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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prague: Day 3 and last day…

On our last day we decided to take things easy. Our flight back to London was late in the afternoon so gives us time to relax and let our legs rest from all the walking we did in the last two days.

We thought we check out Petřín Hill today to climb up the tower as we have pretty much been to most of the sights that we wanted to see in the last few days. We took the funicular up to the hill as it was much quicker than hiking all the way up.

Petřín Hill

There is a rose garden up there but it wasn’t in the right season so we didn’t catch any roses but one thing we have noticed is that there are tonnes of tulips everywhere in Prague. There is also an observatory there by the rose garden called Štefánik´s Observatory.

Tulips

Anyway we headed up to the Petřín lookout tower (Petřínská rozhledna). This lookout tower was built in 1891 and it was used as an observation tower as well as a transmission tower. Today it is just a tourist attraction allowing tourist to climb all 299 steps to reach the top of the lookout tower. There is a mid point stop as well so if you’re not up for it you can stop halfway to rest as well as enjoy the view.

Petřínská rozhledna


View of Charles Bridge from Petřínská rozhledna

After that we ended up walking all the way back down because the ticket we bought only lasted 75 mins. So the funicular operator wouldn’t allow us in to the funicular even though it was out by a few minutes. Ah well it was good to walk among the outdoors anyway.

Just before we were due to leave Prague we stop by a restaurant called Pivovarský dům to have local Czech meal. They brew their own beer as well. I ended up ordering a rabbit dish and their sample beer selection which had about 8 different types of beer they brew.

Types of beer they had:
- Classic Light Lager
- Classic Dar Lager
- Sour Cherry Beer
- Coffee Beer
- Wheat Beer
- Banana Beer
- Nettle Beer
- Special of the month (It was kind of like a stout)

Selection of beers

The best one of them all was the classic light lager. The rest of the beers were interesting but weird. I wouldn’t order to drink any of them alone. Sorry…

Well that was Prague. More trips and holidays to come so stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Prague: Day 2

On Day 2 in Prague, we decided to head up to Prague Castle early in the morning to hopefully miss the bus/tram load of other tourists. We decided to take the tram up to the Prague Castle via tram no. 23. That tram had a direct route from Malostranské náměstí direct up to the Prague Castle.

Prague Castle

Just abit of history about Prague Castle; Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) was founded around 880 by prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid dynasty. Prague Castle served as the seat of Czech princes and later kings, and the seat of the Prague bishop since the 10th century. The castle experienced one of its greatest periods during the reign of Charles IV (1346-1378) when it became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Royal Palace was rebuilt, the fortifications were strengthened, and the construction of St. Vitus Cathedral was initiated in 1344 and completed in the 20th century.

St. Vitus Cathedral

When we got to the Prague Castle we bought our tickets and queued up for the St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála sv Vita). By the way, the entrance to the St. Vitus Cathedral is FREE and probably the highlight of the area. Inside the massive cathedral you will find the Chapel of St. Wenceslas (Svatováclavská kaple). The chapel is decorated with semi-precious stones and also holds a 14th century tomb with the saint's holy relics.

Inside of St. Vitus Cathedral

Just before viewing St. Wenceslas Chapel though there is a door on the side that you can enter to climb to the top of the cathedral. Just a note that there is only a single staircase to lead you up and down the tower and they don’t have a specific time window for people to go up or down the tower. This was just crazy. I was lugging around a daypack holding a DSLR in hand and a tripod trying to manoeuvre myself down the tower which only had a 1.2 meter width steps with other tourist on the side of the wall. Talk about being careful you don’t fall down or drop the camera! Also note it is a 297 steps climb to the top. But the view up there is just remarkable. It gives you a complete 360 degree view of Prague city. Well worth the climb. Just try to time it to miss the hoard of tourists.

A view of Prague from the tower of St. Vitus Cathedral

The only other highlight of Prague Castle is the Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička). Golden Lane is a small street made up of 11 historic houses which exhibit medieval armoury and textiles as well as souvenirs for tourist to buy. It was originally called Goldsmith’s Lane (Zlatnicka Ulicka) because of the many goldsmiths’ that was residing there in the days. I thought this was a pretty cool area but you have to buy a ticket to get into this area. This is also where the famous writer Franz Kafka resided in house no. 22.

House no. 22

After visiting Prague Castle we walked down the old Castle Stairs (Zámecké schody) to Zámecká Street. This area is another picturesque area and a romantic location in the evenings just before the sun sets.

From there we walked through the streets of Malá Strana then to Kampa Island which is just off Charles Bridge. There is a park on Kampa Island where you enjoy views of the bridge and across the river and also relax.

Day 3 to follow…

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Prague

I've recently been to Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic; for a long weekend and I have to say it is true what they say. It is definitely one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever visited.

The language was pretty hard for me to understand but thankfully most that I had encountered speaks a little of English and some at least I can interpret from gestures and general direction.

Anyway we were there for 3 days. On map it had looked like we were staying in a hotel which I thought was pretty far away from all the action in Prague but when we got there everything was relatively close by. When I say relatively I meant roughly 10-15 minutes’ walk. There are trams and busses everywhere and they are frequent too.

I’m sure that you’re meant to pay when you get on for the trams and busses but seems like everyone forgets to do just that. The trick was as long as you don’t enter via the front/driver’s entrance then you’re fine. Though if you get caught then be prepared to pay up to 400 Czech Koruna (CZK) for the trip. Keep that as a note for you fellow visitors…

On Day 1, first thing we did was to head up to the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) and there you’re surrounded by various architectural buildings such as the gothic Týn Cathedral, the baroque St. Nicholas Church and the Astronomical Clock. There were loads of tourist there so we only stayed long enough to visit most of the historic buildings/churches there.

Týn Cathedral


St. Nicholas Church

We then walked along cobble stone streets to see the life of Prague. Enough to get bearings of where everything is then we moved onto the picturesque Charles Bridge (Karlův most). Charles Bridge is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltara river in Prague. We didn’t cross the bridge at that stage as it was just jam packed with, you guessed it, tourists! But we did find a little door on the side of the Old Town bridge tower so we climbed up the tower instead.

Lucky as we did because this happens to be where most of the postcard photos are taken of the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge. The view up there was just remarkable. I think we ended up staying up there for a good few hours taking pictures of the castle and its surroundings at different times of the night. There was certainly a lot of people up there and cramp so be prepared to camp a little while if you get up there to get the best spot.

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Day 2 to follow in the next post…

Friday, May 09, 2008

Flying experience

What is it like flying these days? I would think it is still the same. You queue up at the check-in counter to check in your luggage and get your boarding pass. You then get to your gate to board the plane. You find your seat, sit back and enjoy the flight to your destination.

Before the plane takes off you’re given specific instructions on airplane safety. It has become pretty standard now that if you have flown enough times you know what to do. You pay attention anyway just in case. You’re also told that no electronic equipment is to be turned on during take off and landing and no use of mobile phones or radio control equipment is to be used. It’s documented in the airplane safety document anyway. So what has changed?

Well in the last few years in my experience I have noticed people would have their mobile phones turned on and switched to silent mode. Some even don’t bother changing their setting and sometimes they would get a phone call when the airplane is just about to land only to be asked if they have arrived.

Another case is that when the airplane lands before the seat buckle sign is switched off, everyone would unbuckle and then proceed to get their cabin luggage while the plane is still in transit to the terminal itself.

This is pretty p**s poor if you tell me. In the old days you would get a fine of $2000 for having your phones turned on or get a fine for not obeying flight regulations and safety. Or get pulled aside when you get to the terminal so you can be grilled by security.

So what is up with the major and minor airlines these days? Are they not worried about getting reported or not concerned about the general safety of their passengers? Or for the passengers, what is the rush?! Can you not wait a few minutes for the airplane to get to the terminal before you get your cabin luggage from the overhead locker? You still have to wait for your check-in luggage!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

I can't believe it… The weather has been great this week. At the moment it is 24 degrees Celsius or 75 degrees Fahrenheit and its only spring! But it feels like summer now. It is going to be like this for the rest of the week. Nice and barmy. This is a first for me since been in London.


There is a nice cool easterly that’s coming across London so at least it is not super hot. But if you’re indoors working (like me!) it’s like an oven in here. Don’t think my boss will pass me coming in casual clothing with shorts and sandals.

This weather reminds me of summer time back in New Zealand where you’d have a barbeque in your back or front yard along with your mates sipping on some ice cold beer. Ahhh… Good times…

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Batman: The Dark Knight

Trailer for the upcoming The Dark Knight movie.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Tony Stark's phone

For those who have just watched Iron Man the movie and are curious to what model of the phone he was using, it is infact a LG VX9400. It is only available state side and only via Verizon network at the moment.

Key Features:
- V CAST Mobile TV
- Slim & Stylish Swing Bar Design
- Bluetooth® Capable
- 1.3 Megapixel Camera with Flash
- V CAST Music & Video
- microSD Memory Port


Specs wise:
Techonology: CDMA
Frequency: 1.9 GHz CDMA PCS, 800 MHz CDMA (Digital Dual-Band)
Data Transmission:
High-Speed EVDO
Dimensions:
4.04" (H) x 1.93" (W) x 0.73" (D)
Weight:
4.06 oz/ 115 g
LCD:
262K Color TFT, 320x240 Pixels, 13 (Portrait) or 10 Lines (Landscape)
Standard Battery:
950 mAh Li-Polymer
Usage/Standby:
Up to 228 Minutes/Up to 458 Hours


If only it was available on the GSM and higher Megapixel camera I might consider this.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Iron Man


OMG! I've just finished watching Iron Man at our local cinies... I so want one of those Iron Man suits. Though I might have to get in shape abit to fit the suit but damn... That thing is HOT! Where can I order one??

Anyway here are some trailers for you to preview.

Trailer #1



Trailer #2