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Germany, Austria & Czech Republic. Pt 5.

Czech Rep, Day 9 – Cesky Krumlov to Prague

September 2014
Ritchie’s Hotel & Hostel  Palladium Mall  Hard Rock Cafe  Halal Food  Photo Spot

Our transportation to Pargue from Cesky Krumlov was again using CK Shuttle due to the convenience of being drop-off together with our luggage at the door steps of our hotel in Prague. This time, a VW shuttle van with already 3 passengers came to pick us up on time. We were the last 2 making a total of 5 in a van that can seat 8 passengers.

CK shuttle van

Again, the van was comfortable, clean and the ride was smooth all the way. We were pick-up at 9 a.m. and the journey to Prague would take 3 hours. Along the way, we passed a few scenic spots.

Road to Prague
103km to Praha (Prague).

Czech country side
Passing Czech country side.

Czech highway
Czech highway.



Without being told, I recognised Prague’s ‘Dancing Building’. I knew at 11.45 a.m. we have entered Prague city center. The traffic was slightly heavy but moving.

Dancing building

Prague tram & metro route

Useful Prague tram & metro route.
Credit :

We were the last to be dropped-off and we stayed at Ritchie’s Hotel & Hostel right on Karlova Street. This is the street you would walk from Charles bridge over to the old town square. An added convenience staying here for us, there is a halal kebab shop ‘Bodrum’ just below the hostel. They serve tasty kebab & pizza. A convenience store is just besides it.

ritchie hotel & hostel prague
The entrance to Ritchie’s hostel is through an art gallery where at the end, is a steep spiral stair case up the hostel.

Bodrum kebab shop
Bodrum halal eatery below Ritchie’s hostel right on Karlova Street. Tasty servings. See location on map below.

As usual, not wasting time, we sat out to walk to Palladium mall about 1.3km away. On the way, just before reaching the astronomical clock, to your left is Hard Rock cafe.

Hard rock prague
Hard Rock Cafe, Prague.

Just a short distance further up, is the old town hall & astronomical clock that strikes every hour. Come to think of the flood of crowd waiting for the clock to strike and witness nothing else amazes me. I’m sure something was malfunctioning about this clock.

Prague Astronomical clock by the Old Town Square.

To the right of the clock (looking at it) is the Old Town Square where you’ll find different street musicians performing each day. And across the square is the Church of Our Lady before Týn.

Old Town Square Prague
Street musicians performing at the Old Town Square.

Tyn church Prague
  Church of Our Lady before Týn as seen from across the astronomical clock.

Walking further down from the Old Town Square passing rows of shops will take you to the Powder Gate and turning left onwards to Palladium Mall where we had lunch at Nordsee located at the top floor food court. There’s also an Arabic/Indian halal shop diagonally across Nordsee.

Prague powder tower
Pass the Powder Gate and to your left, it will take you to Palladium.

Palladium Prague
Palladium, Prague.

Nordsee Palladium mall Prague
Nordsee, Palladium food court, Prague. 

Prague Map
Walking route from Ritchie’s Hostel to Palladium. 1.3km, 16 minutes brisk walk.

We had booked a Prague 3-hour daytime guided Photo Walk through ‘Get Your Guide‘ conducted by a husband-and-wife team of Thomas & Petra. They came over to our hostel and the photo walk started at 5.15 p.m. I was the only participant & my wife as a non-paying companion.

We first passed the Czech Philharmonic building before crossing river Vltava via Manusuv bridge. Once on the other side of the river, we turned left and headed downwards towards the river cruise jetty where there were a flock of geese and ducks with the Charles Bridge in the background.

Geese and charles bridge
Geese, ducks, boat & Charles Bridge.

We back-tracked to where we turned left earlier, crossed Klarov street and walked straight ahead past Malostranska tram stop and turned left to what seems to be a uphill driveway before exiting mid way on the right into the woods! This off the beaten track will take us to the castle entrance according to Thomas. About half hour of tracking, we reached the 2nd courtyard castle entrance where the castle sentry stood on guard.

Woods to castle
Start of our trekking through the woods to Prague castle. Thomas & Petra showing the way. Or is it my wife leading them?

Tunnel to the castle
Through this short tunnel what seems at the end of it like pollen or dust floating around.

Castle from the woods
Part of the castle from the woods.

St Vitus cathedral
St Vitus cathedral structure jutting out from the woods.

Castle entrance
At the end of wooden fence on the right (with the light pole) just before the guard, is the exit from the woods. This will be the entrance to the castle 2nd courtyard if came by tram No. 22 and dropped-off at Prazsky Hard.                                                                                        


Entering the castle from the 2nd courtyard entrance, we made our way to the 3rd courtyard where St Vitus cathedral is located. An awesomely huge building. Thereon, we walked to the Golden Lane and had photos of John Kafka’s former home.


Entrance to 3rd courtyard
Entrance to the 3rd courtyard.

St Vitus cathedral
St Vitus cathedral located in the 3rd courtyard.

Golden Lane
Golden Lane with it’s rather cute ‘small’ houses.

Prague castle main entrance
The castle square in-front of the 1st courtyard (main entrance) at dusk.

From the Golden Lane, we made our way out through the main castle entrance, pass the castle square and headed to Novy Svet. Photographers take note – the quiet lanes here are photo spot not to be missed.

Novy Svet1
Quiet lane of Novy Svet. 

Novy Svet4
Back lane of Novy Svet.

From Novy Svet, we started our walk back to our hostel passing the Loreta church, Uvoz street, Strahovská garden, the US Embassy and onto Charles Bridge which will take us to Karlova street at the other end. By the time we were at Strahovská garden, it was 7.40 p.m. and the sun has already set and it’s starting to get dark.

Loreta church.

Uvoz street
Uvoz street at sundown.

Prague castle at night
Prague castle alight after sundown. Shot from Strahovská garden.

Cherles bridge at night
Shot towards Kafka Museum from Charles Bridge at nightfall.

We crossed Charles Bridge at 8.15 p.m. and reached our hostel 10 minutes later. With our thanks of appreciation, we bid goodbye to Thomas & Petra for showing us around Prague’s photo spots.

Germany, Austria & Czech Republic. Pt 4.

Czech Rep, Day 7 – Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov State Castle  Pension Wok  CK Shuttle  Cloak Bridge  Photo Spot  

After 2 nights in Hallstatt, we moved on with a heavy heart to our next destination, Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. From Gruner Baum hotel, we made our way to Hallstatt Lahn by the town shuttle van at a cost of €10 per vehicle where our inter-city shuttle van to Cesky Krumlov would pick us up.

Travel arrangements on shared shuttle for 2 persons were made on-line through CK Shuttle for CZK1,900 (€76). Since CK Shuttle was unable to enter Hallstatt town proper to pick us up from Gruner Baum door steps, they gave a discounted price of CZK1,200 (€48). A €26 discount against €10 we had to pay for the Hallstatt town shuttle. An acceptable proposition.

CK Shuttle
The VW suv that took us from Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov. This suv seats 4 passengers.

The clean and comfortable VW suv came on time to pick us up at Hallstatt Lahn at 9.00 a.m. The journey of about 210 kms would take 3 hours. Me & my wife were the only passengers. CK Shuttle will e-mail you a pick-up reminder 2 days ahead and even if you are the only passenger, they would pick you up. That is their promise and I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Along our journey to Casky Krumlov, we passed by a few picturesque location and the driver, being a local to Cesky Krumlov drove via a short-cut route off the main road and we got to experience the country side and villages for free.

Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov.

Austria lakeside town
Austrian lakeside town.

Czech immigation point
Czech immigration border point no longer in use since joining EU.

Welcome to Cesky Republic
The super simple Czech Republic border signage.

Czech by the riverBy the river in Czech Republic.

Cesky map
The route taken from Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov.

We arrived Cesky Krumlov just before 12.00 p.m. and was driven right to the door steps of Pension Wok where we will be staying. Check-in was effortless and quick although we arrived well before check-in time. Pension Wok is situated just by river Vltava where you can see people canoeing & rafting. Room No. 3 is a low ceiling comfortable room with double bed, tea making facilities and the usual amenities. You do need to walk up a few flight of steps to your room.

Pension Wok
The quiet and charming Pension (Guesthouse) Wok by river Vltava.

Pension Wok
The comfortable double bed.

Pension Wok
The wooden sofa cum bed with lower pull-out bunk. Comfortably sleeps 4 in this room. The door to the balcony with a view of river Vltava and the town.

Cesky Krumlov
View of river Vltava, Dr Edwarda Benese bridge and St Vitus church from our balcony.

Pension Wok from bridge
View of Pension Wok from the bridge.

I’ve not heard of Chesky Krumlov but have seen many pictures. It was from those pictures in the internet that arouses my interest and got me to do a little bit of research. Realising it’s between Hallstatt & Prague, I decided to drop Vienna from my itinerary and opted for Chesky Krumlov. Although I knew the only main attraction there was the Castle, but it’s the red tiled roofs in the pictures that lured me. Importantly to say, Cesky Krumlov like Hallstatt, are both UNESCO heritage sites.

Today is the first day it did not rain since we arrived Europe 5 days ago. After lunch, we set out to explore the town starting with the town square which is a short distance away by crossing river Vltava via Dr Edwarda Benese bridge. Then from the town square, onwards to the castle and it’s garden after crossing Lazebnicky bridge, at the other side of town. 30m after this bridge, to your left are the steps leading to the castle tower, the castle, the castle grounds, and to the castle garden which has an up-hill gradient.

CK is a compact town. You can cover the attractions within the day.                              Credit :

Cesky Krumlov town square
The fountain at the town square.

Cesky Krumlov town square
From the town square walk past the red colored building onwards to Lazebnicky bridge.

Lazebnicky bridge Cesky Krumlov
Past Lazebnicky bridge, walk 30m ahead.

Castle steps
Take the castle steps on the left to the castle entrance.

The main attraction in CK is the state castle. Visiting it on our own deprived us of more information, therefore pardon me of posting pictures from now on. smile

Castle ariel view
Aeriel view of castle entrance and bear pit to the right.

Castle bear
The bear in it’s pit and rightly so.

Castle 2nd courtyard forward
The castle entrance will lead you to the 2nd courtyard and then onwards to the 3rd courtyard.

Castle tower 2nd courtyard
As you enter the 2nd courtyard, to your left is the way leading to the castle museum and the castle tower.

Castle tower ticket
Tower entrance ticket. 50CZK.

Cesky Krumlov from tower
Cesky Krumlov from the castle tower.

Castle 3rd courtyardThe 3rd courtyard walls, each one of them with Renaissance paintings.

Castle 4th courtyard
4th courtyard. Similar resemblance to the 3rd but has protruding windows and balcony (not visible here). Walking onwards, will take you the the Cloak bridge.

Avid photographers take note. From this Cloak bridge, you get fantastic panoramic aerial view of the town. This is a great photo spot. However, the evening sun will be against you but there are structures to help you shade from the sunlight.

Castle Cloak bridge
The Cloak bridge (with arches .. that’s where you want to be) adjoining the castle.

View of Cesky Krumlov town from the Cloak bridge.

Castle Cloak bridge
Exiting the Cloak bridge, there are arches built into this wall. Frame your picture of the town here. Further up the wall, there is a terrace with another excellent view point.

Cesky through the arch
CK through the arches.

From the Cloak bridge it was again up hill to the castle gardens. The garden is not as spectacular as Salzburg’s Mirabell garden. We strolled around before we ended our day.

Cesky Krumlov castle garden Cesky Krumlov castle garden
Cesky Krumlov castle garden Cesky Krumlov castle garden
Cesky Krumlov castle garden Cesky Krumlov castle garden


Czech Rep, Day 8 – Cesky Krumlov

Seeing almost everything there were to see in Cesky Krumlov yesterday, today we spent strolling around to the other part of town and the town itself for a few souvenirs. By lunch we were back to our hotel and the rest of the day spent lazying in our room watching people rafting and canoeing by the river. Another sunny day today.

The other side of Cesky Krumlov The other side of Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov street Cesky Krumlov street
Building in Cesky Krumlov DSC03117

Reddish tile roof of Cesjy Krumlov
View of CK town from the Cloak bridge.

Reddish tile roof of Cesjy Krumlov
View towards Dr Edwarda Benese bridge from the hill top.

Reddish tile roof of Cesjy Krumlov
CK town square from the castle tower.

Reddish tile roof of Cesjy Krumlov
Main entrance to the castle (100m after the castle steps). View from castle tower.

Before we leave for Prague tomorrow, I made my way to the city park nearby while my wife set on the balcony watching canoes & rafts pass by.

CK city park CK city park
Rafting in Cesky Krumlov Rafting in Cesky Krumlov

Germany, Austria & Czech Republic. Pt 3.

Austria, Day 5 – Salzburg to Hallstatt

Quick Links to : Gruner Baum Hotel  Hallstatt Bahnhst  Hallstatt Lahn  Welter Beblick Heritage View  Photo Spot  

Left our hotel by pre booked taxi to Salzburg Hbf for our 11:12 a.m. InterCity (IC) train to Hallstatt requiring a change to a Regional Express (REX) train at Attnang Puchheim. Advanced tickets were purchased through OBB at €50.20 for 2 persons. For a further €6, we booked 2 seats on the IC train. Again, there was no option for seat selection. There is only one stop at Vocklabruck from Salzburg to Attnang Puchheim. This segment takes 46 minutes. You only purchase 1 ticket from Salzburg to Hallstatt not 2 separate segment tickets.

At Attnang Puchheim, the REX train will be waiting for your connection to Hallstatt. You do need to hurry as you have about 11 minutes to do so. A change of platform is required and this is done through the underground bypass. If you originated from Salzburg, the train to Hallstatt will be heading the opposite direction, so don’t be confused. On REX trains, it’s free seating and toilet facilities are available.

OBB ticket
The rather simplistic OBB on-line train ticket. From Salzburg Hbf to Hallstatt with a train change at Attnang Puchheim.

This is the seat reservation ticket. Has more details than the ticket itself. Coach 19, seats 105 & 106.

OBB train seats OBB Train

Unlike Railjet, seats in OBB IC & REX trains are 6 seats to a cabin basis.


Train to Hallstatt
Train route from Salzburg Hbf to Hallstatt Bahnhst with a change of train at Attnang Puchheim.

From Attnag Puchheim, there will be about 10 stops to Hallstatt. So observe the stop/station signboard. It will take 1 hour 24 minutes to reach Hallstat train stop (Hallstatt Bahnhst). The train stop is just that, a stop with a stretch of platform without shelter.

There’s a small ‘office’ at the end of the platform but looks deserted. There seems to be no ticket machine or counter. Those requiring return or onwards ticket, better buy them at your originating station.

Walk pass the office turn right and walk down 50m to the nearby jetty where a waiting boat will take you across the lake to Hallstatt town (Hallstatt Markt) boat jetty. The one way trip cost €2.40 and you pay on board. There will always be a boat waiting for the train. The boat will arrive earlier before the train arrival for departing passengers.

Hallstatt bahnhof
Hallstatt Bahnhst. Walk past the ‘office’, turn right to go down to the boat jetty.   

Hallstatt boat jetty

The waiting boat at the jetty.                                                                                     Credit :

Once you are on the boat and nearing Hallstatt town ferry stop (Hallstatt Markt), you will be awe by the charm of this small township. It’s a short 10 minutes boat ride and you would want to take as many photos to cherish later on. What you used to see on postcards, screen savers and calendars is now right in-front of you.

Hallstatt Markt 1
Hallstatt as you approach by boat.

The simple boat jetty (Markt 1) at Hallstatt town where you will alight from the boat.

Hallstatt Bahnhst
Hallstatt Bahnhst with the waiting boat as seen from Gruner Baum hotel.

We’ve made booking at Hotel Gruner Baum which is a short distance from the jetty. Alighting the boat, walk straight about 45m turn left and another 45m to your left is the hotel. We were given room 106 on the first floor facing the town square. What a perfect room with a perfect view. The room itself is super spacious with up-scale amenities.

Gruner Baum HallstattGruner Baum Hotel. Right in the town square. Hallstatt lake at the back. Choose the room with your preferred view.

Gruner Baum room
Room 106, 1st floor.

Gruner Baum Hotel balcony.
View right out of our balcony overlooking the town square.

After a couple hour’s rest, with the drizzle showing no sign of stopping, armed with umbrellas, we ventured Hallstatt’s square and it’s vicinity.

Hallstat Hallstatt
Hallstatt Heritage Hotel

Austria, Day 6 – Hallstatt

With the light drizzle continuing on-and-off and tomorrow we’ll be leaving for Cesky Krumlov, we set to walk from our hotel to Hallstatt Lahn where the bus stop, 2nd jetty & public car parking are located. It’s a 650m, 10 minutes brisk walk. As you walk, on your left is the lake and on your right are houses built on the hillside. Charming scenery as can be seen from the following photos.

Hallstatt narrow streets.

Hallstatt hillside homes
Hallstatt hillside homes.

Hallstatt hillside homes
Hallstatt hillside homes.

Hallstatt lake
Hallstatt lake.

Once you reached this small flower round-about, you’ve reached Hallstatt Lahn. Those taking public transport and inter-city shuttle, will embark and disembark here. Private and public vehicles are not allowed to enter Hallstatt town proper. If you drive, you will have to park your vehicle at the paid public parking area further up. Hallstatt town do have van shuttle service to take you to your hotel in Hallstatt town proper but you have to make prior arrangement with your hotel.

Hallstatt Lahn roundabout
Hallstatt Lahn ‘flower’ roundabout.

Hallstatt Lahn car park
Hallstatt Lahn short duration car park near the bus stop.

Hallstatt Posbus
Postbus waiting for passengers.

Hallstatt Lahn
The 2nd boat jetty near the bus station.

Within 5 minutes walking distance from the bus stop, is the funicular station up to the hilltop restaurant and a further walk (quite a distance really), to the salt mine. You buy your funicular ticket and/or the salt mine ticket here. A return funicular ticket cost €13 and we only choose to go up to the viewing platform below the restaurant. After you exit the funicular, walk straight and to your right take the elevator up the panoramic bridge. Then make your way to the platform just below the restaurant. It’s called the Welterbeblick world heritage view.

The ‘V’-shaped steel platform protrudes from the mountain side 360 meters above Hallstatt. The structure weighs about 200 tons and 60 cubic meters of concrete were used as counterweight to make the platform a secure “floating” platform. Anyone venturing onto the platform will be rewarded with a spectacular and panoramic view of Hallstatt and it’s World Heritage region.

Hallstatt map
Hallstatt Markt to Hallstatt Lahn to funicular station. Don’t be intimidated by the distance. It looks far on the map but all within casual walking distance except Halstatt Bahnhst ….. you’ll need to swim there.

Hallstatt funicular
The funicular station and ticket counter at the foothill.

Hallstatt Rudolfsturm
Panoramic bridge to the restaurant just above the viewing platform.

Hallstatt world heritage view
The way leading to the viewing platform.

Hallstatt world heritage view
Hallstatt world heritage viewing platform. The mist makes us feel we are in the clouds.

Hallstatt world heritage view
Wiffy having the world heritage viewing platform all to herself.

Hallstatt town 360 meters below. Our room at Gruner Baum and the town square clearly visible.

We ended our activity for the day just admiring the charm of Hallstatt as we walked back from the funicular station to our hotel. Of-course, we didn’t miss to photograph Hallstatt’s several favorite landmarks.

Hallstatt town square
Hallstatt town square.

View from Hallstatt Markt
View from Hallstatt Markt towards the hillside.

View from Hallstatt Lahn
View of Hallstatt Markt from Hallstatt Lahn.

Where’s the favorite photo spot in Hallstatt? It’s just 10 minutes walk by paved road from the town square for that unmistakable shot of Hallstatt.

Hallstat photo spot

That classic shot of Hallstatt from the photo spot.

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