Monday, May 4, 2009

Prague - 3/26/09 and 3/27/09

We arrived at a very Eastern-bloc, run-down train station in Prague late at night. Here are some Czech treats at the hotel breakfast the next morning, Čokoládový (chocolate) yogurt and a Nutella knock-off called Finetti.

Strahovské nádvoří (Strahov Monastery). Sadly, we missed the brewery.

Ed with Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler on Keplerova Street.

View from Prague Castle.

Katedrála svatého Víta (St. Vitus Cathedral), near Prague Castle.

More St. Vitus.

Stained glass window by Alfons Mucha in St. Vitus Cathedral. The window was sponsored by Banka Slavie.

View from Prague Castle.

The astronomical clock in Old Town Square.

The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn (Týnský Chrám), also in Old Town Square, with a tree decked out for Easter.

St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. This is where the Velvet Revolution gained a lot of momentum.

We made a quick visit to the wonderful Mucha Museum before enjoying a Václav Klobása, the best sausage/sauerkraut/mustard combo EVER. Seriously, I salivate every time I see this photo.

On the Charles Bridge, with Prague Castle in the background.

Kozel beer and duck.

The next morning, we headed back out with our packs to squeeze in more touring on the way to the train station. Here I'm walking down the hill from our hotel on Nerudova Street.

We once again crossed the Charles Bridge.

First we went to the Museum of Communism. This is a truly wonderful, enjoyable museum, though it looked like it had been put together by an extremely talented class of 10th-graders.

Lastly, we toured Josefov, the Jewish Quarter. We saw several synagogues and some museums. Pinkas Synagogue was a very powerful experience -- on its walls are inscribed the names of the Jewish victims from Bohemia and Moravia, their personal data, and the names of the communities to which they belonged.

Unfortunately, our tour of the Jewish quarter was made particularly unpleasant by huge crowds of loud, smoking Italian teenagers.

This is the Spanish Syagogue.

This is sort of a Czech empanada -- a thin potato pancake wrapped around a meat mixture (Bram. Kapsa s Pikantni masavou smesi). Yum. Photo taken at Prague Holešovice, one of the train stations.

After that, we were back on the train. In Europe, the trains tend to leave on time -- to the minute -- but in this case ours was 30 minutes late. Fortunately we made it to Dresden in time to transfer to the next train to Frankfurt. This went without incident. Then the fun began.

Before we left for Zurich, I spent some time on the Rhine Valley transportation web site trying to figure out the best way to get from Frankfurt back to our friends' house in Nordenstadt. The site recommended a train from Frankfurt to Hofheim, then another train to Rheingauer Weg in Hofheim. I was pretty sure that Rheingauer Weg was a bus stop (having gone by it on Monday when we took the bus to the Hochheim train station -- Hochheim, not Hofheim, very confusing), so I double-checked the transportation web site when we were in Prague. It definitely showed a train icon next to "AST 404." So, we arrived in Hofheim at 11 p.m. and waited on the platform for the train. The electronic board showed the train arriving and departing, but we didn't see a train. I began to get agitated -- after all, I had gotten us all the way from Prague to Hofheim without incident, and we were less than 10 miles from our final destination.

We headed out to the street to see if AST 404 was actually a bus. We checked all the stops and maps, but there was no AST 404. A large group of German boys puked loudly across the street. A cabbie came up to us to see if we needed a ride. We were down to 9€, since we didn't want to bring Euros home with us, so we turned him down. But he helpfully told us that AST 404 was actually an UNMARKED BLUE VAN.

Then one of the puking teens crossed the street, walked up directly behind Ed (I didn't see him until the last second), then clapped him jovially on the shoulder, scaring the crap out of me. He said something, Ed said he didn't understand, he said something else, and they high-fived each other.

The unmarked blue van arrived, driven by a man who resembled Otto the bus driver on the Simpsons. He confirmed that he was driving AST 404 and, for 5€, tore off across Hofheim to deliver us to Rheingauer Weg. We asked if he could take us to the bus stop near our friends' place, to which he replied, "This is not a taxi. But for another 5€, I will do it." We laughingly declined and walked the last kilometer. It was a funny, random, and somehow very fitting end to our vacation.


lemmie said...

i love these photos! love prague! ben & i went there for christmas a couple of years ago!

Bob said...

Wow! What an awesome trip! Maybe I SHOULD go to Europe.

jerry said...

Prague is probably most charming city in Europe ! I'm sure you've enjoy your trip!