404 Prague

Review of Sandeman Tours as family

“I’m going to tell you the history of Prague in seven minutes!” We all leaned in to hear her better. Our tour guide went on to tell us how the Czech Bohemians are different from Bohemians, stories of defenestration, atheism, the Holy Roman Church, and how her Czech mother-in-law has lived in 9 different countries yet has never moved once.

I was hooked. We were all hooked.

Beautiful Prague

Beautiful Prague

Why we wanted a free tour

As I mentioned earlier, when we spent Easter weekend in Prague I wasn’t connecting to the city. My husband suggested we take a Sandeman tour. For those who don’t know, Sandeman offers free tours in many European cities. If you are at all like me, then you are thinking what I was thinking, free does not equal good. I first heard of Sandeman in Amsterdam. A random stranger on a canal cruise said she did one and loved it. The second time I heard about it was from one of the professors I worked with. I was helping him plan his study abroad program in Berlin and he insisted on using Sandeman. He even wanted to pay for their service (required for groups over a certain number of people). I objected. A lot. How can students feel they’re getting a quality tour when this service is free? Well, they did see the quality in them. For all the tours we arranged for students, Sandeman was one with the most positive feedback.

So when we saw it was an option in Prague, we signed up.

Flashback: Our first night in Prague and our street food experiences

Our authentic experience.

Our authentic experience.

As we waited for the tour to start, I looked around at the Easter market in Old Town Square and let my mind wander. My husband and I love going to holiday markets in Europe. During the Christmas season we try to go to a new one every weekend. We go for the food. The more authentic the experience, the better. We spent our first night in Prague searching for street food.  We spotted a little side outdoor food stand selling these pastries that were covered with your choice of almonds, cinnamon sugar, and other things. They were called Trdelniks. The process of making it looked really cool. They wrapped dough around a roller pin looking thing, it rotated over an open fire or heat source, then they covered it in whatever you picked. I had to have one. While they finished preparing mine, I read about the history of the snack. During this whole period I was so proud, thinking to myself that I found something really “Czech”. A hidden gem. It was tasty, but nothing spectacular.

Our second street food experience in Prague was that same night for dinner. We ordered something called “Prague Ham”, a dumpling dish mixed with a bit of sauerkraut and bacon, and a Prague sausage. The prices were cheap, too. Or so we thought. When the bill came to about 3 times more than we expected, we found out that the prices shown were per 100 grams. We had enough ham to last several days. At least it was still delicious.

Back to the tour

Our guide snapped me back into the tour as it was about to start. “I’m Kate!”

After a few minutes of explaining how the tour would function, she pointed to one of the Trdelnik stands and asked if we tried one yet. Then she informed us that though they are popular in Prague, they’re actually Hungarian. Well, there goes my hidden gem, truly authentic food experience. Then, as if she knew what I was thinking, she pointed to the stand where we ate ham the first night we were here. “And that, is the most expensive ham in all of the Czech Republic! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about better options during our tour.” I smiled at my husband.

And then she told us Prague’s history in 7 minutes.

Sandeman Tours are Worth It

We have been on other paid tours. We’ve taken walking tours in many cities before we had kids, and bus tours since having kids. This was definitely one of my better tour experiences. The tour guides are committed to their city. Their enthusiasm keeps everyone interested and wanting more. And they provide more via their themed tours at different price points. Even though they have paid tours that they obviously want to promote, I never felt like their information in our free tour was lacking.

Tips for Sandeman free-tours with kids

Going on a walking tour with kids in tow is not easy. It’s doable, but a lot depends on circumstances. Our kids were young enough that they could sit in a stroller without too much complaint.

  • If you are using a stroller, call in advance to make sure the tour’s path is suitable.
  • These tours aren’t created with kids in mind. Though they might not have age restrictions, there is probably an age range where the tours are not ideal. Doing on a walking tour strongly depends on your kids personality. 
  • Have something for your young kids to do. We brought stickers and snacks to keep our toddler entertained. We got lucky and he napped for the first hour. When the stickers stopped working, my husband and I took turns entertaining him away from the group.
  • Have an exit plan. We were prepared to leave earlier if we had to because we didn’t want to disturb the other guests. Our tour took a break for lunch and we decided not to continue for the second half.
  • Tip well. This is how the guides make their money and I want to keep the best of the best doing it.

Sandeman is currently located in 18 cities in Europe and Israel.

I took the Sandeman tour before I blogged, I was not compensated nor asked to write this review. All opinions are my own. 

This is part of Travel Tip Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels. Check out their sites for more great tips from other blogs!case macbook pro retina displayvibromasseur venteProline

The Modern 13th Century at The Augustine Prague – A Photo Tour

When traveling with two kids two and under, there comes a time when one kid wants to nap and one wants to explore. So, on a recent trip to Prague, my son and I took to checking out our hotel, while my daughter and husband slept in the room.

We were staying at The Augustine hotel in the Mala Strana district. It is close to shops, restaurants, and public transportation. As I’ve mentioned before, my son LOVES public transportation. There was no way we could have headed outside without him running to jump on a tram. Instead of going outside at all, we went on a tour of the hotel.  I’m glad we did.

The Augustine is one of Prague’s newest hotels, but it is composed of 7 buildings including a 13th century monastery. It’s tricky. The decoration is modern, Czech Cubism to be exact. Yet, the oddly angled hallways with random steps and stairwells reminds you that this is an old building. And while the structure has been updated, the layout is still the same. This combination of old and new together made our walk very interesting.

Below is a photo tour of The Augustine’s hallways.

Augustine Hallway

In some places the floors slightly sloped.


Augustine Stairs

A funky staircase. From the windows you can see the Prague Castle.


This little alcove between floors had a nice life-sized statue.

Augustine Halls

These simple table lamps look to be as tall as my son.

I tend to love walking around hotels anyway, but The Augustine is unique. Walking around the hotel, even with a toddler, was really calming.

Do you have any recommendations for unique hotel experiences? Please let me know in the comments so I can dream of future visits.

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.2014 honda accord sedan car coverapple smart case leather for ipad airdigsalenissan 350z car cover ukz350 car cover

One (of many) reasons to travel with kids

Here’s why you should travel with kids:

They notice things that you just never will notice. Free from the worries of itineraries, packing, language barriers, exchange rates, personal safety, where their next meal will come from… kids have the chance to actually enjoy their surroundings.

Last weekend I was in Prague with my kids. My thoughts were generally along the lines of “this is one beautiful and one busy city”. My son, his thoughts were all about the transportation. He pointed out every single bus, tram, and train he saw. Free from the worries of everything else, he saw them all. (You will never notice the frequency of public transportation until you are with a two year old who loves anything on wheels or rails.)


As we walked and watched him pointing to the left and right, we confirmed each tram with a high-five (our way to combat the screams he would have emitted since we weren’t about to go on one just yet). Crossing the Charles Bridge, he raised his hand off to the right. We looked up, didn’t see anything. No high-five. Then he pointed again and we looked harder. Why, yes, there was a train. Way out there, heading away from the castle, yet still on the hill. I stared at it briefly, wondering how my son noticed it. It was far. It was moving in between buildings. As I thought about it, I had one of those moment where I stepped back and noticed the entire scene. It was dusk. The train was lit inside, going through the streets of Prague. There was just something beautiful about it, here we are surrounded by tourists in a very touristy area, but out in the distance life was going on as normal.

Then I turned around, and gave my son a high-five.



I was looking at pictures from Prague on my phone with my son, he immediately pointed to this tram. I didn’t even notice it, but later realized I probably took the picture because of the tram.

One reason

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