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Traveler Notes: Art and Film in the Czech Republic

Tiny World Tours, 25 June – 2 July, 2018

(VERSION dated 14 June 2018)

Departure preparation

We recommend you take the following actions as soon as possible:

  • Check now that your passport is up to date and is valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date, and preferably has two blank pages. Click here for express passport information.
  • Scan or photocopy your passport identity pages and credit cards and leave one set at home with family or friends and bring one set packed safely in your suitcase.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card & ATM card companies by phone at the numbers on the back of each card of your intended travel dates and destinations.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance. We recommend Travel Select Insurance by Travelex. http://www.travelexinsurance.com/travel-insurance/plans/travel-select
  • Contact your cell-phone provider to inquire about roaming charges or registering for an international plan.  Most providers now offer a $10/day “international pass” that enables very low cost (and often unlimited) calls, text messaging, and data in a long list of many foreign countries that typically includes the Czech Republic.
  • Install WhatsApp on your cell phone and send a message to Mark Holzbach

Weather in June and July

This is a wonderful time to visit the Czech Republic.

The daytime temperatures usually range around 65° to 75° F degrees, with cooler evenings, especially by the river.  Cooler or warmer days and occasional rain showers may also be possible, so we suggest a small travel umbrella and layers, such as a wrap, sweater or light jacket, which can also “dress up” more casual daytime clothes for an evening out.

Packing

Try to pack lightly and efficiently.

On most days we will have a break between our daytime touring and evening activities, but to simplify your packing, items of clothing that can take you from day to night are the most practical. Exploring Prague on foot is the way we will maximize your experiences, but cobblestone walkways and stone stairs can be unkind to feet and knees. Bring more than one pair of reliable shoes. Close-toed, supportive walking shoes are a must—Dana and Mark will be wearing sneakers during the day, and comfortable shoes in the evening. Pack a light jacket or sweater in a neutral color for evenings when you're eating alfresco or walking to the bridge, theater, clubs, or concerts or making late-night bar stops. Most Praguers are pretty style-conscious and take pleasure in looking good; folk here still dress up for dinner.

In Karlovy Vary, during the days the international set will be dressing ‘smart casual.’ The June 29th Opening Gala is Black Tie, and gowns for women and tuxedos for the men are standard. We recommend that men bring their own tuxes because of the additional cost, inconvenience, and uncertainty of renting tuxes in Prague or Karlovy Vary.  Dana and Mark and several guests are doing this.  If you have forward travel plans and would like help shipping clothes such as formal wear home, please let us know.  Our main group hotel in Karlovy Vary, the Atlantic Palace Hotel, located in the city center, offers many spa and wellness services, outlined here. Throughout history these services at Atlantic Palace have been quite popular, serving Goethe, Beethoven, Mozart, and Paganini, so reservations should be made in advance.

For a description of services and prices visit: http://www.atlantic-palace.cz/wellness/

And to make a reservation email: info@atlantic-hotel.cz

Other convenient items include:

  • European two-pin electrical adapters and transformers for higher-voltage equipment. Adapters are small and highly recommended (for an example, please click here). European voltage is 220, so you may need a transformer for US appliances that are 110. Computers, phones, and cameras are usually dual voltage and usually have 110/220 written on the charger in small print. Please check before you plug something in! When there, consider purchasing a cheap extension cord with multiple sockets because accommodations often are lacking in electrical outlets.
  • Umbrella and/or packable waterproof jacket.
  • A small day-pack (the smaller the better to avoid having to check it when visiting museums).
  • A simple billfold or change purse to keep your Czech bills and coins easily accessible.

Incoming Arrival

Travelers will be arriving both from the air and by rail—Mark Holzbach has your arrival details and will confirm with you personally your transport from the arrival spot to your hotel.

Please wait in the Arrivals Area for your transport; if after fifteen minutes you do not see someone with a card with your name, please contact Mark through WhatsApp or via cell: 001 512.689.6777. The Prague airport is approximately 45 minutes and the central train station is approximately 10 minutes from the Dancing House Hotel.

Money

The Czech currency is the crown (Koruna česká; Kč). It is listed at banks and exchange windows as CZK. $1US = ~25 CZK, so for a quick conversion, so 250 CZK = $10, 500 CZK = $20, etc. Click here for more about currency and customs.

ATMs are widely available; be sure to call your bank before your departure and have a numerical PIN. International transactions are often blocked unless prior notification has been received; in case of problems, have bank phone numbers copied or written down separate from the card itself. The daily limit ranges from $300-$600, though some banks will allow you to request a higher limit. If you get a message refusing the withdrawal, try requesting a lower amount. Credit and debit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants; some cards have no foreign currency conversion charge, please call your card provider in advance to check.

Tipping

The Czech Republic is not a traditional tipping culture, though service workers in contact with foreign visitors will expect something.

  • Hotels Tip the bellman at top-end hotels 20Kč to 50Kč per large bag for assistance; gratuity for cleaning staff is at your discretion.
  • Pubs Not expected, though you can round up to the nearest 10Kč if the service is good.
  • Restaurants For decent service 10%.
  • Taxis Not expected, though you can round up to the nearest 10Kč for good service.

Time Zone

Prague is 7 hours ahead of Texas and 6 hours ahead of New York. For example, when it is 8:00 am in Texas, it's 9:00 am in New York, and 3:00 pm in Prague on the same day. One can check the current time in any city or state using a cell phone’s international clock app or by google searches such as “Current Time in Texas

Communications

Before leaving the USA, please install WhatsApp on your phone (https://www.whatsapp.com/) and then message Mark Holzbach (ideally within the app otherwise via email).  It is critical that you install WhatsApp on your phone and have an activated international data roaming plan before leaving the US or we may not be able to communicate when time is of the essence for information about your trip.  With WhatsApp you may also use hotel or public wifi to save international data roaming charges (and please just remember to turn off cell data at that time).  Then please remember to do the opposite when you leave hotel or public wifi: turn off the wifi and turn on your cell phone data roaming or your cell phone may not connect to the cell network and we will be unable to communicate by WhatsApp.  We cannot emphasize enough the importance of having the international data plan/WhatsApp combination for the relaxing flow of your trip and avoidance of stressful situations that we can easily and quickly handle with instant communications.

Public Transportation

Public transportation in the Czech Republic is generally very good, saves time to get across town quickly and provides an authentic experience of city life. In Prague, we will provide you with a transit map and three-day metro pass allowing unlimited on-and-off tram, bus, and metro transport.

Passengers on public transportation must validate the pass on the first journey by inserting it into a validator found inside trams and buses and in the entry halls of Metro stations.

  • Travelers may encounter plain-clothes ticket inspectors wearing small metal badges with “Přepravní Kontrola” on them at any time. Fines for failure to have a validated ticket range from 50 to 1500 CZK. In Prague, the usual fine is 800 CZK if paid on the spot or within 15 days. Inspectors should provide a receipt for on-the-spot payments.
  • Trams always have the right of way over pedestrians, including at crosswalks. Remember to look both ways before crossing!
  • Legitimate taxis are clearly marked, and the US Embassy strongly recommends calling for a taxi rather than hailing one on the street. If calling is not possible, visitors should get taxis at clearly marked “Fair Place” stands. The potential for substantial overcharging in taxis exists, particularly in tourist areas. Agree on a price in advance or ensure the driver is using the meter.
  • Mobile “ride share” applications for transportation sharing are legal and functional in many Czech cities. For example, Uber is available in Prague.

Tiny World Tours: A few basic guidelines

  • Everything is optional! We’ve planned a variety of experiences, but feel free to choose to explore on your own or take the afternoon off—please let us know by phone or What’sApp if you are opting out so we won’t wait for you.
  • Out of respect for others, please be on time for departures, meals, etc, or let us know you are running late and we can make arrangements for you to catch up by taxi or meet us later.
  • If you are unhappy with any part of the Tiny World Tour experience, rather than sharing it with other guests, please let Mark and Dana know as quickly as possible so we can address the issue.

Itinerary

We are in the process of finalizing the full itinerary, but below are some key dates and times.  Please check back here for the latest version.  We will provide you with the printed latest version upon your arrival in Prague.

Monday June 25

Check into Dancing House Hotel, address: Jiráskovo náměstí 1981/6, 12000 Prague 2 (Czech Republic), tel:+42,0720983172

4:30 PM: Meet in the lobby for an informal neighborhood stroll (optional)

6:30 PM: Hotel Rooftop Welcome Cocktails followed by Dinner – Hotel Rooftop followed by Ginger & Fred Restaurant

Tuesday June 26

Morning on your own

11:45 AM: Depart from the hotel lobby for luncheon and art museum tour

4:30 PM: return to hotel

Evening on your own. The hotel can assist with dinner reservations, concert tickets, etc.

Wednesday June 27

10:30 AM: Depart from the hotel lobby for a strolling Food Tour of Prague Neighborhoods

4:30 PM: Return to hotel

7:15 PM: Depart from the hotel lobby for the National Theatre “Magic Lantern” experience “Cube

Thursday June 28

10:00 AM: Depart from the hotel lobby for an Architecture Tour of Prague, including lunch

4:00 PM: Return to hotel

6:45 PM: Depart from the hotel lobby for dinner

Friday June 29

~9 AM (Time yet to be confirmed): Check out of the hotel and depart by coach to Karlovy Vary

late morning arrival at Hotel Atlantic Palace. Hotel address: Tržiště 23/37, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, tel.: +420 353 224 109

~12:00 PM: Lunch on your own in downtown Karlovy Vary

Afternoon: Explore downtown Karlovy Vary, enjoy a spa service, hair and makeup appointments for the ladies

Time yet to be confirmed: Depart Hotel Atlantic Palace via motorcade for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) Opening Gala

Saturday June 30

11:15 AM Depart from the Hotel Atlantic Palace lobby for the Austin Film Society VIP Brunch (~10 minute walk)

Afternoon: Optional activities include spa services, film screenings, and the Moser Crystal Factory Museum tour (transport by taxi)

Time yet to be confirmed: Walking history tour of Karlovy Vary

Evening on your own for dinner and film screenings

Sunday July 1

Time to be determined: hotel check out and coach transport from Hotel Atlantic Palace to Prague Dancing House Hotel

Afternoon: optional experiences by arrangement, including boat tour, museums, shopping, etc.

Evening Restaurant Experience TBD

Monday, July 2

Dancing House Hotel check out and departures for the airport or train stations by arrangement

 


 

A few Czech movie recommendations (most available via streaming online):

  • 1967, "The Fireman's Ball": Milos Foreman's last film before he emigrated to the USA
  • 1969, "Svetáci": a comedy depicting the lives of three country plasterers tempted by Prague night life in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia
  • 1996, "Kolya": a comedy/drama depicting the life of a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia
  • 1999, "Cosy Dens": a comedy/drama depicting two families in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia
  • 1999, "The Idiot Returns": a romance/comedy/drama about current topics in the Czech Republic.
  • 2000, "Divided We Fall": a comedy/drama depicting a childless couple who agree to hide a Jewish friend at great personal risk of discovery and execution during WWII in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia.
  • 2005, "Something Like Happiness": A drama about current topics in the Czech Republic.

Shops Near the Dancing House Hotel (gifts):

 

Shops NOT so near the Dancing House Hotel (gifts):

 

Please let Mark or Dana know if you have any questions, concerns, or information to share.

 

THANK YOU!