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5. The Best of the Outdoors

Mark Baker FrommerMedia ePub

There are lots of lookout spots in this city of a hundred spires that boast of having the best views. Certainly, the beer garden at Letenský zámeček, in Letná (see below), has a legitimate claim. But for our money, nothing beats the Prague panorama as seen from the top of the long, sloping valley that runs from the top of Petřín Hill down toward the banks of the Vltava river. This walk begins with a funicular train ride to the top of the hill. The smattering of interesting sights up here includes a miniature Eiffel Tower built for the 1891 Prague Jubilee exhibition. After that it’s a peaceful stroll through a lovely park and then out across a long meadow, with those vaunted views over Prague Castle and the city below. START: The funicular station at the Újezd tram stop. From Malostranská metro station, take tram no. 12, 20, or 22 three stops (to Újezd). On exiting the tram, walk back toward Malostranské nám. about 15m (50 ft.).

 

Funicular Railway (lanová dráha). This 488m (1,600-ft.) cable railway is part of the city’s public transportation system; you’ll need a full-price 32 Kč ticket to ride it (1- and 3-day metro passes work too). The funicular was originally built to ferry passengers to the 1891 exhibition. Now it’s a mainstay of the tourist industry, taking visitors up to the “Eiffel Tower” or hauling concertgoers or sports fans up to an event at giant Strahov Stadium on top of the hill. The line has two stops; take it to the top, Petřín station. If you’d rather walk up the hill, follow any of the paths leading upward. Figure on a moderately demanding hike of 20 to 30 minutes. 15 min. Daily 9am–11:20pm.

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3 Croatia Regions & Suggested Itineraries

Jane Foster FrommerMedia ePub

3

Croatia Regions & Suggested Itineraries

Croatia is such a diverse country that it is difficult to make any touring plan of action to cover all its important places without leaving out many “must-sees.” Consequently, I’ve divided itineraries into two parts: routes for those who enter the country at Zagreb, and routes for those who start in Dubrovnik. These include my favorite places and allow for time frames of varying lengths.

Note: If you plan to spend 2 weeks in Croatia, simply follow two 1-week itineraries, in whichever order you prefer.

The Regions in Brief

There are many ways to designate Croatia’s regions—coastal and inland, islands and mainland, northern and southern—and the best way to get a feel for the diverse charms of its geography is to look at each from a variety of perspectives.

Dalmatian Coast    Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is characterized by extremes. From Zadar in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, the terrain that extends westward from the dramatic backdrop of the rugged Dinaric mountain range becomes a sun-washed 3-D mosaic of red-tiled roofs, graceful bell towers, lush vegetation, and shimmering beaches as the land rolls toward the sea. The coast is also a repository of history, with very visible Roman and Venetian influences. Add to that a mild Mediterranean climate that supports a thriving fishing industry and an agricultural economy rich in olives and grapes, and you have the formula for tourism gold. Offshore, Croatia’s many islands (1,168 to be exact, if you include all the islets and reefs, although only 47 are inhabited) lure boating and water-sports enthusiasts, sun worshipers, Europeans on vacation, and celebrities trying to get away from it all. They are part of Dalmatia’s mystique and some of its most valuable assets.

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2. The Best Special-Interest Tours: Kafka's Prague, Prague Castles, Communist Prague, Prague with Kids, Romantic Prague

Mark Baker FrommerMedia ePub
The former Communist government was never entirely comfortable with Franz Kafka, the German-Jewish writer who was born in Prague in 1883. Kafka’s themes of bureaucracy and alienation were too close to the grim reality of day-to-day life of pre-1989 Prague, and Kafka was all but ignored by the Communist government. All of that changed after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, and a caricature of Kafka’s familiar face—complete with his overly elongated ears—can be found on posters, T-shirts, and coffee mugs in every souvenir shop in town. Perhaps it’s ironic that a somber German-Jewish intellectual—the father of the modern novel—should somehow be adopted by the flashy local tourist industry as one of the faces of new Prague. On the other hand, given the city’s turbulent history of Nazi occupation followed by Communist dictatorship, perhaps it’s more than fitting. Although Kafka died 15 years before the start of World War II and 24 years before the Communist coup d’etat in 1948, his novels now seem eerily prophetic of what was to come. START: Old Town Square (Staroměstské nám.). See All Chapters
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3. The Best Neighborhood Walks: The Jewish Quarter, The Lesser Town, Castle District, Old Town

Mark Baker FrommerMedia ePub
This tour focuses on the remains of the former Jewish ghetto. The Prague Jewish Museum (Židovské muzeum v Praze) maintains four synagogues as well as the most moving remnant, the Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý židovský hřbitov). Another surviving synagogue, the Old New Synagogue (Staronová synagoga), is maintained by the Jewish community of Prague. You can walk the former ghetto for free, but to tour the exhibits you need an entry ticket (see the box “The Jewish Quarter: Practical Matters,” below, for details on admissions charges and hours for Jewish Quarter attractions). The Old New Synagogue requires a separate ticket. A combined-entry ticket for all of the sights is also available. Note: Many of the sights on this tour are closed Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, and on Jewish holidays. Try to get an early start; the area gets very crowded in high season. START: Old Town Square.   Maiselova Street. From Old Town Square, walk past St. Nicholas Church (Chrám sv. Mikuláše) and then past the birth house of Franz Kafka (Go to Page, bullet ). Maiselova begins here and threads its way through the center of the former ghetto. This was “Main Street” when the ghetto was a walled-in community, and here you’ll find some of the most important surviving buildings and the former Jewish Town Hall. 10 min. See All Chapters
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1 The Best of Croatia

Jane Foster FrommerMedia ePub

1

The Best of Croatia

Until recently, Croatia’s tourist season ran from July through August, and belonged almost exclusively to Europeans, who clogged border crossings in their annual migration to the country’s endless coastline and clear blue sea. Finally, however, the rest of the world has discovered Croatia’s charms: its wealth of Roman ruins, medieval hilltop castles, and staggering cache of natural wonders. Even though the summer season now runs longer and the crowds are larger and more diverse, it is still possible to find a secluded pebble cove, or a family-run winery where time seems to have stood still. Every town and village has at least one restaurant where the locals hang out and where the slice of life you get with your meal is the best dessert there is. When all the big modern hotels are filled, there is always a room waiting in a private home where the landlord welcomes you like a long-lost friend.

This chapter is a “road map,” directing you to some of my favorites. I know you’ll add to the list when you find some of your own.

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