Sunrise over Grenoble

IMG_6246 I’m not much of an alcohol drinker and I’ve never mixed a drink in my life (unless you count a rare shot of Bailey’s into hot cocoa), but if there was ever a name for a drink, it would be Sunrise over Grenoble. And you would make it with layered peach juice and grenadine and whatever alcohol goes well with those two things, maybe a dark spiced rum. It’s true I don’t know what I’m doing behind the bar here in my mind but it’s my hypothetical drink. Get your own.

Anyway, the point of all of this is if you ever find yourself in Grenoble, wake up predawn and hike up to the Bastille for sunrise. It’s picture (and mixed drink) worthy: IMG_6193

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After sunrise, head back down to the city just in time for breakfast at a local café. Maybe even get a shot of Bailey’s in your coffee.

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European Capital Hop: Prague is magic

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Prague in the late afternoon, as seen from the Petřín Lookout Tower

Before I visited Europe, I remember hearing from friends and family about the magical beauty of European cities. “They’re gorgeous!” people swooned, “The cobblestone streets and rows of old buildings are photo-tastic. It’s magical!” So far, we haven’t really gotten that. Sure, the old town of whatever city we happen to be in is nice, but it hasn’t been anything to write home about.

But Prague stands out because it does feel magical. Part of it is the architecture: rows of pastel-colored buildings, each covered with neat cinnabar-colored tiles; the narrow cobblestone streets and alleys; the lights of the city shimmering on the Vltava River at night. It really is gorgeous, and Prague’s title as the “Heart of Europe” is well-earned.

Part of the magic is also in the pricing. We’re coming from the sticker shock of Vienna, but that aside vacationing here is downright affordable, thanks in no small part to the fact that the Czech Republic, like Hungary, is still recovering economically from the collapse of the Soviet Union. We found two beds in a hostel in Malá Strana for $24 a night. We ate lunch and dinner and dessert out for $36 a day for two people, less than $10 per person per meal. And while we weren’t eating at the fanciest restaurants, we got REALLY good food. This bar right around the corner from our hostel called U Magistra Kelly was our regular go-to, with hearty entrée portions, sweet fizzy lemonade, fresh beer, and a killer baked brie.

In short, Prague is the magic city of Europe everyone has been telling you about. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

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The waterfront along the Vltava.
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The Prague Astronomical Clock, representing the movements of the sun and moon while keeping time.
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An ivy-covered storage courtyard.
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A statue over one of the doors.
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Giant mushrooms sprout from astroturf in this man-made display.
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Wedding photoshoots are common. The couple pose alongside a fence covered in ‘love locks’.
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An ornate lock on a door in the city.
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A bronze relief on the Charles Bridge, effaced by thousands of hands over time.
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Workers repainting a buildling.
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A katydid, lost in the city.
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That baked brie I mentioned earlier, from U Magistra Kelly.
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Streetcars and pedestrians share the narrow streets.
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Street art in the northern part of the city.
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St Vitus Cathedral (I think), bathed in golden floodlight at dusk.
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Pedestrians on the Charles Bridge at dusk.
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The lights of Pragues bridges reflecting on the Vltava.
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Bear-shaped cookies posed in a window at the local bakery.
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Men weld trolley tracks in the north part of Prague.
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Picnickers gather apples in the same park that hosts the Petřín Lookout Tower. The orchard is free to pick from, with a limit on how much you can take home.

 

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More views of Prague from the tower.

 

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Sunset from the tower.

 

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A shot of the moon from the tower.
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Prague at night.