Czech Republic    Austria    Hungary   

In November 2004 over the Thanksgiving holiday we took 10 days and flew into Prague, Czech Republic then took trains to Vienna, Austria then finally on to Budapest, Hungary. This was a last minute trip which was a special deal. It was so last minute I was worried we wouldn't get the tickets in time, especially when I received an email 3 days before we left asking which trains we wanted to take to get from Prague to Vienna and to Budapest. I called and cleared it up and received the tickets the day before we needed to leave. We didn't mind going over the holiday and were hoping to see some of the Christmas decorations in these cities.

When we arrived in Prague, I was hoping the private airport shuttle service I emailed would be there to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. I was a little worried about the language and trying to read the signs. Even before we left I was having trouble deciphering the public transportation at the airport so I thought to use this private shuttle. Most large European cities have a direct train or bus from the airport to the city center (usually the train station). In this case there were only city buses and I didn't know what the routes were. Unfortunately, the private shuttle was not there to pick us up. Fortunately, my travel skills kicked in and I was able to get a city bus to the Metro and take this to the hotel. It wasn't so bad in the end.

After our initial experience in Prague, we ended up using the public transportation for the remainder of our trip. We were able to get around easily to all the sights we wanted to see.

Arriving in Vienna, we came in the south train station (Sudbahnhof) but were going to be leaving from the west train station (Westbahnhof). I try and figure out ahead of time how we get there, how we get around, and how we leave. The best part involves the getting around and what we plan on seeing. In this case, Vienna had a couple palaces we wanted to see and fortunately their Christmas markets were in full swing. Our hotel was behind the City Hall, which had a huge Christmas market in the square. We eventually found a couple other Christmas markets as we did our site seeing through out the city.

Arriving in the Budapest train station was an experience. I wanted to get Hungarian money (Forints) at a cash machine, get a multi-day public transportation ticket, and then take the metro a couple stops to our hotel. Not quite that easy. After getting off the train, every third step we were approached by a taxi driver. In between every third step was the same taxi driver. As we waited in line for the information booth attendant to ask where a cash machine and the metro were, I quickly noticed what seemed to me to be a line of taxi drivers in front of me also waiting. I assumed this was their way of tying up the information booth, and again ‘our’ taxi driver approached us as we waited - I caught on after about 30 seconds. At that point I knew our hotel was not far, so we started walking. So did our taxi driver. He finally left us when we crossed the street. After a couple blocks we found a cash machine, and later that day we returned to the train station and found out the Metro station was across the street and not clearly marked.

We were able to see a number of things in Budapest just taking the metro. In the end, we took a city tour that was very informative and included a tour of the Parliament Buildings. Even though the Christmas decorations were not in full swing, we were able to send our Christmas cards from here. Another experience. Normally, you buy the stamps and put them on the cards and put the cards into a postal box. In this case the person behind the counter put the stamp on the cards, then they had to put another stamp on the cards, and then they finally put the airmail stamp on the cards. Did I mention there was only 1 person working at the counter? This caused a long line of very unhappy Hungarian people behind me. I guess they weren't in the holiday spirit yet.

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Prague, Czech Republic - The Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) at night.


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Prague, Czech Republic - Václavské Náměstí (Wenceslas Square) is a big shopping street.


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Prague, Czech Republic - Staroměstská radnice (Old Town Hall) with its' astronomical clock.


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Prague, Czech Republic - Staroměstské Náměstí (The Old Town Square).


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Prague, Czech Republic - Us on Karlův Most (The Charles Bridge), and Prague Castle behind.


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Prague, Czech Republic - The view of The Charles Bridge toward The Old Town.


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Prague, Czech Republic - The entrance to Prague Castle.


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Prague, Czech Republic - A view of the city from Castle Hill.


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Vienna, Austria - Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) in the heart of the city.


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Vienna, Austria - Us in front of Rathaus (City Hall), the Christmas Market in full swing.


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Vienna, Austria - This is Schloß Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace), the Habsburg summer residence.


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Vienna, Austria - Just a small part of the Hofburg (Imperial Palace).


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Vienna, Austria - The spires of Votivkirche (Votive Church).


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Vienna, Austria - Spectacular City Hall by day, near our hotel.


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Budapest, Hungary - Westend City Center, Central Europe's biggest mall ready for Christmas.


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Budapest, Hungary - Hösök Tere (Heroes' Square), lots of statues but didn't recognize anyone.


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Budapest, Hungary - Us in Budapest as seen from The Citadel.


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Budapest, Hungary - Országház (Parliament) houses the Hungarian legislature and Holy Crown.


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Hungary - Halászbástya (The Fishermans Bastion) has spectacular views of the city.


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Hungary - Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge) crossing the Dunube River.