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Trip Report Prague

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Palm Beach, Florida
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117 posts
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Trip Report Prague

I returned from Prague last week and had a wonderful time. It's a magical city and we saw all of the sights that you can easily read about here and elsewhere. There were, however, a few highlights and things worth noting....

We stayed at the Iron Gate Hotel and Suites, which is housed in a very charming fourteenth century building. We took advantage of the internet special which gave a 30% discount when you book 3 or more nights. Be aware that the special does not include breakfast (which IS included without the special). Also, we thought we were giving our our credit card number to hold the room, so we were surprised when the hotel charged all three nights to our card before we even left home. When we arrived late on the first night, we were given a fourth floor room with very low ceilings and exposed beams. The ceiling was so low that my taller travel partner was unable to stand in front of the toilet without hitting his head, unable to wash his hair in the shower unless he stood between the beams and had to duck to get through the doorways. Since I am very claustrophobic, we requested a different room. We were told that they were unable to give us one that night, but that they would switch rooms the next day. Per their request, we packed up all of our bags before leaving to sightsee the next morning. When we returned, however, we were told that they didn't have another room available. Since the room was paid in full for three nights, there wasn't much we could do. Lastly, even with using the elevator, it took 26 stairs to get to our room. If you have any sort of disability that would preclude you from climbing stairs, or if you just don't want to have to climb stairs after a long day of sightseeing, be sure to let the hotel know when you make reservations.

I would still recommend this hotel since it is charming, in a great location and, despite them not giving us a new room, has a very nice staff. Just be aware of all of the above when making reservations.

We had a fabulous tour guide, Jana Pehe, who showed us all around Prague and really made our limited time there so much more valuable. We were amazed at how much knowledge she had about history in general and Jewish history, which we were particularly interested in (www.seeprague.cz). We felt lucky to have found this very nice woman whose services were very reasonably priced.

One of the highlights of our time in Prague was attending a symphony concert in the beautiful Smetana Hall of the Municipal House. It was a local philharmonic, but they were very good and the venue made it worthwhile. You can buy the tickets during the day when you pass the Municipal House or at the Prague Tourist Center. If you don't want to spend as much (our tickets were about $65.00 each) you can attend less expensive concerts at several churches and halls around town. We spoke to several people who did this and they all enjoyed it very much.

We took a group tour to Terezin, the concentration camp about a half hour outside of Prague, with Wittmann Tours (www.wittmann-tours.com). Our tour guide, Z, lived through WWII and was extremely knowledgeable about the era, as well as having his own personal experiences to share. If you have the time (about 5 hours), I would definitely recommend this moving memorial to a dark time in world history.

Prague was very crowded when we were there. We had to wait until evening to walk over the Charles Bridge without being squished by the crowds. I would recommend allowing AT LEAST two full days to see the sights, plus whatever time you want to spend on day trips. All in all, I loved Prague and would definitely like to go back to see more!

Ft. Laud, Florida
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1. Re: Trip Report Prague

Thank you, Rajen09, for this report.

When you took the Wittmann tours to Terezin, did you feel like you had sufficient time to see everything you wanted to see or did you feel rushed?

About how many people were in the tour group?

We are planning to go to Terezin, but we were thinking of hiring a private guide rather than going with a group.

As for seeing the Jewish historical sites in Prague, we haven't decided if we want to do this on our own....using guidebooks and research to help us.

OR....The other alternative is to use a guide. If a guide has important and valuable information to give us that we couldn't find in a guidebook or with our own research, this is an important consideration too.

On the other hand, there are numerous guidebooks for this area in Prague and I understand that things are very well labelled in English.

We want to make sure that we have enough time to see the things we are interested in....without being rushed. And we would also like to save money if possible.

Do you feel that having a guide for the Jewish Quarter added a lot more than what you would have gotten from just using guidebooks?

Thanks for any insights you can offer.

Charlotte, NC
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2. Re: Trip Report Prague

Thanks for sharing...

Prague, Czech...
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3. Re: Trip Report Prague

Just want to warn some folks that while the OP had a good experience with the concert at Municipal House (Obecni Dum) -- many of their concerts are overpriced for undertalented players. As was the case the one time I saw a concert there. But a gorgeous hall -- can enjoy other parts of the building without paying through the nose (though the French Restaurant is also very expensive with mediocre reviews)

Palm Beach, Florida
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117 posts
8 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Report Prague

Pacosmom,

I believe that there were twelve people on the Wittmann's tour to Terezin. We rode in a comfortable mini-van and "Z" (his real name was too difficult to pronounce) had a microphone, so we could hear him well. We had plenty of time to see everything on the tour. I never felt rushed, but if you want to read every single poster, photo, testimony, etc. you may want to go with a private guide.

Personally, if I could choose a private guide for only one portion of sightseeing in Prague, I would hire him/her for the Jewish Museum (housed in several locations in the Jewish area). We met Jana at 8:45 a.m. in order to get to the first stop by 9:00 (on a Monday morning). By 9:30 the area was packed with tourists (like us). Jana, being so familiar with the Jewish Quarter, took care of purchasing our tickets and navigated us through the area, all the way explaining everything we were seeing. It would have taken us twice as long to see everything without a guide (we spent 3 hours with her) and we still wouldn't have learned the history as thoroughly as we did having someone explain as we went. If you are particularly interested in Jewish history, as we were, I don't think you will get as much from touring the area alone with a guidebook as you will with a guide.

Brewsta...I agree...I think we just got lucky. The auditorium was definitely filled with tourists, but the music was enjoyable and just sitting in that beautiful auditorium was enough for me!

Ft. Laud, Florida
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961 posts
140 reviews
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5. Re: Trip Report Prague

RAjen09...Thanks for the very helpful and extensive reply. I think you've convinced me to plan to hire a private guide for the Jewish museum.

Thanks again.

Ft. Laud, Florida
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961 posts
140 reviews
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6. Re: Trip Report Prague

Rajen09....I want to thank you for your message. My computer is acting a bit independent minded and won't always do what I tell it to do. Gotta figure it out. I may need to call the Geek Squad. Thanks again.

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
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7. Re: Trip Report Prague

Did the hotel give any indication that they were going to take payment before you travel when you made the reservation? On the website, terms and conditions or in the booking ref.?

I don't think I'd have been so easy going, especially when not happy with the room, I'd have told the manager you'd complain to the credit card co as taking funds without permission and demand a room where you can stand up to shower. If unhappy with the room I would definitely complain to the card company, even now.

Stoofer

Palm Beach, Florida
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117 posts
8 reviews
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8. Re: Trip Report Prague

Stooferuk,

While I did the research on the hotel (all good reviews), a travel agent actually booked the room, so I don't know what the terms were. She said that there was no indication that the payment would be in full for the three nights rather than just a security hold like the others hotels in Europe that we made reservations with.

We didn't want to waste our travel time dealing with the hotel. The room was clean and the hotel in a good location, so we made jokes about the low ceilings and even took photos for our album. Fortunately, neither have any disabilities that preclude us from climbing stairs...just laziness! With all I ate on this trip, the extra exercise was probably a blessing. I just wanted others to know these things in advance, to avoid the type of surprise that we had.

That brings up a question that I've had every time I visit europe. Maybe someone can help answer it. Why are there so few accommodations for disabled people in Europe? In the US, all public places must have ramps or elevators and restrooms suitable for wheelchairs, etc. Every time I walked a flight of stairs to use the bathroom I wondered how wheelchair bound or elderly with walkers manage. I would love to hear from Europeans on this.

Palm Beach, Florida
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117 posts
8 reviews
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9. Re: Trip Report Prague

Stooferuk,

While I did the research on the hotel (all good reviews), a travel agent actually booked the room, so I don't know what the terms were. She said that there was no indication that the payment would be in full for the three nights rather than just a security hold like the others hotels in Europe that we made reservations with.

We didn't want to waste our travel time dealing with the hotel. The room was clean and the hotel in a good location, so we made jokes about the low ceilings and even took photos for our album. Fortunately, neither have any disabilities that preclude us from climbing stairs...just laziness! With all I ate on this trip, the extra exercise was probably a blessing. I just wanted others to know these things in advance, to avoid the type of surprise that we had.

That brings up a question that I've had every time I visit europe. Maybe someone can help answer it. Why are there so few accommodations for disabled people in Europe? In the US, all public places must have ramps or elevators and restrooms suitable for wheelchairs, etc. Every time I walked a flight of stairs to use the bathroom I wondered how wheelchair bound or elderly with walkers manage. I would love to hear from Europeans on this.

Ft. Laud, Florida
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961 posts
140 reviews
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10. Re: Trip Report Prague

Hi, Rajen09: I've thought about the same issue...access for the disabled.

I think that at least part of the problem is that European countries don't have a lot of the laws like we have in the US that require public places to be handicap accessible.

Additionally, much of the building, architecture, etc., is hundreds of years old and European countries have various types of laws that prevent alterations to the original structures.

(STill working on my tripadvisor computer problems....with the help of TA Engineer.)