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From Bay Area to Barcelona

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Prague: Transportation [ Wednesday, 19 Sep 07 | 13:07 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |busybusy]

This is the second of a series of postings regarding my recent trip to Prague. In this post I will focus on transportation, both flights and public transit.

We bought a package from lastminute.com which included both airfare and hotel. We used the same site for a trip to Lanzarote last year and it is one of Ruben’s favorite travel resources. The flight was on SmartWings, a low-cost, Czech-based carrier. The round trip from Barcelona was about 220 € including taxes, but no ground transportation. Lastminute.com offered a number of accommodations and Pavel recommended Ave Sofia, which is close to everything (read metro and tram).

The flights were uneventful, but different. Going to Prague we flew in a chartered Turkish plane. They even wanted 2 € for a soft drink, so we arrived in Prague a bit thirsty (it’s a little over a two-hour trip in the air). On the flight back they served a small sandwich and soft drinks without charge.

The public transit network in Prague is cheap and efficient. Like Barcelona, they have an integrated metro, tram and bus system. At the airport we bought seven-day passes for 280 Kc or about 10 €. Very reasonable. The trip from the airport to our hotel consisted of a 20-minute bus ride followed by a 15-minute metro ride. The metro stop was less than 5 minutes from the hotel.

Russian-built train leaves a metro station

Some comparisons

Barcelona has buses whereas Prague has trams (street cars). The trams are more quiet and probably more eco-friendly than buses. On the other hand, it is much easier to change or extend a bus route than tram tracks.

Both Ruben and I had a little trouble in navigating the system. There is less signage in the metro stations, for example. And the audio messages were more like a paragraph rather than “Next station (pause) Name”. On one tram trip we got off one stop early because they mentioned the next stop before the current stop. We figured that out and adjusted.

We also got confused because a number of trams were re-routed due to repairs. None of our maps showed this and although there were signs on the backside of the tram schedules at the stops, it was all in Czech with no maps. Pavel explained this to us so we had no trouble later.

Escalator at our hotel metro stop
One of the longest I have encountered, takes about 3 minutes!

My take is that the metro is more geared towards English-speakers (read tourists) than the trams. Many of the signs in the metro were in Czech and English. Barcelona still has a way to go, but is improving. The signs here are in català and castellano and only a few in English. But when you have a logo of a bus with route numbers, it doesn’t matter.

Streets and sidewalks

In Barcelona, typically streets are paved with asphalt and the sidewalks are covered with ceramic tile. In contrast, Prague uses rock for both streets and sidewalks. Although the rock may be more enduring, it certainly is labor-intensive. I also found that walking all day on rocks made my feet sore.

Street repair
You can see that stones are used for both streets and sidewalks.

From: fuzzygruf
Wednesday, 19 Sep 07 | 16:02 (UTC)
I'd hate to be at that station when they were having escalator problems!

When I lived in Germany, most of the roads were like that, and it was very labor-intensive. I just figured that they did it so that more people could have jobs.
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