Golf trip to Czech Republic comes with bonus: Two days in Prague
One of the best aspects of golf travel is simply that it comes with all the culture and mystery that new locations bring. The farther away, the more exotic, and in the case of my recent trip to the Czech Republic, I certainly hit the jackpot.
I played golf at several different resorts – including the two courses at Konopiste (Radecky and D’este, Karlovy Vary, the old Royal Golf Club at Marianske Lazne and the brand new Loreta Golf Club Pysely – but reserved enough time for a couple of days in the capital city of Prague. The fact that Prague was a delight was no surprise. Its architecture, charms and culture are known worldwide. But one of the keys to a great trip are accommodations, and we couldn’t have made a better choice.
We stayed at the Clarion Congress Hotel Prague on the northeast side of the city. And while this location wasn’t in the center of the city, it turned out to be a great base for sightseeing.
First off, it’s important to differentiate between what Americans perceive as the Clarion Hotel and the standards this hotel has in Europe. Like in the U.S., the Clarion is a Choice Hotel, but unlike most U.S. locations, the Prague version (as was the Clarion I stayed at in Dublin earlier this year), is a solid 4-star business and luxury hotel.
This seven-story, 559-room layout had its own gourmet restaurants, fitness center access and was even connected to an extensive shopping mall. Breakfast, as it is in many European hotels, was included. In this case, a large buffet was served every morning. There was also underground parking, internet, bathrooms with bathtubs, minibar, a club lounge and large conference and convention space, just to name a few of the amenities.
What made the city so accessible was that underneath the mall and next to the hotel is an underground train station, for easy transit to the center of the city and connections to other the parts of Prague, just 15 minutes away. The bonus, of course, is that when you get to where you’re going, you don’t have to park. And you don’t have to fight traffic either, and let me tell you, Prague has plenty of gridlock.
In two days, it’s impossible to see everything Prague has to offer, but you can certainly get a feel for everything, including consuming some of the best beer in the world. We started by taking a one-hour bus tour through the city’s major tourist attractions like the National Theater, Lesser Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge and, of course, the Prague Castle. Then, on foot, we spent the next two days navigating as many sites as we could. We even took in a classical concert at the Spanish Synagogue in the old Jewish quarter.
Shopping, of course, is also terrific in Prague (known for its Bohemian crystal, for example), but you’ll want to be careful of the so-called “No Commission” money exchanges (hint: use your debit card on the cash machines for local currency). Many visitors are surprised to find that not only are there great local stores, but Prague has some very modern enticing malls as well.
Of course, the-can’t miss attractions are the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle, the largest in all of Europe and one of the continent’s oldest. The history goes back more than 13 centuries as pieces of the castle were added throughout different regimes. It’s a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, including 10th century Roman-style through Gothic modifications in the 14th century. Since the Velvet Revolution 20 years ago, when the Czechoslovakia came out of Communism, the Prague Castle has been undergoing repairs and renovations.
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