City break!
Du 31 mai au 9 juin 2019
10 jours
Partager ce carnet de voyage
1
Le Mans 

I got to spend a few days in my hometown, catching up with my family, my friends, my cats, and with cheese and wine (joke). But it is now time to say goodbye for a new adventure! 😉 Prague - Dresden - Berlin! Three new cities on my list (and one new country)!

I bought a plane ticket from Nantes (France) to Prague (Czech Republic) for €30 with the Spanish low cost company Volotea. I think that it is my first time flying with this company.

Tip! From Prague airport, one can buy a ticket for 32 Kc (one euro) and take bus 119 towards Nadrazi Veleslavin. Then, metro A (same ticket) towards Depo Hostivar brings to the centre.

Guess who I am meeting in Prague for the weekend? My dear friend Emilie! 😀 Who was my housemate in England, and whom I met in several occasions and places (Le Mans, London, Belgium...) since.

We are staying at the Prague Moon Hostel, located a 4-minute walk from the National museum and an 8-minute walk from Wenceslas Square. We paid €11 per night in a dorm.

2

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and the 14th largest city of the EU. The city is home to about 1.3 million people. It has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.

Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with a rich history. It is indeed home of several cultural attractions, including Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the Old Town Square. The historic centre has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Did you know that Prague is the 4th most visited European city?

We are extremely lucky to discover Prague under a beautiful blue sky! On Saturday morning, we went for a walk in the old town, on the East side of Vitava river. We were amazed by the pretty architecture.

Around Náměstí Republiky 

We quickly reached the impressive Old Town Square, the oldest square of the historic centre, with its famous astronomical clock. The Pražský orloj (in Czech) was installed in 1410 and is still operating! 😀

Old Town Square 

The astronomical clock is located on the Town Hall. We noticed some people at the top of the building, and decided to get some tickets to enjoy the panoramic view as well. Good news... check the tip section! 😉

Good news! The ticket is not only for the panoramic view, but also for a 1-hour guided tour of the Town Hall! 😀 The ticket costs 250 Kc (€10) for adults or 150 Kc (€6) for students.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1338. The oldest part consists of a Gothic tower with a chapel and the clock. The tour includes the historical halls, the tower, and the underground.

The Old Town Hall 

What a view! 😀 Time for lunch now. We stopped at the terrace of the Prince U Hotel to enjoy some delicious cocktails, some good food, some comfy seats, and a beautiful view for at least an hour.

La dolce vita 

Our next stop is a bit... questionable. But, before that, we took a few tourist pictures! 😉

Tourists! 

Did I say questionable? Hmm. We visited the Sex Machines Museum! It was indeed a bit dodgy... I forgot the accurate price of the entrance (around 100 for students and 200 for adults), does not really worth it.

SMM 


Let's forget this and eat a Trdelnik! Do not ask me how to pronounce this. It is a kind of spit cake that one can find everywhere in the city. The classic one (see on the picture) is made with cinnamon and costs Kc 60. They can also be filled in with ice cream and then cost around Kc 120.


Next step? The world famous Charles Bridge (Karlův most in Czech), established in the 14th century by Charles IV! It is 621 metres long and 10 metres wide, and is nowadays pedestrian and full of tourists.

When on Charles Bridge

L'autre côté de la ville (Mala Strana) est différente en architecture mais également très jolie et très vivante. Nous avons donc continué notre promenade sous un beau soleil, avec quelques pauses. Wait, I have just noticed I used the wrong language in my last sentence haha sorry! 😉 Channel fail. Anyways. Une image vaut mieux que mille mots, comme on dit dans mon pays... See in pictures the other side!

Mala Strana 

We started to notice a big building and thought it was the Prague Castle (we discovered the next day it was not lol). We thus decided to walk towards it, and we enjoyed an amazing view on the city.

When walking up

Arrived at the top, we discovered a restaurant called, with reason +++, Bella Vista. We had dinner there. Note their Czech rosé is absolutely disgusting, I did not even finished my glass! 😉

Bella Vista 

After our dinner, we took the tramway to go back all the way down, and to cross the river. Note there are some great public transport passes in Prague. We bought a 72-hour unlimited ticket for Ck 310! 😀 We then enjoyed the view on Charles Bridge, listened to some life music, and headed back to our hostel.

Charles Bridge by night 

Dobrá noc Praha! Good night Prague! Come back later for more travel stories and pics! 😀

3

I kind of slept in on Sunday morning - I woke up at 10.30! 😉 Emilie did not want to wake me up lol. For our second day in the city, we decided to start with the Strahov library and the castle (the real one, this time), both on the other side of the river. We took the tramway to get there. When we reached the library, it was already 11.45am, and visits stopped for lunchtime. We went for a brunch at a good restaurant, Sv. Norbert.

Sv. Norbert church 

Strahov Library is the largest monastic library in Czech Republic, with two magnificent baroque halls dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. You can peek through the doors but, sadly, you cannot go into the halls themselves – it was found that fluctuations in humidity caused by visitors’ breath was endangering the frescoes. Entrance ticket costs Ck 120 for adults and 60 Ck for students. Photo permission costs extra Ck 50.

Strahov library 

Our next step is the castle area! Impressive, UNESCO monument with a tradition of more 1000 years.

Around the castle 

Prague Castle was founded in around 880. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². It consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century.

We did not enter the castle (expensive and long queue) but definitely enjoyed its outdoors. As we walked down towards the tramway, we also discovered some great points of view on the beautiful city of Prague.

Praha 

Once on "our" side of the river, we went back to the terrace of the U Prince Hotel for a delicious Ferrero Rocher ice cream. Gourmandes, nous ? Non ! 😉 Then, we separated as Emilie wanted to go to the torture museum and I wanted to discover the John Lennon wall. Since the 1980s, this normal wall has been filled with Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from The Beatles' songs.

Lennon wall 

We spent the evening at our hostel, where we tried (failed) to take a final selfie... 😉

Goodbye my friend, see you in China!  
4

My very first plan was to take a Blablacar from Prague to Dresden, however, I quickly discovered that there was no ride... 😦 In the end, I bought a Flixbus ticket for €15. The journey takes 2 hours.

Dresden is the capital city of Saxony on the Elbe river. Dresden has a long history as the royal residence of the Kings of Saxony. The city was known as the Jewel Box because of its baroque and rococo city centre. Since German reunification in 1990, Dresden is again a cultural, educational, and political centre of Germany, and of Europe.

I reached Dresden around noon and took the tramway (a single ticket costs €2.40) towards Neustadt (the area of my hostel). I bought a salad and some watermelon in a shop and had lunch in the Alaunplatz Park. After checking in my hostel and dropping my backpack, I got ready to explore the city! 😀

I am staying at the Lollis Homestay, a very well-rated hostel on TripAdvisor, Booking, Hostelworld, etc. I paid €15 for the night. Bed linens are not included and cost an extra €2 (you can also bring your own sleeping bag). Breakfast costs €5. Every evening has an activity, such as BBQ or club night. The hostel also offers guided walk tours and bicycles for free! 😀



I got a city bike with... backpedal brake. My plan: be super careful - as you may know, I have a love story with bike accidents and other clumsy stuff lol. Conclusion: I survived! 😉



I started to cycle back towards the Old Town area, and stopped for a few pictures on the way.

View from Augustusbrücke (August bridge)

On the other side of the bridge, I discovered the Theaterplatz, the most important square of Dresden when talking about history of architecture. It is surrounded by a rich in contrast conglomerate, composed of the architectural styles Baroque, Renaissance and Classicism.

Theaterplatz 

On this square can be found the Zwinger Palace. The art gallery was closed today (Monday), however, we could still visit its impressive outdoors. The sun hit very hard this afternoon (around 30-32 degrees), I thus tried to look for shade - and I really wish I brought my Crédit Agricole 72 cap! 😉

The Zwinger 

After my visit, I kept on walking and cycling around the old town, impressed by the architecture.

Around Residenzschloss (Dresden castle) 

I ended up in front of the massive Frauenkirche, a Lutheran church. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during WW2. It was rebuilt after the reunification of Germany.

Frauenkirche 

Time for a snack/drink/Wi-Fi/toilet break... at McDonald's! 😉 As soon as I felt renewed, I got back on my horse and cycled back to the Elbe river and to Neustadt, the place to be for graffiti and other street art.

Neustadt 

Time for a chill evening/night! Heading to Berlin tomorrow. Stay posted! 😀 Tschüß!

5

I forgot to talk to you about my feelings. I will start with Dresden as this is fresher in my mind. At the beginning, I had mixed feelings about the place, as it looked pretty empty after busy Prague, and less beautiful / less clean. But I very quickly discovered and enjoyed the unique charm of this city... Not many tourists but a lot of students. People with tattoos and piercings and dreadlocks, dressed in a Boheme/hippie way. People enjoying life in parks, playing music, reading books, drinking beers. A relaxed and unique atmosphere. So different from the Chinese lifestyle, which I do not get. I love this city. Also, everyone seems friendly, from the hostel staff to the shop vendors to random people saying Hallo or Morgen in the streets. My friend Victor (coucou Victor) told me he would describe Berlin with one word: tolerance. I believe Dresden is similar. Let's see! 😀 What about Prague? Well, I think I can say that both Emilie and I fell in love with the Czech capital! The weather and great company probably helped! ;) An amazing architecture; a city full of surprises. However, now that I think about it, waiters and other shop staff were not friendly - at all.

Last night, I booked a Flixbus from Dresden to Berlin for €10. Departure was expected at 11.30am, so I went to the coach station right after my breakfast. I was supposed to reach Berlin at 1.30pm, thus my hotel around 2pm. However, the coach was delayed by an hour, and I had then some trouble to understand the tramway/train system. I thus made it to Dahlem (South West of Berlin) around 3.30pm. My first plan was to stay in my hotel and prepare my presentation for tomorrow morning (QoMEX conference)... But I discovered that Berlin Botanischer Garten was only 4 stops away from me! 😀 The presentation will have to wait... #Priorities!

The Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum is a botanical garden with an area of 43 hectares and around 22,000 different plant species. It was constructed between 1897 and 1910. Entrance fees: €6 for adults and €3 for students (I still have my Cardiff uni card!).

Botanischer Garten 

Okay, time to work now! 😉

6

Not much to say about today. Enjoying the conference, my presentation went well. Catching up with friends / colleagues. Sunny and hot (33 degrees). Boat tour tomorrow evening, more pictures to come then! 😀

At QoMEX 
Dahlem 
7

Oops, boat tour under the rain after thunderstorm. But very good food and free wine! Prost! 😉

Views from the Spree 
8

The QoMEX conference ended under the sun! I did not do much after that, just checked in my hostel, had dinner with my former PhD supervisor in a nice Vietnamese restaurant, had a shower and surfed the Web!

More street art (yes, I like street art) 

I am spending my last 2 nights in Europe at the Happy Go Lucky Hostel in Charlottenburg. I paid €15 per night for a bed in a dorm. Breakfast is not included. However, previous travellers left very good reviews and the hostel is close to Tegel airport.

9

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany. It is the second most populous city of the European Union after London - or the first one if we do not count the UK! 😉 Berlin is a city of culture, politics, media, science, and is well known for its festivals, architecture, and nightlife.

When I got up this morning (quite late, to be honest! 😉), the sky was grey and a strong wind was blowing on the city. I thus decided to start my tour by some indoors activities, and headed to the DDR Museum.

The DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) museum is located in the centre of Berlin. It represents life in the former East Germany. I found the museum very interesting and well organised (with lots of concrete examples), however, it was extremely crowded and the Chinese were doing bullshit (as usual). Entrance costs €9 for adults and €6 for students.

DDR museum 

No improvement with the weather, let's continue with indoor visits! Good news, the Berliner Dom, which was on my bucket list, is located opposite the DDR museum (only need to cross the Spree river).

The Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral, is located on the museum island. Its history dates back to the 15th century. Entrance costs €8 for adults and €5 for students, plus an extra €5 for audioguide. It covers the cathedral, the museum, the crypt, and the panoramic view.

Berliner Dom 

350 steps later...

View from Berliner dom 

Lunch and break time. The sun is coming back!

Another thing on my bucket list: the East Side Gallery (yes, I do like street art).

The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery consisting of murals painted directly on a 1.3 kilometre remnant of the Berlin Wall - or Berliner Mauer. The gallery has the official status of heritage-protected landmark. Indeed, the East Side Gallery is "understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin wall and the peaceful negotiation of borders and conventions between societies and people". It receives more than three million visitors per year.

East Side Gallery 

For those of missed history classes (or for the Chinese - I am not being mean, but they do not have Google)...

The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), the Wall cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, and other defenses. The Easter Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany.

I finished my afternoon walking around the Reichstag and the massive Großer Tiergarten, a 210 hectare park.

Reichstag 

According to my phone, I walked 8.8 kilometres today. No wonder why I feel a little sleepy! 😉 And to that need to be added the 350 steps of the cathedral, and the steps of the subway. Series and bed time now!

10

Bye bye Berlin! Next steps: Helsinki, Shanghai, and Suzhou - wish me good luck! 😉