Sunday, August 3, 2008


Last July my sister Tammy, friends Leslie and Elizabeth, and I traveled together for eight days touring the Czech Republic. We started in Prague and worked our way south through the Bohemian and Moravian countryside.

Prague was just as I imagined it to be, well-preserved and beautiful. A great walking city and very easy to get around--you absolutely do not need or want a car while in Prague. Here are a few tips for traveling Prague and throughout the Czech Republic.

In Prague, arrange for a driver to pick you up at the airport to avoid the hideous taxi problem in Prague. Your hotel (or favorite guidebook) can suggest a reputable driver. And it's cheaper than you think.

Three nights in Prague is perfect. And it won't take you long to figure the layout of the city. I also suggest hiring a personal guide for a half- or full day customized walking tour. We used Sarka's Personal Guide and loved Jana, the guide assigned to us. The cost is reasonable and all the fun facts shared by our guide helped to give us a complete picture of Prague. And it is private--you are not sharing your guide with 10 other strangers (you know there is always an obnoxious one in the group!)

After touring Prague we headed out to the countryside. We rented a car before we left home (always a better deal) and stopped by a few castles on our way to Cesky Krumlov. Cesky Krumlov is much smaller than Prague and just as well-preserved. With all the castles and beautifully gabled buildings with intricate designs, you feel as if you are walking through a fairy tale. And although Prague is expensive, Cesky Krumlov and the rest of the countryside is very reasonable and sometimes downright cheap.

We spent our time outside of Prague visiting hilltop castles, exploring small (and sometimes very tiny) villages, and driving through the southern part of the Czech Republic. We even had the time to dip down into Austria for a few hours. Then back into the Czech forest where we stopped along the road to walk in and around some World War II bunkers. That was unbelievable! Nothing was fenced off or protected. No entry fees--just some old bunkers open for exploring in the middle of the forest near the country road.

Going behind the old iron curtain was a great education. Standing at the top of Wenceslas Square where Vaclav Havel stood (leader of the Velvet Revolution and later president), put everything in perspective. My sister, friends and I loved every minute of our trip.

Favorite guidebooks for this trip: Rick Steves and DK Eyewitness Books

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