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Old 21st April 2019, 17:10   #1
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Default In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Disclaimer: 1. I like unconventional angles for photographs - kindly bear with me. 2. I am not associated with any of the firms/services mentioned in the post. This post is about me and my wife's experiences - good or bad using those services. 3. This is a long post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed the trip and subsequently penning everything down

I have tried to make the post as informational as possible so that it can help prospective travelers. We learnt a lot of small things while on this trip and will try to pass on those learnings in this post. Any question/query is most welcome.

Photography was done using:
1. Nikon D7000 + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 + Nikkor 50mm AFS f/2.8G (Mostly used for Prague and sparingly for Budapest for the snow)
2. iPhone 7 (For Vienna and Bratislava as it was dark and we did not have night photography equipment with us)
3. iPhone SE (Stand by for Vienna and Bratislava)


It had been 6 months since my wife S and I had come back from an amazing trip of Central and Eastern Europe (https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...a-hungary.html (A few blissful days in Austria and Hungary))and our travel crazy hearts were growing restless by the day for another trip. It was a late July afternoon, when we were casually browsing through our favorite social media app – Skyscanner when we came across a really great flight option to Milan from Mumbai. That afternoon sent us on a snowballing episode which eventually lead to the most amazing Christmas experiences.

Just to recap, although our last trip to Europe had everything that we wanted, we missed out of one major bucket list city – Prague. Prague has since been haunting us like a spirit from a horror movie. Everywhere we looked we could only see Prague. Hence, we had decided that whenever and wherever we land up in Europe, we would include Prague as one of the cities. Thus, began a month-long planning extravaganza. The trips were shortlisted in to 2 different categories –

1. Trip during late October-Early November (Diwali 2018): Both our offices have 10 days off during Diwali and that seemed to be the most obvious choice of time for a return-to-Europe-trip. The advantages were that we were almost guaranteed to get little to no tourists at that time but on the flip side, we were almost certain to run into some grim weather.
Some of the places short listed for this period included
a. A half Italian trip – Mumbai-Milan-Cinque Terre- Florence – Rome-Venice –Milan-Mumbai. The option of a direct Mumbai-Milan flight really helped this option. However, as we like to plan our trips on our own planning an Italian trip with such short time seemed too much as both of us had busy work schedules planned. We simply would not be able to do justice to these cities and the art work and this was to be a short trip. P.S.- Planning a trip to Italy’s finest art galleries is a year-long effort.
b. Lakes of South Germany, Austria and Switzerland : This seems almost certain as this allowed us to include one of our favorite cities for a second time – Vienna. Our main focus would be Lake Konstanz, Innsbruck, the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein and Vienna. This was the hot favorite for a long time till losing out to the eventual winner. The weather was the reason this plan was abandoned.

2. Trip during the week before Christmas 2018: As children, we were always fascinated by Christmas and the festivities associated with it. Having grown up in Kolkata, Christmas always meant Plum Cakes, Christmas trees from New Market and a visit to Park street to see the decorations. Movies, Social media and childhood had painted such a wonderful picture of a “White European Christmas” that it figured at the top of our “Things to Experience” list. Not to say it was “bucket list” item for both of us. Thus, when we decided to go back to Europe the second-time in a row, we decided to tick off this item on ‘our’ bucket-list. Cities shortlisted for this included only our very favorite ones – Budapest, Prague, Vienna and a small peak of the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava.
Heart and Mind both pulled the strings and by the first week of August we knew where we wanted to go for our vacation!

In an attempt to control the costs, we took an adventurous decision to book our flights to and from Bratislava, Slovakia, in flights operated by FlyDubai. The choice of city was a master stroke but sadly booking FlyDubai led to one of the worst travel experiences (and an exciting adventure) that we have ever had. More on that in a short while.

After weeks of planning this is what our itinerary looked like:

Day 1: Mumbai – Dubai – Bratislava by FlyDubai with a stopover at Dubai Terminal 2. Once at Bratislava, take a FlixBus to Budapest.

Day 2: Explore Budapest and check out our favorite places one more time

Day 3: Take the train from Budapest to Prague with a change over at Vienna and go around the smaller Christmas markets in Prague. This is why we took this roundabout route to Prague instead of a straight forward one:

Rail operators in Europe declare timetables in phases. One phase is from middle of June to middle of December and the second is from middle of December to middle of June of the following year. Different countries have different schedules for releasing these timetables and booking slots. Since our travel dates were in the second half of December, we had to wait till the countries operating the railways (either the country of origin or the country of destination) to released their tickets. Unfortunately, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic are among the last to release the tickets.

For S’s visa (I already had a valid visa), the Czech Embassy insisted on intra-Schengen travel tickets. This left us with two options – book through on FlixBus (not the most reliable service) or get the tickets in a way so that we can book them from another service provider who have already released tickets for the said dates, in this case OBB, Austria (with whom we have had only excellent experiences in the past). No prizes for guessing which one we chose – hence the roundabout Budapest-Vienna-Prague route.

Days 4, 5 and 6: Indulge in the Czech cuisine, get around the major attractions of Prague. Explore the city on foot and discover hidden gems of the city and most importantly give the city what it deserves – a photoshoot.

Day 7: Travel down to Vienna and experience what is touted to be the best Christmas market in Europe

Day 8: Take a 45 minutes train ride to the neighboring capital city of Bratislava – go around the city earmarked with history on foot and relax on the banks of the Danube.

Day 9: Bratislava – Dubai- Mumbai.
Thanks to FlyDubai not all of it went to plan.


Our onward journey was non-eventful and we reached Bratislava on time. The flight was without hiccups, however, FlyDubai puts our Indian low-cost carriers to shame (#sarcasm). At one point the cabin was made searing hot so that the passengers would buy water at AED 5 per 200 ml. This practice was stopped only when a couple of passengers fell ill. I will include few of the things to keep in mind when booking flights with such operators at the end of the post. As always, we were greeted by an ear to ear smile at the immigration counter at Bratislava. After a swift completion of formalities and a small meal at the airport, we took a Taxify cab from Bratislava airport to the Central Bus Station and it cost us a mere EUR 6. We had our first look at Bratislava during our short cab ride and to be frank we felt it was fairly dull for a European capital city (an opinion which was put to test before the end of our trip). It is important to note here that Bratislava does not have a great public transport system unlike other European capital cities. As there were no direct mode of transport from the airport to the Central Bus Station we decided to hail a cab.

Contrary to our expectations, the FlixBus (which coincidentally was to arrive from Prague), was on time and the only delay we faced was on entering Budapest during the rush hour. We were dropped off at Nepliget bus station, from where we took the Underground to Nugyati Pályaudvar. Our AirBnb accommodation was a mere 10 minutes walking from the underground station.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image1.jpg
(Image1: Things to come)

Last edited by feluda86 : 24th April 2019 at 12:20.
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Old 21st April 2019, 17:36   #2
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Budapest: “The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches.”- Anon.

Unlike other AirBnb apartments we have encountered in this neck of the woods, this one was big, airy and spacious. The apartment had a hand drawn map of Budapest on the wall. The best part of the map is that the previous guests of the apartment had all left stickers on it denoting their favorite places to eat in the city (Image 2). After a quiet dinner in the history laden by-lanes of the Budapest, we called it a night with hopes of having our first white Christmas in our favorite city.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image2.jpg
(Image 2: Hand drawn map of Budapest with places to eat marked on it)

It was dark when we woke up the following morning. We looked out of the window onto the courtyard and we could hardly see anything in the dark. However, we saw what our hearts wanted to see – small flurries of white fractal shapes floating down from the skies above onto a wet ground. Enthused with this new knowledge and the exciting prospects that the day held out for us we got ready in a flash and rushed out in our snow attire. Cars were covered in thick layers of snow and the heavens had unleased a continuous flurry of white snowflakes (Image 3). As we walked towards Nyugati underground station we saw a familiar city in a new dress – one which enhanced its beauty by several folds. Everywhere we looked, we saw majestic buildings covered in a fresh coat of white (Image 4). Roads had snow on the sides. The temperature read a mere -3 degrees Celsius, though I must say it felt like a whole lot colder than that due to the steady breeze.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image3.jpg
(Image 3: Snow coated roads of Budapest)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image4.jpg
(Image 4: Snow covered structures and cars in Budapest)

Since we had already bought our 24 hours travel pass we went straight for our first stop - the majestic Hungarian Parliament. The view that greeted us when coming out of the Kosut Lajos Tere metro station was what we had returned to Budapest for. Image 5 shows how the Parliament building looks during two different times of the years. Both views are wonderful though in my personal opinion, the winter Parliament view has some sense of “wow” to it. After a quick photoshoot (Image 6, 7), we changed our Euros to Hungarian Forints at Western Union shop near the Parliament corner and had breakfast at a quaint little café. Sitting at that cafe with a huge spread of egg, bacon and freshly brewed coffee accompanied by Christmas carols playing in the backdrop, we fell in love with the city, yet again.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image5.jpg
(Image 5: Top – Hungarian Parliament in October 2017; Bottom – Hungarian Parliament in December 2018)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image6.jpg
(Image 6: Snow covered parliament)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image7.jpg
(Image 7: Trams traveling on snow covered tracks)

We had initially planned to walk down the Danube to the Chain Bridge and then cross over to Castle hill. However, the constant snow forced us to take a tram to the Chain Bridge. The walk across the Chain Bridge was probably the most difficult one of the entire trip. We faced strong gusts of wind blowing against our direction of motion and with it snow. It felt like 30 degrees below freezing point. That was the only instant I felt that we had travelled during the wrong time of the year.

However, things quickly changed for the better and soon we were headed up the slippery snowy steps of Castle hill (Image 8,9). We had already experienced the Funicular on our previous visits and decided against it this time. En-route to the top of the hill, we had our first glass of mulled wine – a fluid we decided to consume in sufficient quantity not only for our love for it but also to beat the chill. We headed up slowly managing the ice-covered stairs, stopping, intermittently for pictures (Image 10,11).

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image8.jpg
(Image 8: Slippery slope leading up to Castle Hill)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image9.jpeg
(Image 9: More slippery slope)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image10.jpg
(Image 10: The Chain Bridge and St. Stephen’s Cathedral from the steps of Castle Hill)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image11.jpg
(Image 11: Magnificent Budapest)

Once at the top we avoided the crowd that had gathered for the change of guard and headed straight for Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. The snow-covered courtyard looked majestic and every tree around it looked like a Christmas tree (Image 12). We walked around the courtyard, snapped a few photos, soaked in the views (Image 13, 14, 15).

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image12.jpg
(Image 12: S posing in front of a Christmas tree )

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image13.jpg
(Image 13: Festive mood all around Castle Hill)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image14.jpg
(Image 14: "White" Matthias Church)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image15.jpg
(Image 15: Fisherman’s Bastion in all its glory)

Then we took a bus from Castle hill straight to our first Christmas market – Deák Ferenc Tér M. The market was small and cute with lots of eating options and plenty of shopping options. We went around the small temporary huts (Image 16) contemplating what to get as memorabilia from this market. After spending some Forints on a few things for our home, we headed to the more established market – Vorosmarty Square. This market was only 1 stop away from Deák Ferenc Tér M and the journey was not without drama with S getting left behind on the platform while I made it on to the train.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image16.jpg
(Image 16: Christmas market at Deák Ferenc Tér M)

Vorosmarty Square is a bigger market (Image 17) with a central platform dedicated to eateries (Image 18). By this time, it was already noon and we were famished. We realized that walking around in the snow makes you feel hungrier than ever. After a delicious meal and a few body warming drinks (which included an extremely yummy hot chocolate with famous Mozart chocolate liqueur), we decided to go back to our apartment to drop off the things we had purchased. During evening, we walked down from our apartment to St. Stephen’s cathedral. The square was filled with a massive Christmas market and people were enjoying an ongoing light and sound show when we reached there (Image 19,20,21). From this market, we decided to visit the one place we missed during our previous visit to Budapest – Szimpla Kart.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image17.jpg
(Image 17: S posing in front of the Christmas tree at the market)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image18.jpg
(Image 18: Small make shift huts selling lip-smacking food at the market)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image19.jpg
(Image 19: Glimpse of the light and sound show at St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Budapest)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image20.jpg
(Image 20: Sea of human heads in the Christmas market)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image21.jpg
(Image 21: St. Stephen’s Cathedral all light up on a snowy evening)


Simply put, Szimpla Kart is one of the most famous ruin bars in the city (Image 22). The ruin bars are a wonderful concept in itself. The history of Budapest is incomplete without the mention of the effects of WWII. During the war, several of its buildings were destroyed due to the incessant bombings. Most of them were restored, however, some of them were not. These ruins were later converted to iconic pubs which are today famous all over the world and tourists from all countries visit these unique bars. A visit to Budapest is incomplete without visiting these ruin bars. Since we had covered other experiences of interest during our previous visit, we decided to call it a day but not before having a generous helping of the iconic Hungarian Goulash. Our only day in Budapest was a resounding hit. The city never disappoints.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image22.jpg
(Image 22: The fascinating interiors of Szimla Kert)

Last edited by feluda86 : 24th April 2019 at 14:00.
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Old 21st April 2019, 17:53   #3
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Prague: “If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among pearls” – Anon.


Our journey from Budapest to Prague was a long winding journey with its own set of misadventures. I will reserve that for another day and another post. We reached Prague at around six in the evening and the weather was beautifully cool when we got off our train. After getting our 72-hour travel pass (which is highly recommended for Prague) at Hlavni Nadrazi, we made our way to our AirBnb which was just a few minutes on foot from the Central Station near the Husinecka tram station.

Czech Republic uses their own currency – Czech Koruna (CZK). It is important to note here that changing currency in Prague can be a challenge as it is a major scam. You can lose a lot of money if not careful just changing money. These are the things to note and keep in mind:

1. Do not change money on the streets. You will be given Belarusian Rubbles which look a lot like the Czech Koruna but are worthless. This is well documented on the World wide web and you should avoid these people. They will seem like friendly people; however, THEY WILL SCAM YOU.
2. Check the hidden charges/commissions when changing money at the government approved kiosks. Many a time, you will see big 0% commission notices outside a shop but on scrutiny you will find that you will get only 70-75% of what you should get for a certain number of Euros. Always go in to a shop keeping the actual conversion in mind and benchmark the quote that you are getting with that number.

Since Prague is a Credit Card friendly country, I would suggest using your Travel/Credit/Debit card till you come across a good conversion agent. We found Alpha Prague at Namesti Republiky to be excellent. Since they are situated at a central Old town location, it is worth holding on to those Euros for a while. This place was recommended to us by our AirBnb host.

A short visit to the enchanting Old town Christmas Market of Prague (Image 23, 24, 25), a walk down the historic Charles Bridge and dinner at the Christmas Market in Namesti Republiky (Image 26) refreshed us thoroughly after a tiring train ride from Budapest. With this we called it a night in anticipation of a beautiful day in a few hours.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image23.jpeg
(Image 23: The beautifully lit up road next to the Cartier store at the Old town Square)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image24.jpeg
(Image 24: Beautiful Christmas Market at Prague Old Town Square)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image25.jpg
(Image 25: Tyn Church overlooking the Christmas Market at Old Town Square)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image26.jpeg
(Image: 26: Christmas Market at Namesti Republiky)

Day 1:

Refreshed from a good night’s sleep, we hit the roads early in the morning hoping to avoid the huge rush of tourists that Prague usually sees (Image 27). Christmas is one of the best times to visit these cities and the weather is cold yet not very cold, you get to experience the Christmas Markets, eat local homemade food at these markets and you get mostly local European tourists. We had an amazing breakfast near the Powder tower in the Old town and headed to Mala Strana (Lesser town if you want to translate it literally). The idea was to do the famous “Castle walk” where you get lost in the narrow meandering cobbled lanes of Old town, cross Charles Bridge and climb up the hill to Prague Castle in Mala Strana. En-route enjoy the view, some locally brewed beverages, local food and at all times have this enchanting city for company. You never feel alone on the streets of Prague – the city speaks to you (and so do the pick pockets – BEWARE!).

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image27.jpg
(Image 27: Relatively empty and tourist free streets of Prague)

Prague is a city that looks beautiful from the streets (Image 28) as well as from the top. The orange tilted roof tops and the slow meandering Vltava river make for the spectacular view from up top. We decided to cover as many of such vantage locations as possible. The first of these is at the entrance of the Charles Bridge where you need to go through a small door on the left and climb up the stairs to the top. You need to pay a small entrance fee when at the top and then enjoy the view from the river and the city from the top. The view is fascinating and I will let the pictures do the talking (Image 29, 30, 31 and 32). As with all such places, we lost track of time and ended up spending far more time than what we had planned for this.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image28.jpg
(Image 28: Beautiful ground up view of Prague Old Town Square)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image29.jpg
(Image 29: Glorious view of Prague Castle overlooking the Charles Bridge – shot taken from top of the Charles Bridge)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image30.jpg
(Image 30: Old Town Prague as seen from top of the Charles Bridge)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image31.jpg
(Image 31: Prague city on the banks of the Vlatva River)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image32.jpg
(Image 32: Clouds building up over Charles bridge and Prague Castle)

We got off the tower and walked across the Charles Bridge. This is the most iconic of the several bridges that span the Vlatva river. There are statues of the Holy Saints flanking the two sides of the bridge and when walking through you feel the gaze of the holy masters on you. The bridge is filed with tourists and local artists making the most of the wonderful view that is on offer here (Image 33, 34). We spent some time walking up and down this half a kilometer pedestrian only bridge and then headed to the second part of our “Castle walk”.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image33.jpg
(Image 33: Iconic Charles Bridge on river Vlatva)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image34.jpg
(Image 34: Tourists and local business galore on Charles Bridge)

The road got significantly steeper (Image 35) after crossing the bridge and we trudged along only stopping at a quaint little road side café for a locally brewed beverage. The Prague castle is located on a small hill a small distance away from the river. The view from the top of the Castle was very nice though a little distant due to its location (Image 36, 37). The more vantage viewpoints unfortunately were all occupied when we reached. There were two Christmas markets at the top of the hill. We decided to skip the smaller one outside the castle area (Image 38) and headed inside the Prague Castle houses the office of the Czech president and hence is guarded heavily. We went through an airport like security and looked up awestruck at the view that greeted us. You really have to crane your neck to see the top of St. Vitus Cathedral (Image 39). The Czech Republic's largest Christian building, the Roman Catholic St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala St. Vita) is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and contains the tombs of important saints and Bohemian kings. We did not go inside the Cathedral and instead walked down the narrow lane (Image 40) that goes past the structure towards the Christmas Market in the courtyard between St. Vitus Cathedral and Basilica of St. Georges. The Cathedral looks even more imposing from the behind (Image 41). The market itself was small and cute. We had some unhealthy and tasty Czech food with a Rum punch to keep ourselves warm as the temperature was certainly a little lower in the castle than in the city.

We walked down from the castle hill through a vineyard, took in the wonderful views of the city and headed to towards the nearest bus stop.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image35.jpg
(Image 35: Steep road from the river to the castle – this shot is taken on the way back)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image36.jpg
(Image 36: Prague city from top of the Prague Castle Hill)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image37.jpg
(Image 37: Beautiful orange tiled roofs of the houses contrasting God’s green hued dome)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image38.jpg
(Image 38: Small Christmas market just outside the Castle walls overlooking the city)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image39.jpg
(Image 39: Impressive structure of St. Vitus Cathedral)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image40.jpg
(Image 40: Narrow lane behind the cathedral heading towards the other Christmas Market)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image41.jpg
(Image 41: Imposing cathedral overlooking the Christmas market)

Our next destination was only 4 stops down the road from Prague Castle. The Dancing House in Prague is one of the most out of place yet fascinating piece of architecture in the city (Image 42). When we talk of Prague, we think of a combination of Gothic and European architecture. The Dancing House is very modern, quirky and reminds us of how it is important to hold on to our heritage at the same time embrace the good parts of moving on with time. The building when seen from the ground looks like two building joined at the hip in the middle of a ballet move. The structure which is a hotel houses a restaurant at the top. As said earlier, we did not want to miss any view of the city from the top. We headed to the restaurant and had a cup of hot, strong coffee with a raspberry pastry. The view from the top of the building was wonderful with the sun setting over the city (Image 43).

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image42.jpg
(Image 42: Unique modern design of the Dancing House)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image43.jpg
(Image 43: View from top of the Dancing House)

As it was getting dark and we were both fairly tired, we took the public transport to our apartment for a short rest. Later in the evening, we walked past the Old Prague Synagogue, across the river and to a wonderful restaurant called Jelinku in Mala Strana. Following a wonderful meal comprising of Mulled wine, a steak, traditional Czech Goulash and a wonderful Apple Strudel we called it a night.

Last edited by feluda86 : 24th April 2019 at 12:25.
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:09   #4
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (Prague Day 2)

Day 2:

Our second day in Prague was reserved mostly for sights and sounds outside the Old Town Square. We started our day with an early morning visit to the famed Wenceslas Square. It is one of the most important squares in New Prague and is dominated by the Czech National Museum (Image 44, 45, 46). 2018 signifies the 100 years of formation of Czechoslovakia as well as 25 years of separation of the two countries. The square which also is the commercial and business center of the city had plenty of banners put up showing these two significant historical landmarks. Needless to say, the square houses two Christmas markets and we had our breakfast here.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image44.jpg
(Image 44: Wenceslas Square dominated by the National Museum)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image45.jpg
(Image 45: Christmas Market at Wenceslas Square)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image46.jpg
(Image 46: Lovely view of the National Museum overlooking the market as well as the square)

After spending some time going about the square, we took the underground to a more distant location – to a castle which is not as renowned as some of the other castles and structures in Prague. Our next stop was the Vyšehrad.

The Vyšehrad comprises of one of the few locations outside the Old Town square which is a must visit. Located on the top of a hill, it commands several wonderful views of the city. One can actually spot the Prague Castle from the gardens here. What makes this place really unique is that unlike others castles and tourist viewpoints in Prague, there is absolutely no tourist in Vyšehrad. We found this very surprising as the views from top of the hill here are one of the most uninterrupted views of the city (Image 47, 48, 49). After a cup of coffee at a small restaurant at the top of the castle, we headed back to Old Town Prague.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image47.jpg
(Image 47: Uninterrupted view of the city from top of Vyšehrad)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image48.jpg
(Image 48: Vlatva river from Vyšehrad)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image49.jpg
(Image 49: Vyšehrad gardens)

At the Old Town, we had one unfinished business (rather I had) – climb to top of the Astronomical Clock Tower of Prague, take photos of the astonishing view of the Ty Church (overlooking the grand central Christmas Market) and take a guided tour of the city hall. We went up to the entrance of the clock tower and found that there was a long queue. We looked up the internet while waiting in line for some shorter way up. We found that booking the ticket online helps you not only cut the line but also saves 20 CZK per ticket. Without any delay, we quickly purchased the tickets online and headed up a spiraling staircase to the top of the Astronomical Clock Tower. We made it just before sunset and the views all round were just fascinating. This is the place where you get all the money shots of the city and the view of the grand Christmas Market ups the glam quotient of this place several notches (Image 50, 51). The place was extremely crowded and you have to really fight for your spot here. We managed to get several wonderful photos from this place. At sunset, it was as if someone turned on the “Beauty regulator” a couple of levels higher. Words cannot describe how beautiful this place is (Image 52, 53).


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image50.jpg
(Image 50: Tyn Church overlooking the Christmas Market as viewed from the top of the Prague Astronomical Tower)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image51.jpg
(Image 51: Sun playing hide and seek over the orange tiled roofs of Prague)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image52.jpg
(Image 52: Old Town Square lit up for the evening)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image53.jpg
(Image 53: Sun setting over Prague Castle hill as seen from the Astronomical Clock Tower)

The thing about these Central and Eastern European countries is that they are packed with modern history. The Wars left these places earmarked for history lessons. The City Town hall and the Astronomical clock tower are two of such places. The clock tower houses the world’s most complicated Astronomical clock. There are several other such clocks across Europe but none that is so complicated (Image 54). The story of the 12 saints that form the revolving “cuckoo” in this fascinating clock is sad as well as dramatic. The clock chimes every hour and tourists from all over the world collect in front of it to see the wonderful animation of the 12 saints go around one by one and the other antics at play during that time. It is one of the things to look forward to in Prague. Unfortunately, Prague was at the center of the second World War. During the Siege of Prague, the clock tower along with most of the city town hall was bombed and destroyed. The structures we see today are only reconstructions. One of the last pieces to be reconstructed was the Altar inside the cathedral here. After an enlightening tour of the town hall we headed for a short drink at the Christmas market. We later had dinner at the Lily restaurant next to the famous Cartier shop and headed home to call it a night.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image54.jpg
(Image 54: Astronomical clock tower)

Last edited by feluda86 : 22nd April 2019 at 10:12.
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:21   #5
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (Prague Day 3)

Day 3:

We had planned to visit the neighboring Czech city of Karlovy Vary during our last day here. However, we decided that we still were not done with Prague and stayed back in the city for one more day. The idea was to catch some of the photogenic places of the city without any tourist. The best time to do that was very early morning. We braced up for the cold and left our apartment for Charles Bridge just after sunrise. As expected there were not many tourists at the bridge at that hour. We had only civic workers and wedding shoot enthusiasts for company. This gave me the perfect opportunity to take some noise free shots of the Charles Bridge (Image 55, 56, 57).


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image55.jpg
(Image 55: Early morning revelers on Charles Bridge)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image56.jpg
(Image 56: Orange sky during sunrise over the city gives a mediaeval look)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image57.jpg
(Image 57: Tourist free Charles Bridge during the early morning hours – a recommended time of the day for visit)

From the bridge, we went across had breakfast at Good Food. This place is famous for its Chimney Cakes however, we decided to go for a traditional breakfast (albeit served in a Chimney). We highly recommend this place. We headed to the Prague Public Library which is just a few minutes’ walk from this place (next to the famed Apple Museum). We were pleasantly surprised to find a very strong reading culture here in the Czech. Our motive to visit this place was not to read books or to try and inculcate that habit, our point of interest was the infinite book tower housed in this building. This is tower made of books with mirrors so cleverly placed that it looks as if it is an infinite tower (Image 58, 59).


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image58.jpg
(Image 58: Illusionary infinity tower of books as viewed from the inside)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image59.jpg
(Image 59: Tower of books as viewed from the outside)

Our next stop was the Prague city hall which housed one of the few surviving Paternoster lifts in the world. This is a non-stop lift that goes up and down in a circular motion without stopping at any particular floor. One has to “jump in” and “jump out” of the life at the desired floors (Image 60). This can be a really amusing for the kids visiting this place. From here we headed to have the most amazing lunch that we have had in Prague. This was at a small hidden restaurant called Roesel Beer and Cake in Mala Strana. The place is cheap, haunted by only locals and had the most amazing pot pie that we have ever had. We came to know of this place courtesy a very popular Prague guide vlog (Janek Rubes - The Honest Prague Guide – must follow before a visit to Prague - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7...VQi7vRbc1bNjJA).


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image60.jpg
(Image 60: Paternoster Lifts)

Prague was the home of one of the greatest modern-day writers in the world – Franz Kafka. One must visit the Franz Kafka museum when visiting the city. It has a wonderfully amusing architecture in front of the museum (Image 61). We got some cakes and sweets (Image 62, 63) from the desert shop in the museum and headed to the banks of the river to meet the Swans (Image 64, 65). As the sun set over the city, it got a little cloudy and started to drizzle. We decided to head to our apartment and rest before returning for the one item left on our list in Prague – a fancy Jazz dinner.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image61.jpg
(Image 61: Amusing architecture outside the Kafka museum)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image62.jpg
(Image 62: Christmas delicacies available outside the museum)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image63.jpg
(Image 63: Instagram money shot with the famous Central European Chimney desert)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image64.jpg
(Image 64: Swans flocking near the banks of the river create a nice view with the Charles bridge in the background)


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image65.jpg
(Image 65: As the sun sets, the birds start to disperse creating a cacophony of sensory experiences)

We had dinner at a jazz restaurant called V Zatisi next to the Apple Museum. The dinner was pleasant and food was excellent. What was not was the fact that two not so pleasant looking gentlemen tried to pull off a quick one by strategically sitting behind us and having his hand in my jacket. Having realized this, I quickly removed my jacket and the men just walked off. As said earlier, Prague is a city of pickpockets and scammers (sad that this was the last experience that we had in an otherwise wonderful stay), if you are not careful, you will be robber/scammed/cheated.

As we packed and left the apartment early next morning for the train station, it started to snow in Prague. It was as if the city was crying for us leaving. Reminded me of a famous quote by author C.J. Roberts – “Will you cry? Will you miss me?”

Last edited by feluda86 : 24th April 2019 at 12:18. Reason: correction
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:25   #6
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (Evening in Vienna)

Vienna: “When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?” – Billy Joel

Our penultimate stop was Vienna – a city that we cannot get out of our mind and bodies. Vienna was our first “city-love” and just like any first love, we cannot forget Vienna. Our train journey to Vienna was as eventful as the endless snow-covered terrain outside. We reached Vienna just after lunching hours. Our apartment was near the Museum Quarter station. It was big and airy and Value of Money. After putting up our legs for a couple of hours on reaching the apartment we headed out in search of Europe’s perfect Christmas market. As it was drizzling, I decided not to take my camera out and rely only on the iPhone (biggest regret of the trip).

We roamed around the famous Vienna city cafes for a while before heading out to Stephanplatz – our favorite spot in Vienna. We love the spired buildings and awe-inspiring architecture that one spots at this square. The market at Stephanplatz was small but wonderful (Image 66). One can actually buy these cute shoe shaped mugs that are used to serve drinks. The best part about these mugs is that they are unique to each of the markets. We got one from the Stephenplatz market (Image 67). After quite a significant amount of souvenir shopping we headed to the bigger market of Vienna – Rathaus. We were overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of this market (Image 68, 69 and 70). This was by far the biggest and the most elaborate market that we saw on this trip. It will also not be an understatement that was also the most well decorated and beautiful market. No wonder, Vienna topped the list for best Christmas markets in Europe for several of the travel enthusiasts that we came across. Our decision to take this detour via Vienna was not in vain – Vienna never disappoints. After reveling in the cultural activities in the market and having some eatables we headed out for dinner at a nearby restaurant. The food in Vienna was as usual top notch and we called it a night early.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image66.jpg
(Image 66: Christmas market at Stephanplatz)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image67.jpg
(Image 67: Lovely mulled wine mugs that one can purchase at these Christmas markets in Vienna and Bratislava apart from places in southern Germany)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image68.jpg
(Image 68: Crowded and spectacular Christmas market at Rathaus in Vienna)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image69.jpg
(Image 69: Mug we got from the Rathaus Christmas market)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image70.jpg
(Image 70: Beautifully lit up Rathaus building with an enormous and decorated Christmas tree in front of it)
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:33   #7
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (Half a day in Bratislava)

Bratislava: “I have seen war. I hate war” – F.D. Roosevelt

We reached Bratislava in good time and the moment we landed in the city we knew we were no longer in conventional Europe. The station seems more like an Indian one than that belonging to a European capital city. The services outside the railway station were equally bad. This was one of the reasons we had decided to avoid taking he train to Budapest on our way in. As before, we called in a cab using the Taxify app and in true “Indian” fashion, reached us after 25 minutes. The city is small and it took us hardly 10 minutes to get to our apartment which was right in the middle of the Old Town Square overlooking the castle. We could not have asked for a better location in a city we were planning to spend only a night.

Our host was amazing who called in and explained the self-check in procedure to us. After checking ourselves in, we realized we had left the best apartment for the end. This is hands down the best AirBnb that we have ever stayed in. It was fully stocked and wonderfully furnished (Image 71, 72). The best part was that the wall behind the bed was literally converted to a wall clock. After admiring and obsessing over some of the kitchen equipment in the apartment, we headed out for lunch.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image71.jpg
(Image 71: Tastefully set up and well stocked AirBnb in Bratislava)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image72.jpg
(Image: 72: Wonderful view from the room – the Bratislava castle in direct line of sight)

A simple google search revealed that we were very close to one of the best reviewed restaurants in the city – Zylinder Café Restaurant. The food there was among the best that we have had on this trip (not that we have had any bad meal) for the price. Bratislava is a city where history has been written and rewritten several times. The fact that it is located on a mountainous terrain and on the banks of one of the most important rivers in the region (Danube), it has been the target of many a leader. This prompted us to take a guided tour (one of the several state sponsored free tours) of the city castle which has been witness to all the history that this city has experienced. Hence, immediately after lunch we headed to the meeting location at the center of the Old Town Square in the middle of the Christmas market there (Image 73, 74). The location is a little tricky to find however, after a few minutes of walking around we managed to find it. For reference, it is right opposite the US consulate.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image73.jpg
(Image 73: Snow covered Christmas market in Old Town Bratislava)

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image74.jpg
(Image 74: Crowd near the meeting point for the tour)

Bratislava was a couple of degrees colder than the other cities we had been to on this tour and due to the wind, the chill factor was severe. However, our love for history was not to be deterred by that. We braved the chill, wind and snow to successfully complete one of the most entertaining tours on the trip. This was totally worth the effort. We went all round the Old Town Square with the guide explaining horrors that the citizens of Bratislava suffered at the hands of the communists and Nazis. We got to know how this small country suffered due to the Russian liberation reforms post the second world war and how rest of the world were just silent witnesses. One of the major products of the Cold war competition was the UFO bridge (Image 75) across the river Danube and the countless people that lost lives and homes due to its construction. One can clearly see the progression of history in Bratislava when one views the city from atop Castle hill. The liberation from a Communist regime to the modern era is sharp and the city remembers the horrors that it suffered in the several years.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image75.jpg
(Image 75: The UFO bridge in the distance – apologies for the poor picture but it was really freezing at the top of the castle)

The castle itself is a very bland looking building. It looks like an upside-down table (Image 76). The strategic location of this castle made it one of the unconquered ones in Europe. It has managed to withstand attacks from Napoleon and Hitler however, was burnt down in in the mid 20th century by a group of Italian construction workers who had slept off during a party. At the end of the tour, we shopped around for souvenirs at the top of the hill. We were both cold from the two-hour long tour and decided to have coffee at the restaurant there. The view of the castle at night is surreal.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image76.jpg
(Image 76: Bratislava Castle in its full glory at night)

Since this was our last night of the trip, we decided to make most of it by walking around the old town square and a bit beyond. The streets of the city are narrow and soaked with molten snow (Image 77). Several minutes of wandering around and we knew we underestimated the unique appeal that this small city has. Small houses built close together, earmarked with painful marks of history tell a painful story of the history of Bratislava. For all future travelers, Bratislava is not a city to be covered in a day, it deserves much more than that, the historical significance of the city deserves much more than that. One of the places that we missed was the Blue church.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image77.jpg
(Image 77: Empty desolate streets with snow covered houses in Bratislava)

Our wanderings led us to the city’s biggest Christmas market, tucked away in a corner of this history laden city (Image 78). Since this was the last market of our trip, we decided to make the most of it. The cold encouraged us to fill ourselves with warm drinks like Jager Tea, Rum punch and Mulled wine. We spent a fortune on there here. We had dinner at a local restaurant and called it a night for the final time on this trip in Europe.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image78.jpg
(Image 78: Neat little Christmas market tucked away in Bratislava)

Last edited by feluda86 : 24th April 2019 at 12:22.
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:35   #8
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (The way back)

The way back: “If you don’t find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” – F.A. Clark


The next morning, we woke up to a snowy Bratislava. After several attempts to book a cab, we finally managed to get one after 30 minutes. A short cab ride to the airport (in a BMW 3 series GT no less), we got the formalities done and waited for boarding. The airport houses a life size model of a plane from the days of the past (Image 79) which adds to the ambiance. Bad weather delayed our flight from Bratislava (to Dubai) by no less than one hour and thirty minutes. Despite several attempts to inform the crew that we had a connecting flight to Mumbai from Dubai, no attempts were made by the crew to inform the ground staff. On landing in Dubai (20 minutes before the departure time for the Dubai-Mumbai flight), we made a run for the gate. We were unfortunately told at the gate that flight had already departed from the terminal (mind you there were 10 minutes left for the actual scheduled departure time). FlyDubai, fully aware that there were passengers in bound (no less than 8 passengers) from Bratislava for the Mumbai flight, had allowed the flight to leave 15 minutes before time – inexcusable.


In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-image79.jpg
(Image 79: Life size model of a plane in Bratislava)

We were put up for the night at the Dubai International Hotel at the terminal, booked on an Emirates flight the following afternoon and our food was taken care of by FlyDubai. We were actually given coupons to a restaurant that was closed at that point in time which lead to a fairly elaborate showdown between S and the manager. Never the less we got food. Next morning, after breakfast we started off exploring the shopping mall in the terminal.

A non-eventful flight back to Mumbai and a cab ride back to Pune ended an otherwise eventful but memorable trip – a trip we will not forget easily.
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Old 21st April 2019, 18:39   #9
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Default Re: In Search of the Perfect Christmas Market (Tips and tricks)

Small yet significant tips for travelers

1. While planning, and traveling on your own (not taking the help of travel agents) may not be everyone’s thing, but we would highly recommend it. This way you get to live in the city and making mistakes and getting lost are also part of the charm of exploring an unknown city. The most beautiful part of a city is often not part of a sightseeing list or travel blog but it is the small bylanes, the odd grocery shop, the unassuming roadside bakery or the quirky street musician that gives a city its soul and character.

2. If planning on your own, it is very important to do your research. Spend few weeks if not months going through videos, travel blogs and other information. Make yourself virtually familiar with the place you are visiting. You will be pleasantly surprised how much information is there on the internet. Planning for a back-packing trip can teach you a lot about life.

3. We booked every travel option that was available for booking while in India. This included flight tickets and tickets to long distance trains within the country/intercountry. This we believe gives the trip a skeleton (more like the chassis of a car). The rest of the trip can be planned around these few tickets. This also saves good money as most train tickets in Europe become expensive if they are bought very close to the travel date.

4. While Airbnb/homestay may not be every body’s thing, but coming back to home and having the option of cooking your own meal (if not feeling well or otherwise) is a flexibility that travelers will enjoy. You may not have the luxury of a fancy hotel, but it cost half the price and often gives you an option to explore the culture of the place. The best place in our opinion to soak in the culture of a country is by shopping for local groceries in a supermarket. With homestay/Airbnb you will not only explore the city but also live it. Needless to say, go for the best rated homestays.

5. Be prepared to walk a lot. That is the best way to know places. The nice road side eatery might be hidden in a small lane. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. If you know cycling would suggest that you rent cycles.
6. Every major city has some form of a travel card that allows for freebies. Have a look at them and decide whether they make sense to you. For the cities, we went to:
Vienna: The travel pass (24,48 and 72 hour passes) are a must. The Vienna City pass (Yellow and red) make sense only if you plan to stay more than 3 days at a stretch.
Prague: Prague travel pass is extremely convenient and a must
Bratislava: Bratislava has poor public transport infrastructure and does not make sense having a card. However, few points to note here are
• Very poor infrastructure at the Central Station (no escalator, place to sit etc.)
• Ticket checkers target tourists to milk money. It is important to have the right tickets with out and stand your ground when confronted.
• Most places in the city are within walking distances from each other.
Budapest: City is cheaper than most European cities. Passes apart from the travel passes not needed.

7. For a city like Vienna which has a lot of sightseeing options, it is very important to prioritize and decide how best you can experience the city within the given time. Vienna is a city of museums, and S is a big fan of museums, but we decided to give them a pass this time as that would have significantly eaten into the time we needed to explore the city. Try not to schedule too many things in 1 day, it takes the fun away.

8. Comment on Eurail: For the countries, we visited, and for our travel schedule, EURAIL turned out to be more expensive than buying first class/second class tickets on OBB. Though EURAIL looks very lucrative, do your research and read the fine prints. Most European countries have their own railways like OBB for Austria, D-Bahn for Germany which offer as good if not better deals than EURAIL.

9. We got OBB tickets from India and reserved seats during booking. We used the official OBB app to book the tickets. The ticket prices during peak season are variable much like flight prices. Proper planning and pre-booking can save a lot of hassle later. Buy first class tickets on OBB if your train originates in the Eastern European countries.

10. We had equally divided cash/travel card expenses. We carried 2 travel cards from 2 different providers just to be sure. We found HDFC Regalia Forex to have the lowest rates (apart from ATM withdrawal). ICICI Euro card is also good if all your spending is going to be in Euro. Keep in mind that you need to have good amount of cash in local currency wherever you go. In our experience, there are small curio and souvenir shops which will decline to accept cards now and then.

11. Our expense break-up (Image 80).

Communication - 2.52%
Shopping + Duty Free - 10.43%
Entertainment - 1.06%
Health - 1.171%
Lodging - 12.30%
Food - 18.97%
Miscellaneous - 0.29%
Travel - 50.66%
Visa Fee (for 1) - 2.59%


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(Image 80: Expense break up in %)

Last edited by feluda86 : 21st April 2019 at 18:45. Reason: ADDED INFORMATION
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Old 24th April 2019, 14:06   #10
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Default re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 24th April 2019, 14:24   #11
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Default re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Thanks for sharing. Excellent story with some great photography and lots of practical tips for others to benefit from!

Jeroen
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Old 25th April 2019, 05:15   #12
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Default Re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Enjoyed reading your travelogue.

While winter months can be real cold for us, as we come from a blazing hot country (Pune does get a semi decent Winter), the landscape and beauty does change a lot. As you've said and now seen, you got to try and experience both if you can.

I was trying to figure out how that elevator works but could not. Need to read up about it.

The ticket examiner experience does surprise me, that too in a developed country. The last time I went through something like this was when I was new in Bombay. I took a local train to somewhere, got off and hung around the station too long (Being a train spotter). When I decided to leave the station premises, the ticket examiner pulled me over and said that my ticket was no longer valid. He could be right. He also guessed pretty easily and from my responses (My hindi makes people laugh) that I was new around town so the perfect case to screw around with. I ended up giving away Rs. 100 as bribe which was a lot in 2005. Aside from this, I've had only good memories of Bombay.

I have also realized, after looking at your photos, that I need a wide angle lens. I do have my old Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens (Not wide angle for sure) from my FM but my decade old D3000 can't meter with this lens. I'll have to do a bit of guess work. The more professional Nikon cameras can meter with old SLR lenses.

Air BNB is also something I need to try.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 25th April 2019, 10:29   #13
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Default Re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
Enjoyed reading your travelogue.

While winter months can be real cold for us, as we come from a blazing hot country (Pune does get a semi decent Winter), the landscape and beauty does change a lot. As you've said and now seen, you got to try and experience both if you can.
You will be amazed how well the body adapts to cold. With the regular visits to the Scandinavian countries, I have begun to grow very fond of the cold pollution free weather. What bothers me is the lack of sunlight hours in winter. That sets me off!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
The ticket examiner experience does surprise me, that too in a developed country. The last time I went through something like this was when I was new in Bombay. I took a local train to somewhere, got off and hung around the station too long (Being a train spotter). When I decided to leave the station premises, the ticket examiner pulled me over and said that my ticket was no longer valid. He could be right. He also guessed pretty easily and from my responses (My hindi makes people laugh) that I was new around town so the perfect case to screw around with. I ended up giving away Rs. 100 as bribe which was a lot in 2005. Aside from this, I've had only good memories of Bombay.
That's only in Bratislava. Remember Slovakia is not a developed country by European standards. They have been long under the regressive Communist rule to be called developed at this moment. Things however are changing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
I have also realized, after looking at your photos, that I need a wide angle lens. I do have my old Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens (Not wide angle for sure) from my FM but my decade old D3000 can't meter with this lens. I'll have to do a bit of guess work. The more professional Nikon cameras can meter with old SLR lenses.
The Tokina that I have is a wonderful lens - sharp and wide. The good thing is when the need be it can shoot f/2.8 even at 16mm. This lens has a focusing meter on itself - you do not need focusing meter on the body for this to work.
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Old 25th April 2019, 10:30   #14
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Default Re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Amazing pictures feluda86. Thanks for sharing.

Prague and Vienna are so beautiful. Hungary as well. Eastern Europe is a lovely place and is on my bucket list. Someday.

Must be a completely different experience visiting Hungary in Autumn as well as in Winter. I have experienced the same in Scotland. Visited the place in summer, autumn and winter. Just spring left . Penned down a part of that experience here.

I have been to a few Christmas markets in Edinburgh and Manchester. Both were lovely. Here are a few terrible phone pictures. I should have better pics but will need to search.

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-img_20171128_130456681.jpg

In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more-img_20171213_192323618.jpg
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Old 25th April 2019, 10:51   #15
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Default Re: In search of the perfect Christmas market - Bratislava, Budapest, Prague & more

Lovely lovely pictures. Took me back in time when I backpacked East Europe in 2017. :-)
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