Czech it Out!

I’ve decided to take a break from my normal posts about writing to talk about my recent travel adventure to the Czech Republic. This trip came at the exact right time for me. I was feeling really tired and burnt out, not from one thing in particular; I just needed to get away and recharge. I was even stuck in a reading slump, and for anyone that knows me, that rarely happens!

Almost everyone asked my husband and I the same question whenever we shared that we were getting ready to embark on a journey to the Czech Republic, “Why in the world did you decide to go there?” Well, to be quite frank, it was cheap. Now that wasn’t the only reason (Rick Steve’s travel video also made the country looked really interesting), but the affordable price did help persuade us to hit the “book now” button on kayak.com a bit faster to make sure we got the $650 direct from PHL to PRG rate! And when we got there, we found out the U.S. dollar goes a long way. Most of the time a beer cost $2 for a pint.

This is my husband and my third time traveling to Europe together as a couple, and I think we finally figured out what works and doesn’t work when we are traveling abroad together. We were in the Czech Republic for a week and traveled to three different cities, which allowed us to sleep two nights a piece at each city. This plan worked out perfectly; we didn’t spend the entire trip on a bus/train, and it still let us see quite a few sites.

Our first stop was Trebon and fall was in full effect while we were there. This is a super tiny town in the Bohemia region and incredibly flat, which makes it good for biking and running.

I’m not going to lie, being a vegetarian in Trebon was uh, interesting! They are known for lake fish: carp, pike-perch, and trout. I literally saw fish jumping from the lake on a run. Our first night, when I inquired about vegetarian selections, the waiter promised me that their vegetarian plate was “superb.” It turned out to be fried cheese, fried mushrooms, boiled cauliflower and carrots. When I asked to add some potatoes, he said “Feeling hungry are we?” Um, yes. I’d like more than a plate of vegetables. 🙂 My second night I had much higher expectations, because the place we were eating at was highly rated and they had gnocci on the menu under “vegetarian selections!” So I ordered that and got this:

Now don’t get me wrong, it was extremely delicious, but tasted like a dessert. I thought he maybe got it mixed up with the dessert gnocci that had been listed. When I asked the waiter, he pointed to it under the “vegetarian selections” and said that is what I ordered. Apparently it was the exact same as the dessert except a larger portion. I looked at my husband, laughed, and picked up my fork and dug in. I was on vacation. Why not have dessert for dinner?

One of the best parts of Trebon was the Regent Brewery, established in 1379, and the tour. We didn’t make the tour in English, but I like to believe the Czech tour was much more interesting, because we could make up stories of what the tour guide was saying. Plus, the tour itself was full of interesting sites like a cellar that looked right out of a horror movie and floors that were soaking wet. At one point we had to use our iPhone flashlight to see where we were going. It had to be the weirdest brewery tour I’ve ever been on, but I have to say, the beer was delicious.

Our next stop was Cesky Krumlov. I’ve known a few people who have gone there that kept telling me it was a like a fairytale town, and guess what, they actually weren’t exaggerating! Everywhere I looked it looked like a scene from a postcard.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just us that heard about this beautiful town; it was PACKED with tourists, but I can see why. The castle was so big there were four tour options. We took the Baroque/Renaissance Tour (in English!) and had a great time. Our tour guide also told us that the only jobs in the town were related to the tourism industry. He also delved into the Czech Republic’s complicated history. My favorite part about the castle though were its gardens. We could just wander around and sit by the reflecting pool. I honestly didn’t want to leave from the park bench, I just felt so at peace with the world.

Our last stop on the trip was of course Prague. We did all the typical touristy things: visited the castle, Presidential Palace and St. Vitus Cathedral; marveled at the obscure “Dancing House”; fought the crowds on the infamous St. Charles bridge; and then had “Diane Day.”

What was “Diane Day” you ask? Basically, it was a day where I embraced my inner classical music nerd. If you didn’t know, Prague was the home to some famous classical music composers. So for the last day of our trip, my husband was so sweet, and trekked all over the city with me to see various classical music sites including the Dvorak Museum and the Smetana Museum (complete with an interactive conducting exhibit). To end the day we saw a string quartet concert featuring an oboe soloist in the beautiful Rudolfinum Hall and then completed our trip at a delicious vegetarian restaurant. Talk about the perfect “Diane Day!”

Our trip to the Czech Republic exceeded all of our expectations, and I urge anyone that loves old-world charm, beautiful landscapes, and classical music to put the Czech Republic on their must see list. It’s well worth the visit and at the same time won’t put a huge dent in your wallet.

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