Castles of the Czech Republic and a bit of Budapest

The border formalities are over and after catching my suitcase from
the luggage belt I go out to the arrivals hall. This time I don’t have
a transfer, and after passing through the crowd of people meeting with
multi-colored signs, I go to the bus stop. At the exit from the
terminal, I “feed” the ticket vending machine with a pre-prepared
trifle from the last trip.

After a cold spring, you feel that you have arrived in summer. While
I’m waiting for the bus, I’m trying to bring the uniform to the summer
version, but not entirely successful. The sweater somehow got into the
backpack, and the jacket has to be held in hands. Well, nothing, until
the hotel will have to be patient.

You can take your time with the hotel, check-in at 14.00, three more
hours ahead. By bus and metro I got to Wenceslas Square. First of all,
I stock up in a familiar exchanger with the Arabs with the necessary
amount of crowns. Walking around the city with luggage is not included
in my plans, but you can have a bite to eat, especially next to a good
restaurant Bredovsky Dvor. The cafe is reminiscent of a historical
site. Stone-brick arches overhead, interesting miniatures on the
walls, a collection of foreign banknotes, copper tanks with beer – all
this gives this pub some special flavor. During the day it is quiet
here, but in the evening if you want to get here, it is better to make
a reservation. After taking the order, the waiter brings the first mug
of Pilsner Urquell. Such a familiar bitterness of your favorite drink,
as if you drank it not a year ago, but yesterday! While finishing the
first mug, fried sausages with horseradish and pickled cucumbers

The hotel this time I have not quite successful. If on previous trips
I stayed at the Belveder Hotel, this time the choice fell on Olympik,
and I had to get to it from the center by metro or tram. Although
apart from the remote location, this hotel has no other disadvantages,
the room and food are good.

So we’ve sorted out the hotel, it’s time to go to the city. The
walking route started from the Strahov Monastery. Although the place
is far from the center, there are enough tourists here. And a rare
tour of Prague is complete without a visit to this monastery. Many
drop in here to look at the local library, and someone, including me,
look into the local St. Norbert brewery. The restaurant here is not
cheap, but a couple of mugs of amber drink will not ruin anyone.

From the Strahov Monastery, you can go to the right towards
Petershinsky Hill with its tower, or in my case to the left, towards
the Prague Castle. On Loretan Square you will find Prague Loreta, the
Capuchin Monastery, Chernin Palace, a monument to the President of
Czechoslovakia Edward Beneš and a monument to a Soviet soldier who
died during the liberation of Prague from the Nazis.

While walking along Loretan Square, I overheard a Russian tour a
little. One of the legends says that the Chernin Palace was built on a
cursed place – a former cemetery and the spirits of the dead take
revenge on its current inhabitants. And now the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs is located here, and almost all of its ministers were
accompanied by tragic deaths or political scandals.

Being near Loreta, be sure to look at Novy Svet street. Tours are
rarely taken here, but in vain. The street is three hundred meters
long, it is quiet and calm here, each house is interesting in its own
way, some of them have their own names. In some places, there are
signs on the houses mentioning famous residents.

At the Prague Castle there is a huge line of people who want to get
inside. Too lazy to stand in line and go down the castle stairs to
Lesser Town Square.

One of the most beautiful places in Prague is the island of Kampa, on
the one hand it is washed by the Vltava, on the other hand by the
Chertovka channel.

Once upon a time, the Chertovka canal was dug for the operation of the
local mills. Only two have survived to this day with mill wheels. A
view of the Velkoprzevorsky mill opens up from the Charles Bridge,
next to it perched a kind water Koburek. To see the second mill, you
need to go upstream the Devil’s River.

Those who like to wave the oars can go up the Chertovka to the
Velkoprzhevorsky mill by boat, but for idlers, small steamboats ply
along the canal.

On the island, you can look into the local museum, take a walk in the
park, see sculptures of crawling babies and yellow penguins marching
across the Vltava, the Liechtenstein Palace, the Lovers’ Bridge hung
with locks and many old houses with cozy restaurants.

After Kampa, along the Charles Bridge, we go to the Old Town with an
invariable stop at the statue of John of Nepomuk. Near the Saint there
is always a crowd of suffering people to make a wish.

The Old Town Square, as always, is full house, during the day it is
filled with tourists – singles and groups accompanied by guides. Here
you can sit in numerous cafes, listen to performances of street
musicians, admire numerous sights and ride on an old horse-drawn

Unfortunately, the belfry of the Old Town Hall is still shrouded in
scaffolding and it is impossible to fully admire how the figures
inside the clock come to life and their round dance begins.

Only late at night and early in the morning the square is deserted and
only rare tourists take pictures of local beauties.

trip to budapesht

The next morning starts from the main railway station in Prague. On
this trip, I wanted to look at the capital of Hungary. The train to
Budapest takes six and a half hours. While driving, I stare at the
landscapes flickering outside the window, use the local WiFi, and
devour pre-stocked sandwiches with beer. Time on the road flew by
unnoticed and in the afternoon I was in Budapest.

It is simply unrealistic to see all the sights of Budapest in a day
and a half of my stay, so the route around the city covers only the
main objects of the city and starts from Freedom Square, where a kind
of monument to the victims of fascism is erected. An angel with spread
wings is, of course, Hungary, but an eagle is fascism. Many Hungarians
do not agree with the meaning of this monument and are trying to
remind the authorities about the cooperation of the government of that
time with Hitler and the murder of their people by compatriots –
traitors. As a sign of protest, the Hungarians built “their own
memorial” nearby from personal belongings and photographs of the
victims of that time.

Nearby, the Hungarians erected a monument to Ronald Reagan with whom
tourists like to be photographed. The former president has never been
to Budapest, and why he was awarded such an honor is not clear,

On the way to the parliament you will meet the monument to Imre Nagy.
Hungarians are very warm to their countryman, despite the very
controversial fate of this man. During the First World War, he fought
against Russia, then in the ranks of the Red Army he fought with the
Whites. Some historians claim that Nagy participated in the execution
of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. In the 30s of the last century,
he was credited with collaborating with the NKVD and denunciations of
his countrymen – the communists. At the end of World War II, Imre Nagy
returned to Hungary and soon became head of the country’s government.
The improvement in the lives of ordinary Hungarians made this man very
popular. However, his opponents did not allow him to stay in power for
long. After his dismissal, the standard of living in Hungary plummets
and protests begin in the country that escalated into a 1956 riot.
Imre Nagy was not allowed to lead the uprising by the Soviet tanks
that entered Budapest. He was soon arrested and executed. After the
fall of the communist regime, the body of the ex-premier was solemnly
reburied and declared a national hero of Hungary.

The building of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest deserves a
separate visit and story, I limited myself to a walk in the district
and along the Danube embankment headed for the Szechenyi bridge.

Along the way, you will come across a monument to the Hungarian poet
Attila Jozsef and the “Shoes” monument to the victims of the
Holocaust, whom the Nazis shot on the shore and dumped into the
Danube. The embankment in this place is not fenced and one must be
careful not to fall into the muddy waters of the river from a height
of three meters.

I cross the Danube across the Széchenyi bridge to that part of the
city called Buda. Before us is the Clark Tunnel, a monument to the
zero kilometer of Hungary, and a funicular that will take you to the
Buda and the presidential palace. By the way, the length of the
Széchenyi bridge is approximately equal to the length of the tunnel
and the locals joke that when it rains they hide the bridge in the

We will get acquainted with the palaces a little later, but for now we
turn right from the bridge towards the Fisherman’s Bastion. It takes
twenty minutes to get there on foot. Once upon a time, fish were
traded here, apparently this gave the name to this building.

The bastion never carried protective functions for the city and it was
built at the end of the 19th century in honor of the 1000th
anniversary of Hungary. True, they did not have time for the
anniversary, but since 1905 this building has been decorating
Budapest. Next door is the Cathedral of St. Matthias, during the day
services are held in it, and in the evening you can listen to the
organ service.

From the walls of the Fisherman’s Bastion, a good panorama of Pest opens up.

On the way to the Royal Palace on Disch Square you will see a monument
to the fighters for the independence of Hungary from Austria. In 1848,
a revolution took place, which was suppressed by the Austrians with
the participation of Russian troops. Hungary’s independence was
delayed for 70 years.

The Royal Palace is another must-see place. Here you can look into
local museums, admire numerous sculptures and fountains, watch the
changing of the guard at the presidential palace at 12.00.

It will take you at least two hours to take a quick tour of the entire
Buda Castle. For a detailed acquaintance with all the sights, you need
to take the whole day.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge from Buda Hill. This is the first bridge in
Budapest, it was built in the middle of the 19th century and at that
time it was considered one of the longest in the world. Now it is one
of the most recognizable symbols of the Hungarian capital. During
World War II it was blown up by the Nazis. It took several years to
restore, and its second opening took place a hundred years after the
first in 1949.

With the onset of dusk, many historical buildings turn on the
backlight and many tourists are waiting for this moment on the
observation decks. A walk through the night Budapest ends at the
Cathedral of St. Stephen, it’s time for the hotel.

In Budapest, I stayed at the Benczur Hotel. Early in the morning,
having a hearty breakfast at a local restaurant, I go close to the
Varosliget park, it is a ten minute walk from the hotel. Although it
would be more accurate to say that along with the park here you will
definitely walk along the Heroes’ Square and look at the castle with
the name Vaydahunyad, which is dissonant for the Russian ear.

The castle, although it looks quite old, is only an appearance. It was
built in 1908 and included about twenty images of various castles. And
he got his name from a real medieval castle from Romanian

The architect managed to mix the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and
Renaissance styles in the castle, but it all looks somehow natural and
does not hurt the eyes.

In the courtyard of the castle you will be met by a monument to the
mysterious monk Anonymous, who kept the annals of the Hungarian
people. There is a belief: if you touch his pen, you can discover new
talents in yourself.

In the main building of the castle, the palace houses the Museum of
Agriculture. Here you can get acquainted not only with the modern
history of agriculture and winemaking in Hungary, but also how the
land was cultivated in primitive times.

Like a real Vajdahunyad castle, on the one hand, it is protected by a
lake, on the other, the approaches to it are blocked by a moat (or
rather a canal) with water. But the grate above the gate is hospitably
raised and tourists come here from early morning.

The time has come to return to the hilly part of Buda again. If before
that I moved around the city on foot, now it’s time to use the metro.
And the most unusual and beloved by tourists yellow line M1. Its
history begins in 1896 and gave Budapest the proud title of the first
city in Europe, where the subway appeared.

I cross the Danube across the Yerzhebet bridge and begin the assault
on Mount Gellert. The height of the hill is 235 meters and it takes
about twenty minutes to get to the citadel on its top. The fortress is
unfortunately closed and you can only look at it from the outside.

Having limited myself to a walk near the Statue of Liberty, I descend
from the other side of the hill to the Liberty Bridge. Here, right in
the side of the mountain, the monastery of the Paulines and the
church, which is called the cave of St. John, hid.

During the Second World War, the Germans equipped a hospital in the
cave, during the times of socialism they walled it up, now services
are being held here, which does not prevent tourists from charging 500
forints for entry.

The Pauline monastery is connected to the cave church by a passage,
but ordinary tourists cannot enter its territory.

Another forcing of the Danube on the bridge of Freedom and in front of
us is the central market of Budapest. Every day, thousands of
Hungarians come here to buy meat, sausages, dairy products,
vegetables, fruits and the famous Tokaj wines.

Tourists are more interested in the second floor, where you can buy
souvenirs and handicrafts, and at very reasonable prices. I didn’t
manage to buy anything on the market, because. I did not have HUF
cash, and bank cards are not accepted here.

For shopping lovers, it is necessary to take a walk along the Vaci
pedestrian street, its length is just over a kilometer, but the number
of branded stores and souvenir shops is impressive.

A little about Hungarian cuisine. For lunch, I looked at the Regos
Venteglo restaurant located not far from the House of Terror. Despite
a decent distance from the center and an unsightly view (it is located
in the basement of a residential building), the place is very popular
and it was not possible to get here the night before, two small halls
were packed to capacity. But today I was waiting for chicken paprikash
with dumplings and a few glasses of Tokay wine. For spicy lovers,
there are vases of paprika on the tables. The food was very tasty and
the bill was quite reasonable. I paid for lunch with a bank card, and
left a 2-euro coin as a tip.

And in conclusion, a short walk around Margaret Island, which offers a
good panorama of both parts of Budapest.

Some useful information that might be useful to someone:

If you are traveling to Budapest for several days, it is better to
purchase a ticket for several days and giving you the right to use all
public transport and save a lot. A single trip costs 350 forints.

There are very few exchange offices in the city, but in my opinion the
best exchangers of the Correctchange network with a very good exchange
rate, but a small commission in the city center. Although on my
one-day trip I did not bother with the exchange and everywhere except
the central market I paid with a bank card.

After walking around Budapest, take a look at one of the thermal
baths, many of which are therapeutic. If you are in Budapest for a few
days, you can heal from some kind of sore here. Well, if everything is
in order with your health, you can just relax and unwind for a couple
of hours.

On this acquaintance with Budapest came to an end and at 16.30 from
the Nyugati station I left for the Czech Republic. The way back was a
little more boring, because. most of the way was at dusk and it is
impossible to admire the local landscapes.

A trip to the castles Kokorzhin and Melnik

55 km from Prague, in pine forests, Kokorzhin Castle hid on a rock.
Its history begins in the 14th century, during which time it was
destroyed several times, stood abandoned, restored and changed owners.
It is microscopic in size and There is nothing much to see in it, but
the place where it is located is very picturesque.

Getting to it is not difficult. In Prague, from the Ladvi metro stop,
every hour there is a bus to the town of Melnik, then from the city
bus station there is a bus to the village of Kokorzhin. Upon landing
in the village square, you will see a sign pointing towards the
castle. After walking on a flat field, you find yourself in a forest
and start descending into the gorge along winding rocky serpentines.

After about 15 minutes, a castle appeared in the gaps between the
trees. Tours of it are only in Czech, but at the box office they give
a text describing its history in the desired language. Together with a
guide, you will walk around the New and Old Palace and see the few
chambers and halls of the castle.

And in conclusion, after walking along the fortress walls, climb to
the observation deck of a 40-meter tower.

Well, if you happen to get into the castle in the evening, you may
meet local ghosts: a girl with a man’s head in her hands who avenged
her father’s death and a man who boasted to bring human bones from the
castle crypt and disappeared there.

There is information on the Internet that a hotel is equipped in
several chambers of the castle, this is not true. If you want to stop
near the castle, you will have to go down the gorge about seven
hundred meters. Here by the river there is a hotel and a small cafe.

Returning to the village and making sure that it was an hour to the
nearest bus, my legs brought me to the cafe “At the Horse”. My
favorite garlic chowder was not here and I had to randomly order
another vole. The waitress brought a poisonous green soup that looked
inedible! In fact, it turned out to be pea soup, and very tasty.

On the way back to Prague, I decided to stop in the town of Melnik. I
was in the castle a year ago on an excursion, so this time I limited
myself to a walk through the center of the town and the slopes planted
with vineyards.

For the owner of Melnik Castle, the vineyards are a very good source
of income. The local wines are of very good quality, and their price
in comparison with the famous French and Italian wines is pleasantly

There is a tour in the castle, where in addition to exploring the
chambers, you will be invited to a tasting of local wines in the wine
cellar. Well, who is not interested in getting acquainted with the
castle is limited to buying souvenirs and wine in a local store.

Many come to Melnik to look at the confluence of the two rivers Laba
(or Elbe in German) and Vltava. But in order to see these rivers in
more detail, it is better to climb the bell tower of the local

If time permits, go to the other side of the Laba, it offers beautiful
views of the mountain with the castle, surrounded by vineyards. And
for lovers of unusual things, you should look into the ossuary under
the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Of course, it is not as famous
as the Sedlec bone in Kutná Hora, but it will certainly leave an
impression on you.

While I was waiting for a bus to Prague at the city bus station, I
discovered a reservoir in the neighborhood where you can feed almost
tame nutrias and ducks. These funny little animals are welcome to all
visitors, especially if you have a treat for them.

Trip to Cesky Krumlov

The night before, sitting over a mug in one of the pubs in Prague, I
heard a small Russian company arguing about where to go the next day:
to Karlovy Vary or Kutna Hora. Sitting down a little closer to them,
he talked and suggested that they leave the above places for their
next trips and be sure to look into Cesky Krumlov. I don’t know if
they took my advice or not, but this town leaves almost no one
indifferent. For all my trips, I always find time to visit my beloved

I always get by Student Agency buses from the Na Knizeci bus station.
The bus goes to Krumlov for about three hours, stopping for a few
minutes on the way to Tabor and Cesky Budijovice. I try to take a
ticket for a morning flight at 8.00.

On my previous trips, I described this town in some detail, so this
time there will be a little more photos than information.

The raincoat bridge connects the residential part of the castle with
the theater and the garden. They say that this place is popular with
those who like to commit suicide, its height is thirty meters. Local
authorities are constantly arguing about the need to enclose this
place with a decorative lattice.

If in Prague the Vltava is a wide full-flowing river, then in Krumlov
it is a narrow, calm stream that adds noise on artificial rapids and
drains for boats

Although the town is small, the number of cafes and restaurants here
is impressive. In some you can dine in the historical setting of past
centuries. And not only dine but also listen to live music

During the day in Cesky Krumlov, the narrow streets are packed with
tourists and it is rarely possible to see her deserted

Rafting enthusiasts can rent a boat and sail along the Vltava,
admiring the local beauties for several kilometers.

It’s getting dark, it’s time to head back to Prague. The bus departs
from the city bus station and only the tower of the Krumlov Castle,
flashing with lights, accompanies me for some more time.

Trip to Pilsen

In the beer capital of the Czech Republic, I wanted to take a look at
the historical center and visit the Pilsner Urquell brewery with a
guided tour. Getting to Pilsen is quite simple: every hour from the
Zlicin metro terminal by bus, or by train from the main station.
Trains run a little less often and take 20 minutes longer, but the
path passes through the picturesque valley of the Berounka River.

After leaving the station and crossing the station square, you can
turn left towards the visible spire of St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral.

Or turn right towards the water tower of the Pilsner Urquell brewery.
Here in the information center you can buy a ticket for the tour. Wait
two hours before the next visit to the plant with a Russian-speaking
guide, and I decided that I would have time to walk around the center.
Here I made a mistake, it was necessary to take a ticket in advance.

Directly from the brewery, along a footbridge across a local stream,
there is a road to the center. A short walk through the park and the
stadium of the local football team and you are at Republic Square.

In the middle is the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, and it is
surrounded on all sides by historical houses, each of which has its
own personality. In some ways, this square resembles the Old Town
Square in Prague.

As in many cities of the Czech Republic, a Plague Column is installed
here as a token of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for getting rid of the
plague epidemic. Here you will see several bizarre fountains. As well
as the “Dancing House” in Prague, the strange gilded figures of the
fountains cause very conflicting feelings among the local population,
especially considering the decent cost of the project.

Local residents consider their city “the most – the most”. The brewery
is the largest here, the town square is one of the largest in Europe,
the city dungeons are the longest, the tower of the cathedral is the
highest in the Czech Republic, the very first book in the Czech
Republic was printed in Pilsen.

By the way, for many, the question of what genus the name of the city
belongs to will cause difficulty. Until the middle of the 17th
century, it belonged to the masculine gender, and then, for unknown
reasons, it became feminine.

It was time to get acquainted with the history of local brewing and by
the right time I returned to the brewery. To my chagrin, all the
tickets for the tour with a Russian guide were sold out, I didn’t even
expect that an impressive group of compatriots who liked the foamy
drink would gather in two hours. I had to wait for the next tour in

In my opinion, the most interesting moment of the tour to the brewery
was a visit to the dungeon, where beer ripens in the cold in old

After walking a couple of hundred meters through the labyrinths and
having a good chill, at the end, the adult part of the group was
waiting for a tasting of a glass of the freshest unfiltered beer.
After that, the elevator will take you to the company store, where you
can buy all the products of the Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Kozel
breweries, as well as various souvenirs and beer-themed products.

The way back took a little longer, because. I decided to get off at
the village of Karlstejn and take a walk to the castle. Trains going
to Prague from Pilsen do not stop at this small station, so I had to
get off at Berone and transfer to the City Elefant commuter train.

Trip to Český Šternberk Castle

The castle is not far from Prague, but it takes quite a long time to
get to it without an organized tour. The Czech public transport
website provides several options for traveling by train and bus. The
shortest takes two hours by train with one change at Cherchany
station. I have used them.

The City Elefant commuter train will quickly take you to Cherchan.
Coming out at the station, I saw two old antediluvian electric trains
without numbers, which one to sit on was not clear. The conductor came
to the rescue to whom I showed the ticket to Sternberg. The train
crawls along the single-track track for quite a long time, at one of
the sub-stations the parking was for about fifteen minutes, they were
waiting for the oncoming train to pass. There were also problems with
the names of the stations, there was no electronic display in the car,
and some kind of wheezing came from the speakers instead of
intelligible words. Leaning against the window, he looked out for the
desired name at the half-stations, but when a castle appeared on the
hill to the left, he hurried to the exit.

The place is very picturesque. An old castle rises on a hill, small
village houses with tiled roofs are located below, boats with lovers
of water travel glide along the Sazava River. Only rare cars and
trains break the local silence.

From the very foundation to the present, the castle belongs to the
Sternberg family, only in 1945 it was confiscated by the state, but in
1992 it was returned to Zdeněk Sternberg, who did not leave it during
socialism and worked as a caretaker in it. Now he is already an
elderly grandfather, occasionally conducting tours of his possessions.

I was in this castle with an organized tour in 2012, so this time I
limited myself to a walk around the neighborhood. Remembering the
previous visit, we can say that it is certainly interesting to listen
to the guide, but you will definitely not be allowed to take a walk in
the vicinity. And it will not be superfluous to go down to the village
and walk along the banks of the Sasava.

To the south of the castle, the defensive tower of Gladomorn was
erected. She served to protect the castle from the very about the
vulnerable direction. The most dangerous corner of the turret has been
sharpened to protect it from cannonballs. There are also no tours
here, but in vain. For a small fee, you can climb the tower and then
the valley of the Sasava River will open before you in all its glory.

Walking along the river bank, you can meet a family of nutrias, who
are accustomed to tourists and expect treats from them.


So it turns out that with each trip to the Czech Republic, Prague is
given less and less time. Early in the morning I left for neighboring
towns and very rarely managed to return before dark.

Nevertheless, one could not do without evening walks around Prague.
The last day is also completely devoted to this city.

Having been in Prague several times, walking around the city you
discover new interesting places.

Probably many guides will shower me with hats, but it is better to
walk around Prague not as part of a tourist group, but to wander alone
or together. Well, if banal facts and information from the Internet
are not enough for you, try to find an individual guide who knows
well, and most importantly loves this city.

Embankment of the Vltava, Mala Strana, Hradchany, Petershinsky hill.
During the day, I go around my favorite places, occasionally going
into some beer house to skip a mug of amber drink. Walking along the
hill, Petershin looked into the “Magic Cave” by a local artist. The
style in which the pictures are painted for me is some kind of
hodgepodge of fantasy and surrealism. Dragons, demons and half-naked
women look at you from the paintings.

Finally, I looked into the pub “At Three Roses”. Most of the tables
are occupied, the rest are marked “Reserve”. The waiter spreads his
arms and points to the only empty chair near the counter. The
bartender puts a small pot-bellied mug of light beer on the coaster
and hurries to serve the others. Well, I have nowhere to hurry, on the
contrary, I want to slow it down or stop time.

Saying goodbye to Prague is always sad. It seems to have fulfilled
everything that he had planned for this trip, one might even say he
overfulfilled it. But it feels like something is missing. Probably
only at home you understand that somewhere far away there are your
favorite narrow streets, old houses with tiled roofs, ancient castles,
a temple behind an iron grate that you never got into.

Observation deck in Letná garden. The Vltava is roaring below, an old
tram has swept along the branch embankment, the Zizkov TV tower can be
seen in the distance, the Prague Castle has been turned on at night.
Goodbye Prague, I will definitely be back!






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