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  1. 1. Czech Republic Prague: The magical city of bridges, cathedrals, clock towers and church domes, whose architectural landscape has been mirrored in the surface of the Vltava river for more than ten centuries. Quite impossible to forget is an evening stroll along Charles Bridge or a late afternoon dinner at an Italian café at the old town square, a stone’s throw from the famous astronomical clock, and a minitrain ride from the royal castle through cobble streets to Mala Strana, the shopping district. Our tour group stayed at Crowne Plaza Hotel for four days (Aug 15-18). Everyday we took the tram because the terminal is right in front of our hotel Our city tour took us to the Royal Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George Basilica. the Golden Lane where Kafka once lived, the Old Town square, the Tyn Church and the statue of Jan Hus (the religious reformer who was burned at the stake), Karlova Street, St. Nicholas Church, and Church of Our Lady Victorious where the venerated Sto. Niño de Praga is enshrined. (Click for Prague photos) %3a// Built in the mid-14th century with its pillars decorated with 30 baroque sculptures of saints, the famous landmark Charles Bridge is romantic day and night. Another “must-see” is the astronomical clock, where each hour, the twelve apostles take turns peeking out from two small windows above the clock. At the same time, figures symbolizing Death, Vanity, Greed, and the Ottoman Invader placed around the clock move with the sound of the clock The largest castle in the world, based on the Guinness Book of Records, is Prague castle which is dominated by the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas But there’s more to the Czech Republic than just Prague! The country’s smaller towns have plenty to offer visitors, who will be impressed by their well- preserved heritage sites, such as the Nelahozeves Castle, a late Renaissance chateau built in 1623 and owned by the Lobkowicz family, famous for its historical interiors and the Roudnice Lobkowicz art collection, the biggest private collection in Bohemia. After the tour, we had fine dining inside the castle’s restaurant. Walking distance from the castle is birthplace of Anton Dvorak, the famous Czech composer. Lednice in the region of South Moravia is an architectural complex of an English Tudor mansion (ca. 16 to 17th cent) owned by the Liechtenstein Family, surrounded by a Baroque park that merges with the natural landscape with a number of romantic buildings (the Minaret, the ruin of the Roman aqueduct) and a glasshouse, the oldest construction of its kind in Europe. (Click here for photos:
  2. 2. %3a// The second largest town is Brno, the traditional capital of Moravia, where Napoleon Bonaparte once held his headquarters. Here we spent half a day visiting the Gothic cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Capuchin Church of the Holy Cross and its monastery where there’s a crypt of skulls and bones. The amber earrings were much cheaper here than in Prague. Picturesque Tábor, another town where we had the best pizza and Czech beer, boasts a history as fascinating as any town in Prague because its history is linked with the Hussite movement. This is the town square, our meeting point. Our last day in Prague was spent visiting the Church of Our Lady Victorious and at the town square for last minute shopping, followed by an early dinner at a sidewalk restaurant with Nap Cuenco, Ruthie and the couple, Rona and Alex. We bid our final goodbye to Prague as we strolled Charles Bridge for a last look at Mala Strana, the lesser town. By 5pm, we were back in Hilton Vienna Aug. 18 and had our usual meal at the terrace facing the Danube River.