Prague also met us with rain… and with my first acquaintance with Uber.
With this Uber experience, I felt relieved at heart- finally the taxi fares were not going to magically disappear when calculating our expenditures.
While planning our trip, our primary focus for the Czech Republic was to visit Karlovy Vary; Prague was meant to just be a passing through location, and we were not expecting anything extraordinary from it.
In Prague, we chose to stay at the Ariston & Ariston Patio Hotel.
After our quite spectacular accommodation in Istanbul, I much more prefer booking accommodation in guest houses and family-run hotels, but in this case we made an exception and booked what they call a “4-star hotel.”
I liked the overall atmosphere of the hotel, and the room was also quite good. However, it was strange to me that the Internet worked so badly in such a nice hotel. Even after complaining to reception, the Internet still didn’t improve. Note: For a freelancer, who must work online while traveling, a poor internet is a big fat minus.
The serving of breakfast was also not perfect. Of course, I must admit that it was a pretty rich breakfast (like the one you would expect to get in a 3-4 star resort hotel in Egypt or Tunisia), but it was served in a hall with a theater stage, balconies, and long conference tables… It seemed as though the hotel’s dining room was under renovation, so they served breakfast in the first available place- which is not something that a person (like me), who treats breakfast time as a daily ritual for tuning into the right mood, would enjoy.
How would I rate the hotel, overall?
7 out of 10.
Our day in Prague:
Speaking of the difficult internet… it was very hard to find good internet throughout the city. So, after a series of unsuccessful attempts to work a bit before leaving to Karlovy Vary, we decided to give up and instead explore some local cuisine at the very first restaurant we saw (not a bad alternative to working), Hostinec U Supa.
This place had good-natured waiters, a loud and upbeat atmosphere, and live music. Even I, a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, was quite comfortable here. Needless to say, we really liked this part of our cultural program: we were pleasantly pleased by the prices and high quality of the food (the escargot with sauce was absolutely delicious!). This was a great choice for our second (and last) night in Prague!
We spent a little bit of time in the city — we took a little ride on the tram, checked out the mall, and walked around the Old Town.
Did we like Prague?
Neither yes nor no. Perhaps we needed more time to understand it; to not just walk around, but to visit its sights. One day and two nights were definitely not enough to fall in love with this city.
Karlovy Vary was quite a different story.
Ever since my yearly childhood visits to the resort city of Truskavets in the Ukraine, I have loved resort towns. I love breathing the fresh and clean air, walking aimlessly in parks, and just enjoying the surrounding silence.
A plan to move to Karlovy Vary was seriously discussed in 2012. However, I doubt that I would be able to live in a setting like this 365 days a year; it has since been decided that these places work perfectly for a short trip (a week or two) to become fully recharged.
For our stay in Karlovy Vary, we chose Hotel Modena, which I give 9 out of 10.
Since it was an anomalously cold May all throughout Europe, the staff at the hotel were worried for us, being guests from hot Cyprus, so they provided us with extra warm blankets, and even washed and ironed our clothes for a small amount of cash. They did everything to make their clients happy; they were very thoughtful and impressive. Also, the breakfast on the veranda was quite good, and the hotel was a walking distance to the waterfront.
However, next time we visit we will most likely choose a hotel where we can purchase a package deal of accommodation along with spa treatment, but the purpose of this trip was absolutely different.
Our days in Karlovy Vary:
We were in Karlovy Vary for almost 5 days. In that time, we managed to walk around a lot and admire the beautiful architecture, taste the famous waffles, drink a couple sips of mineral water, as well as check out a few restaurants.
Of the restaurants, I enjoyed Smíchovský Pavilon and Restaurace Sklipek the most.
However, it seemed to be impossible to be dissatisfied with Czech cuisine, regardless of where you go; this fact is, of course, undoubtedly pleasing. The only downside we experienced with dining in Karlovy Vary was the unavailability of some dishes that were on the menu. For example, most restaurants have one menu with a long list of dishes, but some of them (like game meat dishes) are only available during specific months, which is not mentioned on the menu- so before ordering a meal you need to ask waiter what is actually available (before you get attached to one of the menu items).
All in all:
To sum up our trip, the Czech Republic is a country of contrast for me: I fell in love with Karlovy Vary at first sight, but Prague has yet to touch me. Luckily, we have planned to return to Karlovy Vary for at least two weeks so Prague will get a second chance to be liked.