Author: Jan D.
Date of Trip: May 2010
For our 20th anniversary I decided to treat my wife to one of our favorite cities, Prague. Since we live in Ohio and my wife has relatives in Ontario, we decided to fly out of Toronto rather than go from Cleveland to NYC to London to Prague. We also like British Airways and we can use our American air miles to fly on BA if we leave from Toronto. When we fly to Europe, we prefer Business Class and I believe we need to spend less dollars to get Business Class air miles by using the American Airline’s credit card than we would if we used a regular bank card.
When we booked our flight I noticed that BA allowed only an hour to change planes at Heathrow. When I phoned them to find out if this was enough time, they said since we were flying into and out of Terminal 5 we could do it in an hour. DO NOT TRY IT! We made the connection by the skin of our teeth. My wife also lost a watch and bracelet when going through security. She was told to take them off and put them in the bin with her coat. We were so rushed she didn’t notice that she didn’t have her watch and bracelet until we were in the air. We reported this, but we never got them back.
Since we are senior travelers, we find it easier on our nerves and backs to arrange for someone to pick us up at the airport and drive us to our hotel. We used Prague Airport Transfer for $56 for the two of us. At this stage of the game I would rather spend an extra $20 on a driver to help with the bags than $200 on my chiropractor.
I purchased tickets for the opera and ballet at the opera house in Prague, so we stayed at the Yasmin hotel, which was a block over from Wenceslas Sq. and two blocks from the opera house and four blocks from the train station. The Yasmin was a very nice contemporary hotel with a very accommodating staff. I always check on hotels with Trip Advisor and found that I got the best rate ($213) going through the hotel itself. Because I did this, we found a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room.
Since we had been to Prague before, we skipped going to the castle and museums. Since she doesn’t sleep well on planes, I let my wife take a nap the first day we arrive while I checked out the neighborhood. This way she thinks I am the smartest man in the world since I know where the drugstore, the beauty shop, the restaurant, etc. are. That evening we had supper at an old traditional Czech restaurant called Modre Kachnicky. It was just a few min. walk from the hotel. There are two of them in Prague so check them out on a map.
The next day we hired a guide from Top Travel to take us on a day trip to Kutna Hora. I thought about taking the train and saving some money by doing it on our own. When we got there and saw where the train station was in relation to the town, I was glad I spent the $278 to have a guide to pick us up at our hotel and drive us around. We were impressed with St Barbara’s Cathedral, the Italian Court and the Bone Church which is an old church decorated with hundreds of human bones. That evening we took in Swan Lake at the opera house.
Supper was at a nice little restaurant called the Zarada V Opera which was around the corner from the opera house. It was nice when we went to supper, but then it started to rain. Since we had only one little umbrella, I let my wife have the umbrella and I wore to the ballet a clean garbage bag from the restaurant. Not too stylish, but it kept me dry and no one at the opera house complained about my plastic cape.
For Valentine’s Day, I told my wife that I got her a spa day at one of the top rated spas in Europe, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa. That is how we spent our next day in Prague. While she was in the spa, I went around to corner and took in the excellent Prague Music Museum. I then went to the Church of Our Lady of Victory which has the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. After lunch, I strolled down to the Charles Bridge.
To top off an elegant day for my lady, we had supper at the Triton Restaurant which was below the Hotel Adria in Wenceslas Sq. This elegant restaurant is decorated as a grotto with stalagmites and stalagmites. It proved to be a very unique as well as delicious dining experience.
Since Prague is only a two hour train ride from Dresden, we did a two day trip to Dresden. Since we were using Hilton points for our hotel in Dresden, we left our two large suitcases in our room in Prague and just traveled with our carry-on bags. The Hilton is right in the Historical center of Dresden. Before we left on our trip, I had the hotel book us a Dixieland band supper cruse down the Elba on an old steamer.
One of the highlights of Dresden is the Green Vault which housed treasures of the ruler of Saxony. You need to reserve tickets in advance since they only allow a few people in at a time, so I had the hotel get us our tickets when i made our hotel reservations. We also took a tour of the opera house.
Dresden is like Warsaw. They were both destroyed in WW II only to rise from the ashes to again become a great travel destination.
The next day we took the train back to Prague. Since it was Mother’s Day, i treated my wife to a performance of Sleeping Beauty ballet that afternoon and supper at the Bellevue Restaurant which is on of the premier restaurants in Prague. Set in a chateau-like building overlooking the river, Bellevue serves superb cuisine in elegant surroundings with a view of the Prague Castle across the river.
While we have enjoyed the tours we have been on, we now like to just go to one city, unpack our bags and take in the city and then do day trips either guided or on our own on the train. I noticed that the guided tour we took to Kutna Hora was much cheaper than the same kind of tour out of Vienna. It is a bit of a splurge to have your own guide for a day, but it is nice to move at our own speed and not worry where you are going and where to have lunch.