Prague at night? Medieval. Prague during the day? Touristy. Prague in the evening? Magical. Prague in cold days? Kafkian. The city with 1000 faces always surprises you. You can let go of your guide, loosen up, get lost on the old streets and still taste the city. You just cannot describe it in simple words, you will understand only if you go there. It has a menacing and at the same time, seductive charm to it, using all its ways to get you tangled in its webs, making you cross Charles Bridge over and over again searching for the mystery it hides, gazing at its Gothic wonders and reaching the Castle’s Hill top to make you think you conquered it. In fact, Prague conquers every one of us. Like Kafka said: “Prague doesn't let go. This little mother has claws”...
Some people don't expect much from Brussels. Our opinion? They are wrong. You can easily spend a few days enjoying the fervor of Grand Place, the Art Nouveau buildings, cheeky Manneken Pis, all the chocolate and gauffres you can possibly eat. And when you think you did it all, think again. Visit the Atomium or spend a day at Mini Europa to see some staggering detail work. Want to get more serious? Maybe you are interested in the institutions in Brussels, to get a better understanding of how things work in the European Union. If you have the time, schedule a visit at the European Parliament or explore the Parlamentarium, the largest European Parliament Visitors' Centre. It is a chance to discover European history and politics in a mix of refreshing attractions, an interactive journey of European integration and its impact on our day to day life.
You only need a glimpse of Bruges to fall in love with it. We had one day. Like British novelist Arnold Bennett said, “the difference between Bruges and other cities is that in the latter, you look about for the picturesque, and don’t find it easily, while in Bruges, assailed on every side by the picturesque, you look curiously for the unpicturesque, and don’t find it easily.” A day of wandering in Bruges is like being awake in a dream. It is a very popular tourist attraction, so if you want to take our word for it, get off the beaten path that every guidebook recommends and save that for a beautiful sunset, when the tourist buses are long gone. During the day, wander the back streets and admire this absurdly beautiful fairy-tale UNESCO city, with its meandering canals, narrow cobblestone streets and Gothic wonders. Visit Bruges and prepare to fall in love!
We visited Amsterdam in October 2011. We had less than 2 days to take a breath of the Amsterdam air and to experience the Amsterdammers’ tolerance. First impression: too good to be true, an amazing and hectic city, getting along perfectly with the water. As soon as we walked out of Amsterdam Centraal, we thought: is this bike heaven? Later we realized it was bike heaven for the Amsterdammers and bike hell for the tourists getting in their way! We liked the laid back attitude, the fervor of the city at any time of day or night, the mix of astonishing art and architecture with dark coffeeshops and food stalls selling herring. We left Amsterdam with the feeling that we didn’t even scratch the tip of the iceberg…there is so much to experiment that one might think of moving there for a longer period!
We did that in August 2010, arriving by car at night along Andrássy út. What a view for sore eyes! This first glimpse of architectural magnificence and the Hungarians’ obsession for the number 96 made us wonder if our estimated time for visiting Budapest was enough. Turns out it wasn’t. Like every city worth visiting, the time won’t be on your side. That first view of the Chain Bridge and the Castle all lit up engraved instantly in my memory. So did the Parliament seen from the Fishermen’s Bastion or the view from Gellért Hill. I must admit my favorites aren’t probably found in the Top 10 of every travel guide, but how can one not awe seeing the New Synagogue, the Heroes’ Square, the State Opera House or the remains of Church Saint Mary Magdalene? And if you want our advice, don’t miss the Central Market Hall where you can find lots of…anything, really!