Friday, June 29, 2007
First day of trip
Well, as promised, I am going to start the trip report with the first couple of days and a few of the stories, observations, sights and sounds and whatever for your viewing pleasure. Keep in mind I have over 400 pictures to identify so it may take some time. And, I need to remind you these are my recollections and any editorials are mine as well. If those along for the trip disagree they are free to start their own blog.
Tuesday June 12, we took wing on Northwest Airlines to Amsterdam. The flight was relatively uneventful and the food was even quite good. When we arrived the next morning we popped over to a pub at the airport and had a few to get us through the next flight on Czech Airlines. That flight took off relatively on time and we arrived a little after 9:30 that morning.
Much to our delight we were greeted by Nancy Hugg. For those of you that don't know Nancy, she is a former Lancasterite who most recently held a prestigious position at the U of M in the now defunct General College. While determining what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, she took off for Prague and has been teaching English since Last November. She is coming back mid July, destination in the U.S. (or wherever) unknown. But, for our purposes, she was a great guide.
Like I said, she met us at the airport with tickets in hand for the bus/tram/metro system. She herded us on to the 119 bus, then on the tram to the street where Hanna's bed and breakfast was located. It was a couple of blocks off Devijka, a street name we learned to pronouce well as the days went along. The first picture is fo the B&B which was located about 2 miles from what I would call the heart of the city, or near the Charles Bridge.
The place was really great for our purposes, since we had 4 rooms and essentially control of the place on the first 2 levels. The room we had our morning buffet at was next to the kitchen and substituted as my room. The only downside was that Hanna thought I was a pig based on all the debris that was left around the table each morning and after evening pinochle games.
One of the pictures attached shows Sheila and Jim Hartmann and me sipping coffee at the community table in my room. A little more about Jim, the former tenured Minnesota school teacher. A very intelligent guy as we would find out. But, by the end of day 2 we had all agreed that he reminded us quite a bit of a TV character by the name of Cliff Clavin. Toward the end of our trip, I started thinking about any question that was running through my mind and whether or not I dared verbalize. The information was good mind you, but I had to weigh the consequences and time.
Another picture is of our tour Guide Nancy, along with Jim and Sheila and Sue. We went out early on the 14th without Joan and Frank to a little park near where we connected with Nancy. Well, this was the second time we just about got arrested. You know us gomers, go to a park, walk on the grass. No can do in the Czech Republic. We returned to the safety of the cement and the officer you can see in the background of the picture continued his rounds.
I guess that whole authority thing is a little of a holdover from the days of Communism. But, it was pretty evident in daily life. People still are very careful not to step out of line or talk out of turn. Quite anal when you think of it, but then given what they endured for many decades, I guess it's no wonder.
One thing we did master while in Prague was the Metro. Oh, this is where I almost got arrested for the second time when I crossed a red velvet rope to take a picture of the long-ass escalators they have there. My name from that escapade was "Buddy", and I was told in no uncertain terms to get my behind, behind the rope. Anyway, the escalators keep getting longer and longer as you approach the conversion point of the 3 lines. The one pictured is not the longest one, which I believe is very close to being a city block long. My travelling companions will definitely back me up on this one.
After much sight seeing and bumping into Joan and Frank on the other end of the Charles Bridge, we decided it was time for Pivo. Yes, beer is called Pivo over there, so watch out when you say you have to Pee. You may get more "input" than "output". I've included another picture of the crew on an enclosed patio.
As we were imbibing, there was a lot of activity to the rear of the group. Some cranes and other stuff going on. I looked over and saw whate appeared to be a young child on a ledge. Well, after taking the picture I saw it was a statue about 20 feet up on the wall. Don't know what it was there for, but I convinced the group of Pivo drinkers that the crane crew was there to rescue the child from the ledge. They caught on pretty quickly....well most did.
Our last stop of the day was near one of our Metro connection at Wenseclaus Square. It's a really busy place with a ton of shops and much activity.
With that we ended our day by taking a ride home and playing pinochle till all hours.