Prague: Moving up in the World

Prague has become the sixth most visited city in Europe after the collapse of the Communist regime. Prague is lucky in surviving both world wars with some of the most pristine architecture staying intact. Saturated in history and boasting numerous theatres and museums, it is no wonder why people want to visit this amazing city. The location has also been recently featured in Hollywood movies including Mission Impossible, XXX, and Blade II, which were all partially filmed in this eccentric city.

Two of the most visited areas of Prague are Stare Mesto (Old town and Josefov) which has the old Jewish Cemetery and Nove Mesto (New Town) which the Statue of St Wenceslas resides in. Due to having so much to see in each area, it is easy to spend at least a day in these separate regions. Of course Prague has more to offer, like the sections of Vinohrady and Zizhov where you will find the Church of the Most Sacred Heart and the National Memorial, and below will give you a starting point.

Oh Where to Start?                 

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague Astronomical Clock

In the Stare Mesto area is where you will find the Old Town Square. At the square you can’t miss the two gothic style towers that belong to the Church of our Lady before Tyn or Tyn Church. If you look across the way you will see a different style of church, the Saint Nick Church, built in the Baroque style. This church does double duty for venues that perform classical concerts. Close by is the Town Hall, home of the Astronomical Clock. Crowds gather at the hall almost daily, with the clock giving a small show every hour, unchanged since the 15th century. For a fee you can enter the Town Hall and take either the stairs or the lift for a picturesque view of the square. With all that walking it’s a good thing that the Savic Hotel is just a three minute walk from the clock. The building itself is built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles and is featured as a boutique hotel. The hotel holds 27 rooms, all with air conditioning, and is quite the sight itself with exposed dark beams contrasting its lightly colored walls. The friendly staff at the front desk can help you with any of your travel questions and can even assist you with the reservations for shows, restaurants, or excursion tours.

Moving on to the Nove Mestro area you will find the Wenceslas Square which was built as a boulevard for the horse market 650 years ago. With the boulevard design it was an easy conversion to the modern plaza lined with shops and restaurants. Behind the Wenceslas Square is the Nation Museum that is made up of two separate buildings. The older of the two is closed for renovations and is expected to reopen in 2015, but the newer building is currently still open to the public. To the left of the museum is the Prague State Opera where you can find many types of performances, from classical to modern. Going to a show in Prague should be on your must do list, and if you get lost you may find yourself in front of the Faust House. Dr Faust did not live here or even visit Prague, but the naming of the house was due to the eccentric scientists who dwelled there during different periods of time and implied the use of dark arts. The Hotel Rokoko will save your feet from a long walk from Wenceslas Square, and if you’re wearing heels to go see a performance at the State Opera, it’s about a six minute walk. The Rokoko is a local hotel that is easier on the wallet so that you can enjoy more of Prague and the night life that is in the Nove Mestro area.

What about Royalty?

Prague Castle Gate

Prague Castle Gate

Prague Castle is also a must see. This castle site started at the end of the 9th century and construction continued until the 18th century. When touring the castle grounds you can see where one century ends and the other begins with its style of architecture and building materials varying with each time period. Inside the castle walls is the Golden Lane, a collection of houses named after all the goldsmiths who lived there in the 16th century. The houses were used up until WWII and one in particular, number 22, was where famous writer Franz Kafka had lived for a year.

Want a great view of the Vltava River and the St Charles Bridge and still be in walking distance to the Castle? Try the Hotel Archibald. The hotel’s building was built in the 16th century. However, just because the building is old does not mean this hotel hasn’t been updated! With air conditioning in all of the rooms and a private garden to use for some quite time, your stay will certainly provide you with all of the amenities.

With all the things to see and do in Prague another visit might certainly be in order! Whether you’d like to stay in the same hotel or try a different location, Excellent Hotels can help to ensure your next stay is not only affordable and convenient, but provides you will ample opportunity to take in all that this lovely city has to offer!

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Cruise Preparation: Better Safe Than Sorry

No matter what type of cruise you are taking, whether a river cruise, a Mediterranean cruise, or even a Trans Atlantic cruise, there are some things that you should keep in mind with regard to your travel schedule.

After making sure you have the appropriate documentation before leaving the country, and comparing the cruise and flight schedules to be sure there are no conflicts, it’s also a good idea to plan to leave one or two days earlier. This will help to alleviate any unforeseen scheduling issues, expenses, and unnecessary stress on your trip. You should also keep this in mind at the end of the cruise as well, since you don’t want to be stuck abroad with no back up plan!

Spain and Italy

There are some cities where proactive travel planning is a must. For those traveling to Barcelona, Spain some may find the cruise and flight arrivals in conflict, resulting in another night’s stay. This could work in your favor if you’re trying to pick up that last minute souvenir, but more than likely will be quite the unanticipated headache, so keeping a one or two day buffer is key.

Once in Barcelona don’t let the opportunity of seeing Antoni Gaudi architecture pass you by. This famous architect is known for the La Sagrada Famila in the Eixample area of Barcelona. Unfortunately he was not able to complete the basilica, but left his plans with the church and completion is expected 2026.

gaudi cathedral

Gaudi Cathedral: Barcelona, Spain

In the other direction is the Plaza de Catalunya, which is the meeting place of the old city and the new. Las Ramblas is one of the area’s oldest neighborhoods with a variety of museums, restaurants, and shops, however just because you’re in one of the most historic areas doesn’t mean you have to forgo your modern style.

The Espana is a sleek and modern hotel offering enough space to stretch out and an incredible rooftop pool to enjoy your siesta. At the hotel’s restaurant you can indulge in a wide range of full meals, tapas, and a variety of delicious cocktails!

Similar scheduling issues can occur in Venice, Italy as well. If your final destination is on the East Coast of Italy then an afternoon flight is a great option to ensure you don’t run into any scheduling issues. Once in Venice you will quickly realize how unique the city truly is, with its ancient waterways and charming gondolas. San Mark’s Square is always a good center point if you’re spending more than one day. Located just 200 meters from San Mark’s Square is the Residenza Ca’ San Marco hotel which may have exactly what you’re looking for if it’s Venetian flair you’re after! While in Venice don’t forget to visit the Piazzale Roma and take advantage of its close proximity to the city’s center and seamless transportation options to the airport.

little mermaid copenhagen

Little Mermaid Statue: Copenhagen, Denmark

Northern Europe

While Italy and Spain are wonderful places to visit, let’s not forget about Northern Europe. The Clarion Collection Hotel Mayfair will help you get some R&R before the start of your travels through Copenhagen. This hotel is close to the train station, a 12 minute drive to port, and roughly 20 minutes from the airport. If historical Copenhagen is what you’re after then the Alexandra hotel is your destination. Close to the Tivoli Gardens, the Alexandra is a cozy little hotel with a boutique retro style and all the amenities! This hotel is also environmentally conscience and working hard to minimize its CO2 foot print.

For the savvy cruiser planning to stay in the city of port and looking to alleviate the stress of navigating a new city, a private transfer is the ideal mode of travel. With Auto Europe you can conveniently book your prepaid transfer service ahead of time so all you need to worry about is where to go next!

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Istanbul: A Different Kind of City

Turkey is in the top ten destinations of the world. Why wouldn’t it be? With warm climate, rich history, shopping and culture of two to choose from, many scholars noted that Istanbul is a melting pot of cultures.
With the Adamar hotel located in Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, this hotel has a panoramic restaurant that from your table you will be able to see the dome of Hagia Sophia, the minarets of the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and life’s hustle and bustle below you. With all these sights you can already guess that this hotel is in the historic area of Istanbul, that are all the historic sights are with in walking distance.
The Blue Mosque for example is about a ten minute walk that you can visit for free. For non Muslims it is closed for about 90 minutes during the five daily prayers. When in the mosque please no picture taking of the inside or of the patrons following their religion. You will be given a bag for your shoes to place in and for women you will be given a scarf to cover your head and hair. Both will be returned before you leave. For your pictures the best view is on the west side near the Hippadrome. Like most places of worship you can leave a donation to help maintain the mosque but it is not required.Blue Mosque
For the brave you can try a Turkish Bath. Please note that men and women do not cross paths and the two will not meet. The Hamams will either have separate entrances, or different hours for the sexes. One to try is the Cagaloglu Hamami which is about 40 meters from the Adamar.
Also downtown is the Armada Istanbul Old City Hotel. This hotel offers two rooms that are handicapped accessible. This hotel also has a roof top terrace. This hotel is about 500 meters from the Hagia Sophia Museum.
The Hagia Sophia Museum was built as a symbol to restore greatness of the Roman Empire. It was built as a Catholic church but was later transformed into a mosque and remained so until 1935. Do not confuse the Blue Mosque from the Hagia Sophia. The difference is that the Blue Mosque was built as a mosque and was not converted over.
The Adamar is closer to the Grand Bazaar, but the Armada Istanbul Old City is closer to the sea.
The Grand Bazaar is the oldest covered market place and it is between the mosques of Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye. By having all goods in one area the effect was to help to protect from thievery, fire and uprising. From jewelry, pottery, clothing, and carpets you can find it all here. The Grand Bazaar is organized by sections so looking at a map will help you decide where you want to enter. Same idea if you were going to a mall.
Most business meetings are now happening on the Asia side of Istanbul. Though it doesn’t have the history flare like the European side it still has the picturesque flare of the docks also the Grand Bazaar is not the only place to get a great deal. That is where Bagdat Avenue comes in. This area is open for shopping on Sunday unlike the Grand Bazaar.
The Divan Istanbul Asia comes in as a new hotel with nine meeting rooms, office supplies and secretarial services it was designed with the business traveler in mind. This hotel is close to the major corporate headquarters. The center of Kadkoy is 20 minutes away using public transportation.
Done your shopping and seen the sights? What now? Well West Palm is not the only place that has beaches. Caddebostan Beach has been reopened after being closed for almost 40 years. This area is free so it can get crowded if you are traveling during when school is closed.turkish tea picnic
A little closer to the Sultanahmet area but still in the Asian section is the Doubletree by Hilton Moda that is about 15 minutes from the Caddebostan Beach and about 20 minutes from Camlica Hill. Istanbul has had reverence of its seven hills in literature and poetry.  This spot is popular for being able to slow down and have a picnic as you watch the sun set with a view of all if Istanbul. Or if you prefer to have morning brunch so you can people watch. Camlica Hill also has many cafes for this hobby.
This hotel is also very close to the Ferry Terminal in Kadikoy, which also has easy access to the airport for you. The Havatas airport shuttle runs between Kadikoy bus terminal (right next to the ferry terminal) and runs about every 30 minutes from 4:00 am to midnight.
With so much more that Istanbul has to offer from the Golden Horn, Topkapi Palace, the Hippadrome come let us get your flight and hotel stay so you can see Istanbul for yourself and step into another world.

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