Tim takes us from Berlin to Prague – a different kind of pub tour…
For different reasons, Berlin and Prague share the crown as Europe’s best places to party – each could have taken the trophy at some point over the last twenty odd
years. Germany’s capital for its hedonistic venues and cutting edge music scene, and Prague with its plethora of cheap and welcoming taverns, caverns and clubs.
Outstanding nightlife isn’t the only thing these two brilliant cities share either, they’re also only a few hours apart, making them perfect to visit together – and the best way to make the trip is most definitely by train.
It’s probably best to point out at this point you need to be ready to roll those sleeves up to make your way though these two boozy behemoths, although in fairness each place has plenty of opportunities for relaxation too. First things first though, kick things off with a stroll round the bars of Kreuzberg – Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn stop is a good place to start. Then it probably goes without saying you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to clubs in Berlin. If you don’t fancy risking the queues and door policy at world famous Berghain, then the pitch black, smoky basement of Tresor is not to be missed. Or, should you prefer your techno a bit more al fresco, check out About Blank, where the party only really starts once the sun comes up, in their bewitching wooded garden.
After hitting the clubs and bars, you can find a bit of R&R at one the many parks and lakes Berlin has to offer. Try Templehof for a weird but yet strangely tranquil experience at an abandoned airport, where locals ride their bikes up and down the now disused runways. Alternatively, if you fancy getting your toes wet pack a picnic and relax by the water at Weissensee. A day in the sun should be just about enough time to recharge those batteries ready for your train trip down in to the Czech Republic for round two.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the central railway station in the city, and is pretty easily accessible on the S Bahn, or a short hop on the U Bahn from Brandenburger Tor. There’s definitely no need to get a taxi – it’s a pretty easy network to get to grips with. There are regular trains between Berlin and Prague and so plenty of options of times throughout the day to make your trip, but I’d recommend the late morning, that way you can properly enjoy the views and make full use of the onboard bar and restaurant…
There are some interesting sights of small towns and farms passing through Germany’s eastern fringe, but the journey only really starts in earnest at Dresden, a beautiful city that also signals the beginning of the Elbe River Valley which passes through to the Czech border. It pays to sit on the left hand side of the train if you’re making the trip from Berlin to Prague (right on the way back of course) but fear not, if you haven’t got the best seat, head to the restaurant carriage once you get past Dresden and sit where you like. It’s not quite the Orient Express but the dining cart on the train is a pretty nice place to while away an hour or two. Crisp white table cloths, freshly cooked food served to your table and low low prices – especially once you cross the border in to Czech Republic when happy hour begins.
It’s tradition to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages on the train, and you won’t find many trips better than this to uphold that rule. Once over the border you won’t be paying much more than a Euro for a beer, and it isn’t too steep back on German soil either – certainly no need to stock up on Stellas in the station before you set off. The food onboard is actually pretty nice too, we enjoyed some real classic central European fare with goulash soup and rye bread to start then schnitzel and veal mains. It’s not bad value as well, two courses with beers for two for under 20 Euro. A very relaxing way to spend four hours of your time, more fun than flying and so much more comfortable too.
Another big advantage of making this and other short hops between cities by train is that you land right in the city centre. Take Prague for example, the airport is an arduous and expensive 40 minute taxi ride from town, take the train and you arrive downtown with easy access to your hotel in minutes. Once you’ve dropped your bags soak up the sights of the city by visiting a few bars, hit up Groove bar for great cocktails or Propaganda for something a bit more laid back and casual.
If you got bitten by the bug in Berlin and want some more dark rooms and even darker music then give 36 Underground a look. They put on regular parties in disused spaces around town, right now they’ve taken up residency in old abattoir north of the river Vltava in Prague 7, you’ll know you’ve found it when you see a disco ball hanging eerily above the entrance. It’s very loud, very lively, and just a little bit spooky too.
There’s much more to Prague than beers though, it’s a stunningly beautiful city packed with far more than its fair share of intriguing sculptures and art galleries. For some of the best views of the fairytale architecture catch the funicular railway up Petrin hill, then on the way back down have a peek inside the Galerie Futura, worth visiting just for the David Cerny ‘Brown Nosers’ statues if nothing else.
Luckily this awesome duo of cities features in loads of Euroventure’s packages – the only difficult decision is where to head next. Hop back on the train in Prague and you can be in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and more in a matter of hours.
Thanks to Tim Alderson from @Manchestersfinest
You might also like: