Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Best and Worst Trip Ever

We debated for a while where to go for our second trip in December. Paris? Too expensive, especially for a month with two trips. Back to Florence? Been there, done that, and we have to go somewhere new! Switzerland? Too much like Cortina in the winter. So, we settled on...Prague!

Then we debated whether to fly (bad times, weird connections), take the train (making a long trip even longer) or drive. In the end, we packed up the car last Saturday morning and headed towards the Czech Republic, a country that neither of us had been to before. We were so excited to be in uncharted territory! We stopped in Innsbruck to fill up the car with gas and ourselves with coffee, and then turned on the GPS to navigate us the rest of the way.....only to find that of the 22 countries our GPS features, the Czech Republic is NOT one of them.

So we did it the old fashioned way. We stopped in Munich, took pictures of an atlas so we knew what roads to follow (highly frowned upon, I'm sure, but desperate times...), then stopped once we crossed the Czech boarder and bought a road map which was literally no help at all since we didn't know what direction we were coming into the city from (of course the map didn't cover that important part!) and every road was called something like "zvichk". In the end, we followed signs towards the center and then by some Christmas miracle, spotted our hotel on the side of the road. And trust me, it was NOT as easy as I'm making it sound!

Once we recovered from our driving mishap adventure, we LOVED Prague. The architecture was so beautiful, everyone was very friendly, the food was delicious and there was even a Christmas market!

We wandered around the Old Town Square, which was incredible, explored the Christmas market, listened to a jazz group, popped into the Cathedral, drank Czech beer, and saw the famous clock chime on the hour - it even has little people that come out of the clock and dance around!

On Sunday night we went to a KHL hockey game. The KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) is a Russian league that also has a few teams from other countries, so we got to watch Prague take on their biggest rival, Bratislava, Slovakia (and kill them, they won 7-0!). It was pretty fun to see - there were over 10,000 fans there - just a few more than we get in Cortina - and there was a couple who actually got married on the ice before the game, which was very odd.

We walked over the Charles Bridge, which was built in 1357 and is lined with statues of religious figures.

We visited the Prague Castle which is the largest ancient castle in the world, roughly the size of seven football fields! The complex includes museums and exhibits, gardens, and its own Cathedral with incredible stained glass windows.

One day we ate lunch right on the river and watched the boats and swans float by.

It was the perfect trip and we kept talking about how much we looooove Prague....and then I got food poisoning. Luckily it was the last night we were there so the only thing we missed doing was the Jazz Boat which we were supposed to be on that night. The good news is, since we both loved it so much, we can go back again! Thanks to my wonderful husband for taking care of me, driving the 7 hours back to Italy with no help, AND for reading the map and driving at the same time we'll pick a country that our GPS covers!