A Travellerspoint blog

Leipzig

Still in Germany

overcast 16 °C

Leipzig

Leipzig is the largest city in the state of Saxony. It has a population of just over 500,000 people. We caught the train from Berlin to Leipzig, which took just over an hour.

Our hostel, the sleepy lion, is within walking distance to the main train station and town. We were here for 3 nights. There wasn't much to do here as far as major historic sights or museums go. Lots of cafes, shops and generally a nice place to chill out.

First thing we did after we checked into the hostel was to grab some food. Blake tried a rather sour beer called Leipziger Gose. It wasn't sour like lemon, it was more like sour milk, in a nice way if thats possible... It went well with a platter of cheese/proscuitto & corn chips. We couldn't read the menu as it was in German. We ordered something that had potatoes thinking it was baked potatoes, it turned out to be a massive plate of wedges (which was yum, but didn't help with the pimples situation :(). Had a bowl of pumpkin soup to digest all the oil from the wedges :)

Day 2

We decided to explore the city. The weather was nice and sunny, we didn't even need a jumper.

We started at the old town hall. There was a market in the middle of the square with lots of fruit & veg stalls, butchers, sausage stands, etc. We bought some figs for breakfast and continued our exploration.

The old town hall
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It is now a musuem.

St Thomas Cathedral

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Johann Sebastian Bach was buried in this church. He worked in Leipzig from 1723 to 1750, conducting the St. Thomas Church Choir, at the St. Thomas Church and the St. Nicholas Church. There is also a Bach musuem which we didn't go to.

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Statue of Bach outside the church

New town hall
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It was built upon the remains of the Plei├čenburg, a castle that was the site of the 1519 debate between Johann Eck and Martin Luther.

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How cool is this building? This is the University of Leipzig.

We had lunch at the only highrise building we could see here in the old town (which so happened to be next to the university). They had a business 3 course set lunch for E8.90!! Anything cheap and worth it, you'll find us there... The food was actually quite good. Had a good view of the city too :)

We did a bit of window shopping and finish the day having dinner at Kartoffelhaus No.1 which translates as potato house. Paulyn recommended that we try the one while in Berlin (which we didn't), but we saw it here Leipzig, so we figured we give it a try. Everything on the menu consists of some sort of potato variation- duh.. It is a potato house.

After dinner, we decided to go across the road and have dessert at Europe's 2nd oldest cafe:

The 2nd oldest cafe in Europe: Zum Arabischen Caffe Baum est. 1695

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We ordered a local speciality called Quarkkeulchen. It tasted like semolina donuts with cinnamon & apple sauce and ice cream.

Day 3

We had nothing much to do on our 3rd day here, so we rented a boat for an hour and went rowing down the river/canal in a suburb called Platwitz (as recommended by our Swiss hostel roommate). We chose the coldest day to go rowing, but it was relaxing and fun :)
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We finish off with a huge meal of Greek- seafood & meat platter for 2:
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xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 10:18 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Berlin

overcast 17 °C

Berlin

A quick 2 hour train ride from Dresden. Unfortunately we found out that we could have saved nearly 30Euros on our train ticket if we had purchased the isaver ticket 3 days ago when we arrived. The funny thing was we did actually purchase our ticket when we arrived but did not choose the isaver option. Ah well..

Anyway, we followed instructions given to get to our hostel Pfefferbett (recommended by Paulyn- but Blake reckons he mentioned it to you Paulyn :) ) Anyhow, Blake stayed here 3 years ago. And apparently he recognise the sewage smell in the hallway (also in our room). Hehehe..

Nice hostel. We got a 4 bed dorm with our own showers. The bunk beds are so high!! Dont want to be falling off now. Unfortunately they dont have kitchenette facility, so we are forced to eat out. Most people wouldn't think this is a problem however there is only so much fatty rich food we can eat.

Blake took me to the Sony Centre, apparently it is huge!! (Not really) But the building is pretty cool.
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Sony Centre when the sun has gone down

We had dinner there at the only German restaurant (limited choice of Australian pub & Italian restaurants). The stairwell to the second floor wrapped around the beer vats.
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German pork knuckle- not as good as the one in Vienna though

After dinner we couldnt resist watching a English movie- The Watch (with Ben Stiller) at the cinema (eVents cinema- i know.. the same one as the one back home). The movie was OK but the thrill of actually seeing an english language movie absolutely made the night.

Day 2

We slept in and bummed around in the morning till lunch. We tried some currywurst while waiting for our walking tour to start at 1pm. People say that most of the Berlin wall has been broken down and sold off. Well I think i (Blake) found the stash, the rolls we were served could be classified as projectile weapons.

I (Michelle) waited 20 minutes to use the starbucks toilet, which at the end i just used the mens toilet. Seriously, i dont understand how women could take so long in the toilet!! Ridiculous :(

So the walking tour:
We started at the Brandenburg Gate:
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Here.. MJ dangled baby Blanket out of one of the windows:
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This Memorial is dedicated to the Jews that were murdered:
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We stood on Hitler's bunker (where he shot himself). The bunker has been sealed up, mainly with silt and mud so it could technically be restored.

Visited Checkpoint Charlie - the crossing point between east and west berlin during the cold war. There's not much to see. Just lots of fancy shops.

Part of the remaining Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery:
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Albert Einstein taught at this university. This is actually the law faculty:
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The tour finished up at Musuem island.

After the tour, since we were close by, we went up the Tv tower- amazing 360 degree views of Berlin from the top:
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Day 3

We realised we have ran out of clean clothes!! So we spent the morning doing the laundry.

Our lunch on the way to the museum was a E1.50 bratwurst and bun: They are everywhere.. though, we did see some guy selling it for E1.25. Not quite sure how they can make a profit???
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In the afternoon, we bought ourselves the museum pass and went to the Pergamon Museum located on the Museum Island (one of 5 museums on the island)

We saw:
The Pergamon Altar
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This is the orignal size, reconstructed of course.

The Market Gate of Mileus
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Dates back from 120AD. It is 17m high & 29m wide.

The Ishtar Gate
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This is the 8th gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in 575BC.

Also, the Islamic museum. In it:
Mshatta Facade
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This is part of the facade of the 8th centurz Umazzad residential palace of Qasr Mshatta (one of the desert castles in Jordan)

Once we got bored of the museum, we decided to go watch another movie in english again at the Sony Centre. This time- Dark knight rises.

Followed by sushi train for dinner. Really weird to see that they had Malaysian dessert.

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How cool is this giraffe -made out of lego blocks :) This was outside the Lego centre at Sony Centre

Day 4

Neues Museum
The only thing interesting in this musuem is Nefertiti's bust. Photos were allowed everywhere in this musuem but of Nefertiti's bust :(

The building's architecture itself was more interesting that what was in it.

But considering it was cold outside, it was a nice place to stay warm :)

Berlin wall memorial site
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Day 5

Reichtag building
This is their parliament house. We had to prebook a time and register our details a few days beforehand (for them to do a background check on us due to possible terrorist threats). Inside the glass dome is pretty amazing. The mirrors in the centreof the roomdirect natural light into the parlimentary rooms and there is a louvre (at least 20m tall) that is used to reduce the light into the parliament. Incorporated into the dome is also a waste heat reecovery system and rain water collection. Such a well thought out building!

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Criminal history & Background checked... ready to enter parliament house :)

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Inside the glass dome

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Inside the glass dome, looking down

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Made it to the top

Got sick of eating anything ending with wurst (ie. sausages), so we went to vietnamese restaurant but ordered everything thai on the menu. Very confusing i know- it is a Vietnamese restaurant but they had more thai food on the menu than vietnamese?!?! I think the chef has a identity crisis..

All in all, a nice stay in Berlin.

Next stop.. Leipzig...

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 12:17 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Dresden

Germany

sunny 25 °C

Dresden

Well we decided to stay here on a whim. It just happened to be halfway between Prague and Berlin and I'd (Blake) heard it had the crap bombed out of it in WWII. Turns out it is a fantastic city. It wasn't too touristy and was cheap, beautiful and a great place to relax.
We stayed in a cool hostel in the Neustadt area (new town) which is where all the cool pubs and restaurants are. First things first, we were hungry and this was our first German city on the trip... So off to get a beer!!! We had bratwurst and a pint of beer each for lunch which was the best welcome i could hope for :) (All under 20Euro).

It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to walk along the river and check out the view of oldtown from the other side of the river. Most of it has been rebuilt after the Russians left and it looks perfect.

Our awesome hostel room: Michelle read the reviews after we'd stayed there, that the place had a few cases of bedbugs.. Oops..
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Yupe.. That's our bed on the top :)

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The corridor

The following morning we started our private walking tour, with a written guide/map that had no idea where the sights actually were. Anyway we think we worked out what most of the buildings were after a while. It was a case of, "look over there, its the opera house", followed by "actually this is the opera house , maybe that was the palace?".

View of the Altatadt from Neustadt:
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The unknown buildings:
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Gold statue of their King Augustus:
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This is the largest tile painting in the world:
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The opera house: we're pretty sure it is the opera house :)
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Frauenkirche
The original Church of Our Lady. It was completely destroyed during WWII.
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Zwinger Palace
This baroque palace features a nympheum:
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The Hygiene Musuem

In Dresden there is a place called "The Museum of Hygiene" which is more really a museum of mankind. Its been open since the 1930s and they had exhibitions of wax models with skin diseases, and infected organs to show the townsfolk what would happen if you didn't look after yourself.

There is an awesome model called 'the Transparent Man'- basically a model of the human body and you can see all the organs in it. Very cool indeed- (Krischelle, you would love this place). Its like being back at uni, 'playing' with cadavers.

We were pretty surprise to see a facial model & description of 2 Aboriginals (male & female). It was in German, so we can't quite tell you what it said about them.

Not too forget a video of a woman giving birth.. And a moving radiographic imagining of a couple having sex. (No.. This was not a pornographic musuem :) )

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos in the musuem :( :(

Volkswagen Transparent Factory

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The highlight of our trip was the Volkswagen factory tour. It is known as the transparent factory as you can see into every room (even management supposidly?!?). Here, they assemble their luxury model the Phaeton. If you order a Phaeton, you can come here and watch your car being assembled. One customer supposidly spent 2 days here, watching every single part of his car being put together. We saw the car at all stages from an empty chassis to driving from the last stage of assembly. The line completes around 60 cars/day with each car onlytaking 2 days to finish :) they had automated equipment carts that would move crates around the line. The carts were guided by magnets which were automatically sequenced to get thecart to the right place. The factory would have been a great project to be involved in!

The Transparent Factory is situated in the city center of Dresden, at the former location of the convention center. The factory's walls are made almost completely of glass. Its floors are covered entirely in Canadian maple. Apparently, there are no smokestacks, no loud noises, and no toxic byproducts.

At this factory they used to construct the Bentley Continental Flying Spur cars until 2006 (when there was an overflow of orders) because the layout of the factory was similar to that to constuct the Bentley.

The Phaeton:
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Dresden was the place that we bought our fancy new camera so expect the photos to get better and better (as we work out what all the manual settings really do!)

There are still a few of things i'd (Blake) would like to see here so coming back is definitely on the cards. There is a beer garden in an old converted factory. The odd bit being that the owner covered the smokestack by dressing it as a miranet so the place looks like a mosque! Supposidly they do readings of Arabian Nights on the occasional summer weekend.

xoxo B&M

Posted by blake-michelle 10:54 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Kutna Hora

In the Czech Republic

overcast 27 °C

Kutna Hora

After spending the morning catching up with Sophie and Nicholas in Prague, we managed to catch the train to Kutna Hora- 1 hour east of Prague. (Trains run nearly every hour from Prague to Kutna Hora). This place is so quiet and peaceful- its like being in the countryside (ie. Busselton, Margaret river minus the wine).

We stayed at a 'hotel' called Penzion Kutna- its more like a B&B. The room was awesome with a nice rose garden at the back (and a crazy dog that lived on the owner's side of the property) and surrounded by apple and pear trees. We were the only ones there which was great. We got the pick of the rooms!

There is not much to do here besides visiting churches and the famous ossuary. But it is a nice place to chill out/relax :)

There was a concert on in the middle of town and all the parks have the really long cooch grass that looks perfect for a quick nap...

Lucky for us, the day we went visiting was Europe Heritage day! Meaning all heritage sites are free to enter.. Yay.. Didn't quite help our cause of getting rid of our Czech currency, but free stuff is always good :)

Kostnice Ossuary

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Supposidly, back in the day the town was expanding and the cemetry was prime real estate so a lot of bodies were dug up and bones left near the ossuary. A smart gentleman decided to decorate the inside by artistically arranging the bones of 40,000 odd people. Its really cool. The bones are all bleached and there is nothing creepy or gross. It's just another artistic media for someone.

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The chandelier is arranged using at least one of every bone in the human body- it is so cool :) It hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vault.

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There is the coat of arms amazingly arranged once again with human bones.

After leaving here we had to travel 3.5km to the next tourist site. Turns out the tourist transfer bus isn't as frequent as we'd hoped. Ah well, at least walking will sort out the goulash bellies...

Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady

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Right next door is the Philip morris tobacco museum. Michelle didnt want to go so we skipped it... Who knows what phantasmical propoganda exists inside!?!?

Church of St James

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The plague Column

Also known as the Marian & Holy Trinitz Column. It is similar to the one in Vienna. Same story, built to thank some religious head (ie. Virgin Mary in this case) for ending the plague.
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St Barbara Church

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The church in the background

Amazing gothic architecture- very different to all the churches we have seen to date (and trust me we have seen and visited too many churches for a lifetime). It took 600 years to build this church!?!

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Inside the church

Blake tried some beef tongue.. Looks appetizing eh?
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We left Kutna Hora on a Sunday- such a bad idea!! Nothing is open on sunday. No buses (so we had to walk to the train station); the ticket office at the train station did not open till 8.25am on the dot. Luckily we chose the 8.33am train. We probably would have still got on the train without a ticket anyway. We have decided not to travel on a sunday anymore...

Back to Prague to catch the train to Dresden (Germany)

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 14:26 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague

The Czech Republic

rain 17 °C

Praha also known as Prague

Prague is a fantastic place. Food and beer are quite cheap, away from the main tourist spots, and there is plenty to see and do. We stayed at the Mad house hostel which is great for a party (and for guys and girls to get laid) and has a real good movie room for the day after...

On our 1st night, there was a pub crawl. We thought about going but it cost 20E and all they gave was 2hrs all you can drink. Sounds ok except that at the local pubs a pint of beer is less than 2E, so you'd have to have more than 10pints in 2 hours to get your money worth! Instead, we decided to go for a walk around town and check it out after dark (Blake's been to Prague 3 years ago- he tried to play tour guide again but this time got us lost looking for the astronomical clock- we walked in the opposite direction and ended up back at the hostel).

The view of Castle in the background & view of Charles bridge
It is the largest castle in the world- it took 700 years to complete. They did have a fairly big break in the middle.
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Day 2

We went on the free walking tour checking out the main sites on the old side of town. The tour guide was hilarious- he is a local from Prague. He had a speaker set on his belt plugged into his phone. We had a sound for each stop! He was so over-dramatic- he is actually a psychologist who practice from drama therapy on psyc patients.. Lol :) Anyway, it was a really good tour but we didn't take many photos as our camera screen had half died. We could only see the right half which made it quite hard.

Astronomical Clock
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Finally we found the clock!!
The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. It didn't look like it was very acurrate though. Every hour after 9am it does a 3 sec show- the rooster does its coo coo noise thing, and some window opens up and appearing from it is some statues rotating in circles.

Charles Bridge
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In the Jewish quarter:
Spanish Synagogue
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Jewish Synagogue: Blake reckons its the oldest synagogue in Prague?!?
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We also saw the jewish cemetery where they stacked the bodies in layers (ie. they built up the cemetery vertically) because they wasn't enough room/land as they were confined to the district. There are about 100,000 burials there- crazy!

That night we went out for drinks with a bunch of people from the hostel. Drinks were so cheap- 3 beers & 1 rum&coke cost CZK160=$8 AUD. It was a very interesting night back at the hostel with various people having sex in our room - quite entertaining indeed.

Czech Food...

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Cabbage soup- its like a goulash with sauerkraut

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Tasting plate of duck, roast pork, sausage, some other meat stuff with potato and bread dumpling- it took the 2 of us to finish it

Day 3

The weather was so cold today. We stupidly hand in our clothes for washing so we had no warm clothes.

We decided it was time to buy a new camera so we hunted around, read reviews on the internet, decided on a camera only to find that it was an extra $150 at the only place we could find it. It'll have to wait till Germany!

After lunch, we decided to brace the cold and join the castle tour starting at 2.30pm. We got there but no one was there. So we did our own tour of the castle. We wanted an audioguide to go with our visit, but supposidly they stop selling them at 2.30pm (we got there at 3). We thought the guy was joking. Our conservation went like this:

Blake: Can we please have an audioguide.
The guy: Of course you may not.
Blake& Michelle: really?
The guy: yes we stop selling them at 2.30pm

Inside the castle walls we saw the following:

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Entering the castle gates

St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague castle
Founded in 1344 by Charles IV it has Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture: it is so big, it doesn't fit in the photo.
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St George Basilica
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Its the red building
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Golden Lane
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The Golden Lane is a small row of 16th century dwellings. They were originally built as homes for castle servants, marksmen and possibly goldsmiths - hence the name. The homes were occupied until World War II. Today the lane is marked by little souvenir shops.

Daliborka tower: prison
These towers were built as part of the castle's fortification. The bottom floor was used as a prison and the tower is named after its first prisoner, Dalibor of Kozojed.
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After our castle tour, we decided to go and check out John Lennon's wall:
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A wall with graffiti with pictures of John Lennon and various quotes from his songs- ie. Imagine

On our way to Mr. lennon's wall we bump into these babies- they are a replica of the ones on the radio tower. Why they have babies with barcode faces on a radio tower- that we have no idea !! We think it means that if you watch too much tv you'll turn into another product of mass media.
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The morning of Day 4

We met up with Sophie (& Nicholas) my dear friend from Sydney. We are actually meeting up with them at oktoberfest but they so happen to be in Prague on the day we were leaving. So we decided to hang around in the morning to catch up with them.

After breakfast, Blake & Nicholas decided to take charge of the map. They took us to Petrin Hill which is 318m high. Luckily they didn't make us walk up to the top- we took the furnicular instead.. Phew :)

We went up the observation tower (299 steps to the top). It is Prague's version of the Eiffle tower. The view from the top is amazing.
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View from the top

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Smoked ham cooking over a spit. We walked passed it so many times and finally got a chance to try it when we caught up with soph & nicholas

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Michelle with her crepes- with chocolate & banana

That's it for Prague.

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 12:05 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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