As always, our trip to Prague to meet up with long-time friends began with travel adventures. We just missed the bus to the airport, and with a 32-minute wait until the next bus and road construction all the way to the airport, we opted to take a cab. Then our flight was delayed. The good news: it cut our 5-hour layover in Barcelona to just 4 hours. (That was nothing compared to our 7-hour layover on the way home! It took us forever to find the outlets to recharge our devices—at the bottom of the plexiglass towers. And there is a low ratio of drinking places to travelers. We found out later that you can take the big blue bus to Playa Catalina – maybe a 40-minute ride costing about 6€ per person each way.)
Almost 12 hours after we left our apartment, we arrived at our hotel in Prague.
Note to first-time visitors to Prague: do NOT just flag down a cab. They will gouge you! We used a car service arranged by the hotel: they added the 25-euro fee to our hotel bill. If you need a cab while out and about, have your hotel or restaurant call one for you.
We checked in to the Hotel Hastal in Old Town Prague and immediately went to find something to eat. The desk clerk at our hotel recommended a restaurant just around the corner, but it was closed. They were filming a movie on that street: lots of folks in period costume, end of 19th century.
We turned around and wandered a couple of blocks until we found a restaurant offering pizza and burgers – Texas burgers! We had just ordered when I noticed our friend Cary heading down the street – he had come to our hotel to meet up with us but had missed us and headed back to their hotel. So he joined us for a beer while we ate our pizza and burger. The best burger I’ve had since we left Texas!
The hotel is lovely – 5th-generation family owned. It’s not exactly a “boutique” hotel—the rooms are too big—but it has charm throughout. Mucha prints and photos from the early 20th century line the walls. You have to arrange with the front desk for air conditioning. The keys are real and clunky—you leave them at the desk when you leave the hotel.
Breakfast was the typical bread and cheese and meat affair, but with scrambled eggs and last night’s leftovers, including soup and roasted vegetables. Assorted coffee is available from a machine in the lobby at all hours, except during breakfast, when you have to pay extra for anything besides basic coffee. Supposedly, the line for the coffee machine interferes with guests trying to check out.
Avoid taxis (see note above)—but public transportation in Prague is easy. The tourists stands offer transit passes. You can get a one-day ticket for about 2 euro.