We left the open expanse of Scandinavia behind to enter the more touristy landscapes of Germany and the Czech Republic. The trip, so far, beat our expectations. The weather cooperated with mostly sunny days. A few clouds threatened rain, but none has fallen from the skies. To begin the next leg of the trip, we flew from Copenhagen to Berlin to save time and avoid another long rail trip.
Norwegian Air offered us a cheaper option than a train. But, upon arrival at the airport, we found out all the “hidden” charges and ended up spending a lot more than we expected. Lesson learned bargain airlines are not a bargain. I booked most of our hotels through Booking.com and have been delighted with the results. Marriott provided the other hotels since I could use points on some of the rooms to save money. The website I used to book the trains is called Omio.com. Each leg for the train was scheduled only a few days in advance in case our plans changed.
Tip: We traveled first class on most of the trains. After researching, I found it cheaper to buy individual tickets instead of a Eurail Pass. With the Omio App, I saw that the cost to ride in first-class varied greatly depending on the time of day, even when the base price did not change. Do lots of research.
We first landed in Berlin. As we researched things to do in each city, we discovered that Berlin was a large, industrialized city. Only a few options for sightseeing interested us, so we decided to stay one night. Once again, the public transportation system provided us with an easy way to move around town at a reasonable cost. The Brandenburg Gate felt like a must see, so it was first on our list. Unfortunately, protestors marched throughout the area which caused us to move on quickly. Next stop, Check Point Charlie and to see the remanents of The Wall nearby. These sites made history come alive for me. More protestors appeared in the area, so we headed back to the hotel to get some extra rest for our tired feet.
Dresden was the next city we planned to visit. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on our train ride. I think Dresden might be my favorite city so far on this trip. So many great things to see, it is hard to know where to begin. The Old Town Square area housed most of the tourist sites. We visited the art museum. It was home to many works by the Dutch Masters. Works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Raphael graced the walls. Other attractions we toured included churches and palaces. Every building appeared to hold historical significance. A person could easily spend a week just visited all the nooks and crannies of this gorgeous town.
Tip: Find an outdoor cafe in the town square to take in the sights and sounds of the area. We spend an hour just watching the world the parade of people.
Both hotels in Germany were part of the Marriott chain. The Westin in Dresden sat on the banks of the river Elbe and overlooked the Old Town area. The vistas were stunning. Breakfast cost extra, but we took advantage of the buffet each morning to fill up for the day. We spend about $20 per breakfast. Snacks in the lobby or a cafe in the town square filled us up till dinner time. We usually spend another $15 for snack times.
Dinner time consisted of German food each night with beer and wine for a cost of around $80. Most of the menus had English descriptions, but we did find fewer people who spoke Engish with us. Using pointing and hand signals, we were able to communicate what we needed. Items appeared cheaper than in the Scandinavian areas. Transportation cost ran about $10 per day and covered all the areas we needed to go. Gas cost $5.57 per gallon, milk cost $3.35 per gallon and break was $1.00 per loaf.
Once again, I am writing from the train as we whisk across the countryside between Prague and Vienna. Lush green fields caress groves of blooming trees as spring gives birth once again. I think of the movie, Sound of Music, as the hills feel alive with the beauty of spring. I believe riding the rails is a much better alternative to see the landscape if you have the time. The natural beauty inspires me as I write.
Hint: a Business class ticket on this train cost just $20 more and provide us with a private compartment. We also got free local sparkling wine, cookies, water, and coffee. It was well worth the extra money.
Bill and I are both graduates of the University of Oklahoma, and we travel with OU attire on most trips. Prague was our first city to get a Boomer Sooner response from someone passing us by on the streets of Prague. Like Dresden, Prague displays incredible Renaissance architecture. Unlike Dresden, Prague was overly crowded with tourist from all corners of the globe. The city sits on the banks of the River Vtlava. The Prague Castle dominates the skyline on the one side while the old town is on the opposite side. Getting to the castle require walking up many steps but well worth the sore joints.
Some of the more memorable sights we visited included the Jewish quarter to learn about the victims of the Holocaust. Other places incorporated churches, cobblestone-lined streets, the Astronomical clock and riding a funicular to look over the city. One of the most amazing things involved attending a Mozart concert in a restored theater. The dinner and show were fabulous. We also enjoyed a thirty-minute foot massage to recover from all the walking during this trip. Even with Metro passes, we walk over 10,000 steps per day so bring good shoes. More places here required cash, so we did use an ATM to pull out money in the local currency. The food choices were similar to Dresden. And, as with most of the cities so far, we enjoyed sitting in outdoor cafes while savoring the sights.
Our hotel, Hotel U Zlateho Jelena sat down an alley behind a bakery which made it difficult to find. But, the location sheltered us from the street noises in the town square only a block away. I loved the place, and the cost stayed within my $100 per night budget. Breakfast was not, but for ten Euros we could fill up at the bakery each morning. We bought a three-day Metro pass $20 each and Bill found a ferry across the river that was a part of the bus system. We enjoyed the short crossing on the swift-moving river. Meals seemed a little cheaper and some including the beer. Overall, Prague is worth a visit. Gasoline cost $5.18 per gallon, milk cost $3.00 per gallon and bread cost $0.94 per loaf.
Join me next week for a look at Vienna and Budapest.
Yvonne – #blogger, #speaker, and #author
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
100% of the proceeds from sales of my book, Turning Mountains Into Molehills, go to help the orphans at Orphan Relief Effort, Inc