Posts Tagged ‘coach tours’

Prague, Czech Republic: History & culture with a side of beer!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

When people think of classic, romantic and charming Europe the city of Prague undoubtedly springs to mind.

For over 1000 years, the city has been one of the cultural, political and economic capitals of Europe with a rich, at times turbulent, history.

Prague, Praha to the locals, is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic and lies on the banks of the Vltava River.

Prague Castle across the Vltava River

Prague Castle across the Vltava River

Wanting to see as much as possible, we were up early for our day in the city. Our first stop - Prague Castle.

The castle is a huge complex that includes royal residences and churches and has been home to Kings, Holy Roman Emperors, Presidents and the Czech Crown Jewels.

Guarded by very serious looking solders in dashing blue suits you’d be hard placed trying to get one of these guys to smile.

It is also surrounded by a collection of  rather frightening statues depicting scenes of battle.

With so much to see you could easily spend a lot of time checking out the area but we were moving on to one very famous, historic bridge.

Street musicians on Charles Bridge

Street musicians on Charles Bridge

Built in the 14th Century, Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River connecting Prague Castle to the city’s Old Town.

Named after King Charles IV, the bridge is lined with statues, musicians, artists and street vendors.

One of the many statues

One of the many statues

By now it was only mid-morning and my camera was well and truly worn out!

The focal point of the Old Town is the Old Town Square. A bustling market in medieval times, the Square is now the social heart of the city and a great place to take a break after hours of wandering Prague’s winding streets.

Not far from the Old Town Square is the must-see Astronomical Clock.

First installed in 1410, the intricate clock shows the position of the Sun and Moon, various zodiac signs and every hour on the hour figures of the 12 Apostles move around the clock and four figures either side are set in motion.

The famous Astronomical Clock

The famous Astronomical Clock

Within the Old Town lies the historic Jewish Quarter. Despite the devastation of the Second World War, the area was preserved and now includes six synagogues, the old cemetery and the Old Jewish Town Hall.

It is also home to one of the city’s most famous residents – the Golem of Prague!

The story goes that a 16th century rabbi called Maharal created the golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava River to defend the Prague ghetto.

Some say the golem went out of control and had to be destroyed, while others say he still keeps a watchful eye over the city.

One of Prague's old synagogue

One of Prague's old synagogue

And once the sun has gone down, there’s no better way to end your day of sightseeing than with a taste of Prague’s famous nightlife!

With traditional beer halls, cocktail bars and multilevel clubs there’s something for everyone from the serious club hopper to those after a quiet drink. Na zdraví (cheers)!

Party it up Czech style this New Year’s Eve with Topdeck’s 4 Day Prague New Year’s trip! PLUS all our Christmas and New Year trips qualify for our festival rewards programme – save money when you book your 2nd, 3rd or 4th Topdeck Festival!

Egyptian Adventures

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Guest travel blogger Emma Flynn shares her recent journey to Egypt with Topdeck.

I’ve been so excited about visiting Egypt for a very long time. In fact its been about 11 years or so of dreaming! Finally, At the beginning of May, after three false starts over the past 11 years, I finally realised my dreams and travelled to this amazing country.

We’ve all seen the news reports on Egypt and the revolution. I had followed the news intently, praying everything would settle down so I could travel. It did and at the beginning of April, Topdeck started operating in Egypt again after a 2 month break. I was so happy. I figured that if Topdeck were operating their trips, it was safe to travel again.

We arrived a couple of days before our tour started, and on our first day we ventured out into Cairo by ourselves. It was certainly a culture shock. Jumping into a taxi and out into the Cairo rush hour traffic was an eye opening (or tightly closed!) experience in itself. As we wandered around in the controlled chaos of Cairo, nervousness and apprehension soon melted away as we came across numerous friendly people in the street, and even walked through Tahrir Square (the scene of the January revolution), which was full of people going about their daily lives.

Our next day we were up early (the first of what would become a recurring theme!) to take the Topdeck optional excursion to Alexandria. On arrival we met our passionately Egyptian guide, Jimmy, who showed us the key sites, including the site of the famous lighthouse, the catacombs, and the new library.

Having met our trip leader the night before after returning from Alexandria, the tour began. The Egyptian museum in Cairo gave us our first taste of the ancient civilization. Most of the relics found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb are now here in the museum. It was amazing to see the jewels and possessions of the boy king. Things range from his leather shoes, jewellery, beds, under ware and even and ancient form of contraception so only his royal wife would bare him a child! The other highlight was the mummy room. In my opinion, it was well worth the additional 100 LE just to see 3000 year old people still with hair, teeth, eyelashes and fingernails!

After the museum we headed out to the last remaining wonder of the Ancient world, the Giza pyramids. We were lucky enough to be able to go inside the small pyramid. This experience alone was worth going to Egypt for!

From Cairo we headed south to Aswan to meet our boat to cruise to Luxor.

Egypt wasn’t all about the tombs and temples however. In Aswan we did get to relax by taking a felucca down the Nile, sailing past Elephantine and Kitchener islands on our way to a Nubian Village, including a stop for a dip in the Nile! We didn’t sail straight to the village, but stopped about 20-30 minutes away to climb on to a camel to take us in the rest of the way. Being on the Nile was so peaceful and relaxing, and we got to spend 3 nights aboard a 4-star cruiser. So in between all the sites we could take a dip in the pool on the sun deck, or if we were still feeling energetic, a game of ping pong.

There were a few early mornings… We were up early to visit Abu Simbel, up early to take a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, up early to miss the heat of the sun! So many early mornings, but so very worth it!

My favourite day was probably also the busiest day! We visited the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, Karnak and Luxor temples. We were very lucky to have visited at a time when there were not many other tourists around. It felt sometimes like we were the only people in the temple. Our Egyptologist for the day was a local called Sam. Sam seemed to have an undying love for the Ancient Egyptians. While most of us melted in the 40 something degree heat, Sam scribbled away on his clip board explaining to us the meaning of the Heiroglyphs we were looking at and drawing us a family tree of the Pharaoh’s, so we knew who’s tombs we were looking at.

Egypt was mind blowing. Never had I been on a holiday where everything was bigger and better than I had imagined. We visited (almost) every major tomb and temple across the country, but for me there were some places that stood out more than others, however the experiences will stay with me forever.

Topdeck rules!

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Topdeck has defied the ‘doom and gloom’ of the current economic crisis, and is heading into its best season ever! :)

James Nathan, Managing Director, Topdeck said,
“Since last week, we’ve guaranteed all but six departures from our entire Europe summer program. To keep up with demand, we’ve added extra departures to some shorter and mid-duration trips. We know that today’s 18-30 something travellers are ever more discerning and we have left no stone un-turned in our efforts to design a new product range that cater for those increased expectations.
There are also differences between Topdeck’s trips and those of its competitors. We continue to include more meals
and more independent free time, have a no expected tipping policy and importantly, the accommodation we use is closer to the city centre than other group operators,” he said.

Topdeck offers three accommodation styles: Hotel trips stay at typically European hotels in great locations; EuroClub trips use multi-share accommodation in cabins, castles, yachts and hostels and the budget-friendly EuroCamping trips stay at Europe’s best campsites which feature twin-share dome tents and air mattresses.

Topdeck Blog - News and Info about travelling in Europe and Africa by Bus

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

We know that you need a lot of useful info before travelling. So, we have created this blog for you. If you are travelling in Europe, Egypt, Morocco or Africa you will find plenty of information and unbelievable offers here.