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Bohemian Rhapsody:
Between Cairo and Berlin
(Dispatch #1)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport flight information display

ike 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, Vienna and Budapest, along with a few colorful stops in between.

starboard wing of Alitalia liner

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.

Wenceslas Square, Prague

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.

corridor at Art Nouveau Palace Hotel (Palace)

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.

plate of chocolates and fruits at the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel (Palace)

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.

interior vieews of the Palace and servings of 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.

Insight Vacation's Bohemian Rhapsody brochure

See you bright and early tomorrow morning in the middle of Wenceslas Square, as we watch the sun come up and Praha come alive.

Na zdraví! (Cheers!)

Related Articles:
Czeching 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

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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