Epic Europe

September - December 2023
An open-ended adventure by Awesomes
Currently traveling
  • 106footprints
  • 9countries
  • 87days
  • 840photos
  • 3videos
  • 17.4kkilometers
  • 13.8kkilometers
  • Day 1

    Start of Epic Europe

    September 11 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    We are beginning our trip with very long flights. We begin with a flight to Singapore, transit for 4 hours then to Frankfurt with another transit of 4 hours then 1 hour flight to Prague. Total travel time of 30 hours.
    Our Perth Singapore leg was delayed by an hour so transit will be shorter in Singapore. We did manage to rest up at Kai's and not wait at the airport. Landed safely in Singapore and had a good catch-up with Jas for a couple of hours. Had yummy papayas, pineapple , with a ginger drink and a small hawker breakfast that Jas bought and brought to the airport. We took off from Singapore at 11am and after flying 4½ hrs, we are not even halfway there. Still almost 9hrs to go before Frankfurt. Flights a little bumpy in parts but generally a smooth flight.
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  • Day 1

    Transit in Frankfurt

    September 11 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    By the time we arrived in Frankfurt, Ruby and I were exhausted. Whatever our earlier expectations of Frankfurt airport were, it wasn't as easy to navigate. Due to the language barrier, we didn't realise to go to the shops and restaurants in the airport while on transit, we needed to get our passports stamped and go through immigration, as this was the first entry into the EU. We managed to find some shops and a rest area. As the choices were limited, we found a rather nice carbonara but the restaurant had Stuart Littles running around. I ushered Ruby out of the restaurant pronto. The 4 hours passed slowly but our flight from Frankfurt was piloted by Speedy Gonzales. We made it to Prague in 45 mins.
    Ruby's lungs were good throughout all the flights so let the holidays begin.
    Distance walked 8km
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  • Day 2

    Prague Day 1

    September 12 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Our bedroom window on the ground floor looks directly onto the street, so we just look out the window to see what people are wearing to ascertain the temperature and weather outside, and know what to wear. Everyone was in sundresses, shorts and t shirts, and it did turn out to be a very warm 30°C day.

    After home brought muesli for breakfast, we were on the streets for a look whilst making our way to the meeting point of the walking tour of Old Town, New Town and the Jewish Quarter.

    As we were walking to the meeting place, I needed the toilet. I tried to use the public conveniences but every place wanted coin payment to use the loo but there was nowhere to get change. As the tour was starting, I decided to wait.
    We passed the famous astronomical clock. We heard from a random guide of how the clock not only tells time, but gives the different moon phases, the zodiac, the length of day and night in the changing seasons. Our walking tour guide, Pavel which is Paul in Czech, demonstrated what the clock does on the hour that draws large crowds. He said the skeleton that signifies death will pull on a string to ring the bell whist nodding, the other three characters, vanity, greed and ottoman shake their heads to reject death, whilst the two blue doors open to allow the parade of the twelve apostles, all looking bored as they have done this millions of times already. He said then you may or may not get claps from the crowds whilst their faces register great disappointment and dissatisfaction that they waited just to witness a lack luster event.
    At approximately 1½hours walking, Pavel gave us a 15 min break. I finally found a toilet at McDonalds. Prague toilets vary in cost from 10-20 CZK. Without any small change, I had to buy a McDonald's junior chicken burger so that I could get change for the use of the toilet. What a saga! So, much to Ruby's disgust, our first eat in Prague streets was a MacDonald's hamburger.
    Pavel was very informative, giving great history of the religious, communist, and world wars and it's effects and influence on Prague and its buildings.
    After a 3 hours walking tour, we shared a hearty Czech meal of rabbit in cream sauce with dumplings and a delicious beef and liver broth.
    We visited Our Lady Before Tyne, originally an Anglican church but now a Catholic church. On the same square about 50m away is St Nicholas church, originally a Catholic church but now a Hussite Protestant church.
    In true travelling logic, we walked an extra 2 km to buy Epsom salt to revive or aching feet in the bath back at the apartment. On the way, we chanced an open gate leading into a tree'd courtyard. It was a huge garden of the house the Senate. Walking around, we were treated to a Czech pop group doing is sound test. A very nice sounds indeed.
    Exhausted, we headed back to the apartment for a light salad dinner and bath with rejuvenating salts.

    Distance walked 14.3km
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  • Day 3

    Prague Day 2

    September 13 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    Caution, this is written under influence of Czech beer.

    Today is a big day for our walking legs. Yesterday we walked 14.3km with one walking tour. Today we have two walking tours. The first is the Prague Castle walking tour then the Prague Architecture tour.
    We woke at 530am and decided to see the Charles Bridge at sunrise. We were very glad we did as the bridge was not busy around 6am with just 6- 10 people.
    We asked a couple to take our photo on the bridge lo and behold, they came from Geraldton. What are the chances.... Another surprise at the bridge was a photoshoot sans coverings. As she was prancing and posing around the best vantage points, and photo bombing us.
    We were also treated to a kaleidoscope of colours of the sky as the sun rose against the beautiful architecture of Old Town.
    On our way back to the accommodation for muesli breakfast, we chanced on a garden called Vojanovy Sady. Through the gates were a beautiful orchard of pears and apples trees, and other old trees. Felt like the garden of Eden, with an apple tree with the forbidden fruit.

    On our way to the first walking tour of Prague Castle, we passed a butcher shop with a window counter to stand at for a quick meal. We decided to buy lunch of rolls with something akin to a meatball and a piece of fried chicken to go in it for lunch at the castle. In the display were some beautiful open sandwiches with invitations which would have been rude to ignore. We had the sandwiches at the counter, and succumbed to soup after. As the day developed, we were very glad for the extra calories.

    Prague Castle walking tour provided some information that we don't think we'd have otherwise known. She found the perfect corner for us to watch the elaborate ceremony of the changing of the guard with accompanying band. After the tour and very quick lunch of our rolls with butcher meat, we ran around the castle stupid, like 2 crazy ducks, visiting 4 paid sights of the castle with tickets that we bought from Perth. Note that Prague Castle is the largest complex in the world.
    In the photos is the tomb of Saint John of Nepomuk , one of the top saints of the Czech Republic. He was a confessor to the Queen of Bohemia and that he refused to reveal to the King what she told him in confession. The King, enraged, had John tortured and thrown from the Charles Bridge in chains. There are two statues dedicated to St John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge.

    It was a very quick walk back downhill to Old Town Square to commence a very detailed and full of informative Architecture Tour with only a 10 minute rest. As it was the second tour, my mind was too full to absorb all the information. There was something about Romanesque buildings changing to gothic then baroque, rococo, manarism, art nouveau, cubist, art deco, and functionalist. There was neo, post, pre, as prefixes between some of these architectural eras. Jason our guide tried his best to help us identify and differentiate between each era, and it just blew our minds!
    We finished our day with a great meal at Lokal, a pub with a basement where we had our meal in the Romanesque section of the building. We also had a rezané beer which is a kozel black beer floating on top of a pilsner. So exhausted were we that we forgot to say "small" when we ordered the beer. A stein appeared. Karsal was so good, we had another small glass.

    Total distance walked was 19.7km.
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  • Day 4

    Prague Day 3

    September 14 in Czech Republic ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Today was intended to be a day with much less walking. No walking tours, nothing specifically planned, an easy restful day visiting art galleries We still managed to clock up 17.9km.

    Prague is a lovely city to walk in. We pass interesting galleries, hidden gardens and orchards and architecture that is amazing. First destination was the Strahov Monastery of the Norbertine Order. We were meant to take the tram, however when we woke, the weather was a cool 21⁰C, not too sunny hence perfect walking weather. On the way, we passed a small food market that was just setting up. We bought a spinach strudel to fuel our uphill walk. We passed the Basilica of St Nicholas before it opened to the public. A guard was smoking outside, with the door to the basilica ajar. Ruby asked if we could go in to pray, putting on her most reverent angelic smile. We were led to the back pew, told "here, no photos". We did go on our knees, and looked around the beautiful church with our heads bowed and hands clasped, feeling very privileged.

    Strahov Monastery had an interesting collection in the Philosophical Hall, much akin to a library today. Beautiful frescoes, inlaid furniture, and a natural collection together with a collection of astronomical and terrestrial globes dating back to 1500. The lady who checked our tickets pointed out the whale's penis to a local group , and insisted, through the international language of sign, that Ruby take a photo of it. The St Norbert monks were renown for their brewery, hence at 10am, we had to break with happy hour traditions, to have a beer.

    In Prague their art galleries are scattered in 6 different locations spanning a rather large area. We decided upon National Gallery - Trade Fair Palace as we wanted to see Klimt's Virgin, Van Gogh's Green Wheat Fields, Picasso's works, and the Czech artists. Trade Fair Palace was only 4.6km from the Strahov Monastery and downhill so we decided to walk. How quickly does one forget that today was a less walk day.

    We did lots more walking and ended our day in Roesel Beer and Food Cafe. We went for their special brew called burcek but they had run out, so we tried a sour, salty beer which was surprisingly refreshing and tasty.
    It's a shame that they ran out of burcek because now we are forced to go back tomorrow to try again.
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  • Day 5

    Prague Day 4

    September 15 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Breakfast today was vegemite on the extra bread from meals yesterday. We learnt from Kai to always squirrel sustenance as you never know when it will be needed in one's travels.
    We walked to Vyšehrad, passing the palatial buildings along Mala Strana foreshore. Notable was the 16th century, Lichtenstein Palace, Prague’s most extensive baroque construction. It was home to one of the cruellest and most ruthless men in Prague’s history, the “Bloody vice-regent” Lichtenstein who ordered the deaths of 27 leaders of the Hussite rebellions in 1621.

    As we detoured from the route by Google, we found a Hussite church (Monastery Praha Emauzy) and the Botanical Gardens with lots of kids on excursion. One little girl quickly scoffed a pretzel that was bigger than her face. The kids were mesmerised but 3 screechy white cockatoos. We thought Kai's tiny humans followed us here.

    "According to ancient legends, Vyšehrad is the oldest seat of Czech princes; in fact, the local settlement was established in the mid-10 th century. Situated on a rocky promontory above the Vltava River, it offers stunning views of the city, and the park area holds hidden architectural treasures including the neo-Gothic Church of Sts Peter and Paul, the national cemetery Slavín, and the underground casements housing the some of the original Baroque statues from the Charles Bridge." (official Prague tourism website).
    We found the graves of Dvorak, Planacek, and Sturska.
    We didn't make it to the Romanesque Rotunda because I got hungry.

    Ruby found a quaint restaurant in the area where we could have local Czech fare. We had the yummiest grilled pork knuckle ( they call it pork knee) basted in black beer. Ruby had fried grunion fish (like big whitebait) on salad. With my pork knee order, the waitress asked if I wanted potatoes , bread or fries. When a big plate of boiled potatoes arrived, we realised that it was not part of the pork knee dish, but an added extra. Nevermind about vegetables, must have the carbohydrates. The meal was washed down with black beer. Pork knee was melt in your mouth, fall off the bone yummy. Fish was crispy and tasty. It really makes a big difference to venture outside the tourist areas for food. Much cheaper, much more delicious, and above all, much better vibes. No tourist pollution, local air there was clean.

    After lunch we dropped off our overnight bag to our next Prague accommodation. The host kindly agreed to lighten our load and hold a bag for 12 days as we explore northwards. We will return to Prague to watch an opera before heading south of Czech Republic . When we got to the ticket office of Klementinum National Cultural Monument, we found that we could only book the 5pm time slot for the guided tour. Since our butcher was just round a few corners, we visited it to get a big meatball, a rollmop, and some fennel salad for afternoonses at our accommodation and we rested till the tour.

    The Klementinum National Cultural Monument is the seat of the National Library of the Czech Republic, constructed between 1578 and 1726. Most valuable document is the Vysehrad Codex which is valued equal to the crown jewels. Since 1775 the temperature and precipitation has been measured in the Klementinum without interruption, making it amongst the three oldest in Europe.
    The library was amazingly well preserved with beautiful frescoes on the ceiling. The Klementinum Astronomical Tower provided 360° breathtaking views of Old Town, New Town and across the river to Lesser town (Mala Strana, where our accommodation is). From the tower, we could see the crowds on Charles Bridge and it's surrounding streets. Crowds are a great deterrent for further venturing, so no burcek drink tonight. We took the lesser bridge across the river and headed straight back to our accommodation.
    Our restful, take it easy day was a mere
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  • Day 5

    More pictures from Prague Day 4

    September 15 in Czech Republic ⋅ 🌙 18 °C
  • Day 6

    Turnov Day 1

    September 16 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    I thought I scored a major bargain for the bus fare from Prague to Turnov for 15CZK per person just over AUD $1. Then I realised that it was only a seat reservation fee, and the fare was to be paid to the driver, however that amount was not stated anywhere in the email confirmation nor in the ticket. A kind man at the bus station looked at his phone and told us it was 110CZK, still very inexpensive at AUD $7.30 for a 1 hr25 min bus ride. We took a Bolt to the bus terminal. Bolt is very much like Uber, but cheaper. We had a very stern young man as our driver. The fare was AUD $12.50 for a 19km 30 minute journey. Petrol here cost AUD $3.70/litre. We did give him a tip and he almost smiled when we thanked him for helping us with our bags. I read somewhere that many ride share drivers here are immigrants who do not speak the language and they just need to work the app. My wild imagination led me to wonder if he was from Ukraine. Quite a different experience to our taxi ride from the airport. Our very proud father chatty driver then showed us photos of his 10 month old baby girl. He used the Sayhi app on his phone to tell his experience at the birth of baby. We conversed through his app. I don't think there's a rule against using one's mobile whilst driving. It was common to see drivers blatantly scrolling through their phone or holding it whilst talking.

    We had some time for a last walk around Mala Strana (Czech for Lesser Town) this morning. Not sure how we could still be jet-lagged after 5 nights but Grace was wide awake at 5pm, very unusual for her. I was awake more than an hour before, not at all unusual for me. We stopped by Cafe 22 for second breakfast served by a very animated waiter. He said that he was in a very good mood this morning, but won't be for much longer as he has a 12 hour shift. On a Saturday, in a cafe on the main tourist route from Charles Bridge, I'd be grumpy from the week before to the week after.

    Our lovely host at Turnov picked us up from the train station. We are in an apartment at the ground floor of her family home. She and her sister run this airbnb. We took a walk to the Information Centre to get the routes for our hikes sorted. Turnov is in Cesky Raj, Bohemian Paradise, known for its beautiful scenery. Turnov is a small town, so we haven't seen any of that scenery yet. We did walk to the Tesco round the corner to get some pork and chicken and broccoli. We brought 3 packets of curry mixes from Perth, and Grace made a delicious curry. I mistook flour for rice in our cupboard, so it was curry on pasta for dinner. A very nice combination, when you're travelling.

    Distance walked 5.3km
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