A Taste of Eastern Europe: The Vienna Loop - Page 2
|Storybook Perfect: Ceský Krumlov (courtesy, Czech Republic Tourism)|
Day 3-4: Cesky Krumlov to Prague (110 Miles)
From Cesky Krumlov, it takes about three hours to drive north to Prague through central Bohemia. An enchanting city of castles, cathedrals, and picturesque bridges over the Vltava River, Prague is popular among tourists with good reason. Walk across the iconic, pedestrian-only Charles Bridge, built in the 14th century, then mosey through the Old Town Square, surrounded by Baroque buildings and Town Hall, where a medieval astronomical clock chimes every hour and the nearby Jan Hus statue stands overseeing the gaggles of camera-toting tourists.
Then head to the other side of the river to watch the hourly changing of the guard at Prague Castle, where communist, Nazi, and liberal leaders have taken turns ruling for 1,000 years, tour the castle grounds and take a trip down Golden Lane, where alchemists were rumored to ply their trade, before getting lost wandering the streets of Josefov, the Jewish Quarter with its five synagogues and its humbling Jewish Cemetery.
One of the best parts of Prague is its abundance of green—break from the bustle by exploring the Petrin Gardens or the Wallenstein Garden. You can also catch wonderful classical music at the Rudolfinum (Alsovo nabrezi 12; +42.0.227.059.227; www.galerierudolfinum.cz), on the west side of the Vltava, for half the cost of the concerts in Vienna. And no trip to Prague would be complete without sampling its cuisine and—more importantly—its world-famous pilsner. Pubs abound. Just find one with an open spot at one of the tables, ask your soon-to-be-best-friends if the space is free, and see how well the garlic soup matches a dark pils.
Day 5: Prague to Bratislava (205 Miles)
From Prague, head southeast toward Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. After about an hour and a half, stop for a break in Kutna Hora, a well-preserved 14th-century town with medieval lanes, a Gothic church, and a Baroque cathedral. Don't leave without a peek into the cemetery chapel's ossuary, which uses the bones of about 40,000 people as decorations—artfully arranged into chalices, a chandelier, and a cross, among other macabre furnishings. After a couple more hours of road time, you'll find Brno, the Czech Republic's second largest city. See the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Špilberk Castle (Špilberk 1; +42.0.542.215.012; www.spilberk.cz), which has led lives as a fortress and a prison and is now a museum of architecture, art, and history. Tonight's resting place, Bratislava, is about an hour-and-a-half drive through the winemaking country of Moravia.
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