A Short Holiday in Europe
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A Short Holiday in Europe
First stop, Prague, Czech Republic. Once again I agreed to meet Spike on his annual summer holiday, but this time I asked that it be a bit more mild. The past two included the Running of the Bulls, and a mountain trek/climb. In both I felt as though the Fates were close upon my trail. So this year the agenda was city walks and bicycle tours.
Spike and I arrived on the same day, but from different points of the compass. The plan was to meet at a very upscale Marriott Hotel in the heart of Prague. Spike had booked it in advance using his corporate award points. He told me by email that he did not want to arrive in Europe after a long flight without a reservation or a specific destination (as I prefer to do). “No problem” I thought if he is going to book business class accommodation.
We met up at the hotel and they let me in after closely examining Spike's Gold Membership card. Membership does have its privileges it seems. After taking full advantage of the FREE mini-bar and business area (free food, drinks and Internet) we set out to explore the town on foot.
The next day we checked out of the Marriott and into a local hostel I had booked (the night before). The hostel was cool, but the all night noise from the bar outside the window wasn't. Spike decided he would pick our next accommodation.
We trained it to Budapest, Hungry next, even though Vienna was closer and the logical next destination. He booked a nice small (AKA ex-apartment) hostel in the heart of Budapest. While Spike performed the check-in paperwork, I checked out the room and immediately began to worry. Why would Spike book a tiny (closet sized room) with only a single under-sized double loft bed? I went back to the front desk and asked about the room and the owner looked at me strangely. I mentioned the bed and he winked. Spike didn't believe me at first, but after checking out the “room” he asked for another room. Unfortunately it was the only double room they had and the rest were full dorm rooms. Oh well enough said.
We spent a few days enjoying Budapest (both the Buda and the Pest sides of the river) and the nightlife. Our itinerary included a bicycle tour of the city that was very good, a day of exploring the town on foot, and a day in the large public hot springs. The city is
known for the many natural hot springs, a fact that I wasn't aware of on any of my previous 15 visits. I guess it does pay to own a guidebook sometimes.
Our next venture was to double back to Vienna, Austria. After the noisy nights in Prague and the confined space of Budapest, Spike felt it was time to crack open his corporate card again. This time we checked into a very exclusive Marriott affair that was booked solid. All it took was one look at Spikes Titanium membership card and a suite was found (this time with two giant and comfortable beds).
Once again I took advantage of all the freebees and hot running water in the luxurious walk in shower that was larger than any guesthouse room that I had stayed in over the past two years.
Once again we enjoyed the town via foot and bicycle tour. However the nightlife was much more mellow. After playing tourists for a few days we jumped on an early morning train to Croatia and some home cooking at my place (my mother was in country so food was sure to be abundant).
In Croatia we cycled around the island and hung out on the beaches for three days and then decided to head to our final destination, Dubrovnik. The ancient walled city that is both charming and fun.
It was my turn to pick the digs so I booked a room in a small guesthouse (converted home) within the city walls. The place was four narrow floors with a set of tight winding stairs that even an elf would find hard to negotiate. But being on the top floor in the heat of mid summer really wasn't the problem. It was the fact that the three units all shared a single toilet on the ground floor. After two nights of descending and ascending those stairs a few time in the dead of night Spike decided to pull out one of his handy corporate cards. This time it was a Hyatt card, and only a lowly gold card.I decide to lower my newly acquired high standards and accept a Hyatt suite for the last night of Spike's Short Summer Holiday.