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July 15, 2012

POTD: Prague Main Railway Station

If I had to name one thing that I missed the most about Europe, it would have to be the rail network. Yes, we have passenger rail service in the United States, but Amtrak can’t even compare to Germany’s Deutsche Bahn or the United Kingdom’s National Rail. For instance, the top speed on Amtrak’s “high-speed” Acela train on the Washington, DC to New York City route is 135mph, compared to the Eurostar which races along at 186mph.

The Eurostar was my preferred method of travel when visiting Paris or Brussels due to the speed (less than two hours to either city), location (no schlepping out to the airport) and price (£59 roundtrip). Within the UK, I’ve used National Rail to visit cities such as Cambridge and Gloucester, both quick, comfortable journeys. (For those who are looking for a more relaxing, scenic journey, steam rail tours are available in northern England, Wales, Scotland, and northern Germany).

The above photo is of Praha hlavní nádraží (Prague main railway station). As part of our December 2009 Central Europe trip we took the train from Berlin to Prague (and after spending a few days there attempting to find the best Czech beer, onward to Vienna). Although the Art Nouveau inspired exterior and interior of the train station could use a bit of renovation, I loved the traditional steel and glass canopy that stretched over the tracks.

An interesting aside – from 1918 – 1938 and 1945 – 1953, the station was named after US President Woodrow Wilson (Wilsonovo nádraží) in honor of his contribution to the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire following World War I.

September 11, 2011

POTD: Saints Cyril and Methodius statue on Prague’s Charles Bridge

st charles bridge in prague

st charles bridge in prague

Taken on a cold winter morning in late December 2009, this photo shows the statues of Saints Cyril and Methodius, two Byzantine Greek brothers who introduced Christianity to the Slavs and invented the Cyrillic alphabet. Prague Castle can be seen in the background.

January 26, 2011

POTD: Anti-Putin/Medvedev graffiti in Prague

Snapped this photo when I was in Prague in December 2009. The text reads “Putin Medvedev – Criminals!” Obviously the artist wasn’t a fan of the Russian President and Prime Minister.

January 22, 2011

POTD: Stairs near Prague Castle

Photo of the stairs leading up to the area where Prague Castle is situated. This photo was taken during a return trip to Prague in December 2009. It was much colder than my previous trip in July 2005, but less crowded (which I enjoyed). Flights to Munich from Prague are usually cheap and quite easy to arrange, but most tourists in Europe travel via train.

December 25, 2010

POTD: Christmas tree in Prague’s Old Town Square

I’ve never been good at night time photography, but this will have to do. This is Prague’s Old Town Square, shortly after Christmas. Last year we spent Christmas week in Berlin, Prague, and Vienna. This year I’m back home in sunny Palm Desert, California. Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 3, 2010

POTD: Trdelník in Prague

Behold the trdelník, the greatest pastry ever produced:

When we visited Prague in December 2009, I ate trdelník several times a day. Basically, you take dough, wrap it around a metal spit, and place it in a wood-fired oven. When it is finished baking you then roll it in sugar and walnuts and devour it while it is still warm. Perfect treat for a cold winter day, no?

I originally thought trdelník was a Czech creation, but it actually hails from Skalica, Slovakia. Nevertheless, if you are visiting Prague during the winter you can find trdelník stands throughout the city, including the Old Town Square Christmas Market and the Prague Castle.

November 24, 2010

POTD: Old Town Bridge Tower in Prague

old town bridge

old town bridge

This is the Old Town Bridge Tower that sits at one end of the Charles Bridge in Prague. This Late Gothic Tower was built between 1370 and 1391 and served as a gateway to Prague’s city center as well as a watchtower. This photo was taken in July 2005, when my friend and I took advantage of the numerous bargain holidays that were on sale at the student travel agency. Cheap beer and dumplings – what could be better?

October 21, 2010

POTD: Theresienstadt Cell Block A

theresienstadt

theresienstadt

Cell Block A, located in the Small Fortress in Terezín, Czech Republic. Beginning in 1940, the Small Fortress was used by the Gestapo to house prisoners, including Allied POWs. It is near the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

September 30, 2010

POTD: St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague

St Vitus Cathedral

St Vitus Cathedral

One of the most beautiful buildings in Central Europe (and that’s saying a lot), construction on this Gothic cathedral first began in 1344. The cathedral is located within Prague Castle, where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices.

September 4, 2010

POTD: Christmas Market in Prague’s Old Town Square

Christmas market in Prague

Christmas market in Prague's Old Town Square

One of the main reasons my family traveled to Central Europe in December 2009 was to visit the many Christmas markets that can be found throughout the continent. This is the Christmas market in Prague’s Old Town Square, which sells some of the best pastries I have ever tasted. I first visited Prague in the summer of 2005, and I must say that I definitely prefer it in the winter. It’s less crowded, the comfort food is much tastier in the cold temperatures, and the light dusting of snow adds to Prague’s reputation as a “fairytale city”.