Ben’s Travels: Trekking in Prague with the Eastern European Pass

French teacher, travel lover and train enthusiast, Ben Ratliff writes about his “life changing” journey across Europe. Armed with a France Rail Pass and an Eastern European Pass (courtesy of Rail Europe), Ben visited Bucharest, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Avignon, Nice and Bordeaux with his partner and (soon-to-be) in-laws. We hope that you find his journey as inspiring as we did.

The trickiest yet most exciting part about an international arrival is the train station.  Leaving your train compartment or seat begins the slow drip of adrenaline. The temptation to make life easy and take a cab hits you from the get go.  Don’t panic and spend $80.00 for a 15 minute cab ride.  You can do it; it just takes patience and a few minutes to plan.

Question 1: Where is the tram, bus, or subway?  

Although the train station in Prague is difficult upon arrival, using the wifi capability on my phone, I was able to connect to a wireless hotspot (no charge) and use the map guide.  Once I located my destination, I wrote it on a piece of paper and handed it to the woman at the tram kiosque.  Although, I didn’t understand a word she said, I had her write down the name and number of the tram.  Once I had the information I needed, a quick study of the map and a shot of espresso was all I needed to get to my location.

Question 2: How do I get money in small bills or coins to buy the ticket?

Always carry small bills (not coins) from another country.  Exchange a small amount of money at the trains station in order to get coins.  Avoid using the ATMs in busy public places.  It is best to find a bank with a locked door and hidden key pad for extra security.

Question 3: Once I find my way to public transportation, where do I go from there?

Don’t be afraid to smile and ask bar/restaurant owners for help.  They can clearly see you are a tourist and (most of the time) will guide you to the right place.  For no charge, I used my “Map” service on the iphone in order to find most places.  While connected to the internet at a free wifi area, it is best to load the map ahead of time in order to avoid using international data.

Eating Dinner in Prague

Eating dinner alone is never fun..I don’t care what other independent aka lonely travelers say.  Do you ever go to a restaurant with your spouse or friend and watch the one person sitting at a table and wonder “Does he/she have any friends? Why do they keep checking their phone?  Are they really going to finish that entire bottle of wine?”  I believe that is what most people said as I attempted my first sit down meal in Prague.  Although the food in the bistro car of the train was good, I craved an authentic meal.

Free Wifi and a Smartphone at most bars/restaurants helped me navigate the city and plan future destinations.  By downloading the RailEurope App, I was able to view the immediate and future departures for the next day to Budapest.  By saving these trips to my account, it was an easy way to keep my schedule.  And yes, while finishing my last bite of apple streudel, I finished a bottle of delicious red wine.

  • Norlea

    I am in Germany for the first time right now and having a wonderful time…  went to Paris.  Enjoying your posts. things I should have know…..  Thank you for sharing….

    • Beninfrance

      I hope you have a wonderful time.  Thank you for following along as I tell about my adventures all over Europe.  Just got back from a two week adventure.  More to come!
       

  • Beninfrance

    Wow!  86 likes in less than 24 hours.  I’m so thrilled people are reading and watching my video.

  • Betsy

    I am going to take the train from Prague to Budapest in about 2 weeks.
    Do you know of any restrictions on luggage? 
    I couldn’t find ANY information on that. 
    Am I allowed to carry one suitcase plus a carry on (as in airplane) ?
    Do I have to check (the non-carry on) suitcase thru a counter? (like as in the airlines) do customs and x-rays? I need to know so to plan how much time in advance I need to be in the Station , being that I do not speak their native language. ANY info is appreciated. 

    • Phaedra

      Hi Betsy,

      A typical amount of luggage is 2 large items per person, plus one smaller item or “carry-on”. You would not have to pass through customs or any x-ray machine.

      There is no checked luggage for trains in Europe. Passengers carry their luggage on board the train with them. Sufficient luggage storage is provided in both 1st and 2nd Class. There will be room for luggage storage above and below each seat, as well as at the end of the train car in certain cases.

      Happy Travels!

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