The Czech Republic is situated in the geographical center of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It is a landlocked country. It shares borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Snezka (1,602 m above sea level) in the Giant Mountains (Krkonose). The capital is Prague (population about 1,200,000 people).
Vysoka Lipa where the Spring School will be held is located in national park Cesko-saske Svycarsko near the northern border of the republic. In the surroundings there's a lot of sandstone rocks and arcs. Do not forget to check the weather just before you depart.
Currency in the Czech Republic is Czech crown (CZK). One Czech crown is divided into 100 hallers. There are banknotes of values 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 CZK, coins of values 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 CZK and 50 hallers. 1 USD is aproximately 30 CZK, 1 EUR is aproximately 32 CZK.
You can change your money in banks or small exchange-offices in Prague. Banks are open only on workdays. Change offices have a bit higher fees but there are a lot of them in the downtown and they are opened even during weekends.
Tourist information offices in Prague (called Prague Information Service) are maintained by the city. There you can get information about Prague and the Czech Republic, cultural events in Prague, tickets for some of them, tourist tickets for Prague public transport etc. Location of these offices are:
The web site of Prague Information Service is http://www.prague-info.cz and its phone numbers is 12444 (Mo-Fr from 8am to 7pm).
The city public transport in Prague is formed by subway, trams and buses. Subway consists of three lines marked by letters A, B and C and colors green, yellow and red, respectively. Subway operate only from 5 am to midnight. Trams are marked by numbers (from 1 to 30, night lines from 50 to 60), buses are also marked by numbers (from 100). Night lines have larger periods (about 30 minutes) than day lines. Most common types of tickets for Prague public transport are listed below. Ticket machines are unfriedly for foreigners - they speak only Czech. If you want to operate them, choose the type of ticket first, press the key labeled VYDEJ/ENTER and then pay. The machine will print a ticket for you.
Types of tickets:
Your ticket must be stamped to be valid. Just after you board a tram or a bus you stamp your ticket in a special (yellow) machine. It prints the present date and time on the ticket. If you go by subway the stamp machines are located at the entrance. It is necessary to stamp all tickets bought at ticket machines. If you use a tourist ticket for more than one day you must write your name and your birthday on it. If you travel without a valid ticket you may pay a fine of 400 CZK.
Transport between towns is provided by buses and railway. In most towns bus stations are located near railway ones. Tickets for railway are sold in stations. If you board in a railway stop where no tickets are sold you can buy a ticket in a train. Tickets for long-distance buses are sold by bus-drivers before the departure. If you want to buy a seat reservation ticket you usually have to buy it in a major bus station (one day before the departure). You can expect prices about 70 CZK / 100 km, for small distances a bit higher.
Postcards can be bought in tourist information centres and news stands; in villages and small towns also often in shops. Poststamps are sold in post offices and news stands. Marks for both postcards and letters should have values of 5.40 CZK for them sent to the Czech Republic and 9.00 CZK for them to Europe. If a stamp of the appropriate value cannot be bought then you should buy more stamps and combine them to get the required value.
The main post office in Prague which is located near the main railway station is opened non-stop (except for a short break near midnight).
The international dial code for the Czech Republic is 420. Basic rate is about 2.80 CZK per unit, but in telephone-boxes the rate is 4 CZK per unit. You can buy telephone cards containing 50, 100 or 150 units. Cards can be bought in post offices and news stands. Also coin machines operate but it is not easy to use them.
In the Czech Republic, there are three operators of mobile phones: Eurotel, Paegas and Oskar. The numbers beginning with 0609 are assigned for paid audiophone services, the rates are from 30 CZK per minute. The numbers beginning with 0800 are assigned for free call services (technical support from companies). For calling abroad dial 00+country code+phone number; it is a good idea to buy a large phone card if you plan to call abroad (phone call to Germany and Poland costs about 10 CZK per minute, to France, Italy and Spain 15 CZK).