We made it back from vacation in one piece, and we had a wonderful time in Prague. Took LOTS of pictures (560), most which are downloaded here:
http://s182.photobucket.com/albums/x194/fatozzig/prague/, if you'd like to see them for yourself.
I've been working on a "Prague Vacation Report," but, alas, the longer I don't do it, the more my opinion is, "Eh (shoulder shrug), maybe it won't happen." However, I'll do a quick review for you here.
It took us about 13 hours of flying to get to and from Prague. We flew out of SFO on Delta to Atlanta (4 hours), and from Atlanta to Prague (9 hours), which was an overnight trip. On the way back, we went through JFK. From Prague, we flew Czech Airlines, which I don't care to ever fly again. I'll spent extra dinero and fly British Airways before I fly Czech Airlines again. Their planes are so old, the seats still have ash trays in the armrests!
Prague is beautiful, even in the winter with nothing blooming. We had absolutely gorgeous weather almost the entire, as you will be able to tell from the pictures. It was cold, but not unbearable, and Shorty ran around in a long sleeve T-shirt under a long sleeve shirt most of the time. I, of course, wore a scarf, long coat, and gloves as I am a delicate flower that needs to be kept warm. (Ha!)
We spent most of our time in Prague, walking at least 4 miles a day, if not more. Twice we took the train to towns outside of Prague, to Kutna Hora and two days before we left to Cesky Krumlov. The trip to Kutna Hora was my first train ride ever. Figures I gotta leave the country for such an experience! The train ride to and from Cesky Krumlov was on the old style trains (think Harry Potter). It felt like stepping back in time 50 years or so.
The architecture in this city is phenomenal. If you don't know, Prague was not bombed during WWII; therefore, all the old buildings are still intact, which makes for absolutely stunning views. It seemed that every building, big or small, had something unique, architecturally. And there's a lot of reference to the zodiac signs, as well. I haven't researched that yet, so I don't understand why, but about our second day there, I realized what I was looking at all the time. You'll see many references in the pictures.
The food was good, although fairly heavy and rich. We found a couple of places that we really liked. A restaurant/bar in an underground area that used to be used for coal storage, and a little place down a side street that had just the best atmosphere. Really cozy and excellent food. At the bar/restaurant, we made friends with the bartender, Thomas, who spoke fairly good English and was a really nice guy. He is the only one who served me a drink with ice without asking. (Further down, you'll see why this was extraordinary.) Luckily for us, many restaurants print their menus in three or four languages, including English, so we were able to understand what we were ordering. The big thing over there is roasted pork knee, which Shorty had on his birthday. Ask him about it - - he remembers nothing. But he enjoyed it!
The other interesting thing is that drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) are not served with ice. You have to specifically ask for it, and then it comes in a separate glass. I never did get an explanation as to why. And when I ordered a vodka and soda, I got a shot of vodka in a tumbler, a glass or bottle of soda water, and, if I wanted ice, a separate glass with ice. Guess it's kind of a mix-your-own deal. Shorty, of course, was in heaven 'cause there's beer, beer, beer everywhere. Or, as they say in Czech, "Pivo." Small factoid: More beer is consumed by Czechs than by any other country. (I know grammatically that sentence is incorrect, but you get the idea.)
Another observation - those people smoke like crazy! Good grief! Philip Morris is making bank over there. Also, most of the women wear calf-high, high-heeled boots. All the time. It's crazy. I don't know how they keep from turning their ankles on all the cobbled sidewalks and streets. We met up with a couple of young guys from England, and they said that was pretty much the style throughout Europe. What do I say? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I need to do some research on the incidents of broken or twisted ankles, lung and throat cancer, and emphysema.
They're a fairly dour people, as well. Not a whole lot of smiling going on, at least not at us tourists. I figured they knew we were tourists by (a) we weren't smoking, (b) we were wearing sensible shoes, and (c) we would smile at people.
We made three tips to the Prague Castle area, twice to visit the castle grounds and the HUGE cathedral. The third time was to visit an art exhibit. The cathedrals, as you will see in the pictures, are absolutely awesome. Note re the pictures: Those photos I identified as St. Barbara's Cathedral (in Hutna Kora) are actually St. Nicholas (in Prague). So many pictures, just little bit of confusion. With regard to the cathedrals - holy cow! You can tell who had the money at one point . . . and it wasn't the citizens. These places are incredible works of art in and of themselves.
We arrived in Prague in the morning, and even though we were tired, we following the suggestion of a friend's parents, we made ourselves stay up (there's a 9-hour difference between Eureka and Prague). However, by 3:00 p.m., we were thoroughly exhausted and decided to go back to our hotel for a "nap." Well, that nap turned into an 18-hour affair, and boy did it feel good! Needless to say, by 6:00 a.m., we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure. However, I needed to get a run in, so off I went while Shorty hunted down "coffee." I say "coffee," 'cause it's definitely not what you think. If you like espressos, mochas, lattes, etc., you're good to go. If you want regular ole cup of coffee, just keep wanting. Ain't gonna happen.
As I said, I was a good girl and got some running in. With all the walking, I figured I was doing good. Didn't gain a single pound! However, my first day of running, which was our second day, was ridiculous. Not only did I not know where I was going, but since we slept so much the day before, I hadn't eaten in over 18 hours and my body was wondering what the he!! was going on. I got about half an hour into it and felt like I was going to ralph all over the place. My other runs went much better because I found a park about half a mile or so from our hotel. But there are only a few of you who give a rat's rearend about that part of the story, so I'll spare you anymore details. :o)
All in all, we had a really great time, and I would love to go back during the spring or summer when plant life is in bloom and more of the castles are open for visiting. Many people have asked, "Why did you go to Prague? Family history?" No. Then why? Because it's there. Because I've never been before. Because it's a beautiful place. Because it's history. Because . . . well, why not?!? If you get the chance, go. You won't be disappointed.