Saturday, July 14, 2012

Praha: Part 1

A short 4 ½ hour train ride down the scenic Elbe River and border crossing later, Andy and I had escaped to a brand new city for a grown-up weekend away without kids.  I have always wanted to go to Prague, and this year we made it happen.  We must give mucho kudos to my mother and Alice who took care of our munchkins in Berlin while we were away.  Thanks sooo much ladies!

A view from my seat on the train:

The first thing I noticed was of course the language.  All of the sudden, there were exponentially fewer vowels in the printed words and the announcements in the train station sounded like they were hushing us with all the different consonant sounds.  It was my first real foray into any Slavic language, and I have to say that I found it beautiful.  There was also that familiar relaxation of switching into vacation mode when I didn’t even have the possibility of understanding any spoken or written words.  That isn’t completely true though, because many of the signs about were in Czech, English, and German and almost all the people we encountered in this increasingly tourist town spoke English. 

We found our hotel, checked in, and then took a tram back to the oldest section of town.  We walked over the Charles Bridge and had a very Czech dinner that consisted of gulasch for Andy accompanied by spongy bread and potato dumpling things covered in a spinach pesto and shaved parmesan for me.

Here is Andy near the entrance to the Charles Bridge.

This was by far our favorite sculpture on the bridge--mostly because of the gory details that you may not be able to appreciate in this photo.

Andy in the middle of the bridge taking a break from dodging fellow tourists. 

We found what we thought was the meet-up place for the beer tour Andy had on his itinerary only to find out that we were actually about 2km away from where we wanted to be.  Andy was very grateful for my long distance runner past, as we booked it over the Charles bridge and through the pedestrian zone to the REAL meeting spot through throngs of tourists just in time to go sample some Czech beer in several local establishments.  We toured around with fellow travelers from Canada, Peru, Columbia, Mexico, USA, Palestine, & France and had a very enjoyable evening.  The good conversation and variety of the beers did not disappoint, though we knew when to call it quits so that we’d still be able to find our way back to the hotel without resorting to a cab. 

Our first impressions of Prague:

-The debauchery factor was high in the touristy areas.  We lost count of how many German bachelor parties we saw wearing matching shirts or outfits. 

-The city is an interesting combination of Old and New buildings, but MUCH more old than Berlin.  I guess it helps if the city doesn’t get 90% destroyed because of a war the country started. 

-Despite years of communist oppression and a serious abundance of consonants in their language, the Czech people SMILE and are generally friendly. 

-Despite the proximity to Germany and the fact that the country was part of 2 different German speaking empires at one time, hardly anyone we spoke to knew ANY German at all. 

To be continued….  


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