Prague and Florence

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From Budapest, we caught an overnight train to Prague. The train took about 10 hours (left Budapest around 8 pm and arriving in Prague around 6:30 am) and although the sleep we got wasn’t beyond our wildest imagination, the cost and time savings made it worth it. 51 euro each for transport and accommodation.

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I travelled a few months around Europe on a Eurail pass in my teens, often sleeping on trains, but these sleeper cabins were unlike any I’d seen. Folding bunks, hidden knobs and lights, a sink/face washing station cabinet, built-in alarm clocks 45 minutes before arrival, and a wake-up call with coffee and croissants. Also showers? Will definitely be game for another one of these in the future.

We got into Prague early and unprepared for the cold, so locked our bags up and started wandering icy, foggy, shuttered streets in search of breakfast and finding one of the best breakfasts of the trip at Café Lounge. Wonderful coffee.

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We lingered over breakfast, then crossed the Charles Bridge in search of an open shop for new sweaters. Soon after the long morning, we made our way back to the station to get bags and keys for our apartment.

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Our apartment was right around the corner from the Astronomical Clock!

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The first day we went to Mistral Cafe for delicious, inexpensive foods and then the Mucha Museum, which was wonderful. I have so many new paper goods.

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From there, we went to the Prague ‘Beer Museum’, which is really just a pub with 30+ beers on tap. We had a flight of Two Tales, Matuska, Modra Lune, Bernard unfiltered, Real Deal ale, Maz, Kout Tmavy, Chotebor, D’este and Benedict and were befriended by the Dutch man next to us.

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For dinner, we went to Lokal: a modern beer hall good for traditional Czech food. We were befriended by the people next to us and ended up having far too many pear brandy shots.

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The Old Town Square at night.

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Týn Church wheat tops

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Day 2

We went back to Mistral Cafe for breakfast and ended up with this bizarre tower of meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, veg, fruit, spreads and breads. For breakfast, yeah.

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From there, we went through the Jewish Museum, which included entry to three synagogues. The children’s therapy art exhibit was possibly the most sombre of any Holocaust exhibit I’ve seen.

For lunch, we went had mugs of goulash and pretzels at Kolkovna. Delicious. Jack with the Kafka statue near Kolkovna.

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From there, we climbed the Old Town Hall tower for a better view over Prague and took about a million pictures. Here’s a few.

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The tops of the Baroque church in ‘Lesser Town’: St. Nicholas Church

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Every hour this guy goes to each side of the tower and blasts out a little tune.

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For dinner, we went to a new neighbourhood and walked past the Dancing House on the way.

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Dinner was an absolute feast at Zlaty Klas. Jack had all the meats on earth and we both had plenty of unpastuerized Pilsner Urquell, which the pub is famous for.

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On the way back towards our apartment, we went to a bar in an old watermill in a city park, then walked with all the crowds through Prague at night. One more drink around the corner from us at Chilli Bar (Čili Baru).

A flurry of night birds around Charles Bridge tower

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Day 3

To make it up to the castle well ahead of the changing of the guards, we picked up sweet and savoury treats from a bakery near us and started climbing through the crowds. We didn’t see much reason to pay for entry, so walked the castle grounds, around the perimeter of the garden, by the large cathedral…

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and then sat to watch the changing of the guards with a funfair Bohemian band played to the crowd.

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Changing of the guard

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On the way back into town we passed the John Lennon Wall, which awkwardly had a guitarist playing covers of… not John Lennon. Instead Tom Petty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney. Poorly.

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Jack and John

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Here we stopped at the Kafka Museum, which is supposed to have a Kafkaesque atmosphere and walk you through his life story, with only a few token exhibits towards the end interpreting some of his work.

Lunch was back at Lokal for Svickova (beef with cranberry cream).

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Dinner was back at Kolkovna with a rowdy Swedish stag do of some kind.

From Prague, I had a very long journey to Florence to make a board meeting the next day. Lots of travel and stress and cancellations, but I made it there in the end.

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I stayed in this hotel with a stunning view of the Duomo and major sites from the roof terrace. Too bad I arrived at about 1 am and had to go straight to work in the morning!

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But breakfast had a great view.

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And the walk to work was ridiculous!IMG_6897IMG_6909

And my stroll after work, before catching my bus back to Pisa airport, was also a magical hour. First, of Ponte Vecchio:

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