I had a quick glimpse of the city on an ill-fated trip to Vienna once, but was determined to go back, so much so that my wife finally agreed we should make it a two-city trip – three days in Prague and six in Vienna.
I had a limited budget so I did a bit of trawling on the Internet. First up was a place to stay in Prague. I found great accommodation – above a wonderful restaurant called Nebozizek. What appealed to me was that they had only two suites, complete with four poster bed, living room and bathroom. It was located on Petrin Hill – St Charles Bridge was below and Prague Castle to the left as you looked down. The views were spectacular.
There was just one slight problem. Nebozizek was served by a funicular rail line, so getting in and out was very tricky – and problematic if you missed the last service at night. Still, there were compensations. The food was great – no wonder Bill Clinton ate there with Vlacel Havel – and quite reasonable. And the breakfast was huge! We had it delivered one morning and were swamped with trays of . We were due to catch the 6am train to Vienna on the last morning, but when we got up early we discovered the staff had risen early thinking we would look for breakfast! That was embarrassing as we had to dash off, but it said a lot about the fantastic service.
Anyway, we arrived in Vienna and stayed in a pension on Alser Strasse, across from the university, and close to Rathauspark and the centre of the city. It was comfortable and fortunately served a great breakfast. We also discovered the delights of the Rathauspark where the Viennese congregate in the summer months to watch musicals on a big screen and to sip beer and wine with food from a load of food courts, everything from noodles to burger.
Vienna proved even better than I had imagined. I’ll write about Vienna in a future blog, but suffice it to say that we had a glorious time there. Surprisingly, we found prices quite reasonable, – except for the cafes. We managed a fair bit of sightseeing and a lot of shopping, and vowed we would go back, which we did several times since.
Some time after we returned home I wrote up our trip, mentioned where we had stayed, about the rail trip to Vienna, and what we did in both cities. I thought nothing more of it.
Until…. well, until months later. That’s when I was in the car one day with Trish and the kids. A car was driving alongside me and we could see the driver gesticulating wildly at me. I had no idea what his problem was, but then he jump into our lane forcing me to stop. When he ran back towards me I thought for one moment this guy was a lunatic. Instead it turned out he had read my travel article and followed it to the letter, staying in the same places as we had, and done exactly what we had done. He said it was one of the best holidays he had ever had and couldn’t thank me enough.
When I recovered from the shock of what had gone before I was delighted. There’s great satisfaction in knowing people followed my itinerary and had a brilliant holiday. Trish and I were gobsmacked.
A few years later, we were in a bar in Berlin with friends and who walked over to us but the same guy, still raving about Prague and Vienna. Small world.
I looked up the Internet a while ago and Nebozizek is still there. When my son and his friends were planning their post-Leaving Cert European trip some years ago he asked me for tips on a place to have dinner in Prague, so I suggested Nebozizek. They went and had a fabulous night, loved the food and the fact it wasn’t too heavy on their wallets. They also missed the last funicular ride down to the main road and had fun stumbling downhill in the dark. Well, I did warn them.