Chapter 4 – Berlin and Prague
Guten Tag and Ahjo,
Our impressions of Berlin were diverse. At times it was a majestic feeling with massive buildings, museums and statues – other times utilitarian feeling with colorless and shapeless structure – and at times very commercialized with hundreds of brand name shops everywhere. Underlying this is an open transparent reflection on the horrors of WWII and Nazism, as well as the reunification of eastern Berlin. We visited the Berlin Domo, Museum Island (literally an island in the middle of Berlin housing 5 massive beautiful museums!!), Topography of Terror (an exhibit of the Nazi regime and the horrors they inflicted), a section of the Berlin wall still standing, Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe (a city block of large grey square blocks that you walk in between) as well as multiple other sites. We went on a private art exhibit (very impacting) held in a former WWII telecommunications bunker, and off course, multiple pubs!
- The beer (and OMG there are so many different ones) is amazing!
- Berliners give off a sense of seriousness and purpose – as was demonstrated to us when our taxi driver had a German version of a Mexican standoff with another taxi – neither would back up to let the other go first down a narrow lane – several steely eyed minutes of glaring through the windshield – then an outside nose to nose German cursing match (very close to fisticuffs), our taxi driver finally won and then provided Fran with the briefest of smile when she gave him a tip for the entertainment
- The reunification efforts of the city are incredibly impressive
- We discovered an APP “Maps.Me” which is like google maps except without Wi-Fi from a bartender in a pub called Upside Down; recognition of an artist who painted everything upside down (the paintings that is, not him ha ha)
- The train ride from Copenhagen (which is right next to Malmo, Sweden) to Berlin involved the train travelling onto a Ferry (at which time we all had to disembark and go above deck) to the mainland and then back on the train to drive off the ferry back on to the tracks again (ingenious)!!
Prague is truly one of the most beautiful cities we have visited – it feels like a fantasy storybook! The architecture of the buildings from medieval days to the turn of the century is incredible and seems endless. We started out with a 4 hour guided walking tour, which was really helpful to better understand the history and beauty of the city. We then walked over 75 km and saw sights such as the Prague Castle and Golden Lane, the Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, the Old Town Square, Wencelas Square (as in the Good King Wencelas Christmas song we all sing — except he wasn’t a king — but it helped the song become popular), the Dancing House (Canadian Architect), the Astronomical Clock, and a pile of other places (pile being the correct Czech way of saying beautiful other places). We visited Kutna Hora (a small gothic town 60km outside of Prague – to see, among other things, a crypt decorated with thousands of human bones) and a daunting and beautiful cathedral. We attended an opera (Don Giovanna) performed by the National Prague Marionettes (for real), and of course multiple pubs.
- Over 5 million tourist visits so far this year – WOW! – can’t imagine what it would be like in high season
- Very touristy and commercial
- Czechs smoke a lot – including in restaurants, cafes and pubs
- Goulash and dumplings are outstanding along with the Trdelnik fresh pastry with cinnamon sugar!!
- We have been teaching the locals how to make “burnt martinis” – Tom W – you would be sooo proud!!
- We almost lost our mascot “Moost” in a 700 year old monastery pub enjoying the great Czech beer being made by monks — however we did find him so keep your eyes open
- We loved Prague and highly recommend everyone seeing it at least once
We would also like to share with you our perception ratings of the most important things when traveling to a new country; the quality of the food, the energy of the place, the warmth of the people and of course the quality of the towels!! (see below)
Onwards to Budapest, Split and Dubrovnik.
Make it So,
Fran and Steve
Prague, Czech Republic
CLOCK IN PRAGUE (Click the link below)