Trains, Planes, Beer and Tapas: A Trip to Prague and Madrid

In this trip report, we review a couple of interesting flights and trains, eat a lot of tapas in Madrid and drink even more beer in Prague.

Trips

In recent months, I have made a number of trips to Prague and Madrid. Some of these travels were for work, while others were pure leisure trips to meet up with some old friends. Some of them were a bit of an odd mix between work and leisure.

As I could draft my own itinerary and had some spare time on my hands to explore around, I managed to include some fun flights, train rides as well as a couple of new destinations into these trips.

dining car czech train prague trip report
View from the dining car on a Czech train. ©Paliparan

Flights

The trips to Prague and Madrid allowed me to try out some new aircraft and airliners that I haven’t flown before.

Without doubt, the true highlight was the Air France business class flight on a brand new Airbus A220. This also gave me the opportunity to visit the new Air France business class lounge for Schengen flights in Terminal 2F of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Although I have flown on Air France regional subsidiary HOP before, it was my first time in business class on their Embraer 170 so I’ve written a review of that flight as well.

It was also good fun to fly Air Europa for the first time ever. My short-haul flight from Madrid to Milan was operated by a widebody plane, the Boeing 787, which made it stand out as well.

Just for fun, I have also included two Ryanair flight reviews as the experiences on board couldn’t have been more different.

air france 2f schengen lounge paris cdg
The brand new Air France business lounge at Paris CDG Terminal 2F for Schengen flights. ©Paliparan
economy class air europa boeing 787
Economy class on the Air Europa Boeing 787. ©Paliparan

Trains

On short European routes I always prefer to take the train instead of flying – and the scenic journey between Budapest and Prague is a great example of this.

The Budapest to Prague route is operated by trains of the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) as well as those of the Czech Railways (České Dráhy or ČD).

I tried out both of them, travelling on the “Hungaria” EuroCity train between Budapest and Brno and the “Metropolitan” train between Brno and Prague.

A day trip from Prague to Olomouc allowed me to try out to private competitors of the Czech Railways, namely Leo Express and RegioJet. Being booked in the top travel class on both, I had a great experience on board the trains of these railway companies.

hungaria train budapest nyugati station
The “Hungaria” EuroCity train waiting for departure at Budapest Nyugati station. ©Paliparan
regiojet business class sushi sparkling wine train prague trip report
Sushi and Czech sparkling wine on RegioJet’s excellent business class. ©Paliparan

Destinations

Although I have visited Prague and Madrid many times before and there is a lot to see and do in these two fantastic European capitals, I will discuss both destinations in a more narrow scope.

In Madrid I will go on a tapas crawl and visit some of my favourite bars and restaurants in the city, while in Prague the focus of this trip report will be on the golden elixir of life: Beer!

Perhaps the true highlight is my visit to the city of Olomouc in the Czech Republic, which is a true hidden gem with a wonderful old town and lots of Art Nouveau beauty.

olomouc old town
The old town of Olomouc. ©Paliparan
polbo feira madrid tapas trip report
Enjoying some Polbo á Feira in Madrid. ©Paliparan

Chronological

As I wrote before, all these flights, train rides and visits happened during multiple trips spread out over several months, mostly during autumn.

However, for the sake of clarity and having a more cohesive narrative, I’ve written this trip report like it was one consecutive journey instead of several individual trips.

On a map, the flights I took during this trip look like this:

planes trains trip report prague madrid
The flights I took across Europe on this trip. ©Great Circle Mapper

Highlights

Highlights to look forward to in this ‘Across Europe by Train: Interrail in the Age of Corona’ trip report include:

– Admiring the Art Nouveau beauty of Olomouc
– Fun stopovers in Brno and Chania
– Some luxurious train journeys in the Czech Republic with private operators Leo Express and RegioJet
– Checking the latest Air France has to offer: Its Airbus A220 and the brand new Schengen Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
– A lot of great food in Spain and big quantities of beer in the Czech Republic

airbus a220 air france charles de gaulle take-off departure cdg
Departing from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on a brand new Airbus A220 of Air France. ©Paliparan
danube train view budapest prague hungary
Morning view over the Danube from a Budapest to Prague train. ©Paliparan
prague autumn trip report
A wonderful autumn afternoon in Prague. ©Paliparan

Trip report index

This ‘Trains, Planes, Beer and Tapas: A Trip to Prague and Madrid’ trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Ryanair Bucharest to Chania (Boeing 737-800)
2. A Rainy Chania Stopover
3. Ryanair Hell: My Bad Chania to Budapest Flight Experience
4. Review: T62 Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
5. Review: EuroCity Train “Hungaria” Budapest to Brno
6. A Walk Through the Historic Old Town Centre of Brno
7. Review: EuroCity Train EC 278 “Metropolitan” Brno to Prague
8. Review: K+K Central Hotel Prague, Czech Republic
9. Beer Boozing in Prague
10. Praha Hlavní Nádraží – Prague’s Stunning Art Nouveau Station
11. Review: Leo Express Train Prague to Olomouc
12. Olomouc: An Amazing Art Nouveau City
13. Review: RegioJet Train Olomouc to Prague
14. Review: Erste Premier Lounge Prague Airport Terminal 2 (Schengen)
15. Review: Air France HOP Business Class Prague to Paris CDG (Embraer 170)
16. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F (Schengen)
17. Review: Air France Business Class Paris CDG to Madrid (Airbus A220)
18. Review: Hotel Europa, Madrid, Spain
19. Tapas Crawling Through Madrid
20. Review: Ibis Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain
21. Review: Puerta de Alcala Business Lounge Madrid Barajas Terminal 2
22. Review: Air Europa Economy Class Madrid to Milan Malpensa (Boeing 787)
23. How To Transfer Between Milan Malpensa and Bergamo Airport

koen paliparan rhodes rodos

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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