We set off from our temporary home in Prague one sunny morning and drove south through the countryside of the Czech Republic, heading for the small town of Český Krumlov close to the Czech-Austrian border. The landscapes of the Bohemian region were the kind that artists dream of: blue skies with wisps of clouds, rural farmhouses and fields freshly tilled or planted with various crops in checkered hues alternating with huge swaths of bright yellow canola well over two feet high. Time passed by almost dreamily, as we gazed out the car windows at mile after mile of flat land and gentle hills and places where timber logging and sawmills seemed to be the main industry. In some areas, we tunneled through thick woods growing almost to the shoulderless, two-lane road.
One of the best places to visit for a vacation or just a normal holiday is Europe. Travelling to Europe can be such an eye opening and inspiring adventure that it should have been kept as a rite of passage for everyone around the planet. This continent is packed with sites and streets that have been designed more than 2000 years by early human civilization. Europe lets you have a chance to walk-in and have a look at its beautiful fairytale castles, ancient walls and aqueducts, tramp around myth and wander along its beaches where world wars played out.
In addition to all this Europe has also got the world’s most extra ordinary landscapes, charming atmosphere, mouthwatering cuisines, awesome nightlife, unique culture and people, great history, vibrant cities among many others.
A romantic Danube River cruise is one of those bucket list-worthy vacations. Yes, I used the “b” word, but this cruise was memorable in so many ways. Here’s my AmaWaterways river cruise review from Germany to Hungary, with stops in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along the way on the Romantic Danube route.
Whether this is your first time cruising with Amawaterways or you have sailed with this luxury river cruise line multiple times, it’s nice to be reminded of what to expect on Amawaterways River Cruise Ships. There is no typical cruiser on board these elegant ships.
Have car – will travel! And travel we did during our time in the Czech Republic, putting many kilometers on our can’t-lose-me-in-a-crowded-parking-lot, neon-green, rented Skoda during the week we had it. As luck would have it, the little city of Kutná Hora, population around 20,000, was only an hour east of Prague and almost dead center in the heart of Bohemia, making it easy to heed the advice of several friends to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The original silver mining settlement of Cuthna Antiqua, Old Kutna, was settled as early as the 10th century but its economic fortunes were tied to the establishment of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Abbey, in the nearby village of Sedlec in 1142.
If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among the pearls. – anonymous
I had always wanted to go to Prague. It was mysterious to me. Different from the other European countries that I have been to so many times. But when we decided to make a business trip into a dual purpose trip, I immediately said I wanted to include Prague on the itinerary. My husband didn’t take much convening and Prague became our time to be a family sans business partners.
Before I dive into the trip details, I think it may be helpful for you to know some of the baby items I packed, since we went with our 1-year old.
- Ergo 360 carrier
- Baby monitor
- About enough diapers for 10-12 changes per day (diapers can be expensive outside the US, so I opted to bring my own.)
Did I really travel all the way here just to see a column?
It seems as though I did.
I’ve come to the Czech city of Olomouc as part of my World Heritage Journey – the challenge I have set myself to visit every UNESCO World Heritage Site on earth. I probably wouldn’t have stopped here otherwise, but my research told me there is a site here.
You know what? I probably wouldn’t have even heard of Olomouc otherwise. Had you heard of it before you started reading this post and I mentioned it? Possibly not.
It’s a rather unknown city, even by Czech standards. Everyone knows Prague. Most tourists have heard of Cesky Krumlov. Brno is relatively well known by people in this part of Europe. Olomouc… I have never heard anyone mention it before.
Situated across from the Vltava River, Intercontinental Prague is an excellent hotel option when visiting Prague in the Czech Republic. Built in 1974 for visiting dignitaries, it was an ideal location for keeping tabs on the comings and goings of powerful officials during the communist regime.
If you look across the river and up to the Metrodome Clock on the hill, that used to be the location of a giant statue of Joseph Stalin, the former president of the Soviet Union and later, pop musician Michael Jackson has his 32 foot tall statue placed there to promote his HIStory world tour. The California celebrity used the Intercontinental as his hotel during his stay in Prague.
No doubt, there is plenty to see and do in Prague, so three to five days is an ideal amount of time to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Europe, for most travellers, is synonymous with the cities of London and Paris and the many Alpine resorts of Switzerland. On the flip side, the continent has a vast number of gems that are yet to be uncovered, right from villages illuminated by the Midnight Sun to historic towns that are proud UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Their perpetually favourable weather conditions, despite the almost lack of snow, are the icing on the cake. Given how we have incurred the wrath of the summers, these lesser-known destinations will serve as the ideal respite from the soaring temperatures so book your tickets in order to beat the heat and the crowds at the same time.
A good 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, Saariselkä is a Finnish village that emerges straight out of your Christmassy dreams.
The city of Prague in the Czech Republic shot to the top of our travel list when friends casually mentioned that an old coworker of theirs had offered them his family’s apartment in the city and said we were welcome to join them for the month of May. The words, “free accommodations” had us checking flights from Lisbon to Prague and the welcome mat was barely unrolled before we arrived with our suitcases and a long list of things to see and do.
Wenceslas Square was our starting point, a long boulevard which connects the Old Town of Prague (history first mentions Prague in 1091) with the New Town. We guess in Europe “new” might be a bit of a misnomer as this area was founded in 1348, ancient by anyone’s standards.
Eastern Europe is often overlooked for larger cities like Paris, London and Amsterdam, but the region is a budget traveler’s goldmine with sights and experiences that won’t stretch the budget. The Czech capital of Prague is typically a good jumping-off point for exploring the country itself, home to secret gems most travelers to Eastern Europe have never heard of, including the following.
Visiting the former capital of the Morvaia province allows you to leave the crowds of Prague behind. This small center of Baroque architecture is only two hours from Prague by train, but just as rich with culture and nightlife. Start at the Holy Trinity column, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Europe’s largest column.
Kampa Island, Prague