, also, I imagine. Near it is Casa Marcello which also fits your criteria except again, perhaps for price.

As far as must-dos for sightseeing, I think a guidebook can describe them pretty well and you should choose based on your personal interests. There isn't anything I'd call a must-avoid but probably because I didn't go there from a description I read. Their decorative arts museum isn't very good, but I don't know anyone who's been there but me (it would not be high up in a guidebook mention, or mentioned at all).

You won't have any problem with finding English speakers in the central area. I suppose a lot of people do know some German but I wouldn't use it instead of English as I don't think they like Germans that well (wonder why). I have a German friend who went there and told me they didn't treat them so well when they spoke German instead of English, as they could tell they were German.
Christina is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 03:34 PM
  #12  
djl
 
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Hi,
My family and I have just returned from Prague Sunday. I think we can help with accomodations. We stayed in an apartment which was just a block off of the old town square. The location is fantastic. Ask for the apartment with the big windows out to the street. The address is 10 Zateka. You can contact Madame Zelena the following ways:

Phone: 286 851 107
Mobile Phone: 602 320 405
fax: 602 320 405

address:

Radonice 42
250 73 Praha - vychod
Czech Republic

Madame Zalena can arrange for you to be picked up at the airport or train station. It was very safe and I can't stress how central the location is.

Don't miss the Cafe Imperial and Slavia Cafe.

Good luck,
DJL
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Dec 30th, 2003, 03:37 PM
  #13  
djl
 
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Don't miss this restaurant:

SVEJK
Siroka 20
Praha 1, which is a block from Madame Zalena's apartment. Inexpensive and the best meal we had in Prague. Get the chef's specials.

DJL
djl is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 07:45 AM
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I went to Prague on June'02. It's surely one of my favourite cities in Europe. In 4 days, you'll be able to cover most of the interesting points of the city. As other posts said, you can do side trips around Prague. I don't know these cities metioned, as I stayed only for 4 days. But they certainly worth a visit! You're about 3hs distant from Wien or Budapest (they're nearly equal to Prague in distance). You can easily go there by train. But I think it'll be tiring.
You'll be safe in Prague. Despite being there in the high-season, with lots of tourists, I didn't hear (or see) anything concerning pickpockets (me and my friend were 2 young women travelling alone). But you must be smart, as you must be in any european or american city. English is spoken (and easily understood) everywhere in the city. People are very nice. And, as it was written here, they don't like Germans (as in many parts of Europe - it's a side effect from the 2nd WW).
I reccomend you stay near to the heart of the city (the area of the Old Town Square)- it's closer to many attractions, and you won't be tiring if want to walk along till evening, when you come back to the hotel with "suffered" feet. You should follow the suggestions of some posts ahead. Every hotel or restaurant which is addressed as "Praha 1" (Prague 1) is in the heart of the city. If you want something cheaper, then try some which are in Praha 2, and so on. The higher the #, the farther it is from downtown. But you'll be safe. You can reach most interesting areas by metro or trams. I think you won't need a car. You can't drive inside the Old Town Square or in the narrow streets around it.
Enjoy your trip and tell us the experience!
marciarjbr is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 09:56 AM
  #15  
DEA
 
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Minooka: I just returned from a trip alone to Prague on December 14 (9 days not including travel days). It is a wonderful city! I recommend Hotel Constans in Mala Strana (Lesser Town)(website: hotelconstans.cz). Great location and rooms are fairly nice (breakfast included). If you decide to stay, ask if they still have a special offer, i.e., stay 4 nights, the 5th night is free. I stayed 9 nights for the price of 7. I found an "anchor" restuarant, Gitanes, down the street, on the US Embassy side, from Hotel Constans which I will venture to say you will definitely enjoy. I had one "special" dinner at Kampa Park. In addition, I purchased tickets to the National Theatre (Narodni Divadlo), Estates Theatre (Stavovske Divadlo), and Rudolfinum online and the seats were great (these venues are very intimate). Attended an Advent Concert at St. Nicholas' Church (Chram sv. Mikulase, Mala Strana). I found Fodor's Citypack for Prague (3rd edition) indispensable. Take good walking shoes (most streets and sidewalks are cobblestone) and, if you are going during cold weather, make sure you take silk socks, etc. Day trips - Took a tram (8 crowns - $.32) to the Smichov train station and a train to Karlstejn Castle (50 crowns - $2.00 rndtrp) - beautiful; and Cesky Krumlov (10-hour day trip) with Cedok Travel. The rest of the time, I walked from one end of the city to the other on both sides of the Vltava. You could easily spend a full day at Prague Castle, a half day at Vysehrad and the other half walking to Letna Park, a half to full day in Josefov. The city is full of treasures! Around Karluv Most, it is somewhat touristy, but one gets over it.
English is understood by most everyone. The older generation might be an exception, but, with careful selection of words, communication is possible. ENJOY!!
DEA is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:11 AM
  #16  
ed
 
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Prague is wonderful but having said that either Vienna or Budapest would be fine as a begining or end of your trip.

I wouldn't try to do both.

We used the Eyewitness Guide to Prague (We don't own stock in the company) :-B
ed is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 03:49 PM
  #17  
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Thanks to everyone for the continued follow up. I think I am going to the Caribbean in February and then Prague in May. It will also give me a bit more time to figure out how and what to buy tickets for!

I wil look for the Prague guidebooks you've all recommended.
Minooka is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 04:25 PM
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I, too, hope to go to Prague, woman traveling solo....have copied all of the above info..what is weather like in March/Apri? What would the price be for Hotel Constans? and Madame Zalena's apt?
Went last May to Paris, Spain, Gibralter, Morocco, and London based on all of your advice. I have plenty of time and would like to go to Vienna and Budapest..can I use a Eurail pass or is there another type of rail service??What other citie/countries could I combine (not Germany as I have been there several times)Will ck out all the websites...many thanks...Johanna
W
johanna is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 06:00 PM
  #19  
 
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Johanna: Bratislava is very easy to cover (old town area is all walkable), and it is worth a look around if you have a day or two to spare. I was there two summers ago, and it had lots of great outdoor cafes, good cheap restaurants, etc. Stayed at the Danube Hotel, right along the river, and was within walking distance of all the major sights. Everyone was VERY happy to assist me at the hotel, restaurants, museums, etc. As a single woman traveler, I was very comfortable.
amp322 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 02:20 AM
  #20  
 
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very useful information!top it
sakis is offline  

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