Round the World – Eurasia Days 5 and 6

Round the World – Eurasia Days 5 and 6

It was a long time since I’d visited Prague, so it was good fun to re-explore the familiar tourist attractions around the Old Town, and also check out some new locations. After a relaxed brunch on an outside terrace at the Cafe Louvre we crossed the Vltava river and slowly ascended the many steps to the Prague Castle complex, built on a hill overlooking the city. It was packed with tour groups, all following guides who displayed various emblems on top of umbrellas or long sticks so that their followers could pick them out of the crowd.

Queues to go inside the buildings were enormous, so we contented ourselves with wandering around outside and admiring the architecture, before stopping for drinks at the cafe in the palace gardens. From here we walked to the Petrin Tower, inspired by the Eiffel Tower. The people of Prague will tell you it’s taller than the Eiffel Tower, but this is only true if you include the hill which it’s built on top of. We didn’t have time to ascend it, because we had a 2pm appointment to join the “Real Prague” tour, visiting some of the city’s less tourist-heavy areas on electric bikes.

The tour started off through part of old town, and we were very happy for the electric motor assistance as we climbed the steep hills and cobbled streets. From here we headed to the Great Strahov Stadium, atop a hill west of the city. Built under the First Republic, between the wars in the 1920s, the stadium was designed to host displays of mass synchronized gymnastics and claims a capacity of 250,000 spectators. Leaving the stadium, which has seen better days, we descended steep park trails back towards the river and the Dancing House, before heading out along the river bank to see one of the original, officially sanctioned “graffiti walls” that came to popularity after the fall of communism.

After the tour, we met up with Venno; another new flying friend, met through the Cessna 182 pilot Facebook page. An American, he had been in Prague for over a decade working in the aerospace industry and had been very helpful with tips for planning my flight to the city. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours chatting over drinks, before releasing him to head back to his family, and making our own way back down into Old Town for dinner.

The next morning we went out for a brunch of ramen and ice cream (not together) before taking an Uber out to Letnany airport. We had paid the very reasonable fees the day we arrived, so all that was left to do was to load up the aircraft and head out to the southeast. Straight after take-off we were handed over to Kbely tower who cleared us through their airspace at 2,500ft, and once we got a little further out we started a gradual climb up to 8,500ft to get on top of the turbulence.

Across Prague, to Austria’s capital Vienna

We were flying VFR, and simply set course direct to our next stop of Wiener-Neustadt East airport, close to Vienna in Austria. The plan was to meet up with Christian, one of the intrepid Bonanza pilots that Mike and I had run into in Kulusuk, Greenland. He lived in Vienna, and was a member of the Diamond Flying Club close by; he’d very kindly arranged for us to park with them for a couple of days, and would show us the sights. We flew a slight dogleg to the west, so that we could remain clear of the Vienna class C airspace and not have to descend into bumpier air.

Wiener Neustadt East airport is situated in slightly complex airspace, with a military base directly to the west, Vienna airspace above and to the north, and a couple of other restricted areas besides. We managed to follow the proper VFR arrival procedure with only gentle reminders from the tower, and touched down on runway 09 to be met by Christian and another member of his flying club who directed us to our parking space by the club hangars, and helped us secure the aircraft.

Christian drove us into Vienna, about a 30 minute ride. The hotel we’d chosen was wine themed, and we enjoyed some complimentary glasses of welcome wine before heading out for a couple of hours walking tour of Vienna with Christian as our guide. It was great to be shown the city by a local, and we worked up quite an appetite for dinner at a local restaurant which he had selected. We ate outside on a quiet street enjoying the cooling air and local specialties of asparagus and, interestingly, octopus!

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