Tuesday Old Town, Cruise & Buying Train Tickets
Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
151Trip End Ongoing
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Today we need to find the train station to buy tickets for the trip to Vienna. We also want to do a bus tour of the city.
It was another beautiful, sunny, not a cloud in the sky day. At the front desk we asked for instructions to get to the train station. It seemed easy. Take our familiar tram #22 and change to tram #9. The tram #22 part was fine. However, after we got off and ready to transfer to tram #9 we hit a roadblock. The sign for #9 had a line through it. We deduced correctly and found that the #9 was not running today. All the other ones were running, but not the one we wanted. Now what?
Well, once again, here is why it is good to travel with Dianne. My "dumber than dirt" look pulled through once again. A nice young lady approached and asked if we needed help.
We explained our destination was the train station, and our problem was that we only knew of one way to get there. She said we could take the subway which was right across the street. Another stroke of dumb luck we got off right at the metro. She explained we could take the A line, then transfer to the C line and get off right inside the train station. Oh my gosh. We would have to transfer! We went to the station and found a map. Lot of good that did us, we didn't know the word for train station!
I saw a sign and arrow pointing to the ticket and information office. The only way I knew that is that there is the letter "I" that always indicates in all countries (so far) that it is the information station. We went to the office to ask questions.
A kindly fellow tried to help. He didn't understand much English, but did know the words "Train Station". He explained our journey, and poor fellow, I had him do it 3 or 4 times. With instructions written on a piece of scrap paper we forged onward.
Our first instructions were to go down to the metro level. We approached the escalator and I felt like someone who had never seen one before. I was scared to move. This was the fastest and highest escalator I have ever seen in my life!!!! We had to be up more than 3 or 4 stories from the bottom. Imagine the escalators at the Atlanta airport, only about 4 times longer and moving at the speed of sound, if not faster!
I couldn't look towards the bottom because I would panic from my fear of heights. I tried looking at the walls, but the advertising was flying by so fast it was making me dizzy! So, I just hung on with a death grip on the handle and stared at my hand.
Anyway, since you are reading this you can know that I survived, in spite of my silly self. We found the correct metro and even got on it. We got off at the Florence station and had to figure out how to transfer to the C line. Not one sign was in English - only strange (to me) Czech words and letters. Fortunately however, the letter C is the same in English as in Czech. Now that we knew the word for train station - nastravi - we could find it on the diagram for the metro stops and got on in the correct direction. Soon we were getting off at the train station. We were so proud!
We had to buy our tickets to Vienna. We had heard of a 29 euro second class ticket and had intentions of purchasing that one. However, there was a line for that ticket counter, so I went to the first class line. It was only about 20 euro more, so we opted for that.
With tickets in hand, we now had to figure out where in the heck in Prague we were! We arrived underground, so we had no clue!
We went to information, but they did not speak enough English to help us out. However, Dianne's look pulled through again. A very nice young lady approached and asked if we needed help. We said yes, starting with help purchasing a tram ticket from the automated machine - there was no hope of us doing that on our own. Guess what? The instructions were in Czech! We gave her some coins and she bought us two tickets.
We explained we wanted to go to Old Town and when she explained how to get to the correct tram; my look must have been working over time. She actually led us the correct stop - about 2 blocks away. We were on our way to Wenceslaus Square - you know, Good King Wenceslaus - which would lead us to old town. We wanted to see this anyway, so it was a great route to take.
We got off the tram at the correct stop and started walking again. We went in a more direct route this time and no game of charades was needed to ask for directions. I was now putting more effort into my map reading and now understood some of the words and street names and navigated us directly through some winding alleys.
Once again, it was a beautiful day. Our path took us past new sights and we soon were in the square. We went to a little tree shaded park to eat our picnic lunch. We planned ahead and brought sandwiches from the local bistro on castle hill. It was fantastic, sitting on the bench, under the trees with a picnic lunch enjoying perfect weather and even better scenery. We were even treated to a choral serenade that took place on the steps to St. Nicholas.
We went to check on Martin tours. They advertized a couple of bus routes to view the city. The hour long one, the one we wanted only went once a day and we missed it. The others were two or more hours long and included the castle. We had already done that, so we decided to bypass the bus and walk to Charles Bridge.
At the entrance to the castle we were ambushed by some fellow dressing in a Navy uniform selling tickets to a boat ride on the river Volta (?) It was hot so we thought a river ride might be nice. Besides we would get a free beer and snack. Well, not free really, but it sounds good. We paid 370 cz and proceeded down long stairs and boarded the boat directly beneath the Charles Bridge. The boat was cute and the guide did a great job telling us about the history of Prague and the things we were viewing.
The ice cream was coconut. It seems most ice cream is coconut here. Go figure! I had a beer because it seemed like the thing to do, it was Prague, after all. However one taste and I realized it wasn't for me.
The tour ended and we climbed back up the stairs to get to the top side of Charles Bridge.
Someone tried to sell me the boat trip again, but I wasn't going to fall for that twice!
We toured the bridge. We could see where we ate dinner up on Castle Hill the first night of our trip. The bridge was packed with tourists and vendors selling hand painted scenes of Prague. I wonder how all they are able to paint the exact same picture the exact same way about 20 times.
It was now around 4:00 pm so we decided to wander slowly back to stop for Tram #22. Using my newly found map skills, we did not make one wrong turn! Great, the last day here I can use the city map!
We made it through the neighborhoods along the route, realizing we had only seen a small part of Prague, but a lot of fantastic things. Once back in our room it turned dark and thunderstorms began. It was actually kind of neat, inside right next to a 500 year old city wall.
Tomorrow, we are off on the next leg of our journey. We have tickets for the 10:57 am train to Vienna.