But I was on a mission to get to Ostrava in the Czech Republic
Why? Because I was about to be attending my first time at TBEX, a premier travel blogger conference that draws in bloggers from around the world. I was excited!
I was also a first-time visitor to Prague and the Czech Republic in general so this was going to be one exciting middle-aged solo female traveler travel-blogger adventure for me! A great travel learning experience with so many components to absorb !
I left Dallas on Sunday, July 22nd flying into a rainy Philadelphia to change planes to fly into Prague. By the morning of July 23rd I was there, albeit jet lagged, but curious to explore.
Taxi, Uber, or Private Transfer?
Ahead of time, I had read about some potential taxi problems at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport in terms of being careful not to get ripped off by an over-charging taxi. I solved the potential problem (and saved me a hassle) by arranging for an airport transfer through the The Emerald-Prague hotel where I was going to spend the night. It only cost a flat 600czk which is about $27USD. For me, it was peace of mind. My driver Josef was congenial, helpful and he sped me along the 17km in his black BMW sedan to the center of Prague Old Town.
Once there he helped me get my 4-wheeled spinner carry-on over the cobblestone street to the hotel entrance. To make things easier once again, I hired his services to pick me up in the morning to take me to the main train station. Why bother with Uber or a Taxi I thought? When this would help me orientate myself on my first visit.
The Emerald-Prague Apartment Hotel in Old Town
Note: I chose this hotel because it was offered at a discount for TBEX attendees. When I inquired they had only 2 apartments left, one on the ground floor that was very large to fit 4 people, and the top floor one which is for 2 people maximum.
Upon arrival, I entered the Digi-code to the beautiful lacquered emerald green doors to the hotel and huffed myself up the foyer stairs. Then I realized I had 5 more floors to go! To a younger person full of endless energy this would seem like a minor point, but to a middle-aged woman (who was once super-charged with energy too) along with my osteo-arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. it becomes somewhat of a challenge. So there was no elevator but the walk up is interesting as you survey the emerald-green lacquered doors done in Art Nouveau style. There are also modern inspirational wall posters to give you something to think about as you make your way up to the top floor. The feeling was calm and quiet, a perfect start.
My apartment was named the Citadel. A wonderfully charming abode, that greets you with its main center-piece, a queen-size bed with vintage aqua brocade adorning the headrest. It was quite comfortable too. Vintage quality yet newer, antiqued, with a touch of industrial whimsy is how I would describe this room but yet modern, functional and clean. There is a claw-foot white bathtub/shower combination with a charming floral painted wooden room divider to give one a private dressing area. Two sinks, with one for washing up and one for washing dishes. A petite antique desk hides the fact that it is also a 2-burner stove with a nearby Nespresso machine handy. Inside the huge 3-sectioned wardrobe is plenty of room for 2 people to store their belongings as well has having 1 section dedicated to holding all the kitchen necessities you need to cook for yourself. There is also a mini-refrigerator. The lighting in the room is quirky yet modern and offers a variety of ways to set a mood. There are also 2 floor-to-ceiling windows with billowy white wispy curtains to keep air circulating coolly. Another important factor is that there are several electrical outlets to charge all your electronics and the Wi-Fi works great. All you have to do next is sit yourself down on the pleasingly petite café-style table in the center of the room and enjoy a cold drink.
If you want to consider more choices of where to stay in Prague, check out this compilation list created by DrifterPlanet.com
Food Choices Galore in Prague!
That afternoon after a much needed nap, I decided to venture out for some eats and found the Kafka Snob Food café. Funny name! I was happy (and surprised) to get a luscious avocado burger the size of which I’ve never seen! I asked the waiter if the Czech Republic grows avocadoes?? He chuckled and said no they are imported. But I had to ask knowing there are warm grape-growing regions in Czechia. After this nice pick-me-up light dinner I headed to walk around the Old Town Square and take photos. . (I use my iPhone7 because my compact Sony point-and-shoot wasn’t holding a charge and I didn’t have a spare battery with me)
Walk Around Prague for a Delightful Discovery
Old Town proved to be filled with tons of people, not surprising since it was the middle of summer. I made my way to the Astronomical Clock which was closed for renovation then continued on to the famed Charles Bridge. This was about a 15-minute walk so if I can do it, you can too! Really, everything is conveniently located in central Prague from all the historical sites to shops, cafes, restaurants. You don’t really need to ride public transportation unless you want to leave Old Town and venture out into another area of Prague.
Charles Bridge at Sunset turned out to be a delight, despite what seems like millions of tourists crammed on it! The actual statistics are that there were almost 3 million paying visitors to the Prague Castle alone in 2017 with an actual 7,9 million just walking through the grounds. It’s a great place to look out over the Vltava river and watch the cruise ships go by through the channel locks. It’s also superb for people watching. I’m sure I saw representation from just about every country in the world.
The next morning I got up after a good night’s sleep and used the Yelp app to find a breakfast place. So many choices! Since it was about 7am I ended up choosing The Home Kitchen because they opened up at 7:30am and most other places opened at 8am. I was not disappointed with the farm-to-table atmosphere at this quintessential modern hipster type small restaurant. I was promptly served, had some great filtered coffee, a delicious egg breakfast and I felt like a walk.
Explore the Swans Galore! On the Way to Prague Castle
So off I headed through unknown streets to wander and explore for a couple of hours. I found swans on the Vltava off another bridge and trekked my way up the hill towards Prague Castle—another one of those “must see” on the tourist bucket list.
It was lightly strenuous getting up the many steps to the Prague Castle which wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been 95 degrees. Yes, it was extremely hot and sunny out so make sure you bring your water bottle along or stop along the way. Great photo shots to be had especially once you reach the gate entrance at the top. There the view makes the climb all the worthwhile to take in the city rooftop view in a wide open panoramic scene.
I found out by accident that getting to the Prague Castle this early at 9am was actually a good time to go. The tourists were just barely starting to arrive with a 10am opening for some of the museum sites.
I found myself a café to stop and have a cold coffee then continue a quick walk around the center of the castle for some photos, then had to get going to meet my driver back at the hotel. The walk down is much easier because, you know, its downhill and I was one of the few walking this direction while everyone else is walking up.
Get Going: Prague Main Train Station
Getting back to the hotel, I get my things, meet my driver and whisk off to the Hlavní nádraží or main train station. There are apparently at least 6 trains stations in Prague so make sure you know which one you are scheduled for ahead of time.
I mentioned to my driver I would be taking a RegioJet train to Ostrava which is about 3 hours eastward. He motioned and said I should go to the right of the station as that is where all the platforms are. As I walked in I went over to the schedule board to see which platform number I was to proceed to. It wasn’t clear. Sure it was in Czech language with English words coupled sparsely throughout, but it seemed like Platform 5 was to be my route. I walked over to it and it was empty. Most of the tracks were empty except 1 or 2. I walked back inside to look for an information desk of some kind. I found a sort of enclosed kiosk with a line of people purchasing tickets so I got in line too. When I showed the clerk the information on my phone and asked “which platform?” She nodded with disinterest and said 5. I said, but 5 is my train number. She repeated 5. So I walked off and found a place to sit down and figure this out. I had got there 1-hour early just-in-case which was a good thing.
Which brings me to my next adventure; RegioJet train service to Ostrava!!!
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