I was up at 5:30, whether I wanted to be or not (and I didn’t). I just climbed into my clothes and propelled myself toward the door. It was still dark at 6:00, but only a little chilly. The problem was that we were in the midst of yet another torrential downpour. I’d heard stories in the news in the month or so leading up to our trip about the massive flooding throughout Bavaria, and though the worst of it was certainly past by the time we arrived, I could see what the problem had been. When rain comes down that fast, no amount of good drainage is going to help. Period. We hardly spent any time in the rain (from hotel to taxi, from taxi to train station), and we were pretty damned wet – Chris brushed quite a bit of water from his hair.
We were at the station with ample time to get breakfast items and newspapers before the train left, and though I didn’t think anything looked particularly appetizing I got some pastry thing. I think it was called a “quarkslasche,” and I have no idea what a quark is (other than a mathematical term, I think, or is it a computer program?), but it wasn’t half bad.
Our seats were in one of those 6-seat compartments that I find so old fashioned and romantic looking. They make me think of what train travel used to be like (or what I imagine it used to be like). Passport control was just like it was when my cousin and I took the train from Zurich to Prague 13 years go – a quick look at the passports and no stamps. So according to my passports, I’ve never even been to the Czech Republic. Hey, come to think of it, they didn’t even have anything resembling passport control going into Salzburg – and that’s another country, too! What’s with these people? Don’t they understand we want stamps?!?
Breakfast in our train compartment - traveling in style!
Anyway, the tummy wasn’t happy all day, but it got progressively better. We arrived in Prague around 12:50pm, after passing some beautiful scenery. The information desk told us it was a 15-minute walk to the area where our hotel was, so we decided we’d hoof it. We were so bloody happy to see the hotel by the time we got here – it might be a 15-minute walk with only a pocketbook, but with three pieces of luggage and two heavy backpacks? Not fun. Especially because (and I can’t believe, after all the rain we had in Munich, that I’m going to complain about sun, but here goes) it was pretty warm and I was getting overheated.
The hotel is nice, much nicer than we usually stay in on these trips, and for a comparable price. Our room overlooks the square the hotel sits on, and the pretty butter-colored church on the other side of the square. We dropped our bags in the room and immediately went in search of food. After so much meat and boiled cabbage, we opted for a pizzeria near the hotel, and I was pleased to find they also had ginger ale! We ate our food and then came back to the hotel just in time – not a minute after we’d gotten back into the room it started to rain. We napped a bit and then got dressed and walked around. The hotel is a five-minute walk to the Old Town Square, and another five to the bridge. I think we’re even closer to the Jewish Quarter, but we’ll see.
It’s Chris’ turn again to not feel well (frankly, neither of us reacted well to the German diet), so we went in search of not only fresh air but also something like Gatorade and a place serving a mild meal for dinner. We ended up walking all the way to the other side of the Karlův Most (Charles Bridge, the lovely pedestrian bridge over the Vltava River) and then turning around and coming back.
(L) A view of Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral from the (R) Charles Bridge.
A gray day on the bridge... But the statues look cool in silhouette.
The city is as I remember it, if not better. It feels like it’s in Technicolor now – somehow my memories had faded slightly over time, and I was left with something closer to a sense of the place rather than a full-color photo in my head. And though it was getting dark and the sky was threatening rain, the wonderfully menacing black spires on the Týn Church and the Old Town Hall looked welcoming and beautiful.
Staroměstské Náměsti (Old Town Square), my favorite part of my beloved Praha.
The Týn Church in the Old Town Square (left), and the Old Town Hall (right) - I've always thought the tops of these buildings (which I'm told are Gothic, but unlike any other Gothic architecture I've ever seen) make them look like the bad guy's hideout in a Batman movie. The Týn Church is Praha to me.
Týn Church, as seen from across the glow of the Old Town Square.