After Vienna, I went to Prague for two days, expecting to have to return to my previous mode of travel, one of Youth hostels, unwashed clothes, calling bread, cheese and a tomato ‘dinner,’ and infrequent showers. Well, most of that persisted in Prague, but the meal situation upgraded tremendously. I had the good fortune to be contacted by Jim and Sally Caldwell, Ramsey board members as you know, who were also in Prague, and thus commenced two days of absolutely self-indulgent dining experiences. (“Wine AND beer AND a rooftop view?!!”) I’ve been such a charity case on this trip, I’m gonna owe somebody big someday. Prague was absolutely magnificent, an eclectic mix of well preserved architecture with occasional hints of its communist past. It was much more compact than many of the cities I’ve visited as well. On my first evening, the Caldwell’s took me to a concert in the Jewish quarter of town that was a excellent mix of 19th and 20 century composers, a nice change of pace. After a canalside dinner, and several pilsner Urquells, it was hard to retreat back to my barracks-style hostel. The next day I saw more of the tourist sights, (By the way, I usually group ‘the tourist sights’ together in my updates not to belittle them, they are usually wonderful, but its impossible (and perhaps not very interesting) to describe each palace and each composer’s birthplace that I see). Rest assured, I see all I can.
Anyway, I had a typical Czech lunch at a local cafeteria that was originally for the Prague public transportation workers, but now can be frequented by the public. I sat across from a lady who I think sold subway tickets, and here is the essence of our meaningful conversation: Me: MYOOL-VEE-TEH AHNG-GLITZ-KEE? (That’s someone from Piedmont, Alabama asking in Czech “do you speak English?”) Her: Neh. (no) fhfhalmcnölruaskcnxcnyyörwü#drßfdjsd Me: Great! but I’m sorry, I don’t speak Czech. Her: Ah! woruäpscndalöfnmxnspökeliaüsöadisd…. And so on she went for the next 45 minutes while I just smiled and nodded politely. Later that afternoon, Jim took Sally and I out to where he is currently working, and I was able to see the assembly of fighter planes for the Czech Airforce essentially from the ground up. Its certainly not a typical Prague tourist site, but those are what I relish to find. It was quite interesting, especially when Jim showed us the “before” and “after” tour of the facilities – meaning before and after the modernization of the plant.
After another nice dinner, this one accompanied by one of Jim’s co-workers, a nice Czech girl named Pavla, I lamented that I had only booked two nights in my hostel. (John Harris, I can feel your “I told you so!” look all the way from Amsterdam. The last morning in Prague I got up a 5AM (much to the dismay of my hostel roommates) to take some pictures of Prague, which really was magnificent, sans tourists. It seemed like a good idea then, but I didn’t realize then that I would be up for the next 25 hours straight. Read on.