Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pops' Travel Guide, Prague

View of Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Well, we had a short flight from Copenhagen to Prague or "Praha" and a good nights sleep. Today we are exploring the city.

Prague was annexed by Germany before WWII and because of that it didn't endure air raids that would have destroyed parts of the city. With that in mind, Prague is one of the most preserved cities in Europe. Since this was my first time in Prague I didn't know what to expect and I was thoroughly delighted by what I found.

We started by exploring the magnificent walled in castle with it's beautiful St. Vital Cathedral. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. We spent a half day there exploring the many parts of the museum. My favorites were the church, torture chamber, and military artifacts. The castle is up on a hill and you also get an incredible view of the city.

From there we walked down the hill to the river and across the Charles bridge. It is one of Prague's most beautiful structures. The bridge is lined with many statues.

On the other side of the bridge we were ready for lunch and we had many outdoor cafes to choose from. It was nice sitting outside with good food and a beer enjoying the sights.

After lunch it was a short walk through narrow streets to the plaza in the city center. Along the way were many shops and attractions. In the plaza we found the "Astronomical Clock" and tower. Also you can see the Gothic Tyn Church. After a few hours of walking we were ready for another beer so an outdoor cafe in the plaza made sense. I went into the Hard Rock Cafe to buy a few gifts later we found a "Hooters" for chicken wings and more beer. I know these are American but what the hell!

Tyn Church

We asked around and found out the nightlife really didn't start until midnight so we wanted a bar we could settle down in and relax. Most people recommended a place called "Hemingway" along the river. They warned us that it was one of the most expensive bars in Prague but we decided to go anyway. Now, I haven't mentioned it yet but expensive in Prague is not what I would consider expensive even more so when just arriving from Denmark. "Hemingway" was less expensive than any bar in Copenhagen. This is a very nice bar and should be considered one of the best bars in Europe. We had mixed drinks and Kevin and I finished with Absinthe which was a production in itself. With a good start there we ended up at a place called James Dean that has a basement bar with entertainment. On the main floor is a restaurant that looks like a 1950's american hamburger joint.

Hemingway Bar
Prague has become one of my favorite cities in Europe. The size of Prague and the accessibility make it easy to see by walking. You could probably see everything in the city in 2 or 3 easy days.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pops' Travel Guide, Copenhagen Day 2

On this day we had an early evening flight to Prague so we had most of the day to show Ryan more of Copenhagen. We started the day with a tour of Rosenborg Castle and the Danish Crown Jewels. The tour of the castle and the crown jewels are worth seeing. After that it was time for a beer and we found a really nice outdoor spot in the middle of a square. That still gave us enough time to meet David for lunch by his work. For lunch we ended up going to a deli for sandwiches and beer which we took to a bench along one of the canals. The Danes know how to relax. The sun was out and it felt good to sit there watching the tour boats go by. David only had an hour for lunch and time went by too fast. After saying our goodbyes it was off to see more of Copenhagen.

This time we were the ones on the tour boats in the canals. We walked over to Nyhavn and bought tickets for a tour. If you want to see a lot of Copenhagen without walking then the canal tours are the way to go. Along the tour you will see "The Little Mermaid", "Our Saviour Church (which we walked to the top of), The Royal Yacht, many government building, the Navy yard, and the many neighborhoods  along the canal. This is a must tour if you are in Copenhagen.

After the tour was more beer and a stop at a hot dog wagon. Kevin's favorite is the French Hot Dog. It is a bun with the end cut off and hollowed out to fit the hot dog. They will put mustard, ketchup, etc inside the bun and then insert the dog. It is very tasty.

What we missed but I have seen many times before were the lakes, Kronenborg Castle, and inside Tivoli.

I have a picture of the bicycles in Copenhagen which is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.

If the weather was warmer we could have gone to one of the many beaches around Copenhagen. Instead we walked around enjoying the sites until it was time to go to the airport. A quick train ride from the city center to the airport and we were ready to head off to Prague.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pops' Travel Guide, Copenhagen

After visiting the relatives in Holeby we had time to see Copenhagen and to see my cousin David and his girlfriend Stine. In all of Europe, Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities. For one thing, there is a lot of water from the canals and lakes and the sea. Also, there is a lot of history with castles and palaces, museums, government buildings and churches. When the weather is nice I like to grab a beer and a hot dog from one of the hot dog wagons and relax. There are plenty of places to do that. The Danes appreciate the weather when the sun is out and enjoying the outdoors is a must.

On this day we went on a walking tour of the city. Starting from our hotel near Tivoli we headed toward Nyhavn, the royal palace and then along the waterfront to one of my favorite fountains of a Norse God on a chariot in water (The Gefion Fountain).

David wanted to meet at a restaurant called Almanak "The Standard" for lunch which is in the former Custom House. The Almanak is owned by the same owner of Noma which is ranked as the #1 restaurant in the world. The Almanak is noted for it's open faced Danish sandwiches and sits along the waterfront. We sat outside and enjoyed two open faced sandwiches each with beer. We were also able to catch up with David on what's been going on in his life. After lunch we headed over to Christiania, also know as Freetown, an old army base taken over by hippies and has it's own society and legalized marijuana. Then later the Our Savior Church which has a steeple with stairs on the outside of the steeple and a great view of the city. Later we went to Davids condo which is fairly new with a view of the water and Copenhagen. We picked up Stine and headed to a restaurant (Cocks and Cows) that specializes in hamburgers. I think the owner wanted it to be Americanized so the menu had some interesting items. One of note was a hamburger with salsa, guacamole, jalapeno peppers and cheddar cheese called "The Illegal". When we pointed out that we didn't think we could get away with calling a burger with Mexican ingredients "The Illegal" in the states David had no idea what the name meant. After we explained it to him he got a good laugh. They also had "The Governator" and "The Juicy Lucy" as well as steaks, chicken and ribs. Their link is below if you want to check it out on your next trip.

We then went to a nice bar in a converted apartment not far from the restaurant. After having drinks for about an hour David and Stine left for home and we left in search of another bar. Tuesday nights are slow in Copenhagen but we found an Irish Pub called "The Dubliner" along the walking street and settled in there. After more Guinness and the fact that the bar closed on us we left for the hotel. I have always felt safe walking in Copenhagen, even late at night. It was after 2am, the streets were fairly empty, but it was a good walk.

Here are some URL's of places we went to:

The Standard

Cocks and Cows

Best Bars in Copenhagen

One more partial day in Copenhagen and then we leave for Prague.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pops' Travel Guide, Apple Hill California

With fall in the air it's time to consider a trip to Apple Hill in Northern California. Apple Hill is located east of Sacramento on highway 50. The weather in October is perfect in Northern California and the orchards all offer delicious apples and baked items. Some even have arts and crafts, and rides for the children. We have made it a tradition and go every year.

If you have time also check out some of the wineries in the area. Most have free tasting.

Take highway 50 from Sacramento to Placerville, about 45 minutes. Once in Placerville there are many posted exits to Apple Hill. You can exit as high up as Camino. At the first orchard get a free map and all the orchards will be marked.

Later in the year go up again as they also have Christmas Tree Farms.

Pops' Travel Guide, Visiting Family in Denmark

After the F1 race in Monza we drove to the airport for a flight up to Copenhagen. It was a fairly short flight and in no time we were in Copenhagen. We stayed at the CabInn in downtown Copenhagen just behind Tivoli. It is very easy to get downtown from the airport by a clean and quick train ride. The train station is just across the street from Tivoli and we were able to walk to the hotel. The CabInn is a no frills hotel but since it was me and My son and his friend it was fine. The central location in Copenhagen made more sense and we only used the room to sleep and in most days there wasn't much of that. The first night we got to the hotel around 11 pm and with the free WiFi and Dish Anywhere we were able to watch our 49ers live on my tablet. That and a bottle of scotch and a few snacks made a perfect ending to the day. We started the day watching the Italian Grand Prix in Monza and finish the day watching the Niner game in our room in Copenhagen. What a Day!

We woke up the next day and picked up a rental car for the day so we could drive the one and half hours to see the family in Holeby, Denmark. Hertz has a location in Copenhagen center that we were able to walk to. We left early so we could stop at Frederiksborg Slot (Castle) in Hilerod, Denmark. The palace was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV and sits on the edge of a lake. It is the largest Renaissance Palace in Scandinavia. We toured the palace and also the grounds around the palace including the beautiful gardens. Denmark has a lot of castles and palaces and this one is a must see.

After seeing the palace we continued on to Holeby which is on the island of Lolland in southern Denmark. From Lolland you can take a ferry to Germany and be there in about 45 minutes. We found out from our relatives that Denmark is starting construction of a tunnel from Lolland to Germany. With the new tunnel you will be able to drive from Norway to the European mainland without going on a ferry. Not only will it benefit travelers but it will be a huge benefit to truckers.

I always look forward to seeing my Danish relatives. They are really down to earth and make us feel welcome. I'm amazed how much the family grows every time we see them. Kevin and Ryan ended up going to a local soccer field to kick a soccer ball around with the younger children. Danish meals are really close to what we eat at home. A typical meal will be a beef or pork roast, potatoes, and vegetables.Don't worry about not getting enough to eat, you always get your fill.We had to drive back to Copenhagen after dinner so no alcohol for me but Kevin and Ryan got to  partake in the tradition of stopping eating when someone says skoal and lifting your drink as a toast.

It was so nice to see them and I hated to leave. In Copenhagen I have my cousin David and we would see him the next day.