Overview

We only visited two cities in the Czech Republic, but with the help of a very informative tour guide, we managed to get a decent sense of its history. Back in 1948, the Czech Republic was part of communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Increasing dissatisfaction with the communist regime led to a sort of “communism lite” brand of government, which lasted only as long as it took the Soviet Union to invade and crack down. Things turned around for Czechoslovakia in 1989, when the communist regime collapsed. A few years later, the country split peacefully in two: part became the Czech Republic, and the other part named itself Slovakia. Interesting stuff, and so recent. Even young people in the Czech Republic today remember what life was like under communism, and most of them fondly recall the days when democracy finally arrived. It’s interesting to walk the (bustling, cafe-and-store-filled) streets today and marvel at how much things must have changed since those tumultuous times.

We saw both Karlovy Vary and Prague when they were at their most crowded–Karlovy Vary was in the midst of its annual film festival and Prague in the height of its tourist season. Thus, we didn’t get much of a sense of what life is like for, err, “real Czechs.” We did stay long enough, however, to fully appreciate how beautiful the country is. Capital city Prague, in particular, is world-class, and it’s loved by tourists around the world.

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • Karlovy Vary (July 6, 2008)
  • Kolesovice (July 6-7, 2008)
  • Prague (July 7-9, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Stayed

  • Hotel Lipy in Kolesovice (July 6-7, 2008): This place happened to be located right off of the highway in the Czech town where we decided we’d driven enough for the day. At about $90 without breakfast, it was no great bargain, but it was certainly conveniently located, and our room was large and clean. It was, however, a little difficult to get used to the row of small skulls hanging in the hallway over our door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Unitas Hotel in Prague (July 7-9, 2008): This was one of our trip favorites. It used to be a hostel with shared bathrooms, but it’s just been remodeled, and now it’s much more of a luxury boutique hotel. It’s ideally located just a few minutes’ walk from the Old Town, and it has everything one could ever need: a lending library, free, fast internet, cable TV and breakfast. (Interestingly enough, it stands on the site of a former prison–XXX was held here after “questioning” by the Communists. If you ask the staff, they’ll show you the cells in the basement. Creepy.) At about $140 a night (a rate much lower than their published price), it sounds expensive, but that’s actually pretty cheap for a place this nice in Prague during the high season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Ate

Karlovy Vary

  • Caffe Pizzeria “Venezia” Ristorante (Karlovy Vary): We stumbled into this place to escape the torrential rain, and we ended up having a pretty darn good meal. Shanna’s salad was tasty, and Derek loved his spaghetti. Even in the midst of the film festival, their prices were pretty reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prague

  • Red, White and Blues: We’re ashamed that we came to this American place for our first meal in Prague, but we couldn’t resist the pull of the Mexican and Cajun food on offer there (both are really hard to find on the road). As it turned out, Shanna’s nachos were great, but Derek’s chicken creole was just ok. If you’re an American in Prague and you need a fix of some hard-to-find American favorites, you should definitely check out the store next door to Red, White and Blues–from Reese’s Pieces to ranch dressing, it sells pretty much everything an expat could want!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • U Medvidku: This Czech beer hall had a great, low-key atmosphere and all kinds of traditional Czech food. (Another bonus: it wasn’t as full of tourists as most other places, which is always a good sign.) Derek loved his roast beef with bread dumplings and cranberry sauce, but Shanna’s eggplant/cheese concoction left something to be desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • U Vedvodu: This place served traditional Czech food in a bar setting. Derek liked his pork and dumplings; Shanna’s duck salad was just so-so. The bartender who served us was kind of mean, but we loved the giant pretzels on offer for free on every table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • V Zatisi: We came here with the Rolapps and the Lamars and had a lovely dinner together. After asking around and doing our research, we learned that this upscale place was one of the best in the Prague, loved by locals and tourists alike. The atmosphere was a little stiff, but the food was incredible; Derek loved his traditional Bohemian sampler plate (rabbit, duck and beef) and Shanna’s fish was delightful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things We Did

Karlovy Vary

  • Sampled the waters of Karlovy Vary, famous for their healing properties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Attended the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, finally getting to see one move (Man on Wire) after waiting in lines for three films

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prague

  • Walked around the old city of Prague, including the Old Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched the Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Square do its thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Attended a classical music concert at the Church of St. Martin in the Wall (built in 1178)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Walked across the Charles Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Saw the changing of the guards at Prague Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured the Prague Castle, including the stunning Church of St. Vitus and the dungeon, with its implements of torture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Took a Communism tour with our friends Todd & Heather Rolapp and Elizabeth & Howard Lamar, led by our great guide (and former opera singer), Josef of Prague Walks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Facts

  • Capital City: Prague
  • Currency: Euro
  • Exchange Rate: 1.57 Euro to $1