Prague and the Czech Republic
We got up on Wednesday and made it to the train station. After a bit of wayfinding, we found our way to the right track, right train, sat down and had a nice breakfast of croissants that we had purchased at the local bakery in the train station. Dallas bought some sort of crossiant with bacon and ham embedded in it, he informed me that it was good and I should try it when we got back from Prague. (Meaning he didn’t want to share his, he would have been better to just say, “Gee, this is good. You can’t have any.”) The train started moving, the friendly Austrian zugkommandant (my word, not theirs–I’ve noticed that Germans put words together all of the time, I think that I can too) came over to inspect our tickets and to inform us that we were sitting in the wrong place, we would have to move, and he was going to fine us for sitting in the wrong place. Of course, we actually didn’t realize it was a fine until later, but we paid the man the six euros and went on our merry way.
Another Austrian fellow, this time one with a passport stamp and a gun gave us exit visas. This was followed by a representative of the Czech Republic’s security forces, she gave us a entry visa into her country. The ride was good, there was a very noticible difference between the Austrian portion of the train and the Czech portion of the train. One, in Austria, the announcements are given in German and English… In the Czech Republic, they are given in Czech, and broken English. We traveled through Breclav, Brno, and Pardubice, and saw a lot of the Moravian and Bohemian countryside. Dallas slept the whole way, I could have but I didn’t want to miss anything. I’m just like that, I guess.
We got to Prague stepped off the train and were greeted by a nice Czech man who I think was named Nicolai. He was holding leaflets for the Hotel Salvatore, he said that he could take us there and give us a good rate on a room. It was kinda a scary thing, I thought, but it seemed very easy, and the next thing we knew we were in the guy’s car heading toward Prague. Our original plan was to get on the Metro, Prague’s underground mass transportation, but since the floods of last August much of the system is still down. We got to the hotel without incident or Czech mafia intervention, we czeched into our room at a rate of 50 euros a night. We put down our bags and headed out for a night stroll.
Thursday we walked through the Jewish Quarter, the old town, across the Charles bridge into the Mala Strana and up the hill to the Prague Castle. We vitzited St. Vitz’s Cathedral, and saw all of the sights. I went into a store near the American embassy that sold historical maps and items and bought a 5×7 map of Europe in the 18th century (I’m just guessing there, it’s not dated) for 1500 Czech Crowns. We then walked back through the Mala Strana and across another bridge to the National Theater and then down to Frank Gehry’s “Fred and Ginger” building. We sat and ate in the cafe there, had a beer and filled out post cards. We then walked up to the main Nove Mesta square, and then went back to the hotel.
Friday consisted of arranging for transport back to the Holsovice train station. Armed with the knowledge that the train seats are different, we found where we were supposed to be and were not fined. We had to sit backwards on the train for the return trip which was disappointing to me, because it was the same scenery that I had seen on the way down.
I liked Prague, it had a more laid-back feel than Vienna does. I guess that goes along with the whole Bohemian lifestyle that it is famous for.