Between Cairo and Berlin
Story and photos by Tom Weber
a slice of its world-famous, succulent ham gingerly placed between two
slices of rustic artisan brown bread liberally smeared with spicy mustard,
my flight to Prague, the capital city of the Czech
Republic, is sandwiched between two other outbound flights from
Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport to Cairo and Berlin.
I'm airborne passenger 12F
and cruising toward the starting point of a much-anticipated, seven-day
press trip tailored especially for me and my band of merry media
26 international travel writers and photographers who've been
invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to experience a portion of its
premium-escorted Bohemian Rhapsody journey to Prague,
and Budapest, along with a few colorful stops in between.
Notorious for flight delays and lost luggage
claims, my Alitalia (Always Late In Takeoffs
And Landings, If Available) flight was surprisingly
on schedule and landed safely at Václav Havel Airport, and where
my easy-to-spot, bright Pacific-blue, medium-size suitcase was the lead
piece of baggage onto and off the carousel. Whew!
Only a 90-minute flight from Caput Mundi,
but worlds away in terms of language, history, art, architecture and
cuisine, I'm met outside the terminal by Insight's local car service
and whisked away in a spotless, shiny, late-model Mercedes sedan for
a comfortable, half-hour ride into Prague's historic center and dropped
off curbside in front of the Art
Nouveau Palace Hotel (Palace), Insight's five-star property.
The perfect place to jumpstart a rhapsody
in the very heart of Bohemia, the Palace, an early 20th century property
that oozes understated elegance and luxury fit for a Habsburg prince
or princess and Freddie Mercury and Queen, too, if he and the
band were still around today is ideally positioned along the
cobble of exciting Prague and just a leisurely stroll in all directions
to the major sites of the city's UNESCO World Heritage-protected historic
center: Wenceslas Square, the State Opera House, the National Museum,
iconic Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter and Old Town Square.
Following a friendly, efficient and fast
check-in, my luggage is already on the elevator before I can say
děkuji (thank you in Czech) as I ride up to the seventh floor
and make my way down the red-and-gold carpeted corridor to #717 and
my spacious executive-size room that'll be my temporary abode for the
next three days while I'm in the capital of Bohemia.
Evidently, the hotel knew that I was coming,
but instead of baking a cake they treated me to a plate of chocolates
and fruit sitting on a side table, fronting the large, king-size bed
and spacious work desk.
With an array of complimentary amenities
you'd expect from a five-star hotel, the Palace provides its guests
with internet access (WIFI and LAN); satellite television; Cararra marble
bathrooms; soft, oversized, fluffy-white towels; bottles and bars of
ALDA Nature Philosophy body lotions, soaps and haircare products;
comfortable robes and slippers; an Italian espresso machine (how did
they know?); nightly turndown service; a daily breakfast buffet in L'Epoque
Restaurant fit for a king; fine dining in Club Gourmet and casual dining
and bar service in Café Palace; and, the use of the hotel's sauna.
In short, I've got absolutely nothing to
complain about at the Palace, and I haven't yet thrown back the duvet
on the bed.
Now into my second piece of chocolate and
a fresh, juicy strawberry I know, I shouldn't talk with my mouth
full I think I'll unpack, take a look around and investigate
the Palace further, then hit the cobble in search of some authentic
Czech cuisine and a pint or two of Prague's finest: Pilsner Urquell.
For complete information on Insight Vacations'
premium and luxury-escorted itineraries, including the Bohemian Rhapsody
and 100 other journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you bright and early tomorrow morning
in the middle of Wenceslas Square, as we watch the sun come up and Praha
Na zdraví! (Cheers!)
Out A Bohemian Rhapsody; The
Czech Republic: A Slide Show; Postcards
from Prague; The
Czech Republic A Little Jewel, Part 2; A
Brief Break in Brno