Travel Blog Daniella and Luke's Travelblog

16Sep/10Off

Olomouc

After spending a day sightseeing in Prague, we got up early and took a train to Olomouc.  After Prague, Olomouc is the largest culturally and architecturally significant city in the Czech Republic.

Jesus has a lot of nice houses in Olomouc.  The number of churches in what is a fairly compact old city is astounding, if not baffling and the design and decor of the churches spans the scale from austere to absurd.  A little surprisingly, despite rivaling Prague in terms of architecture, Olomouc has far less tourists.  Although we bumped into a couple of large groups whilst walking around, the town seemed far less busy and in some ways, far less tainted.

Rather than elbowing through hordes at every attraction, most places seemed to either be empty or be occupied only by the occasional local.  Perhaps the best example would be the honesty system in place at the entry to St. Moris church tower; a tin box with the entry cost painted on the side is all that stands between anyone and a climb up the very old helix staircase to the top of the tower.  Reaching the top of the helix staircase you find yourself in a very functional bell tower where you climb some more stairs and push open a plastic trapdoor to access the roof.

Other attractions are similar; small signs occasionally indicate that you should exercise common sense (respect the silence of the sanctuary , no dogs, no ice-cream) but are otherwise deserted and charge no admission.  Walking around, you begin to realise that although it sounds a little conceited and selfish, this is the experience you hope for when you travel - you have the sites and experience to yourself.  No noisy tourists, no pushing, no one walking in front of your camera, no getting stuck behind oblivious slow-moving, five-wide groups in narrow alleys.

The largest spire in Moravia at 125m.

An exceptionally Baroque church.

And the interior.

A medieval-era church with enormous bell tower.  We went up.

The very long double-helix staircase.

And the view from the top - possibly one of the world's best drinking balconies.

The Holy Trinity Column in the town square.

A statue celebrating the glorious union between man and dolphin.

Olomouc would definitely be somewhere I would suggest that anyone traveling to East Europe visits.

Day done, we headed back to Prague to scrub up before joining a pub crawl.

16Sep/10Off

Prague

It's hard to pick a city that has more of a intoned mental image in the collective consciousness by name alone than Prague.  And that image was always going to be a hard one to live up to.

Traveling by bus from Vienna to Prague, my first impressions of the city were mixed; we entered through the industrial and commercial districts of Prague where large glass and steel skyscrapers give way to skylines littered with domes and spires.  The streets are busy with traffic, hectic, noisy and the buildings gray with pollution.  Our bus made it's way to the UAN Florenc station through some shabby back streets and once there, Prague begins to seem less like Budapest and more like Bucharest.

For what must be one of the bigger "must-see" cities on any travelers itinerary, Prague seems a little rougher around the edges than would be expected.  It's not the same level of urban decay and chaos that we have seen in Romania, but it's not the polished gem that one would expect for a popular destination.

We check in (to a different hotel as ours has no hot water - long story) and head out.  It's unclear if the crowds on the main street are tourists or locals out shopping.  We see cameras and hear American accents, but we see a lot of what looks like people on their way home from work.

We eat a a small pub out of the way of the tourist routes and retire before heading out sightseeing the next day.  I'm not going to embarrass myself by attempting to name the buildings in these photos, so just enjoy the image dump.


Prague National Museum.

The Jubilee Synagog.

After spending the day seeing the sights, we headed out to see a blacklight theater show.  Blacklight theater is pretty much what the name suggests; a live theater performance in which blacklight is used to create some unique special effects with props and puppetry.

At a special "student" price (I think the cashier made a judgment based on our clothes), we saw Faust.  The performance was quite good and well worth it, if a little heavy on some elements of the story.

6Sep/10Off

Leaving Budapest

Today we made the last of our second last day in Budapest by heading out early to Szechenyi Baths.  Bathing culture has a strong following in Budapest dating back to the Ottoman occupation and many tourists visit the city strictly for the famous baths.

The baths were great. Past indoor mineral bathing pools the complex extends outside to large open-air thermal pools complete with fountains, spa bath and 'whirlpool' and then back into a basement level sauna, plunge pool and ionic air chamber.

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel before heading to the nearby Great Synagogue, the largest Synagogue in Europe (the largest is in New York).

We then headed back to a large festival in nearby Andrassy Utca to watch open-air piano recitals.

15Aug/10Off

Geelong et al

Corio Bay vista

Corio Bay vista

DJ van der Dan

DJ van der Dan

Boathouse at Queenscliff

Boathouse at Queenscliff
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