Unprepared for Prague

Old May 28th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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Unprepared for Prague

We suddenly freed-up for 7 days and were considering Prague since we've never been and people seem to rave about it her on Fodors. It sounds like it would be a city that would be enjoyable regardless of the weather (our poor garden is so soaked the rainwater stays pooled on the dirt hours later and a large bush's leaves are starting to yellow from too much water).

With no real notice and no prep/research time, I've been trying to figure out where to begin looking for a hotel that is affordable (65-100 euros, whatever that equals locally) but centrally located, and a lively neighborhood (for those with a reference to Paris - we enjoy the St. Germain area, if that helps). There seems to be so much to see and do it is overwhelming!

1) For people who love photography, culture, history, romantic walks and architecture, but not running around like crazy, where would you stay in Prague? (We will have a car to deal with--but don't want to drive once we arrive.)

2) What would be your top five "must-sees" in Prague, and why? (variety please. For example, not all museums or not all churches)

3) What would be your choice of restaurant for one "special" meal, both for ambiance and cuisine (we like all types and want to try local specialties during our visit, though we're partial to French. Up to (the equivalent of) 75 euros per person max.

4) We will be driving from Germany via Neurnberg. How is the autoroute to Prague? Easy drive? Heavily trafficked?

5) Is Pilzen worth stopping for a visit? We aren't really beer people, so don't want to visit the brewery, but my Dad helped liberate it under Patton in WWII, so I have this urge to see the furthest east my Dad ever got in his army stint (having followed in his footsteps in past trips from Normandy beaches to Forges-les-Eaux to Verdun area to Metz)

In the local language, phonetically, how to you pronounce the equivalaent of "Please", "Thank You" and "Excuse me"?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old May 28th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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Can't help with hotels - that isn;t out price point but I would highly urge you stay either in the old town or stare mesto (and dump the car in a garage).

As for the best sights:

Castle complex with cathedral and golden road
Old town architectural tour (you can pick up in the town hall)
Town Hall square and town hall (climb to the top - really worthwhile)
Ghetto tour (or visit the synagogue and other buildings yourself)
Opera house (see a performance if possible - if not just tour)

Be sure to see as many musical performances as you can - prices are very low and level of performances very high - for all types of music in all types of venues (including churches and retaurants)
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Old May 28th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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This site is maintained by a Prague resident, and is a wealth of info:
www.livingprague.com

We stayed in a small pensione, the U Lilie, which is right by the Charles Bridge, in the heart of things. We chose it because they had a family suite and it was affordable, with breakfast included. It was ok. I am not sure I would recommend it, though. It is clean, but sort of shabby. (Our stay was 5 years ago, though.)
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Old May 28th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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When I visit a foreign country I usually learn "hello", etc.

I took one look before our trip to Prague and Budapest and figured "No Way".

To my surprise evrybody except subway and train workers speak perfect English. English appears to be the 2nd language now in schools.

Boy do we get off easy!!!

There are the usual sights so I'll list my special ones.
A self tour of the synagogues (purchase combined ticket)
The Charles Bridge at sunrise (yes, at sunrise there were only a few of us) and sunset
Wallenstein Gardens
Wallenstein Palace is a government chamber, is beautiful (part of the Garden complex) is free but only open on certain days.
Just wandering around.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Here's my five days in Prague (click on link below) in 2008. This should give you some good info (and photos) of what to see. Prague is great.

Bee sure to have lunch, dinner or at least a couple of beers at Bellavista restaurant overlooking Prague. Beautiful spot, good food and great beer! Day trip to Kutna Hora and Bone Church in Sedlec is fun.


http://web.me.com/tomfielding1/Tom_%...ague_2008.html

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Old May 28th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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I was recently in Prague and I enjoyed my day in the castle area (not specifically the castle as I didn't go in). The Loreto church was stunning and I enjoyed walking up (although I would suggest walking down) Nerudova Street which is filled with colorful buildings, plaques, and signs. Also in this area is St Nicholas church (not to be confused with the church of the same name in Old Town Square). Tyn church is also beautiful. Their open hours are Tuesday to Friday 3:00 to 5:00. But if you only want to do one church I recommend Loreto.

In town I would suggest the Municipal House tour (the tour times vary by day so you need to view the schedule; I believe it's available on line) and the Mucha Museum (small), and the Jewish Quarter where I toured 5 synagogues (all different), old cemetery, and ceremonial hall. The old cemetery is access via Pincas Synagogue (admission fee).

If you want to see St. Vitus Cathedral (free) go early in the morning as the lines are very long in the afternoon.

Just walking around the streets in Old Town is great as there are many beautiful architectural embellishments on the buildings. Look for the man hanging from the flag pole (I found him once but couldn't find him when I went back to take a photo).

http://www.loreta.cz/en/index.htm

I stayed in Prague 6 at a small pension so can't help with hotel recommendations in Old Town (which is where I would recommend staying).

I took the bus from Nurnberg to Prague,leaving about 10:00 - 10:30 during the week and the autoroute was pretty empty of traffic. We only hit traffic as we entered Prague.

Regarding local language - I could never get my tongue to contort to the Czech pronunciations as hard as I tried. A please or thank you will be understood by anyone dealing with tourists and will be appreciated.

The food in Prague was great. Don't have any special recommendations as you're eating above my budget. I looked for places away from Old Town Square as I thought the food there would probably be mediocre and it was expensive. I did enjoy Kolkovna Restaurant on Kolkovan Street (near Jewish Quarter). Before you order check the amount of grams for meat as what I ordered was an enormous portion that I couldn't finish. If portions are large you could share. Everything is a la carte, unlike other Czech restaurants where potatoes (or dumplings) and cabbage are included.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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I love Prague, you don't need to prepare much, just read a guidebook on the way for the basics for first-timers. I couldn't add anything to what are the usual things mentioned in guidebooks as the must-sees (castle, Old town square, Jewish Qtr, bridge, etc.). Luckily, they aren't too far apart. St Nicholas in Mala Strana is special, and there are quite a few good museums, so to speak (for instance, the Loreta which is a palace more or less). The castle complex has more than one thing to see.

It doesn't matter what one's interests are, it is most convenient for any tourist to stay either near Old town Square or in Mala Strana. I prefer the former. I stay in the Josefov section to be a bit farther away from the main activity. I don't stay in hotels that cheap, but this one is near where I stay and has always looked attractive to me. It's a very good central location (more like 115 euro, though): http://www.antikhotels.com/ You don't say when you are going, but I would suggest after June 6th, as the music festival is going on until then and hotels are booked up far in advance for that.

It doesn't matter what you are that interested in, it is most convenient for any tourist to stay either near Old town Square or in Mala Strana. I prefer the former. I stay in the Josefov section to be a bit farther away from the main activity. I don't stay in hotels that cheap, but this one is near where I stay and has always looked attractive to me. It's a very good central location (more like 115 euro, though): http://www.antikhotels.com/ You don't say when you are going, but I would suggest after June 6th, as the music festival is going on until then and hotels are booked up far in advance for that.

If you have a car, that might not be so convenient, and I think that is the issue. For a car, you might better stay someplace with parking, more on the edges, but I don't know a place to recommend. They would cost less, anyway.

As for Czech, there are only a couple consonants that are hard to pronounce to me (the rz). The rest is pronounced exactly like it is spelled, so if you learn the sound of the alphabet, and what the diacritical marks means, it is easy to read. The language itself is difficult structurally to me as it has cases which I'm not used to. In any case, these are those words. Diacritical marks are fairly standard -- a slant to the right lengthens a vowel (accent acute in French), a hacek (little v over a consonant) makes a c like a ch, an s or z like an sh, and an n like ny or the tilde over an n in Spanish). Over an e, it makes the preceding consonant sound like it has a y after it, sort of. The difficult sound (rz) is an r with a hacek over it and doesn't occur in any other language (it is in the composer's name Dvořák). J is pronounced like a y.

please = prosím = PROH-seem

that was the easiest

thank you = děkuji = DYEH-koo-yih

excuse me = promiňte = PROH-mih-nyteh

the ih and eh I wrote above are to indicate short vowels.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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www.booking.com/prague List your dates and see what hotels fit your budget. Also, download good information on Prague. Richard www.inyourpocket.com
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Old May 28th, 2010, 11:07 AM
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Wow! That was fast and timely; helps immensely. I only have 4 days before we leave so THANK YOU one and all!
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