Thursday, September 06, 2007

After giving some more thought to the trip-reporting plan, I realized that part of the problem was that we went to four cities in the first five days, and that's why that part was kind of a blur. Basically, we flew into Prague, and we really wanted to get to Croatia at some point in the trip. It turned out that thanks to Sky Europe, we had exactly one chance to do that--flying from Bratislava to Split on Day 4, and flying from Dubrovnik to Budapest on Day 8. So that's what we did. But after some flight delays (four excruciating hours sitting on the plane at JFK waiting for a runway--grrrr!!!!!), we ended up with an evening, a day, and a morning in Prague.

Prague was the beginning of two recurring trends on the trip--sampling numerous Eastern European beers, and walking all the hell over the place. We really enjoyed a couple of the Prague beers in particular; Staropramen was probably the collective favorite of everything we tried, and the completely unrelated European version of Budweiser was also quite nice. We saw all the major sites, and two of them involved hellacious climbs--the tower of the Charles Bridge and the 280-something-step spiral staircase of the St. Vitus Cathedral tower.

Those two climbs were part of perhaps my favorite recurring theme of the trip: doing things that I could not have physically done as recently as a year ago. I lost count, but there were probably at least a dozen such instances on the trip.

After Prague we took the train to Bratislava, which we got into about 5 p.m., and we were only there for that night, having a 9 a.m. flight in the morning. So there's not much to explain about Bratislava, except that it's the only place where we were hassled by Roma (ever culturally sensitive Raman teased them a bit and got flipped off for his troubles) and that we stayed in the apartment of some random couple someone found on the Internet. The guy was so nice that he even came back to drive us to the airport the next morning in his Skoda. We saw lots of iiiiiiinteresting Eastern European cars on the trip, but that was the only one we actually got to ride in.

From there we went to Split, Croatia. In Split we again stayed in private accommodations, but this time it was not so nice. This apartment had two tiny twin beds and two folded up cots when we got there, and we had no idea of how to get the cots to fit in the one room. For some reason we took the place, and somehow we got the cots folded down. This solved the question of whether we were going to stay one or two nights in Split, so we headed to Dubrovnik on the afternoon bus the next day.

But I should give Split its due--it's a crazy old city built in the remnants of Diocletian's circa 305 A.D. retirement palace. He lived there for about 10 years, then died, and then the place was abandoned for 500 years. At that point some locals wanted to avoid one of the invading hordes (I've forgotten which one), so they decided to move inside the palace walls, and there's been a city there ever since. Split also started something that would continue in Dubrovnik too--absolute awesome pizza.

So that was the first bit of the trip. I'll report on the other cities (and my new adventures in Venice) a bit later.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Interesting article. I also have been to Prague. You remind me my trip. It is unforgettable city. Just look around at the great monuments, the Prague Castle with the Golden Lane and the St Vitus Cathedral, the facades in different colors and styles along the Vltava, the 1001 peaks all around, the numerous cathedrals, basilicas, churches, synagogues, the national theater, the lovely little alleys and so much more. Also I liked, that when I searched for accommodation, many of hotels in Prague offer free transfer from airport.
Walking along the riverside is most relaxing with the beautiful buildings, bridges, cafes and river traffic giving you an ever changing panorama.
Even before we left, I had already started planning the return trip.