Prague (pronounced /ˈprɑːɡ/) is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated on the Vltava River in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural and economic centre of the Czech state for more than 1100 years. For many decades during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was the permanent seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, the city proper is home to more than 1.2 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

20100325 Departing Singapore

As usual, am blogging from the Singapore Changi Airport just outside the boarding gate... indeed, just sent a long email before this.. ah! one frog 'done-ed' (hahaha)

Tweeted this morning... seems like my window period to prepare for departures has this trend ... shorter and shorter... ah!!! argr.....

Yup, was away for 5 days for the Asia Apple Distinguished Educator Institute... and I 'graduated' last night!!! Well, not gotten the time to blog about it yet (ah!!! backlog blogs, I hate). Unpacked last night and only started packing the luggage this morning. All in all... in less than 2 hours! haha... looks like I've bcome more seasoned these days... really thanks to my lucky star (my Bro) who happened to drop by home and gave me a lift... oh... 1.5 hours before flight departure time. I arrived.

It was just crazy... have not been well since last Friday and now have to manage 5 types of medication... ok... hope to catch some rest in the air!!! ok... no movie marathon this time... but zzz zzz zzz zzz...

The airport was pretty quiet... Is it because it's T3 and it's a weekday afternoon? Hm.. I wonder... Met on student (whom I actually couldn't recognise!) Nice girl... so well mannered... Am proud of her... :D

Checked in my luggage... can't believe it! only 13.5 kg... hey, with winter garments! ok... still can't remember where I packed my chemical warmers... sigh... so absent minded... anyway, think it won't be that cold over there... (or I'm hopeful?)

New 'service' at the airport... some ushers were around to assist... service at Changi Terminal 3. Thumbs up! Well, well, well... I'm always proud of our home product, SIA :D

ok... going in now... 1.40 pm... Kin Chuah and Irfan already went into the gate...
Shall continue when arrive at Prague.


20100325 Transit @ Frankfurt

The flight to Frankfurt was a smooth one... I didn't catch much sleep though told myself that I would give the movies a miss in order to gain time for recharge... sigh! without much success...

The plane seemed new! Ah! From the layout of the remote control and the screen layout... hahaha... well, it matters... for a season traveller :D

This time, didn't asked for special meal... (actually, also no time to think about it)
The first one is beef... 'cos needed to avoid the other one that came with curry.
Hm... it tasted good :D

Here's the 2nd meal in the plane... Chicken meal

Caught 3.75 movies:
  • Princess and the Frog - a 2-D cartoon, pretty refreshing one. Ha! Here, the princess turned into a frog after kissing the frog prince! A lesson to learn - fairy-tale history does not always happen! Anticipate a more worse off deal! haha...
  • Avatar - Yes, there's so much publicity over the movie when first shown in Singapore. Well, the idea of 'moving' one's soul to another physical body is not really new... saw that in one of those Hongkong produced drama/movie. Storyline... ok... what would you expect if it's an action thriller from the US? Lots of fires and bombs, etc... on the other hand, undeniable, the 'environment' set-up for the 'aliens' was fascinatingly beautiful :D One key message it brings across is really about humanity - what's the definition? A noble purpose could turn ugly as the team members' "real" motive starts to surface.
  • 2012 - Another one that I heard so much... ok... it's about the end of the world... How different or similar to Avatar (in terms of impression)? Hm... again, similar to Avatar, the 'scale-up' disaster! Difference? The cost is different! hahah... I think one messages that it brings across is really '
  • A Korean movie, the Righteous Thief - the storyline is not new... saw numerous movies along this storyline... except none in korean in the past... ahaha... well, the movie came to a halt in the last 10 min, just before the plane touched down. Shall continue on the way home...
The flight stayed in the 'darker' part of the globe most of the time, it was the "Night" chased the "Day" phenomenon :D

We arrived at Frankfurt - local time at around 8 pm. Indeed, we thought it was a smooth sailing one 'cos we had our boarding pass issued at Changi Airport already. While we followed the sign to go to Gate A, the signs were simply badly labelled and situated! and we took the skytrain (which was unnecessary) and ended up in one of those no-man-would-go land!

However, the airport staff was not helpful at all. 1st unpleasant encounter of the trip. Eventually we came to the 'junction' where there were 2 police posts (afterwhich, noted that it handled the immigration admin). Not friendly either - with that why-you-create-work-for-me "look"... well, did the world owe them everything! If not happy with the job, why be there?

One lesson learnt: Front desk employees are the ambassadors to the organisation or even to the country... The impressions these Frankfurt airport ground personnel gave? It really can't make it!

20100325 Arrival @ Prague

Hopped into the plane and the zzzzz monster started its act... though it was an hour flight, but good enough to catch some good sleep... Had a sandwich before arrival.

This was the first time I left home without changing the local currency... indeed, it's also the first time that I changed my currency via the machine. Well, thank goodness that I kept those unspent foreign currencies! The handful of greenbacks, pounds and euro turned out to be extremely handy here! :D

We waited for the airport shuttle bus for almost an hour... because the agent booked the night before... sigh...

Well, by the time we reached the hotel (Hotel Diplomat) and unpacked... it was already 2 am...
zzzz.... before the first meal in Prague:

20100326 On the Way to... Prague Castle and Lobkowicz Palace

The morning weather was good... sunny yet cool... with the map, we navigated our way through the roads and streets... headed towards the famous beautiful Prague Castle and Lobkowicz Palace (which was where the summit began that evening).

Along the way, we made a few photo stops...

(a) Graffiti is commonly seen on the walls of buildings in Europe countries... So, there is no exception to Prague, too! Those are 'footprints' of the past...

(b) Art work on buildings (certainly, it's not referring to graffiti, but real art work) - sculptures or wall (brick/clay) 'drawings'... littered the narrow streets we walked along... many are also coated with bright cheerful colours! Well, after having a clearer look at the map, realised that many of the huge buildings around were formerly palaces!!!

(c) Outdoor cafes and stalls are not uncommon... here, each of us got our very first scoop of ice-cream in Prague :D

(d) Another amazing thing is the Tram system. Indeed, look at the network of cables in the air! wow! how did they manage it? Well, this is definitely more complex than what I saw in London and Paris!

20100326 Lobkowicz Palace and Prague Castle (St Vitus Cathedral)

Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad): Since its foundation in the 9th century, it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the last 11 centuries. Originally the residence of Princes and Kings of Bohemia, since 1918, the seat of the President of the Republic.

Indeed, standing in front of the Prague Castle reminded me of the Notre Dame in Paris. The design was rather similar... except that Notre Dame has a huge open area in front of it... and it sat right at the centre of Paris city.

20100326 "Arty" Streets leading to Charles Bridge

There are lots of souvenir shops along the streets... eggs are the highlight this period of time because it's near Easter... Walking along the narrow cobbled streets and between rows of buildings styled with bright cheerful colours, wow... I'm in old Europe!

20100326 Charles Bridge

The Little Town Bridge Tower, which is 'guarded' by soldiers of the medieval times...

Charles Bridge (by Charles IV) was constructed in 1357 to replace the Romanesque Judith's Brdige that had been sept away by floods. By the latest researches its construction was started by Master Otto and finished by Petr Parler in 1402. On both sides, the bridge is fortified with towers (Lesser Town Bridge Towers, Old Town Bridge Tower). The Boroque sculptures and sculptural groups on the bridge are mostly from the 18th century (Matthias Braun, F M Brokof, etc)

It's also not difficult to find artists on Charles Bridge:

20100326 Lunch @ U Costella Cafe Pizza Bar

It's a pretty interesting concept... the cafe is actually at the basement, and the decoration was so arty... hahaha... of course, could be eerie too... if the lighting went dimmer...

We ordered only 3 items... but the serving for each was huge! Hahah... We got a pizza... which was 30cm in diameter! U could imagine that!

Another surprise was the soup "Goulash soup in bread".... which we thought was manageable... but... er... (ok... forget about the size...) it's cute! It came with 2 'ears'!

Others on the table were a plate of salad that's meant for one but enough for 3! and Irfan's tomato soup

20100326 Ambushed @ Metro

It's the first time we took the metro, from Staromestska to return to the hotel.

All went on pretty fine for the purchase - press a button and collect the ticket, from the ticket vending machine. It cost 18kc (which is equivalent to about S$1.40) There was no barricade, so we just walked through... just like anybody ahead of us...

The platform is pretty deep under...
Then... 3 policemen appeared before us and stopped us to check our tickets! They shaked their head! What???? They said, "No, no, no... you did not validate your ticket... you either pay for a fine, we'll issue you a ticket here; or handover the passport and go to the police station". Unbelievable!!!! You even got the booking ticket all ready!!!! We were not allowed to go up to validate the ticket despite telling them that we just arrived and not aware of the local procedure! So, it's our fault of not reading the fine prints behind the tickets and therefore to be penalised for 700kc each!!!!!!!??????? Stupid it!!!! Had no problem in the cities like London or Paris! What a stupid "trap" in Prague!!!

In less than 5 minutes, they repeated a few times, "You either pay now or go police station". Hey, hey, hey... so threats work in Prague!!!??? Enough, enough! stop threatening us... You were so readily pull out your book-ticket booklet... Point taken... You just need to meet your quota of the day! What an ugly scene painted on this beautiful historical city! It ended up... we paid for 2 booking tickets (despite of 3)... why? the police offered a discount! So... They just need 2 more tickets to meet the quota!!!!!

20100327 Lunch & Dinner

This was the day when the programme packed from morning to night... We had lunch at the canteen of the International School of Prague.

Inthe same evening, the Apple personnel, Julian and Gilbert brought all the Asian participants together to dine at Hergetova Cihelna

20100328 Old Town Hall Square

Here's the townhall
The building of the Town Hall complex in Old Town began in 1338, when the town hall was founded, and was added to until the middle of the 19th century. This involved annexing the neo-Gothic wing, which replaced some houses to the north, the windg was destroyed at the end of World War II. The House of Volflin from Kamen and the neighbouring tower, which featured a chapel, were the first structures making up the town hall, both completed in 1364. Other buildings were gradually brought up across the centuries.

Trying out the local stuff...

Local Performance added colour to the air...

20100328 Beyond Old Town Hall Square

We ventured further... and arrived at the Powder Tower, which led us to the Palladium, which houses more than 200 shops and restaurants. Yes! There, I got another winter coat from M&S :D

20100328 Lunch & Dinner

The Summit ended by 12.30 pm (on Sunday).

We hit the streets again at around 1.30 pm... this time, we headed for the Old Town. Showers of rain sent us to one restaurant nearby the metro station... wet, wet, wet... Restaurant seems to be Italian... nice deco

Here's my meal: Mixed Grill with chicken, beef and pork... er... did not taste that nice, maybe because I asked for "well done"...

Here's my dessert: "3 cups" of ice cream! hahaha... it was actually 3 flavours in one, topped with whipped cream... hm... so-so...

Well, the late lunch proved to be too much for the day. We had dinner at one of the local fastfood restaurant. Not much of choice (since I didn't want to take any more bread). Got potato wedges and a... guess what is it? (supposedly to be smoothie, which turned out with cake sandwiched within)

20100329 Before we left...

We started off late... and decided to venture to the New Town Hall area, which we had yet explored. All the way to the metro station Muzeum. There, we walked our way to the New Town Hall. Well, it's a contrast to the Old Town Hall - more commercial buildings, more hotels, etc.

20100329 Last Meal in Prague

We hopped into a French restaurant, which it said, famous personalities vistied once... the deco was different from those we dined in before (ah! mostly Italian, I presume...)

Interestingly, here, I ordered the only Czech dish in this trip... it's beef topped with whipped cream and strawberry jam, with bread to go with gravy... hm... tasted pretty nice... :D

20100329 Home Sweet Home

The booked airport shuttle service did not turn up... Argr.... there it went... the impression of the service level... down, down, down... Fortunately, the 3 big luggages managed to squeeze into the car boot... Arrived at the airport at around 4.30 pm, after checking in, we were still early... there's where I spent the last dollar and cents in the airport...

There was internet connection in the airport, however, intermittently, I twittered:
  • just checked in to the Prague airport... spent the remaining amount of kc in a traditional wooden toy :D Good that I didn't miss it.
  • Get connected to the internet at the airport... but it offers paid network too... haiz... free or not free? so half-hearted service...
  • so strange... can twitter from computer but could not load the blog login page!
  • Strange, at the airport, I could connect wirelessly to twitter and facebook, but can't login to Gmail or Blogger! That reminds me of...
  • Wireless Connection in Prague airport could be frustrating... at one point can get it, at another it can't... argr.....
It was simply... tiring... yes... maybe because of the long walk since morning? Was under the spell of the ZzZzZ monster at the airport... in the flight... and I almost slept in the Frankfurt airport...

Yup... indeed, didn't catch any movie on the way home... 'cos I was recharging in dreamland...

Here's the inflight dinner:

and the lunch (before touching down...)

At 4 pm... we touched down at Changi Airport, Terminal 3...
"Just touched down! So glad to be back in Singapore :D Really, nothing beats home." I twittered.

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