Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things — Robert BraultPosts RSS Comments RSS

Exploring Prague

After cycling from Salzburg to Prague, we decided to sleep late and take a much needed break before venturing outside to explore the city. It felt great to not set an alarm for 6:40 am! In fact, we didn’t set any alarm. We got up when we felt like it. Now, that’s a vacation!

After noon, we made our way to the famous Prague Castle, which according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the largest coherent castle complex in the world with an area of almost 70,000 m. I definitely believe Guinness because it’s huge! We toured through the most compelling areas of the castle before descending the hill back into the city area where we booked a river boat tour. The boat tour takes you through the heart of Prague on the Vltava River. It was a nice break after walking all over the city, and it afforded us some fantastic views of the sights.

We later crossed the river and went into the Old Town area which is packed with shops, restaurants, and tons of tourists. After spending the last 8-9 days away from the busyness of a large city packed with annoying tourists, it made me long for one of those nice, quiet Austrian villages. Don’t get me wrong. Prague is awesome! I just wish there were fewer tourists roaming the city. I guess that’s what you get when you travel in the Summer, though. We usually travel later in the year…but now back to Prague. We explored the crowded streets and wandered through some of the tourist shops before finding our way to the Hard Rock Cafe for a familiar dinner featuring American food. Oh, how I’ve missed American food, and don’t get me started on how much I’m craving some Mexican food right now. It will be my first meal when I get home.

After dinner, we explored a bit more before calling it quits. Our legs were still sore and after all of the walking we did today, we were tired so we enjoyed the rest of the night relaxing in our hotel.

We have one more day in Prague before flying home. I’m not sure what exciting things we’ll find tomorrow, but we’ll make the most of our last day.

Here are the highlights from today’s adventures.

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St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle

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Side view of the cathedral

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View looking down on the city from the palace terrace

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Palace buildings in the castle

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View of Charles Bridge from the river boat tour

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Looking towards the National Theatre Building in the middle with gold roof

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Hard Rock Cafe Prague

For more pictures, check out the Austria II and Czech Republic pictures in the photo section of the blog.

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Day Eight: Cesky Krumlov to Prague

Today was our final day of riding. Our journey would end in Prague after cycling hundreds of miles through Austria and the Czech Republic. It was a bittersweet day because we would complete our ride and say goodbye to our new cycling friends, but we would also get a chance to rest our tired, sore legs (after the ride was finished of course).

In the beginning of the ride, the weather was similar to the previous day — cloudy and cool — but the farther we rode, the worse it got. The temperature dropped and so did the rain. I do not normally ride in the rain, but I decided to keep going until the van started to fill up with riders who were dropping out due to the poor conditions. I stopped riding after about 17 miles and secured a spot in the dry, warm van for the remainder of the ride. Gary stuck it out and completed the full 34 miles — with an extra loop at the end (after it had stoped raining).

All of the riders regrouped in a small town for lunch, and then we were shuttled the rest of the way to Prague, which was about 2 1/2 hours away via bus. Once we arrived in the city, we freshened up and went exploring for a couple of hours before joining the rest of the group for our farewell dinner in a lovely restaurant on the river near the Charles Bridge.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and walked back to the hotel together. It was a lovely evening. The town is beautiful at night because the castle and all of the prominent buildings are lighted. This gives everyone magnificent views as they stroll through the streets.

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Lunch spot and the end of our cycling journeys

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View of Prague from the bell tower of St Nicholas Church — we climbed 215 steps to get this view!

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The river Vltava from Charles Bridge

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Gate at Charles Bridge

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Gate at the other end of the bridge as the sun was going down

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Prague Castle at night

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Another gorgeous view of Prague!

Our cycling tour is over, but we still have a few days left in Prague to see the sights. I’ll keep blogging our adventures until we return on Sunday. If you have been inspired by our journey, check out Ciclismo Classico. They have a wide variety of tours across Europe as well as Asia, South Pacific, and South America. If you go to Prague, tell them you want to travel with Andrea and Umberto (the two best guides ever!).

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Day Seven: Freistadt to Cesky Krumlov

Wednesday brought us cooler temperatures and cloudy skies, but the rain stayed away during our ride so we had no complaints. Today we would cross the border from Austria into the Czech Republic. We were excited about moving into a new country and seeing its sights. The ride started with a steep climb for the first mile, so a few of the girls (including me) grabbed a ride to the top while the other cyclists battled up the hill. We met at the top and continued the rest of the 30+ mile ride to Cesky Krumlov together.

A few kilometers later, we hit the border and stopped for a few photos with some of the group.

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Leaving Austria

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We stopped for a regroup in another picturesque town called Rozmberk. The river below is the Vltava River, the longest river in the Czech Republic. We followed its path for much of the day. Many summer camps were set up along its banks, and we even saw a few people kayaking and rafting on it through the mountains.

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Our lunch stop and final destination for the day was Cesky Krumlov. This town is a hidden gem. I could have stayed there much longer. It had a great vibe coupled with lots of history and some great sights including the Cesky Krumlov Castle. After eating lunch and getting cleaned up from the ride, we journeyed out on a walking tour of the city. Here’s a few of the highlights (and many more photos can be seen in the “photos” section of the blog).

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View of main town square from our hotel window

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View of castle and St. Vitus church

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View of the “small castle” on the hill while standing on the Barber Bridge

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Kayaking in the river. We ate dinner at the cafes on right. Great food and great views!

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View of the city from the castle

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Bears in the moat of the castle! I guess that will keep away unwanted guests.

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Day Six: Steyr to Freistadt

On Tuesday, we left Steyr and began to travel northward to Freistadt, a small town in the state of Upper Austria. The town has approximately 7,500 residents and is a trade center for local villages. It was an old medieval town founded around 1220 and was a crossroad of the salt and iron trade route during the Middle Ages.

Our ride to Freistadt took us away from the mountains and into the countryside of Austria. We also crossed the famous river, the Danube. Highlights from the day are below.

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Austrian countryside, cycling in the middle of nowhere. It’s such a neat experience!

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Gary playing in the Danube after crossing over the bridge. The Danube is the longest river in the European Union and it flows through, or forms part of, the borders of 10 countries.

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Spot of our second regroup in St. George.

At our first regroup, I started getting a migraine, but I was determined to make it across the Danube and to our lunch stop. It was a tough ride, but I made it in spite of the blurred vision, nausea, and pain. Thankfully, it didn’t turn into a full migraine or I would have been off my bike (and my feet) for the rest of the day!

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Town church in St. George

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Gary getting ready for his post-lunch ride

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View of St. Catherine parish church in Freistadt. You can see the church immediately as you enter through the remains of the medieval town gate.

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Old medieval walls, moat area, and watch tower of the old city.

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Hauptplatz, the main town square

Before dinner, we joined a tour guide for a brief walking tour of the old town. It was a quick way to get our bearings in the city and learn more about the history of this interesting town. You can find more pictures in my Austria II and Czech Republic album.

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Day Five: Steyr Loop

We’re spending one more night in Steyr, so our ride today started out along the Enns river and took us through some beautiful mountains, valleys and small towns.

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What a view!

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We ran across the largest jacknife in the world — pretty funny!

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The village where we stopped for lunch

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Another lovely view from the trip today

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The church in Reichraming, our turn around point

The ride was supposed to be relatively flat today, but flat in Austria means something entirely different than it does in Texas. It was a challenging ride with many steep ramps. My legs were tired from all of the climbing yesterday, so I finished my ride at 18 miles. Gary rode 35 miles.

Our evening entertainment was an Apple Streudel cooking lesson in a local food and wine shop in the town square area. Our instructor made the first batch while giving tips on how to make the dessert, then she recruited volunteers to make the second batch. Gary stepped up and helped make some of the magic happen.

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We were on our own for dinner tonight, so we stopped at a casual snack shop. We’re getting a little tired of the formal dinners that are part of the tour, and it was nice to just grab something simple and basic. For the most part, the food we’ve sampled is good, but I’m not a big steak, pork, or fish lover, and those seem to be the trendy items on the pre-selected tour menus. They need to add a little more variety in the options, but overall, it’s been good, and it’s definitely MUCH better than our trip to Israel.

Tomorrow, we leave Steyr and travel to Freistadt, a small town in the Upper Austria region with about 7,500 residents. We’ll also cross the Danube river and have a picnic lunch. It should be a fun day. Just say a quick prayer for my knee. It started hurting after my ride today, and I’m a little nervous about how it will hold up tomorrow. I don’t want to miss the ride, so send it some good vibes!

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