Monday, July 20, 2015

Eurotrip 2015 - Day 12 (7/8/2015) - Vienna to Prague

After packing, breakfast in my room, and a shower, I was ready to check out of the hotel about 15 minutes later than my intended 10 AM departure.  The U-Bahn train breaking down after the first stop didn't help, either - I'm not sure what happened, but the train briefly started to move then stopped, then there was an announcement that, I assume since everyone did it, we should disembark.  Thankfully, the next train was only about 5 minutes behind, and we were soon on our way again.  After transferring from the U3 line to the U1 at Stephansplatz, I made it to the Hauptbahnhof stop (actually called Südtiroler Platz on the system map) and found my train's departing platform with a good 10 minutes to spare before the 11:07 departure.

I had reserved a first class seat on the Railjet train to Prague's Hlnavi Nadrazi (or praha hlavní nádraží, in the native script), and the 4+ hour ride (scheduled for 4h11m, but we were delayed about 10 minutes for various reasons along the way) was very comfortable.  They even provided us a complimentary bottle of cold water early in the journey.  The only downer was that when I tried to order the only vegetarian dish (a penne thing) available on the menu on the dining car, I found that they had sold out of it and pretty much everything else except for a roast; but this was understandable as one of the staff explained that we were only a little over an hour away from our final destination at the time.

After arriving in Prague, and being stopped for a check by the immigration police (interestingly, I didn't see anybody else being pulled aside on the platform; but enough racial conspiracy theories for today), I found my way on foot to the Hotel Prague Star which (as a happy coincidence - I did not book it that way intentionally) was only about a half mile away.  Unfortunately, the hotel turned out to be mostly a disappointment.  First off, I waited at the empty reception desk for a good 15 minutes before the clerk returned to check me in.  Then I found that my room (a single) didn't have any windows - though I kind of expected this going in after reading the reviews; at least the temperature was comfortable, and not super-warm like the previous place in Vienna.  Next I noticed that the hotel only provided one towel (i.e., no separate hand towel and bath towel), and it wasn't very big or soft.  And then the WiFi wasn't working in my room, nor apparently anywhere else on the second floor (though it did work in the ground floor lobby and seemingly on the first floor); and the receptionist girl was not very helpful about getting it fixed - she simply acknowledged that it wasn't working.  While I'm complaining, I'll throw in an observation from the next morning - the shower was one of those annoying varieties where you have to push a button to turn it on and then you only get about 10 or 15 seconds of flow before it shuts down; but at least you could preemptively push the button before each expiration to keep the flow continuous.

Anyway, after checking in I went to grab a bite at a kebap and pizza joint that I had passed on my walk to the hotel.  They ended up not having any felafel, so I ordered the vegetable pizza, which was topped with broccoli, corn, red & green pepper, and mushroom.  It wasn't bad, and I ate 7 out of the 8 slices of the pretty substantive pie (probably normally enough for 2 people).  The whole meal, with a Sprite, cost less than 200 Czech Koruna (something like $8 USD), a price that I suspect is significantly cheaper than Vienna (my guess is that it would cost maybe 25-50% more there).

After eating, I walked over to the nearby Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) to have a look around.  I walked up to the National Museum at the end closer to my hotel, then down to the far end.  From there I proceeded on to Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí), where I was fortunate to arrive shortly before the 5 PM ringing of the astronomical clock (Orloj).  After that, I headed west toward the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) and crossed it into Malá Strana (now known as the "Little Quarter", but originally the "Lesser Town").  From there I walked south mostly along the west bank of the the Vltava River and then crossed back over the Legií Bridge (most Legií) into Nové Město (New Town) and made my way to the hotel.

I relaxed in my room and in the hotel lobby (where I could actually get online) for a while before later heading out again to Wenceslas Square for a snack.  I stopped at a fast food stand to try the fried cheese sandwich (which I had seen Anthony Bordain eat on a show about Prague cuisine that I had watched with my mom about a month before), but I wasn't a huge fan - maybe it's better elsewhere.  I then returned back to the hotel to call it an early night, but not before stopping at a mini-market for an ice cream bar.


An album of all my favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
Google Photos (no photo spheres)
Google+ Photos (includes photo sphere functionality)

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