Re: Izzlekizzles Guide To Europe
Date: March 03, 2010 10:32AM
I've seen that people mention Rome and Vienna a lot, and you asked about Prague. As it happens, I have been in all these cities, so maybe my opinion is worth something. Living in the Netherlands, I know a little about Amsterdam too (although I've only had one day trips there).
I'd say Rome is a must-see, if you like history. The colosseum is just an impressive building that has few equals. And nearby there is the Palladino, the oldest part of Rome, with many ruins of triumph arcs and palaces. And many, many other sites from ancient Rome, such as Trajan's pillar, the Pantheon, and the huge therms of Caracalla and Diocletianus (the latter is a museum which I found not so interesting, but the building is quite impressive). Once you're in Rome, you probably would want to visit the Vatican, with the St. Peter, the Vatican museums, and Castel Santangelo.
Rome is quite in the south of Europe, of course, and you might consider just visiting Italy, maybe. Florence (Firenze) is also a nice city, with a famous museum and a famous green cathedral (I forgot the names). And of course you could visit excavations, e.g. of Ostia Antica, near Rome, Pompeii and Ercolaneo (near Naples), and Villa Adriana (near Tivoli, northeast of Rome).
Then the other cities:
Vienna I found quite interesting. It has quite a romantic touch to it, I think, with many carriages pulled by horses driving (riding?) couples around. Vienna is also historic, but of course the history is much more recent than Rome's. It has many gigantic buildings, and it's nice to just walk around the area for some time. Most of these buildings house museums, and I found some quite interesting, others quite disappointing. Other things I visited there were the Kaisersgruft, with tombs of all the former emperors of Austria(-Hungary), the Freud house (I studied psychology, you see. I'd only recommend it if you have a special interest in the guy), and the Spanish riding school. There's also some nice churches.
Prague I found very interesting, and certainly worth visiting for a day or two just to see the attractions there. You have to see the castle there, with a very interesting cathedral (of St. Vitus) inside. I spent a full day there, and found it very impressive, the cathedral in particular. Prague itself has a nice medieval center, worth spending another day. In the west of the town there's a tower (the Petrin tower, a copy of the Eifel tower, I believe) with a nice view over Prague. In the evening, the youth gathers at the banks of the river (Moldau, I believe) for drinks and socializing. I didn't join in, but it looked quite appealing. Personally, I found Prague much nicer than Vienna.
You may also want to consider Budapest. It has some great buildings along the Donau-river, like the Parliament, a heavily guarded building, but you can get tours inside, to see the gold decorations, and the Hungarian crown, dating from the 13th century. At the other side of the Donau, there is a palace (housing a museum) and a kind of fairy-tale castle that looks very nice. There's also a high hill, called the Capitol, with a WWII bunker on top. And there's an island in the Donau river, which must be very nice for relaxing in the summer (I was there in October). I found Budapest more attractive than Vienna, and about as attractive as Prague.
In Amsterdam, besides visiting the red light district, and visiting a coffee shop, if you're into that, you might wanna visit the Rijksmuseum, housing some great paintings by the Dutch masters, like Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and others. There is another museum with Van Gogh paintings, but I haven't seen that myself. There's also the Anne Frank house. I guess I don't have to explain that. The canals (grachten) are also an attraction to foreigners.
Well, that's about what I have to say about these cities. I've also been to Bratislava (Slowakia's capital) for a day, but found that quite disappointing. The best thing about that city is that it is still quite cheap. But even that may have changed, now that they introduced the euro.
I hope this is of some help.