My last trip was to Prague which was a personal vacation with my daughter and niece, also known as double trouble! My visa experience was really tough and I was highly skeptical about my choice of vacation. But I have to say the city treated me and the kids with much kindness and I am keen to go back again! Prague is the place where I fell in love with trams! A lot of travel has been happening this year which makes me happy, But a lot less blogging has happened which makes me sad. I was actually blogging more regularly when I used to work full time as then my leaves were limited and I always found time for blogging when I was home! I have to learn to find the balance. But this post is about trams in Prague, so I move on!
There are many things in the beautiful city of Prague that you could fall in love with, but I fell for the red trams! I am a metro (underground) person actually but Prague has both, metros and trams. And trams won on this trip.
I stayed in what is known as Praha 1. It is the historical region in Prague with many attractions like the Charles Bride, Astronomical Clock, the Prague Castle, etc. The tram stop and the metro station of Namesti Republiky were a few minutes walk from our hotel, Astoria Prague.
Actually one of the first things I did was to get a data card so that I could use Google Maps to get around the city. Vodafone gave me a good deal, I had 1.5 GB data for 400 koruna and it was more than enough was 4 days! In the hotel I was using the WiFi. If you buy a Prague Card you can use all public transport till your card is valid. Armed with the Prague Card and Google Maps I was ready to explore the city! I now have Delhi Metro, Bangkok MRT, Dubai Metro, Singapore MRT and Prague Card in my collection.
On our first venture we took the metro! The underground is really deep and the girls were giggling nervously on the escalators. There were a lot of runners out in the city that day as a half marathon was happening! I asked one of them about directions. He mentioned that I could have taken the tram too. We eventually reached the Charles Bridge (Pražský Most) using the underground but after that we always took the tram.
Tram 15 was our best friend which took us to Staromestska Republiky and to Cechuv Most, two of our favorite places. Staromestska Republiky was close to the Charles Bridge where we used to hang out a lot. And Cehuv Most was just a hop away from Lenta Park (Letenské Sady) which gives a fantastic view of the city. The girls loved the park! We occasionally took Trams 22 and 23 too.
The sight of the red tram chugging along the scenic routes was a pleasure in itself. What added to the charm was the honor system. There is no ticket checking on the public transport. You are supposed to buy a ticket. I read that there could be inspections but I never saw one in all of my five days!
So after my trip to Prague I have added trams to my list of favorites along with the metro rides!
Helsinki was more of a stopover on my Lapland trip with Nokia. When I arrived, it was 12.00 midnight. All I did was to take a taxi and crash at the Airport Holiday Inn. Now what would I give to take a taxi without any fear at midnight in Delhi but then I wonder if it will ever happen in my lifetime? However, I digress.
The next morning I was back at the airport to take a flight to Kittila. I met Helsinki properly after I came back from Lapland. The first evening we went to the city center by taking a tram. People speak English easily in Finland and that was quite helpful.
There were four of us. The agenda for the evening was shopping and dinner. There were at least four instances in one evening when men held doors at shopping complexes for all the four of us. Now that made such a favorable impression on me!
I was also happy to see the local people clad warmly. Otherwise there have been times when to me it felt like Indian winter, people in other nations went ahead and declared summer! No such confusion at Helsinki, everyone agreed that it was still winter in March.
The same evening, I spotted this limousine and made a mental note to check out what was this club all about. Looks like it was a strip club! As it was a Saturday evening, the roads were full of people. In fact we had to try a few restaurants before we could find a seat for four. The weather was still cold but minus 3-4 felt surprisingly bearable after -22 of Kittila! Even though we were late in packing up for the night I promised myself a few hour’s walk in the morning at Helsinki.
The next day morning I got up before the alarm went off. But all I wanted was more sleep. I somehow dragged myself out of the bed from Hilton Strand so that I could steal a few moments at Helsinki. I started walking around the hotel first, the frozen lake looked cold and forbidding in the morning light. There were others who were up and about, either on a morning jog or just enjoying the sun.
I eventually found my way to the Helsinki Cathedral again. Early in the morning it was used by the locals as a jogging track, particularly the stairs. I enjoyed the cold and the clear weather. While I was about to leave the first tour bus discarded the excited tourists at the cathedral. For me, it was almost time to head back home.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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