Should I rent a car or take a train???

Discussion in 'Travel Tips & Advice' started by Peggy Anne, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. Peggy Anne

    Peggy Anne Member

    I am going to be in Praha for the Sokol Slet this summer. I want to travel to Strakonice for a couple of days before the Slet. I have been told by some that have been there before that driving in the Czech Republic is a really bad idea. :? My thought plan was if renting a car I could stop along the way to Strakonice and take pictures at leisure. and suggestions?? Should I go to the expense of car rental or just stick to a train or a bus for a two day trip to Strakonice??

    Thanks for the help ..... Peggy Anne
  2. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Peggy Anne, can you please post info re Sokol Slet here. I would certainly be interested in going to see it. Are you actually one of the participants?

    2:15 minutes travel - 95 Kc - prague - Strakonice - you can't beat that. Not sure what is your reason to go there, but if you just want to look around one day is enough and you can go back same day - can get return ticket - need to buy "seat" or you will stand all the way there.

    If it is Czech history/culture/lovely town make sure you don't miss Cesky Krumlov - THAT is real gem.
  3. aminpraha

    aminpraha Member

    I am an experienced driver, but I refuse to drive a car in the CZ, although it seems to work for Czech drivers, the driving behaviors are very chaotic :shock:

    Another issue is if traveling outside of Prague, depending on your destination, sometimes signage is adequate, other times not, so a bit easier to get lost. I ride often outside of Prague and CZ with a friend that has a GPS system, this tool is invaluable. On a recent return trip from Germany, a portion of the highway was closed and we were detoured. Had we not had the GPS, we would have been hopelessly lost in the CZ countryside as the detour was winding roads, sometimes dirt roads through fields, and there was very little signage.

    If you are adventurous and choose to drive, do so with a car equipped with a GPS if available!
  4. hedgie

    hedgie Member

    Peggy Anne,
    We are living in Prague. While I do not drive in the city itself very much, I find it easy to drive in the countryside and I love it. (Heck, I even love it in Italy and Germany, which are much, much crazier!) You just need to know the traffic laws and international signs-- or the essential ones -- and have a really good map. If you are coming from the U.S., some things about driving are quite different. (If from elsewhere in Europe, not very different at all.)

    Freeways (U.S. term) or motorways (British term) in the C.R., as in much of Europe, are usually only 2 lanes. One is for driving and the other only for passing, so one must weave in and out a lot. The other thing to know is that in towns, cities, and villages, there are very, very few stop signs. The system used to indicate right-of-way is a yellow diamond sign. This is crucial, and for an American driver requires extra alertness.

    Another tip: rent a car from a place that will put you on an exit road from Prague. This will minimize getting lost in Prague itself.

    Driving times are much longer than Americans expect when they extrapolate from U.S. conditions, even though the speed limit on so-called freeways is higher here. It's one of the mysteries. However, if you relax into it, rolling along a country road (secondary or tertiary) is usually a pleasure.

    If you like to take photos and poke into things, I would definitely drive. If you are coming with someone who can navigate with a GOOD map, I would strongly recommend renting a car. The best map as far as we are concerned is the "Ceska Republika Autoatlas" by Marco Polo. Worth every crown. Other maps with the small villages omitted or with names in German will drive you nuts! With this, you feel like a genius.
  5. GuyFullaLove

    GuyFullaLove Active Member

    WOW!... A wealth of information in ONE post...

    I was foloowing Peggy Ann's posts... and landed here only to see Super Magan again give everyone concise and accurate information followed with more valuable info from aminpraha and hedgie

    Now I understand why people keep asking me, "is it your first time in Prague?"... I have a STRONG sense that unlike many places I visited, teh Czech Republic is a place you "come back to"... perhaps once every year...

    Magan mentioned "Cesky Krumlov - THAT is real gem."... I need to look into Cesky Krumlov. Any quick guidance here?

    I am trying to take a week off every month in the summer and every 2 months on the other seasons... so, any quick suggestions on Budapest, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and other Central/East European destinations would be most appreciated..

    Thanks to all... :D
  6. kitty46

    kitty46 Well-Known Member

    I highly recommend Cesky Krumlov!!! I have been there twice so far. I have friends that own a very resonable pension there. I would be happy to give you their email address. It is a medieval town and a beautiful busride from Prague. It only cost $15 for a round trip bus ticket with seat. Costs are cheaper than in Prague for lodging and food, also. I can hardly wait to return to the Czech Republic. It is so beautiful!!
  7. Peggy Anne

    Peggy Anne Member

    I want to thank all the people that have posted on the topic .... I am leaving Friday for my long planned trip. I ended up renting a car to go to Strakonice for a couple of days to visit the place my great great grandfather left in 1882. on the second week of my trip I have hooked up with the tour group from the US that is coming for the Slet in Prague and we are going to do a one day trip to Cesky Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov. Everyone that I have talked to has said what a wonderful place to visit. We are going to take another day trip to Karlovy Vary and Lidice which i have heard is also going to be a wonderful trip. On one of the nights they have a Dinner Cruise on the Vlatva River that sounds like an awesome way to see the city of Praha at night.

    If your roaming around the street of Praha in the morning of July 2 there is going to be a parade through the streets for the opening of the Slet (gymnastic exhibition) that the Sokols are holding the first week of July. From what I have been told it is a sight to be seen. It is something I have been dreaming about for many years.

    Again .. thanks for all the wonderful info that I have gotten from you all ....

    Na shledanou .... Peggy Anne :lol:
  8. kitty46

    kitty46 Well-Known Member

    I hope you will write your opinions when you return. It is helpful to others who are planning trips. I have been to Karlovy Vary and would be especially interested in what you have to say about that, Lidice (I have been encouraged and discouraged to go there) and if you felt the dinner cruise was worth it.
    Thank you and have a fabulous trip!! And don't forget to keep your wallet on the inside.
  9. John Rihacek

    John Rihacek Active Member

    Dear Friends

    I highly recommend the rental of a GPS for auto drivers. As for the Czech driving habits, I live in New Jersey close to NYC some of the worst drivers in the world. On the two to one lane Czech highway some drivers are over aggressive in passing a line of cars behind a gray head in an old Skoda. I spent 8 days in Ceska Bud, and did go to Cesky Krumlov which is a must see in the CR.

    Another must just for the beauty of the countryside is the trip from Praha to Kutna Hora. Our guide called it the lungs of Praha. It is a high plateau area like the Pocono Plateau in Pennsylvania where you literally see for miles. Also, I apologize that I cannot recall the name of the town but a fair number of wealthy Czechs live in one of the resort towns between Praha and Kutna Hora and refer to the same as their Beverly Hills. At the
    mining and minting museum in Kutna Hora the guides were very friendly especially when I told them that my grandmother long ago lived in the nearby town of Maleslov.

    After 16 days in the Czech Republic which has experienced a heat wave of late, I am thankful to be back in the USA with air conditioning.

    On a side note in Praha-we did get a guided tour in a 1920's Tatra open car that still had the steering wheel on the right side. Our guide explained that the Czechs used to drive on the right side of the road like the UK until the Nazi occupation foreced them to drive on the left side, and retool all of their factories for left side operation. If anyone knows about the Tatra automobiles they were quite advanced for their years with the last one being produced in around 1975 with a rear engine mounted air
    cooled V-8. Tatra only produces trucks now.

    One interesting note from our guide is that like Poland, certain old and young segments of society are longing for the good old days of communist
    directed life and economy. Apparently the communist party scores consistently in the high 13 percents in each election.

    Furthermore, I recommend the Marco Polo map too-a great resouce for finding the smaller villages from whence one's ancestors emigrated.

    Lastly I did the Czech National Museaum tour which was great on the first floor as the ancient history of the Bohemia up to the early slav settements. Most Czechs recommended against the museam as being filled with stones, and rockss actually found on another floor.
  10. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    GuyFullaLove: I gave Peggy Anne so many directions that she ended up in my apartment checking her e-mail :lol: Just kidding I was very glad to meet here. She is fun girl and we spent some time discovering something new.

    But best was that we spent day at the stadium, watching Sokolsky Slet . We had tears in our eyes - it was so beautiful. Who missed it should plan to go next time - in 6 years.

    But don't get used to "little ambassador" girls, I am getting out of here in a few days.........just to come back in the Fall.
  11. GuyFullaLove

    GuyFullaLove Active Member


    Yeah Peggy Ann seems like a kind soul... I am glad you two had fun...

    I am considering a visit to Slovakia or Latvia in August... They told me people on the streets smile back at you... That's what they told me about Prague before I left... he he

    Any good tips on Slovakia or Latvia or even Lithuania?

    I am not sure if I will ever go back to Prague... but I never say never....

    love to all 8)
  12. Peggy Anne

    Peggy Anne Member

    Ahoj .....

    Well i made if back from two weeks in Praha .... it was a beautiful experience. I needed up renting a car for my two day trip to Strakonice. It was a great drive and a very pleasant experience. yes some people really drive like bats out of hell ... i just let them go and continued enjoying the scenery. A car in Praha is a waste of money. The street are extremely narrow and to find a place to park is virtually impossible. On the way to Strakonice I did a little side trip through Dobris to Novy Knin to the Elko company to purchase some dumpling slicers to have shipped home for our Sokol Organization for some of our memebers.

    It was really nice driving along the back roads to the town and get a chance to see how people live in the small towns instead of the big city. I found the maps that I were fairly easy to follow even though my Cesky sucks. I found road signs easy to follow and I am really glad that i decided to rent the car as apposed to taking a bus to Strakonice, even if i did get a flat tired while I was

    I think for traveling outside of the city .... the car was diffinitely the way to go.

    I do have to say that Magan was a life saver in giving me excellent directions on what trams and metros to take to the various places i had to go while I was in Praha. I found the metro and tram maps really good. The metros are a fast way to get around, but i found the trams and buses more pleasurable so that I could see more of the sights.

    I took part in a bus tour to Lidice and Karlovy Vary and to Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov. Both were awesome sights to see and the pictures I took will be something I will enjoy for a long time to come.

    I have to agree it was great getting back home with some AC after the heat there. The penzion I was staying at didn't have any AC I found that most shops and restaurants that I sent to didn't have AC either ..... Well tomorrow I go back to the real world and work ....

    Na Shledanou .... Peggy Anne
    I feel that this was not going to be the last time I visit Praha ....
  13. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    Peggy Anne, thanks for posting about your experience here. It was interesting to see how people feel about driving in the Czech Republic. I consider myself an experienced driver as well, but am afraid to venture onto Czech roads. Have been back here for two years now and haven't driven a single time. :( It looks like the new point system may wake people up though. Maybe they'll finally start following the rules and driving with consideration.

    That must have been some kind of a joke. Czechs are known for NOT smiling and not even smiling back if you smile at them first. After I returned from 7 years in the U.S. (where the constant smiling and general friendliness among people is contagious), I stopped smiling at strangers about two weeks into my stay here because I was getting no response and started feeling out of place. The sulky or at least indifferent looks on people's faces certainly don't invite one to be friendly.

    You may want to post about this in the Central & Eastern Europe forum. That way your question will stand on its own in a forum where people are going to find it easily - both to respond and to benefit from the discussion.
  14. kitty46

    kitty46 Well-Known Member

    Hi PeggyAnn
    Just wanted to double your wow....Magan is so extremely helpful!!!!!! Glad you got to experience it. I, too, can hardly wait to go back. The whole CR is so special!!!!
  15. GuyFullaLove

    GuyFullaLove Active Member

    Good post Peggy Anne... I was waiting to see your impression of the CR...

    I am jealous that i didn't have the nerve to rent a car and drive outside Prague... I still believe I would have gotten lost royally...

    I will keep an eye on the forum for the odd possibility I may return to the CR...

    love to all
  16. zedeebee

    zedeebee New Member

    I have driven several times in Czecho now, including in February snow, and survived. I certainly saw a marked improvement in Czech driving this summer after the imposition of the new points system, so here's hoping that it will reduce some of the lunacy of Czech drivers.

    One driving habit that is worth knowing about is Czech overtaking. It came as a shock to me as a Brit when first I experienced it. Basically the car being overtaken and any car coming in the opposite direction are expected to get out of the way by pulling over, so allowing the overtaking car to get through.

    I would not have a car for a visit to Prague but a car in Southern Bohemia where I spend my visits a car opens up hosts of beuatiful places to visit, such as the Sumava National Park.

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