Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Prague: A true Bohemian city

Prague. Think music because no matter where you walk around the capital of the Czech Republic, you will see a concert notice or hear classical chamber or orchestral music.

The astronomical clock in Prague. (Jacobs photos)

The astronomical clock in Prague. (Jacobs photos)

Or think Central European history because it was the capital of Bohemia and home to Charles IV.

Whatever your interest, however, you won’t have enough time to see and do everything. So, first, sign up for a tour of the city and secondly, plan to come back.

Here are just a few places to put on the itinerary. BTW, the city has an excellent public transportation system of subways and buses. Cabs can be expensive so if taking one ask how much before you get in.

Your best place to stay is in the historic area because it’s colorful, fun to stroll and easy to find an outdoor café for a needed break. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is where you’ll see a crowd gather in the Old Town Square (Stare Mesto) by the Prague Orloj, an astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall’s south wall.

If there near the hour, pull out the camera because the 12 apostles can be seen strolling past the clock’s windows.  Alert: the clock is undergoing repair so is not expected to be back in place until sometime August, 2018.

The cave in the White Horse Restaurant

The cave in the White Horse Restaurant

A great place to do dinner in the Square is at the White Horse, a protected UNESCO structure with a 12th century cave.

Although located near the astronomical clock, it is not a well-known touristy restaurant.

The dishes lean toward traditional local cuisine but also include an excellent salmon.  Yes, you eat in the cave if not outside on the Square.

Before dinner get your exercise walking the Charles Bridge which is near the Square.

Spanning the Vltava River, it is a way to go from Old Town to Prague Castle. Charles IV started construction on the bridge (replaced an earlier one) in the mid 14th century but it wasn’t completed until early 15th century.

See its Gothic Old Town Bridge Tower  and photograph the statues even though they are replicas of the original ones from about 1700.

Definitely visit the castle during your stay. It really is a huge complex of nearly 750,000 square feet that includes palaces, garden a cathedral, basilica, monastery, museums and the President of the Czech Republic’s official office.

While in the castle district area visit the Strahov Monastery with its gorgeous ceilings. The monastery has a noted brewery.

If looking for a restaurant that is noted for its beer and its local cuisine, check out Budvarka where Budweiser is rumored to have started. Its in the Devjice area and has a great duck confit and is a place where locals go.

Strahov Monastery Library

Strahov Monastery Library

Before leaving Prague, go see the Jewish synagogues. They are spectacular.

Surrounded by Old Town, the Jewish Quarter known as Josefov, contains a famous cemetery, the Jewish Museum, a Franz Kafka monument and five synagogues worth visiting.

They are the Old-New Synagogue considered Europe’s oldest active one (1270), the Spanish Synagogue (1868), the Pinkas Synagogue (1535, the Klausen Synagogue (largest one, 1694) and the Maise Synagogue (1592).

Oops, we haven’t even talked about the other museums, the city’s many galleries or its festivals.

Looking forward to next visit.

Jodie Jacobs

Travel to London to see the sights or Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Excitement is definitely in the air in London. It’s time to go to see royalty and possibly catch a glimpse of Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s  baby daughter.

If you haven’t been there before, pick up a London Pass to cut the cost of such attractions as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey and avoid the ticket lines.

See Westminster Abbey, snap a red phone box and do The Eye (back) Ferris type wheel

See Westminster Abbey, snap a red phone box and do The Eye (back) Ferris type wheel

Just go.

Visit Buckingham Palace. Pop into Harrod’s Food Hall and gape at the statuary along the store’s stairs.

Forget taxis. Stoplights and traffic make a cab ride slow and expensive. Walk or take the Tube and go to St. Paul’s Cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren. You can take a break downstairs in the café.

Then, head out the back way to stroll across the Thames River on the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern.

Pull out the Smart Phone or camera because you are on a pedestrian suspension bridge where you get great views. The UK’s famed modern art museum is housed in the Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron starkly-designed conversion of the former Bankside Power Station.

It still looks like a power station inside. At the Tate, you can lunch upstairs on Level 6 with a higher view of London but it is a bit pricey. Or lunch on the main level with a view of the river and walkways.

London has so much to see and do  that you should consider spending a week there.

On Wednesday or Saturday, antique hounds should go to the Camden Passage Antique Market. Any day is good to find a food gift to bring home from Fortnum & Mason near Piccadilly Square.

Sightseeing really depends on your interest. There really is something for everyone at Trafalgar Square.

For music, visit St. Martin in the Fields Church to one side of the Square. Go early for lunch downstairs in the Café in the Crypt. Save time for art. The National Gallery faces the Square and the National Portrait Gallery is around the corner across from St. Martin in the Fields.

Then, relax and rest the feet while indulging in sweets and petite sandwiches with an upscale tea. The Langham Hotel’s Palm Court is famous for its afternoon tea but any of the hotels on Park Lane would also be a good choice.

The Marble Arch is a Hyde Park landmark at Oxford Street and Park Lane

The Marble Arch is a Hyde Park landmark at Oxford Street and Park Lane


Think about location when looking for a place to stay. The Ampersand in London’s South Kensington area is good for the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and programs at the Royal Albert Hall. Just as good, South Kensington borders the Knightsbridge (think Harrods) and Chelsea shopping districts.

Or consider the Marriott Park Lane across from the Marble Arch on the Hyde Park corner of Park Lane and Oxford Street. A Tube station right outside the door will take you everywhere. It’s also a couple of blocks from Marks & Spencer for men’s clothes and from the large Selfridges which is fun to browse.

If time allows, fit in Kenwood House. A beautiful villa operated by English Heritage on Hampton Heath in the north area of London, Kenwood has a fine art collection that includes Gainsboroughs, van Dykes, a Vermeer and a Rembrandt. It is the highest point in the area with is a fine view of London.

There are many more things to do and places to visit and shows to see than mentioned here such as The British Museum, Kew Gardens and the Churchill War Rooms. So you will just have to come back. For more London sights visit London.

How smart are you about traveling with your cell phone?

You may think you have done everything right for a good vacation or business trip abroad.

Arrangements have all been made and you even have a check list. But if you haven’t worked out a cell phone usage plan you may be headed for trouble. Not only can roaming costs add up fast when traveling out of the United States, but your valuable data can be stolen.

Some travelers call their provider ahead of time for an internet usage package. It typically doesn’t cost much and can be as little as $25. But that is typically for internet use  so you may still have to try to limit talking by phone.

It also doesn’t take into account cell thieves. Because even if your phone isn’t stolen while traveling, it can be hacked by skilled cyber criminals.

Cellhire USA CEO Greg Kraynak shows the phone that can be rented for international travel. when

Cellhire USA CEO Greg Kraynak shows the phone that can be rented for international travel.

One way to leave worry behind is to rent a phone. has International Prepaid phone packages used by such companies as CBS and ABC when covering international events such as the recent Olympics and FIFa World Cup.

Users rent a phone before they leave that will work in the countries visited so personal cell phones can be left at home. Check International Prepaid Data to learn more. Cellhire consultants help clients choose a device and package deal that relate well to places visited.

“Essentially we urge travelers to leave their personal SmartPhone at home.  This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your contacts and personal info, it just means that you rent or purchase a “travel phone” and only use a secure network,” said Greg Kraynak, CEO of Cellhire, USA.

“Using public WIFI is a recipe for disaster, ” Kraynak said. “When you access personal data, social media, bank accounts, photos, etc., on a public platform then you are basically offering your data to be intercepted by cyber criminals.

In addition, visit Kaspersky, an internet security and antivirus company, for  several tips on securing information when in airports, hotels, cafes and other public places.

Traveling smart is more than remembering to bring comfortable shoes and electronic chargers.

Three places you might not have on your Paris itinerary

Instead of snapping a photo from a tour bus while passing Notre- Dame, stop to see the interior and take a tour of the tower.

Instead of snapping a photo from a tour bus while passing Notre- Dame, stop to see the interior and take a tour of the tower.

Like any great city, Paris is more than the sum of its restaurants and museums. It is also a city of remarkable holy places. Except for Notre Dame, tourists may not know the city is home to the Great Synagogue of Paris or the Moslem Institute of the Paris Mosquee. All three religious sites allow visitors and are worth a stop. Be prepared to gape in awe.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The famous cathedral sits on the Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine River. A Paris landmark, Notre-Dame is a state property but operated by clergy as a Roman Catholic church so entrance is free and visitors can attend masses and services.

The Cathedral Tower and the Treasury have entrance fees but the Tower is worth visiting for its views of Paris and its gargoyles and the Treasury for its precious holy objects.

Find Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris at 6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France.

Great Synagogue of Paris

The Great Synagogue of Paris (la Victoire) is the largest in France and built on the Romanesque style.

The Great Synagogue of Paris (la Victoire) is the largest in France and built on the Romanesque style.

The synagogue is also called La Victoire. The largest synagogue in France, it was constructed in 1974 by Alfred-Philibert Aldrophe with financial support from the Rothchilds.

As in Orthodox shuls, women sit separate from men. Visitors are welcome to attend services. For group visits or questions email

Find Synagogue de la Victoire at 44, rue de la Victoire – 75009 Paris, France.

Moslem Institute of the Paris Mosquee

Founded 1926, the Mosque is a place of prayer. Its institute is a place of study and a cultural center. Its Moorish style arches and patio are beautiful and lend a peaceful feel.

Find the Moslem Institute of the Main Paris Mosque at 132,boulevard de grenelle, 5e Arrondissement, Paris, France.

The Moslem Institute of the Paris Mosquee

The Moslem Institute of the Paris Mosquee

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