The Jewels of Prague and Big and Brassy Berlin

Sep 09, 2012 Avatar Hilton Smith Hilton Smith

I am one of the lucky ones who takes a Europe vacation frequently. Each city has it own sound and beat. My seventh trip this year was to Prague, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany and with the added dimension of a friend who was seeing both cities for the first time.

In this case getting there (and back) was half the fun as I was able to expertly turn some Mileage Plus miles into a Lufthansa First Class ticket flying from JFK to Frankfurt on the super jumbo A380 and returning Frankfurt – Washington/Dulles on the brand new B747-8 Intercontinental. In both cases the new First Class seats were suburb with supreme comfort, extensive VOD, an elevated cuisine and even custom mattresses fro a good night’s sleep when you wanted it. Even better news is that Lufthansa intends to introduce its fourth B747-8 into the LAX-Frankfurt market the end of October. In all classes you will see greater comfort, a quieter ride and more entertainment options.

Prague was our first stop on the ground and much had changed from nine years ago.

The intimate coffee house scene is pretty much gone but dining has become a real pleasure with reasonably priced and numerous cafes and restaurants serving all manner of quality meals. Nine years ago meat and potatoes were the safest choice.

Of course the architectural charm of the city is still there with famous Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square still highlighting the tourist scene with Prague Castle looking down on all.

The city is best explored on foot, complete with cobblestone mode. This is the best way to discover Prague and all that it holds with narrow alleys and ancient buildings virtually untouched for centuries.

Although the locals are not all that warm and fuzzy, they will assist tourists who get lost among the narrow streets and numerous squares.

Just about 5 hours and a dining car lunch away from Prague is energetic and bold Berlin. This city has amazed me for years, resulting in over 20 visits, including two to both sides of the divided city prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

It is so different today, but still changing rapidly from what it was. It is not a city you fall in love with immediately but one that holds many adventures for the knowledgeable tourist.

With about 200 museums, galleries, cutting architecture, culture, true 24 hour nightlife, affordable dining of all tastes and all that in a city bigger than Paris, you will never run out of experiences. For example, we had dinner at Ka De We, the largest department store in Continental Europe. This is not a passive food floor like Harrods in London, this is a true food extravaganza with bars and chefs of all persuasions. A potato bar, seafood raw bar, grill bar, Schnitzel bar, sausage bar, seafood bar, caviar bar and roast bar where you can watch the food prepared and dine right away is an experience not to be missed. Of course prepared and package items from all over the world are your to take as well.

The public transportation of U-Bahn and S-Bahn as well as busses cover the city with the Berlin Card giving you access to all on an unlimited basis. On the weekends the service runs 24/7. That plus plentiful taxi service is needed because dinner is later and many bars and clubs, straight and gay never close over the weekend. As it is you may find yourself dining at 10:00 p.m. on Friday night at a full restaurant.

Outside the city such historic areas such as Potsdam are easily accessible by S-Bahn less than an hour from town.

Keep in mind like Prague, Berlin is very affordable compared to Rome, Paris or London in both accommodations and dining. This is a city that is happening now, ever changing and exciting.

Let my experience be your guide to elevate your luxury Europe vacation to a higher level, arriving like an expert and knowing where to go and what to do with inside tips that will make this one of your best vacations.

You can contact me at Hilton Smith to get started.