Ha ha Praha!

Trip Start Jul 05, 2010
1
4
7
Trip End Jul 28, 2010


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OK, could not resist the dorky title (Praha means Prague)!  We arrived in Prague today by train from Berlin - the scenery on the 5 hour trip was outstanding!  Btw the Berlin train station was huge, clean, aesthetically pleasing, and the trains ran almost on time.  We shared our compartment with an adorable older German couple who spoke a few words of English, and were so nice.  They spoke German with CK too.  They got off in Dresden.

By the way, have I said what a great thing it was to have CK around in Germany?  He was an excellent translator, and got complimented on his German.  He also said people were sometimes surprised that he (as an American) actually knew another language, as many Americans don't know enough of another language to speak it even semi-fluently.  Which is a little embarrassing if you think about it because the rest of the world has to take many years of English class (from Elementary through graduation). so everyone, go out there and learn another language!

Ok, off the soapbox now.  Arrived at the very interesting train station in Prague - it looked like the main part used to be a beautiful church, with the additional parts looking very modern and technological.  Changed some money to Korunas, then found a crazy cab driver who drove us all over the city (but did not charge extra, we think).  He was very animated in his talking, which was mostly Czech with a few words of English thrown in - we nodded and smiled except for the 3 of us in the back seat who could not breath because the car was so small and we were smushed together!  Arrived at the Hotel Barcelo only to be told that they had become full...!  What!?  We almost panicked but did not.  They put us up across the street for one night at the Grand Hotel Bohemia - verrrrrryyy nice place.

Dinner was Chinese food!  KK was a bit tired of the heavy German food we had been eating.  The Chinese restaurant was very good with friendly service (since we did not speak Czech or Chinese we just pointed and smiled alot, as did the wait staff).

Day 2 - yet another great breakfast - the kids ate their leftovers from last night in their room.  We packed up our stuff and moved back over to the Hotel Barcelo.  Because they did not have a room for us last night, they upgraded us to VERY nice suites, and even gave us complimentary VIP service of fresh fruit and champage in our rooms!  We toasted our good luck and enjoyed!

Ok, after such first class service we needed to face reality, so we hauled our dirty laundry across town to a laundro-mat.  Andy's Prague Laundromat was great! (Andy is the little dog they used to have there).   Very clean and well-run, plus they had computers to use while waiting for the laundry to finish.  We hung out there for a while, and met one guy from Houston, and then another mother and daughter from Dallas - what is the probability of 3 parties from Texas being in the same laundromat in Prague?!  Sometimes the world is such a small place :)

Back to the hotel, then on to a restaurant for dinner.  Walked around until we found a place called "U Balbinu" - the service was not great (the waitress was a bit surly), but the food was very yummy, and the prices were reasonable.  I had goulash that was fabulous!  With bread dumplings it was just delicious.

Later KK and I sat at an Old Town Square café and had wine and beer while people-watching.  It was just so wonderful to be chatting and enjoying each other's company, and then suddenly look up at the astronomical clock and the Tyn church and the other old buildings and remembered where exactly we were!  We had such an enjoyable time together.

Day 3 - we saw all of Prague today - well maybe not but it felt to my feet like we saw ALL of Prague today!  We walked from our hotel through the old Jewish quarter and over the Vlatva River and up the Prague Castle.  The castle was enormous and beautiful, complete with the cathedral of St. Vitus and the basilica of St. George, etc. We stopped for a cold drink, then on with our walk through Malé Strana and to the tower on Petrin Hill.  This tower looks very much like a smaller Eiffel Tower, and we climbed to the top (299 stairs) - this means I don't have to climb the real Eiffel Tower, right?  Once I panted my way up to the top, there was a beautiful view of all of Prague - well worth it!  Then down to have another rest involving lots of water to drink, cheese cake, gelato, a cream puff, and sandwiches, sitting in a cute park nearby.

We continued hiking though a very nice park, and found John Lennon's Freedom Wall.  John Lennon was never in Prague, but as western pop songs were banned by Communist authority before 1989, and Lennon's songs often praised peace, he became somewhat of a hero to the youth in Central and Eastern Europe.  The wall was begun after Lennon's death in 1980, and message continue to be scrawled by visitors from all over the world.

Then, we were supposed to go to the Czech Music Museum, but my very cultured family outvoted me to go to the Museum of Medieval Torture instead.  The exhibits were well-labeled and well-described but quite gory and after a day of walking so much it was torture just to walk the 4 floors to the top.

We trudged back to the hotel for a quick rest of our tired feet.  Afterwards KK and I walked over the the Jewish quarter to find the statue of the Golem, which we never did find, but we found a restaurant named "The Golem" and some postcards instead. No one we asked seemed to know where the Golem statue was for sure. The Golem story that is popular in Prague is about a being made of clay by Rabbi Judah Low in the 16th century to protect the Jewish people.  I wonder if there is a connection to the Golem in the Lord of the Rings stories.

Had another delicious dinner - yes I ate more goulash, but this time with potatoe dumplings (I think I like bread dumplings better).  Pilsner Urquell was the favorite beer of the guys.  After dinner MD and I went shopping at the Palladium - a very large contemporary shopping mall with about 5 floors.  We bought socks for Kelly at H&M which is similar to a JC Pennys.  Then it was back home and time to fall into bed.

Prague is a very beautiful city, and we are glad we visited for sure.  We attempted to learn some Czech words (here spelled phonetically):  - Ahoy (hello), Dekwee (thank you), Pro-seem (please) - accents all on the last syllable.  Many people here speak at least some English, so we did not have too much trouble communicating.  And not much is written in the cyrillic alphabet, so we did not have to struggle with that thank goodness.  On to Paris tomorrow...
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