Boat Trip, Day One

I’d like to think there may have been one or two of you who wondered . . . where have you been?  Well, shortly after the road trip, we were previously engaged to participate in a boat trip.  This is not something sane people usually do . . . but the Super found $200 in a back seat pocket in the car and it was burning a hole in her pocket.  After 15 – 20 seconds of seeking its rightful owner, we decided to put it towards this trip.  We promise in the future to let at least a month transpire before we go traipsing off again . . .

EasternEurope

[We were going behind the old Iron Curtain, to explore new countries and new cities, to boldly go where we had never gone before.  As was to be expected, dust bunnies were discovered back there.]

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[Mr. Excitement, his enthusiasm palpable, prepares to board at MSP.  He knows these flights are pure hell, as mandated by TSA, and the airlines desire to pack five people in the same amount of space previously reserved for one.  This was, incidentally, Monday, April 20.]

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[We arrived on Tuesday, April 21 (8-hour flight).  My first purchase on “the continent,” i.e., the Amsterdam airport.  Yes, this tiny cup of coffee cost 400 hundred American dollars (I think?).]

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[The Super sits in quiet reverie awaiting our flight to Prague.  We have come to know – and dread – the Amsterdam airport now after several visits.  Any transfer here requires you to quick march through five time zones and over three mountain ranges.]

Prague

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[The Prague airport (2 1/2-hour flight) . . . how else would you expect to be greeted?  Anywhere on the planet?]

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[Prague, as you’ll recall from your Phd theses, is in the Czech Republic.]

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[Vaclav Havel was a leader of the Velvet Revolution – the nonviolent end of the Soviet Union’s control over Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s.]

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[Billa, to the best of our understanding, is the local equivalent of Cub Foods.]

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[Our driver into the city from the airport . . . great haircut!]

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[Some of our first city sights about which we’ll go into further detail later.]

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[If you’re not going to go 5-star, why go at all?]

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[A personal ad for Skads Travel.]

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[Pivo!  In the city where pilsner beer was invented, had to have one before we left the hotel lobby.]

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[Well, the Super has always been looking for her knight in shining armor!]

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[Halfway down on the right is our Marriott Old Town Hotel.  Upon arrival, though exhausted, the Super and I decided we could not let this beautiful afternoon pass.  We ventured out into the neighborhood for what we thought would be a short walk.  (Note: We will having dining experiences later at the Cacao, the building on the right.]

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[We discovered raclette on a previous trip to Europe . . . a long time ago and far, far away.]

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[We knew from copious pre-trip research that Old Town Square and Charles Bridge, the two biggies on the must see list, were in this general direction.  We had exited our hotel and walked a couple blocks to the left.]

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[Now another left, past Municipal House on the right . . . ]

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[Do you know me?  I love to travel!]

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[Yup, still me . . . that’s the Municipal House again on my left, and just to its rear, blackened by the years, is Powder Tower, a 14th century structure so named because it served as a gunpowder storage facility in the 17th century.]

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[A theatre, featuring a London play.]

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[To know it is to love it . . . the Powder Tower.  There are steps you can take to the top.  (I didn’t . . . preferring not to look down on anyone.)]

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[Casinos were everywhere but unobtrusive.]

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[There is no direct way to Old Town Square . . . you just sort of meander.  They didn’t do street grids in those days.]

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[Gelato!]

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[Arriving at Old Town Square . . . ]

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[Old Town City Hall with the clock tower and the Astronomical Clock on the left side of the building in this photo.]

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[Tyn Church (the twin spires)]

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[General mingling among locals and tourists.]

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[Old Town City Hall . . . the cops were keeping an eye on us.]

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[Even more mingling. You could tell by the crowd size this was the way to Charles Bridge.]

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[A topless street performer.  He spoke English to the crowd.  We discovered that English is required to be taught in every country we visited, beginning early in elementary school, and another language is required two years after beginning English.  Makes life easy for we Americans!  🙂  ]

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[We just didn’t have time for the Dali, Warhol, et al, exhibition.]

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[The Super is smiling because she said he was also bottomless.  I didn’t see it, but apparently he mooned the crowd to get them more involved?]

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[Jan Hus led the first to attempt to break away from “the church” and was burned at the stake in 1415 for his heresy.  His Moravian church still exists and influenced the Lutheran movement.]

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[Just a beautiful evening.]

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[Outdoor restaurants were a main theme in every city we visited.]

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[Hmmm, is this the way?]

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[What’s down this street?]

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[The excitement builds . . . ]

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[Black Light Theatre became a guide post.  You can see the arch of the Charles Bridge at the end of the street.]

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[As we approached the bridge, I noticed the Salty Dogs were not scheduled for performance at  Music Club.]

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[Be quick, it’s a busy street with trolleys.]

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[The Super leads the way.]

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[This is the place!]

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[King Charles IV, it’s his bridge.]

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[Charles’s little park at the base of the bridge.]

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[Looking back from the park at whence we came.]

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[The bridge was built in the early 15th century and was the only bridge across the Vltava River until the 19th century.  It provides the link between Prague Castle on one side and Old Town and environs on the other.  Yes, even as a geography major, the Vltava was new to me, but I love its name for its lack of vowels (common throughout this whole region).]

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[The Super and I shooting each other across the flower garden.]

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[I’m ready to cross.]

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[Not a bad place to dine, if one were so inclined!  🙂 ]

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[The 19th century bridge?]

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[I wonder if this is the same Margarita for whom the first pizza was named?]

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[This was a spectacular sight and experience.]

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[Another pivo, please?  Petra was our Viking host at the hotel.  Befitting Czech’s status as the No. 6 women’s basketball team the world (with only 10 million people), she was tall and willowy.  Every day we had to ask her how to say “thank you” in Czech because every day we would forget.]

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[We didn’t have enough time for a visit to the Kafka Museum.  Is that Kafkaesque?]

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[Why, yes, I am pleased as punch!]

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[It’s less than a half mile across.  They say in peak season, it’s solid humanity from arch to arch.]

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[A gigantic trdelnik, the rolled pastry of the area.  We stopped back here the next day, but the Super bought other pastries – said the trdelniks were too expensive?]

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[Going through to where no Lake Darlingite had ever gone before?]

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[I’ve gone through the arch to “the other side,” a quick photo and danced in the streets of Prague!]

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[I thought I was on Bourbon Street!  These guys sounded like a New Orleans jazz ensemble.]

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[OK, let’s head back.]

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[Wheeeee!]

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[As the sun sinks slowly into the Vltava . . . ]

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[We successfully crossed and returned . . . and were greeted by guys playing some serious brass!]

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[So, until tomorrow . . . ]

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[Your intrepid reporter slinks away.]

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[On the way back “home” . . .]

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[Whoa . . . ]

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[Somewhere in Prague.  Liked it.  Don’t know why?]

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[In town boutique hotels.  The Astoria is of course where the Super and I first met (well, the one in Arlington, Virginia).]

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[When you come to the fork in the road, take it.]

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[Back to the Municipal House (top), which incidentally houses the largest theatre in the city.]

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[All the way back, we were looking for dining opportunities.  We found this place just around the corner from our hotel.  BINGO!]

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[The Kolkovna was huge and rather packed for dinner . . . at 9:00 PM.  Had to have another Pilsner Urquell, of course!  🙂 ]

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Go with the native cuisine!  The Super’s at the top, mine at the bottom, and as so reflected in their menu.  Deeeee-lish!

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[This was above our table?  The giant lab where they made pivo?  Anyway, our short walk had taken all evening and included several of the spots on the next day’s tour.  Hey, we’ll get to see them all again!]

Love is a power too strong to be overcome by anything but flight.  ~  Cervantes

Up next:   We’re boat tripping for a while, kids.  (Apologies to the Cardinal spring sports teams . . . should have covered the yesterday’s softball doubleheader, it was sunny and warm, but the winds were such there were large craft warnings out for Noonan’s Pond!)

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2 Responses to Boat Trip, Day One

  1. Karen says:

    What an awesome trip for $200!!!

  2. Gretchen says:

    Karen, really? The trip was $200??!!! Anyway, beautiful pictures my bro.

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