Travel Journal Entry #20: Devil Drinks In Praha

For everyone thinking about taking a short vacation to forget the workload waiting at home, Prague is a well deserved choice. The price level is quite low compared to Finland, the Public transportation works almost flawlessly and the city has plenty to offer for a long or short time visitor. 

Views from the Vltava river.

Once again a river (this time it’s Vltava) flows through the city and the views are way spectacular as a result. Large flocks of swans swim in the river and taddle into the beach to eat breadcrumbs from tourists. Large open deck boats pass through each others and the tourists keep waving to strangers at bay. 

Swan party yay!

For someone who appreciates quality drinks from beer to wine, there are plenty of options to choose from. Praha and it’s outskirts are home to many Chezch breweries. Buying drinks from the local market won’t hurt your wallet as one beer usually costs about 20 koruna (less than one euro)

Church of our Lady before Týn.

We spent four nights in Prague and our daytrips consisted of visiting the famous Bone church in Kutna Hora, spending one day walking in the Prague city center and last day we took a journey to the Prague Castle. As our wifi was the worst we ever experienced, we spent plenty of time adventuring.

Bone church in Sedlec. Aka Sedlec Ossuary.

The bone church of Sedlenc resides in the town of Kutna Hora, most easily reached by local train. Travel time to Kutna Hora is roughly 50 minutes so I advice you to bring your headphones for a good ol’ jolly time. As we were traveling in the low season we got a whole traveling cabin for ourselves. Easy living. From the train station you can either walk 1.3 kilometer to the church or pay roughly 50 cent to hop on a bus.

Family crest build from actual human bones.

The bone church is not a large attraction but rather a shocking one. The inside of the church is decorated with the bones of 4000 people. The church dates back to the middle ages and there is also open display for skulls of men who fought in the wars. Medieval weaponry made horrific damage to one’s skull and the survival rate from a strike was almost always zero. I recommend a visit there! 

Stairs to Praha Castle.

The Prague Castle is also worth mentioning for. You take this large steep rise of stairs to the top and you can see the whole skyline of Prague from the top. There are metal detection gates and a lot of police/army guarding the castle so it’s wise to leave large bags at the hotel. Less hassle and makes the entry and exit way easier.

Golden gates at Praha castle. Damn statues like to stab.

I will probably write a more extensive entry on Prague when I have arrived back to Finland. The thought of returning back to home still feels like a odd dejavu dream in back of my head. But all adventures must end. That doesn’t stop planning for a new one! Next stop will be city of Ostrava, can’t wait!

Enjoy your day!

– George

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Travel Journal Entry #19: The Shadows of Nürnberg

As the World War II slowed down after the Germany’s surrender in 1945, the infamous war crimes were uncovered from the shadows and the troubling news were read from all over the world. Justice had to be served. Court of justice was established in the German city of Nürnberg and sentences were given in what the world would later call the Nürnberg trials.

Nürnberg railway station under repair.

Before the World War II  the city of Nürnberg had been the epicenter of the Nazi party and the largest and most important Nazi rallies had been held there. As a conclusion it was a fitting end to sentence the Nazi war criminals in the same city where it all had started.

Entrance to the old town/city centre.

I was particularly curious how Nürnberg and its citizens had progressed from the heavy shadows of it’s past. Maybe it was the fact that I knowingly tried to compare Nürnberg to my earlier visits in Germany, the ambiance was different. A bit colder, a bit rougher, a bit darker. Nevertheless strangers felt friendly as always. 

As we only spent day and a half in Nürnberg, we had to make choices what to see. So we picked the city center and the Nurenberg castle near it for a day trip. Truthfully the city is not a tourist sensation, at least in the end of September. But that didn’t bother us at all as the local population kept the city busy. 

The past is water under the bridge?

The city centre was not a large one and you were able to walk from end to end in fifteen minutes. The river Pegnitz split the city center in two sides which enabled us to take a couple of bridge shots. The color of water has been fascinating to watch through Europe as it changes a lot. In Switzerland the water was light blue as in Nürnberg the water was deep green. 

Castle entrance out there somewhere!

The Nurenberg castle was located at the edge of the city center and the road leading to the castle was a steep one! Well, not horrible for a normal sized person but for me it was literally a small uphill battle. However every climb so far on my journey through Europe has been rewarded with great views of the city. This one was pretty neat if you don’t count how many cranes there are in the horizon!

View from the castle wall.

Anyhow the city of Nürnberg gave us a fresh experience of a smaller town in Germany. Perhaps there is more going on during the high season? Please do leave comments if you have first hand knowledge. Next journal will be from the city of Prague, Chezch Republic.

– George

Travel Journal Entry #18: Viel spaß in Munich

The first thing that comes to my mind when Munich is mentioned – Oktoberfest. We met friendly folks dressed in traditional Bauern clothing the very second we stepped into metro. Beer was shared, women were dressed to perfection and everyone was having fun. Except us as we were struggling to move our luggage to our hotel. Fun had to wait a bit longer. 

Oktoberfest maddness.                                                             

I have to rant a bit about showers in german hotels – do they plan them for goblins or humans? Once again the struggle was real as I did not fit to squeeze into the shower and even my friend lost his mind trying to turn in the damn thing. Small showers seem to be a thing in Germany.  Please do correct me if I’m wrong. 

Everybody having fun. Lederhosen shorts are cool.

Change of clothes and we were off to Oktoberfest. Security was tough as anyone would expect these days. Bags were not allowed and everyone had to open their jackets before entering. Then we were met with amusement park rides and small shops offering all kinds of snacks, drinks, grill food and of course beer. The biggest breweries had their own houses where you could reserve tables. As we came late the most places where packed full.

Luckily we found a empty table from outside and sat down. Drink maidens came to take orders and we were set. At first we were surprised that the beer cost 10,90 per pint but then we realized it was a 1 litre (0.26 gallons) pint. I can safely say you don’t have to order many times to get drunk. For us two per person was enough!

This is what 1 litre of beer looks like.

To counter the fun we had, we went to the Dachau concentration camp memorial next day to respect the dead and those who had to endure horrific acts under Nazi rule. We spent a lenghty three hours there and afterwards I felt really sad. So many souls lost for one bitter mans idealogy.

Many entered through this gate and never returned.

The Dachau concentration camp held estimately 206 000 “persons of interest” that were sent to concentration camp as “precaution”. One thing that separates Dachau from other concentration camps was the fact that the gas room was built but not used for total extermination. Victims lost their lifes due to fatigue from work, hunger and diseases. 

Map showing prisoner numbers by country.

After Hitlers power started to fade by the invading allied countries, the US army arrived to Dachau and liberated the camp from the german eliye SS soldiers. Thus ending the torture of thousands of innocent lifes. After the surrender of Germany in 1945 many high profile SS-commanders and soldiers were put on trial in Nürnberg for their war crimes. 

Original gate door. Work makes you free. Not. At. All.

Hence the next destination for us will be the city of Nürnberg. The main location for the Nazi party and the Nazi Nurenberg rally parties held annually before the dawn of World War II. I wonder how the city is nowadays, living with the shadows of the dark past? Report coming soon! Good night!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #17: The Highs’ of Salzburg 

There is nothing better in life than having low expectations about something then being blown out your mind with the results. For me Salzburg was one of those cities I had not heard before. Might just be a hole in my personal knowledge but I must confess that I’ll definitely return here sometime. Perfect place for 4-7 day trip.

Salzburgs’ own homeboy, Mozart.

What I suggest is that you purchase the Salzburg card from the main railway stations travel office, it will save you money and makes traveling way easier as the card includes free public transportation in the city. In high season the card costs 27€ and in low season 24€. You might think that is high cost but once you add up the places you might want to visit, half of the activities will be free.

They’re taking the hobbits to Unterberg.

Purchasing the card was no brainer for me and my friend as we wanted to experience the cable cars activities. Only the Unterberg cable car to top of the mountain and back cost 24€. It is only one of the roughly 65 places you can experience with the Salzburg card. Believe me, you won’t think about twice after seeing below photos.

1st view from up top. Yowza.

The city of Salzburg down below.

The Alps in the distance.

Amazing, huh? The air was crystal clear there and the views all around the mountain make you want to spend there time as much as possible. When you finally land back to the ground zero you will feel so small. So you might as well explore the old town of Salzburg. Compact and packed with boutiques, shops and restaurants, it’s fun to walk around and see where you end up. We ourselves ended up to eat tasty Salzburg burger from a local famous snack grill where even the president of Austria likes to eat out.

Even the old town of Salzburg has cliffs.

Now it’s time to say hello to Germany again and end up in München. Oktoberfest lured us here but there is plenty more things to explore than just lederhosen and big jugs (of delicious beer, that is). Have a great night! 
– George

Travel Journal Entry #16: Drinking Wine in Wien

Wien is one of those cities which one must visit once during their lifetime. In Finland we have this one popular finnish pop song (often sang in karaoke bars) that starts it’s chorus as below:

“I’ve drinked wine in Wien, plenty of pints in Lübeck..”

So of course we had to drink wine in Wien and cross that one off our to-do list. Nevertheless Wien is much more than just a place to drink as there is much to explore and see first-hand. If you’re a foodie then you better take a seat – traditional dishes are very popular in Wien and literally melt in your mouth *Warm memories of Sachertorte enter*. Ever had Apfelstrudel, traditional applepie with whipped cream?

Apfelstrudeln, Apple Pie Wien style.

After stocking your belly full of delights you better burn those calories by walking the city streets. Architecture of Wien will not let you down and there are many fascinating buildings with rich history. Let’s take Schönbrunn castle for example. The 1441-room Baroque palace was once imperial summer residence for the noble monarch family of Habsburg. Even Napoleon spent nights in Schönbrunn after he won wars.

Schönbrunn Castle from the main entrance.

For fashionistas the city centre is filled with luxurious fashion shops and other high valued status merchandise where the knee-deep rich can spend portion of their their bank accounts. The views from the shopping streets are beautiful as the old architecture blends very well to the new buildings. One thing you cannot miss in Wien are the horse carriages which take the tourists for a stroll in the city. 

Horse carriages next to St. Peters Church.

Now we have just arrived to the city of Salzburg and let me tell you folks, this place will be a glorious adventure. Austrian city which is next to the snowy Alps..did we hop into the cable car already? All aboard! Enjoy your thursday!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #15: A Moment in Budapest

The journey to Budapest started with a logistical mess. When we first arrived to Budapest the customer service assured us that we don’t have to reserve seats from Zagreb to Budapest. However when we got to train station the train planning had changed. 
Luckily we were top on out game and went to check. Turned out that due to construction we had to reserve seats and use train-bus-train connection to Budapest. The traveling was bothersome as we had to jump from transport to other while carrying our luggage. Only relief was the fact that the last train was almost empty so we got an entire cabin of six seats for ourselves.

The Buda Castle.

Budapest seems to share similarities with Finland and with a quick look from window it would be hard to differentiate which country is in question. Only difference is in the landscape – you will probably see mountains/high terrain in the distance.

Budabest life on street level.

Spending two days in Budapest gives you good understanding why people in Finland book quick and cheap flights for a weekend here. Eating is quite cheap and the price level in supermarkets are about 40% lower than in Finland. The weather in September is still relativily warm (during our stay about 26′ Celsius) compared to northern countries.

Most of the attractions are among the Tonava-river and the various restaurants are close by to enjoy the view. During our stay we didn’t focus so tightly on sightseeing than experiencing the daily life in Budapest. Perhaps the fatigue of travelling is starting show in us as we have been on the road for over a solid month now. Metro was definately the wisest choice to travel in the city and the busses were also the same quality as in Finland. 

Coffee time at The Donut Library. YUUM.

I will probably return here for a weekend trip to enjoy the hungarian ambience and enjoy lower price rates. Definitely recommend visiting Budapest with a group of friends!

Now we have arrived to Wien and the climate is turning colder by the destination. Nevertheless I am glad to speak german again for a week or so (next destinations Salzburg, München, Nürnberg). Ach Jawohl! Oktoberfest is around the corner as well..can’t wait. Enjoy your monday night!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #13: Dubrovnik, Kings Landing

I’m quite sure the city of Dubronivk and specially the Old Town here will go down as one of the few grand stops on our entire journey through Europe. There has not been anything as remarkable in comparison that we have encountered on our adventure so far than this Croatian gem. Dubrovnivk, also known as Kings Landing for the Game Of Thrones fans, took us by suprise and made us fall in love with its’ charms.

Look at that view. Dubrovnik Old Town and the sea.

We travelled from Bari to Dubrovnik by a ferry cruise ship that was a keen memento to the 90’s. Old sea biscuit that had seen plenty of years on the open sea. I had ranted earlier about the social culture of Italy and the waiting game to enter the ferry ship was a bittersweet example about it. It took us 5 hours to get through the port terminal to the ferry ship and the departure was delayed by over two hours. The clock was roughly past midnight when we managed to crawl into our cabin for some good ol’ fashioned sleep. 

Arrival port at Dubrovnik.

The ferry arrived to Dubronivk at 8 o’clock in the morning so we had plenty of time to seek our wat to our hotel. Unfortunately the port was far away from the Dubrovnik old town so we hopped on a bus and started paying attention to our surroundings. Soon our eyes caught first glimpses of the old town and the massive walls surrounding the city. Ten minutes later we had found our hotel and left our luggage there.

The main street Stradun in Dubrovnik Old Town.

The old town is not on the larger side even though the city has plenty of side-alleys tp choose where you can find restaurants and various shops. You can easily get a bit lost when wandering around the city but you can always route back to the the main street that goes through the middle of the town. However the city itself and the oceanic views everywhere make you plainly forget that time even exists.

As our hotel room was not ready in the morning we decided to take the cable car up the mountain side and see the spectacular views from up there. Departure station was only 10 minute walk away. The ticket price was 140 Kuna (roughly 18,50€) but well worth it. From up there you could see the whole peninsula clearly and your lungs thank you for the fresh air. Truly a mesmerizing place.

Cable car wohooo!

I could tell you a lot of more about our visit to Dubrovnik but I  don’t want to spoil everything for you. All I can say is that visiting this place is highly recommended. Spending the last two days in Dubrovnik has given me personally a lot of energy to keep on going on this adventure and I can’t wait to see more. Next stop will be the Croatian city of Split! 

Have a great night!

– George