North America, Europe · 11 Days · 59 Moments · August 2017

Nicole's adventure to Central Europe

1 September 2017

On our way to our first thermal bath! This was at Veli Bej Baths but they were closing in half an hour by the time we got there so we went (literally) next door to Lukács Baths. It was quite the labyrinth to figure out where to go and what to do but I think we have the hang of it now!
I seem to take a lot of pictures at night!
There was also a beautiful Japanese Garden on Margaret Island (I didn't take too many pictures though). From there, just outside the gardens, you could see the amazing sunset!
Went to Margaret Island - ventured the transit system! The ruins are what remains of the Dominican Convent: according to the story, King Matthius promised to commit his daughter to a life of devotion in a nunnery if the Mongols were driven from the land. They were and she was - at the age of 9.
We saw a cool bug when we went for coffee/snacks after our bike tour. Odd little guy.
Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion.
Views from the Royal Palace.
Saw lots of places in both Buda and Pest: Ferris wheel on Erzsebet Square Hungarian State Opera House House of Terror Széchenyi Baths Basilica of St Stephen Chain Bridge Royal Palace
Today we went on a bike tour of Budapest. It started at 10:30 am and went until about 3:30 pm. Good exercise, lots of history, and many sights! We went with D'Arcy (one of the bridesmaids) who is also in Budapest for a few days - she's been amazing company!
Starting the day off with some local cuisine and European coffee... I don't think anywhere in the world has this.

27 August 2017

The sunset from the Chateau!
The Melnik Chateau was acquired by the Lobkowicz family in 1739 which the family opened to the public in 1990. It contains a rich collection of baroque furniture, 17th/18th century paintings, and maps detailing Europe's great cities.
The vines growing below the terrace behind the Chateau are supposedly descendants of the first vines introduced to Bohemia in the 14th century - they're now used to make the Chateau's own wines. As you get closer to the Chateau from the river, the vines get taller/older.
More of the area near the Chateau...
...but very productive nonetheless! Walked down to the town centre for lunch and to check out the sights. The Elbe river flows past Melnik and we had some fantastic views from behind the Chateau.
The general feel of the next day...
Reception!! Pig roast at Dan's brother-in-law's restaurant in Steti. More Czech traditions! And just overall a great time!

26 August 2017

Late lunch with 2 of the bridesmaids:Jill and Charlene (and a little visitor). Kat had a nap with her daughter, Eva. D'Arcy was the Maid of Honor so she went with Amber to lunch to be part of the traditional post-ceremony Czech festivities (including lunch). Our food took about an hour to get after ordering which is typical in Czech because you're expected to socialize and enjoy the company your with leading up to your meal.
The second best-looking couple at the wedding! And by wedding, I mean Czech. And by Czech, we might as well say what everyone's thinking: all of Europe. What an amazing individual that I've chosen to spend my life with - my best friend and an amazing travel companion. I'm feeling incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to visit other places with such an easy traveller.
The amazing castle Kokorin was where Dan and Amber had their ceremony. I can't wait to see their wedding photos - a destination wedding that'll be hard to beat!
Wedding day!! So blessed to be part of such a special day in not one, but two, of my friends' lives. Very interesting to see how another culture celebrates and unites love!

25 August 2017

Went for drinks on a patio while we waited for a table at another restaurant. Amber gifted us bridesmaids with beautifully perfect bracelettes that we coincidently all wore on our left wrist the day of the wedding - what does that mean??
Walking from the cafe to the restaurant to meet Dan and Amber for supper. Allen gave little Eva a shoulder ride - the flower girl and daughter of Kat (one of the bridesmaids). She squeezed a few shoulder and piggyback rides out of him over the next few days!
The 6th/top floor provided the view of Melnik!
The 5th floor had drawings and a video of the same artist that had drawn our place settings at Yam Yam's in Prague. We saw his art around other places in Melnik as well.
The 4th floor is where the gallery starts (the clock mechanics).
Went to the coolest cafe/gallery for coffee/snack at Galerie/Cafe ve vezi. It is in a clock tower and has 6 levels: the main floor is the entrance/kitchen and the 2nd/3rd floors is where there is seating. You grab a menu and a seat, write down on a piece of paper what you want, put the paper on a tray, ring the bell (to let the server know), then she moves the tray (through the use of a dumbwaiter). You're food arrives in the same manner!
Arrived in Melnik and dropped our bags off at our hotel - time to go grab a snack! It is about a half hour walk to town square that's filled with some great spots. We took the park route on the way there which was beautiful and unexpected as we thought we'd be walking alongside traffic the whole time. Some beautiful art here as well!
Off to Melnik! It only cost 46 Kc (~$2.70) to take the bus to this town that's approx. 30 mins outside Prague. Beautiful mix of country views, forests, and small villages.
Finally!! Now we can learn how to play such games as "Crazy Czech"; for those of you who don't know, this is an obscure and confusing version of Crazy Eights.
GREEEEEEEEEN! Had about an hour to spend at Stromovka (central Prague's largest park) before catching the bus to Melnik. You can rent bikes and inline skates and just enjoy. There's also a planetarium on the grounds.
Café on every block! Had a light little breakfast of lattes and croissants at a nearby cafe to start our day. Most people speak enough English for us to ask questions and order at restaurants but it seems appreciated when you know a few of their words for sure. Dobry den (hello) - Anglicky? (English?) toaleta (toilet) - prosim (please). Dekuji! (Thank you!)

24 August 2017

Letna Park was FILLED with people late at night. We followed the music to a DJ mixing hip hop and enjoyed the people watching. There's a giant metronome that keeps an incredibly slow beat during the day that can even be seen across the river. Oh, and they had about 5 beer stands. Beer beer beer - cheaper than water.
Barbaric Canadians... eating your fries with your hands like a bunch of animals... Stopped at the Letna Beer Garden for a snack before eating burritos on a patio at a Mexican restaurant.
Made our way back over the river toward District 7 (where we were staying - Holesovice).
We weren't sticking around for night with those eyes staring at us... not even his little friend has eyes... when we went to leave, the main gate had been locked. Sleepover? No thanks.
The mosoliums were both substantial in numbers as well as size. They lined the perimeter and were in varying stages of architectural decomposition; some had been renovated recently whereas others were severely damaged by age and weather. All were awe-inspiring.
Many of the graves have grown over mainly by vines and some of the headstones are either covered completely or are weathered to the point that they are no longer legible.
The Olsany Cemetary is Prague's main burial ground and was founded in 1680 to handle the increased deaths during a plague epidemic. It is beautifully stunning and sobering.
Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to bring our syringes into the cemetery... but on the upside, we could steal people's' luggage if we were so inclined.
TV Tower! Looking across Prague, this tower stands out as the tallest. It's also covered in so many babies. This is an art installation called "Miminka" (meaning "Mummy") by the artist David Cerny. He has many pieces throughout the city.
Walked over to District III (Staré Mesto - Old Town square) and saw the beautiful Astronomical Clock. On the hour, it goes through a chime and show of moving parts but it is under renovations right now so it was more minimal than I think it otherwise is but still very cool. We weren't able to go inside, unfortunately, either but you can typically take a tour.
Window shopping for skulls and bad-ass dolls. Souvenirs anyone?
Watching coffee being ground!
Continued across the river into District IV (Nové Mesto) and stopped at Café Imperial for coffee and breaky. It first opened in 1914 and is covered in original ceramic tiles, mosaics, sculptures panels and bas-reliefs, with period light fixtures and bronzes. Even the bathrooms had beautiful hardware!
Lots of art in Prague! Wandered down through Letna Gardens and came across a not-at-all creepy playground. They were horses I think. Pretty amazing how much art there is in this city! Lots of graffiti - a series of cans and CDs hanging in a little art nook - community made?
Beautiful overhead artworks - this one was near Charles Bridge. We wandered around the other side and stopped for a couple Pilsners (Allen's favorite!) at a random pub. The tables were pretty cool - made of half a keg and had piping and a tap at the base.

23 August 2017

Went for a wander down to Charles Bridge (got there at about midnight). I loved the gold detailing on the statues that lined this foot bridge - the gold detailing we saw frequently on a lot of the other statues and historical architecture around Prague.
Things are always creepier at night...
Great question, sidewalk! After we arrived at our room at our Airbnb we had a couple hour nap then had a bite to eat at Yam Yam's in our neighbourhood.
Great question, sidewalk!
Well it took us about 3 hrs to get to our Airbnb in Prague from the airport (should've taken about 35 mins). We took a bus then transferred onto a tram then followed our hosts street directions. The language barrier was definitely half of it. The transportation system was pretty easy once we figured out how it worked; it's also inexpensive and a lot of times it was only a few mins before the next one came. It was a good little adventure on our first day! This picture is a couple blocks from where we stayed - the architecture was stunning!
And the adventure begins!! We're taking a bus (including a transfer by tram) to the place we're staying at through Airbnb. We also had to buy a little ticket for our luggage too (lame but cute).
Ah cool. It looks like these stations were charging stations! Indoor and outdoor green spaces as well at the Amsterdam airport - awesome!
The man in the clock! Arrived at the Amsterdam airport for a short layover and saw this cool guy. Not gonna lie... totally thought it was an actual person who was behind it cleaning it...
No sky diving today! Brrr! Flight is feeling like it's going by pretty fast - awesome!

22 August 2017

Very pleased with both of the vegetarian meals we had from KLM on our flight to Amsterdam. The first main at dinner was a curry dish and our breakfast was a hashbrown topped with some sort of falafel (??). We had a bit of wine after our dinner but mostly water. I watched 2 movies: "Passengers" and "Chips" (sooooo funny) then was able to sleep for a bit; KLM provides a little pillow and a fleece blanket which really helped! I woke up with about 1.5 hrs to go and was feeling pretty rested. We'll see how I'm feeling by the time Prague rolls around!
And we're off! Goodbye, Canada!
Arrived at the airport and got through with hours to spare! Enjoying a meal at Gretzky's Wine & Whisky before boarding our 5:30 pm flight to Prague (12 hrs with a short stop in Amsterdam).