A Travellerspoint blog

Prague (Praha)

In the middle of Bohemia!

overcast -1 °C

Ok where to start? We arrived by plane in Prague around eight in the evening and took a cab to a hostel in the Old Town Square. After we checked in we decide to go for a short walk to a near by cafe. We had a small bite to eat and a couple of beer. We weren't tired yet so we decide to go explore a little more before bed.
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We ended up in a underground club which was literally underground, we people watched and had a few drinks. Well I believed that we ended up leaving this club somewhere around five in the morning at least thats what Jannelle tells me. I never thought I would be able to drink another margarita again after the Dominican but alas I was wrong. We stumbled back to the hostel together. When we opened the door to our room we found four dudes sleeping in the bottom bunks that we had reserved for ourselves and our stuff thrown around the room. Needless to say I was mad and drunk at this point so I laid into them a little. By the time we had picked our stuff up and climbed up to our top bunks the room was already spinning on me. I didn't stand a chance of making it to the bathroom in time and the top bunk was just to high up to jump down from and run. I got my revenge on those guys - no sooner was my dinner on the floor, I was fast asleep and snoring louder than Jannelle had ever heard me before.

Ok so that was night one.

The next day we got up and went for a walk about. Prague is an ancient city around 1100 years old and laid out well before the "grid system" was even a dream. It was by far the most confusing city to walk around, even with a map and the GPS on our phones. All the buildings are about six to seven stories tall so looking up for a reference point was a waste as well. We continued to be lost right up until we were walking to the train station...which we had just been at the day before. By the middle of the 2nd day it started to snow and the weather turned miserable :( so we stayed inside for the rest of the day and watch a few movies.

On the 3rd day we decided that we weren't going to stay for the full 2 weeks that we had planned. We started planning our next city to visit and to catch some sights before we moved on. This lead us to Kutna Hora which is a town about one hour out of Prague or 3 stops on the train. Kutna Hora used to produce upwards of 70% of all the silver in Europe, not just Bohemia. We had a German born, London raised, turned Prague local tourist guide that lead us through the Sedlec Ossuary "Bone Catherdal" where it was estimated that the remains of at least 40,000 people had been used to decorate the inside. This was done by a man in a matter of 2 years apparently, and was meant to symbolize our mortality and our insignificance in the world over the long years that humanity has existed.
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We took a short bus ride to St. Barbaras Cathedral which is definitely one of the prettiest churches I've been in, and I've been in a few. It took 500 years to complete roughly. This area of the Czech Republic has been famous for hundreds and hundreds of years for silver mining and this Cathedral dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of mining was a testament to all this activity. It took so long to finish because so many rulers had so many different plans. Her picture is still used in Europe to this day, when they started digging the modern chunnel from Paris to London, they used an effigy of her to protect the miners until the job was finished.
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The Czech Republic still has its own currency called (Koruny) but pronounced "Crown." Beer was cheap but food was still kinda of expensive.
A word about the food and restaurants....Goulash and dumplings, pork knuckle and dumplings, beef tounge and dumplings, turkey, potatoes and jam filled dumplings. You can smoke in 99% of the restaurants still and you can bring your dog with you as well. We seen them happily putting water dishes down for dogs in at least a few places. The beer (pivo) of choice was Pilsner Urquell and was on tap everywhere. They seemed to have at least two beer per meal per person. Didn't see to many overly drunk people but you could diffenetly hear them at all hours of the night in the streets from our window. Bars and restaurants seem to close whenever they wanted and we had another five o'clock night before we left Prague with the group we met on the tour some Americans, Aussies and a couple from England.
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The people were not overly friendly, but with so much tourism and people standing around looking at maps in the middle of the road even at the end of October I think I would be a little cynical as well. Its the sixth most visited city in Europe and I can see why, it's cheap and pretty and the food tastes like something your mama use to make. If you ever thought about visiting Prague I would now recommend it as we felt safe and had lots of fun. Maybe just book a little earlier. We spent the remainder of our time there just walking around and taking in all the sights, we walked over Charles Bridge and up to the Praha Castle, where we got some great overviews of the city. There is also an Astronomical clock in the town square that was first installed in 1410, making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one in the world that still works today.large_270_51906B372219AC6817EF416BFD29E1D0.jpglarge_519C22842219AC6817E2DAB68E370F3E.jpglarge_51A83DAE2219AC68173B864DBAB1DD46.jpglarge_51B05B002219AC6817265B7382697680.jpglarge_51BB10AC2219AC6817429C005953104E.jpglarge_51C4498C2219AC6817B5058E0DEF53CD.jpglarge_270_51CF8E0A2219AC6817CC48B2DFE1AEF8.jpglarge_51DC5FA92219AC6817C47630CEF08A5B.jpglarge_51ED44992219AC6817C045C39DFDA784.jpglarge_51F5F7902219AC6817F08B41CD220A9C.jpglarge_520353AC2219AC681712EB9D34B459D6.jpglarge_5214975E2219AC68178CEB2512B7348A.jpg
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After Prague we boarded a 4 hour train to Vienna, Austria and from there connected onto a 12 hour night train to Venice in hopes of warmer weather!

Posted by apolloandathena 02:21 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

Amsterdam

Canals, coffee shops and Looza Juice!

semi-overcast 8 °C

Oh boy we're a bit behind on our entries! Its hard when your moving places every 3-4 days and you don't have a solid internet for a couple of hours to import photos, edit them, then download them to this website one by painful one because our iPad we bought for this specific reason does not support the software needed to upload our photos all at once! Do i sound frustrated yet? haha
Anyways back to Amsterdam!

After spending the weekend in Rotterdam we headed back to Amsterdam for another 5 nights. We stayed in a hostel called the Flying Pig in a 32 bed dorm! It was interesting to say the least! No matter what time of the day it was, at least half of the beds were full of people sleeping off the previous day/nights activities! I swear there were some people that didn't get out of their beds for 24 hours straight! And also at any point the common/ smoking room of the hostel was always packed full! Even one morning at 4:30am when we got up because of all the synchronized snoring going on in our room, again it was full! And I won't even mention the other involuntary noises that come from 32 people sleeping in one room... but you gotta do what you gotta do when accommodations are expensive, and we found it pretty funny for the most part. We did meet some great people while we were there though including two other girls from Saskatchewan -one from Saskatoon and one from Watrous! We spent most of our days just walking around the city, drinking dutch beers from the convenience stores and people watching. Oh we also drank a ton of Looza Juice which are these tiny little bottles of puree fruit juice - the peach and the pear were the best things I've ever drank and of course they give you just enough that its not satisfying and you have to buy one more lol

The central area of the city was like nothing I had ever seen before, no cars, just alley ways filled with a mixture of high-end clothing stores, fast food "chippies" where you can get almost anything you could imagine deep-fried, souvenir shops and of course the famous "coffee shops" that are around every corner. We did take a stroll through the Red-Light district a few times, once because you have to if your there, and the others because they were on our way to something else, and it was interesting and uncomfortable all at once. The term originates from the red lights that were used as signs of brothels. There are areas in many big cities around the world that have these districts some legal like the Netherlands and some illegal but tolerized. Some have even acquired interest beyond sex tourism, and can be known as places of artistic, historic or cultural interest, whether or not they still serve the sex trade. We met a girl in Prague last week that is studying in Amsterdam and she did a Red light district tour and said theres alot more to it than one would think. There are certain streets with certain age groups or they will be catigorized for different reasons. She said the oldest prostitutes still working in the district are twin sisters and they are 85! And the really crazy thing? ... They are booked up two months in advance! Yuck! The girls rent the windows for 8 hours at a time and charge their clients whatever they like, I read that on average one girl will make around €1300 in one shift! Thats $212.00/hr CAD crazy hey!?

One night we took an hour long canal cruise which was amazing, what a great way to see the city! We could see inside all the boats on the canals that people live in and got a bit of a history lesson along the way! I would have done anything to see inside some of the flats there. Many of the buildings used to be warehouses so I can't imagine how big and open some of the homes are there. We also spent a day in Vondel Park - Amsterdams equivalent to New Yorks Central Park, although much, much smaller it was still beautiful, especially during the fall. Unfortunately on our last day, as we were waiting to leave for our flight, all of our photos from the last 5 days accidentally got deleted on our -previously mentioned, useless iPad! Arg! So Jordan ran out quick while I stayed with the bags and snapped as many pictures as he could in the 15 minutes we had left in the city. So we don't have many photos and nor were these the nicest of what we had seen but its all we got! Overall it was an amazing city with a somehow homey and personal feel to it along the canals and a crazy nightlife in the center. I'm sure theres no other city like it in the whole world, I just wish we could have shown you some of the pictures we originally had to show you why!

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Posted by apolloandathena 11:32 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Rotterdam

2nd largest city in Holland....One of the busiest ports in the world!

semi-overcast 13 °C

We flew last Thursday from Edinburgh to Amsterdam had one quick night in the city, and then got up and took an hour train ride to Rotterdam for the weekend, to see the harbor and the city's unique architecture. We stayed at the Stayokay hostel in the innovative " cube-houses" they were really interesting, it was a huge complex with stores, homes and office space and our hostel. The pictures might be a little hard to make sense of because of the strange angles but here's a few photos of the complex:

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After dropping our bags we headed out for a walk to see some of this architecture we had read about, and it really was everywhere! Rotterdam has some of the tallest buildings in Europe. It was a strange combination of traditional Dutch buildings, with modern skyscrapers in the back. Much like Amsterdam alot of the city is built on reclaimed land from the sea, so there are canals and many ports and harbors here as well.

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We went to a market on Sunday right outside of our hostel, Holland is known for their fields of flowers, especially tulips, you can find them anywhere. The market was full of them! I can't put all the pictures up but the booths went on and on, mostly flowers and fish :)
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We spent the rest of the day just walking around, we went across a few of the bridges and into another harbor..
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It was a beautiful city, but the one thing we noticed the most was how spread out it was they have massive sidewalks and common areas everywhere with absolutely no one in them! We were there on Saturday and Sunday so you would think the streets would be busy but look! And this is just a few examples we have it was like this everywhere:
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It was a nice trip out of Amsterdam, very different than we were expecting, but were glad we seen something else in the Netherlands besides the crazy city of Amsterdam! And this restaurant was the only one we could find that we could actually understand lol
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Posted by apolloandathena 04:59 Archived in Netherlands Comments (4)

Cottingham the biggest village in the U.K.

The East Riding of Yorkshire

overcast

After spending another two days back in Edinburgh, Jannelle and I had recharged our batteries. I'm sure Blair and Stacey can attest to this that when your on the move sometimes it nice to just take a break and have a nap. We left the city before noon and were on our way thru Biggar and Symington and Dalmeny down to Carlisle. Somewhere after Lancaster we had missed our turn so off onto a side road too get back on track. Did I mention that all the M (motor ways) here are three lanes with a maximum of 70mph and that all road signs are wrote in miles. 2/3 of mile here, 1/4 mile till there. All these tiny little hatchbacks doing upwards of 100 mph it was like playing MarioKart. I really got to put my foot into this Ford Focus hatchback and by the time we had pulled over for our first pit stop I was limping into the Road Chef. After another 3 wrong exits (also only traffic circles here so it gets confusing) we pulled into Beverley just north of Cottingham. The whole drive down was like going thru a history book of Saskatchewan place names and both Jannelle and I's close family names. Aunt Bev! Just needed a town called Thievin or Grimes in there to make it complete.

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Cottingham was a small village and really the first place we were that wasn't touristy. Jannelle and I were the only tourists actually. People were quick to pick up on this and engaged us. I went on to explain that my last name is Cottingham and that we had come from Canada to see this village. The villagers were charmed by my stupid little story and were really friendly straight away. They were quick to tell us where we might be able to find out more information about the village's past. This lead us to the local library were I once again told my story and was lead to the back of the building and handed a box full of books and leaflets about Cottingham, past and present. Unfortunaly we didn't really have time to go over 1/8 th of the info in that box. There is a society dedicated to doing annual walks around the village and surrounding area, in fact on a bulletin board when you first walk thru the entrance was a flyer posted saying "Tracing your family tree? Join us on October 25 th in the library."

I didn't think that I would be into this whole this is where my last name comes from thing but I'll tell after spending just a short day and half in that village I wish I would have had at least a week there. I was drawn into the novelty of all the local shops with my last name on it. I would recommend all my kin young and old to come for a visit to this little place. You will not be disappointed!

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The first known reference to a priest at Cottingham is in the Chronicle of Meaux Abbey of the early 12th century, which records a priest here about 1150. The Domesday Book entry for Cottingham in 1086 records neither a church nor a priest but it is highly likely that both were present at this time.

The earliest part of the cruciform church, no doubt a development of an earlier church of which there is no part surviving in situ, is the nave, built after about 1320 in the Decorated style. The walls of the transepts and some of their detail are also of this time, but the transepts were probably completed later in the 14th century.

The present chancel was built when Nicholas de Luda was rector, from 1362 to 1383. He was appointed to the living by Edward Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince, eldest son of King Edward III, who had married his cousin, the heiress Joan Wake, the Fair Maid of Kent, and lord of Cottingham manor. Their son reigned as King Richard II from 1377 to 1399. The chancel is an early example of the Perpendicular style.

Nicholas de Luda was a king's clerk. He held various appointments under King Edward III and a number of church appointments. He was a prebendary of Salisbury, St Asaph and Beverley.

The tower was probably completed about 1400 in the Perpendicular style. The pinnacles were added in 1744.

The interior owes much of its present appearance to restorations in the 19th and 20th centuries. However various earlier fittings survive, including a monumental brass to Nicholas de Luda, now in the north east corner of the sanctuary but formerly in various positions in the chancel.

Today St Mary's is Listed as a Grade One building. It stands as a monument to our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the good news of God's kingdom.

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We really enjoyed this little church or parish not sure what to call it. Like the little church beside Westminster Abbey there are graves that run down the centre aisle. Some so old that the engraving has been worn smooth leaving only half of the dedication. There was a single man in there, not sure if he was the priest. He told us that the stained glass was done by a French man from around 1850's. There wasn't really adequate lighting inside which kinda added to the feel of the building. Halogens on motion sensors so if its overcast outside, which it was. Then it was quite dark inside again adding to the feel of the place. He left the church after 5 minutes and Jannelle and I stayed in there for another 3 minutes snapped a few pics then left.

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The Humbar Bridge is the 6th longest suspension bridge in the world. The Golden Gate in San Fran is the 10th. It is a 2,220 m (2,428 yards) single-span suspension bridge, which opened to traffic on 24 June 1981. 6 days after I was born. It was the longest in the world from 1981 till 1998. The drive to it from Cottingham was only 10 minutes so Jannelle and I decided to go! It was already dark by the time we got to it but we went for a walk up it anyways. We stood there for awhile by the first tall support and could actually see it and feel it moving. Neither one of us had seen a bridge this big since the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York which currently sits at number 20 on the list. (The 2 photos of the bridge are from Google it was too dark for any decent shots)

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Posted by apolloandathena 17:09 Archived in England Comments (3)

Drive through the Highlands and around the Isle of Skye

One that will not be forgotten

rain 8 °C

We rented a car in Edinburgh for a week so we could get around the country a little quicker and see as much as we could in our two weeks in the UK. Heres a little map to kind of show our route:
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We first headed towards St.Andrews the "home of golf". There are seven golf courses here in total but the original course, the "Old Course" dates back to medieval times,is still used today and is the most frequent venue for the Open Championship. It's also a very big University city with the most recent 'famous' graduate being Prince William. We came across an old cathedral that is now left in ruins but was still breathtaking..
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We coudn't get any good pictures of the golf course minus the back of the 18th so I don't really have any to show. We headed north from there towards Inverness, the UK's most northern city. And of course beautiful scenery along the way and a nice sunset that night too. We stopped in a lot of small towns along the way, every town in the whole UK is only ten minutes apart so they all kind of blend in together..Jordan spotted a hobbit house ..
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From Inverness we drove south along Loch Ness but we didn't see Nessie :( just this one
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We seen Urquhart Castle which was built in the 13th century, the year not known for sure, but only got a picture from far away because they wanted an arm and a leg to get into it..
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We then drove to Fort Augustus where Pete and Shelly live, old co-workers of Jordans. We got there in the afternoon and didn't leave until the next day. We had a great visit with them and their family, they are really amazing people and it was great meeting them! I wish I would have gotten a picture of us! While we were in that town we got to see a boat going through the locks there which was pretty cool as I never fully understood how it worked. large_5D17C6242219AC68171C800F9EA5AEF8.jpg
The next day we said our goodbyes and headed towards Portree the biggest town on the Isle of Ske. Its known for its beautiful harbour, fringed with cliffs. We stayed that night at a bed and breakfast right on the harbour called the The Pink Guest House. At this point the weather was turning pretty crappy, quickly, so we just stayed in for the night and relaxed.
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The weather didn't let up over the next couple of days which almost added to the authenticity of the Highland trip, rainy overcast weather is definitely more common than not. So the pictures really don't do the scenery justice but you can still get the idea...
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The further we went up north the smaller the roads got. Jordan got the short end of the stick having to drive because the roads were single lane with two way traffic, some on the edge of huge cliffs or up against what they call "mountains" no comparison to our Rockies but still quite impressive none the less, and therefore literally couldnt take his eyes off the road. It would have been an amazing trip on a bike because it was tight winding roads and very hilly. We came across a few other castles along the way and some highlands coo's :D. Overall it was an amazing drive well worth it for sure, and we both seem to have a really good feel for the entire country as a whole and not just Edinburgh -their main attraction. We made it back to Edinburgh yesterday and were heading out tomorrow to drive through some of England before the car has to be back on the 18th.large_5D7AE03A2219AC6817087212B52046B2.jpglarge_5D83C3D12219AC6817C471948F52EE97.jpglarge_5D8AC9572219AC6817876D2BA2E9B0B5.jpglarge_5D9566012219AC6817D3A860BD93F26C.jpglarge_5D9D3C922219AC681713CCD179EA8DA0.jpglarge_5DB140DF2219AC681781127A4764BEEA.jpglarge_CB33BE3D2219AC68177DB5D5D35E54C1.jpglarge_CB37FA812219AC6817D9BC8713373093.jpglarge_CB3BE3652219AC6817F98A353D6A2AD1.jpglarge_CB3F946F2219AC6817DE17FBEA544926.jpg

Posted by apolloandathena 14:18 Archived in Scotland Comments (7)

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