Saturday, April 9, 2011

European Birthday Extravaganza - Days 2 and 3

We are having so much fun! Day 2 started with yummy breakfast at Mosaic House with AJ's friend David. From there, we headed out on a "free" walking tour of Prague. They make sure to tell you often that it is free, but they do appreciate tips in proportion to how good you feel the tour is. We hung in with our eclectic tour guide for about half of the tour before we decided to make a discrete exit in favor of finding some lunch. Lunch was a bit of an adventure…we'll just say that our waitress didn't exactly love us (we think it was because we ordered water and split a pizza). We paid our bill with a paper 50 Czech note, which had been given to us somewhere, but apparently became obsolete about a week ago. This added to her dislike for us. Fortunately, a friendly patron sitting nearby helped us out and we made a quick exit. From there, we continued our own tour up to the Prague Castle. This turned out to actually be a really beautiful old cathedral which looks down over much of the city. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the views were amazing. Prague is really a lovely city - you should come if you have the chance! We spent the evening with David and some of his family and friends at a party at his house. It was really fun to meet some really great people and find that the world really is small. The apartment had its own beautiful views of the city to enjoy from the roof as an added bonus.

This morning, on my 30th birthday, we got up early and ate breakfast before heading to the train station to catch a train to Vienna. After walking very quickly though the city with our packs and all of our things, we made it onto the train with about 3 minutes to spare. The train ride was super fun. It was my first ever train ride and the countryside was really pretty along the way. When we arrived in Vienna, though, we had our first we-are-American-girls-who-don't-know-the-language-and-don't-know-how-things-work-here moments. We got off the train and realized that we would need to find somewhere to exchange dollars into Euro in order to get a subway ticket (Czech Republic has their own currency, so we had only changed money into Czech at this point). We looked around and didn't find anywhere to change money, so we asked a couple of people and found out that there was, in fact, nowhere to do so without taking punblic transportation. Which, of course, we didn't have Euro to buy a ticket for... Luckily, I saw a Visa sign on the ticket machine, and we were able to use a credit card to buy the tickets. We thought that would be the end of our money problems, but we were wrong. Apparently, there is only one area of Vienna (the city center) where you can exchange money. Since we weren't near there and became tired of walking in circles with our heavy packs, we eventually opted for finding an ATM and paying the associated fees to draw money out in Euro. Whew... We checked into our hostel, which is a really cute, lively place called Hostel Ruthensteiner and then headed to the center to see some of the sites and find some food. As we walked around, it seemed as though we were walking in the middle of a bog American city like New York or Chicago. There were lots of big buildings and lots of fancy shopping. The only difference was the occasional castle or cathedral mixed in. I experienced schnitzel (the chicken variety) for lunch. I also had some very yummy Happy Birthday gelato! After my first day here in Vienna, I would say that I enjoyed Prague more, but we still have another day to explore Vienna yet, so we'll see!

overlooking Prague

in front of Prague Castle

on the train

Happy Birthday to me!


aok said...

So I totally know David and Sarah! We went to church together in Simpsonville. Tell them I said hello if you see them again. What a small world!

And what a fabulous way to spend your 30th birthday! Wish I had planned something so fun for mine!

Can't wait to hear all about it when you return!

Amanda :)

Julie Tiemann said...

Happy Birthday, Amy!! What a fun way to turn 30!! My family hails from Austria, so if you meet any Buckleys, tell 'em I said hi. :)

Carla said...

Fun trip!