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12 July 2012

The sun is setting on our first day in Prague.

It is amazing that we are here at all.  Walt got the car all packed up, I gave the dogs treats, we got in the car and were one block from getting on the freeway when I realized the pouch with my passport in it was sitting on the table at home. I don't know which guardian angel was hitting me over the head to remember that.  I remember when we went to Russia and got to the airport in San Francisco before I remembered that my credit card was at home. But fortunately we were able to return, get the passport and get on our way. We picked Mike and Char up in San Ramon and headed to the SF airport.

We flew a United 747.

It was not the best of planes.  I have become spoiled by all the airlines that give you TV monitors in your own seat and programming on demand.  Not only did we not have a choice of movies to watch, though this is mid-July, they only had the June magazine, which listed the movies being shown last month.  But none of us watched the TV.

The first thing they do is ask you to shut your blinds so the people who want to watch the TV screens can.  This negates, of course, any benefit of getting a window seat, as it's "night time" the whole 10+ hours, even if it is bright sun outside.  And then there was the food, served at odd times.  First it was a bag of pretzels, and then an hour later I had pasta with infinitesimally small meat balls (which were actually quite good).  Then a few hours later they served rock hard ice cream sandwiches.  I never knew ice cream could crunch before! Finally we got 6 melon cubes and the world's smallest croissant.

But the flight was very smooth--one of the smoothest I can remember--and we arrived in Frankfurt with 2 hours to spare before our Lufthansa fight to Prague.  The Frankfurt airport actually has a smoking room, a big box like thing in the middle of the concourse with people huddled together in a smoky haze.  I was rushing to catch up with Mike and Char, so never got a photo of it.

When we got to our gate and settled down to wait for the next flight...

...Mike suddenly realized why his shoes didn't feel right.  When he put them back on in the plane when we landed in Frankfurt, he put them on the wrong feet.  (The people to Walt's left in this photo are also on our tour, but we haven't officially met them yet.)

We had a 40 minute flight to Prague, during which we were served an odd thing that looked like a very very large untwisted pretzel.  It was the size of a small salami and when you bit into it, it was filled with what was like a tube of butter.  Not sure how they got it in there, since it was solid butter, so it had to have been introduced after the thing was baked.  I'm still not sure if I liked it or not.

Viking transported us to the Hilton Hotel and we were happy to note that it was sunny.

Our room is the farthest possible from the elevator--I counted and it's 165 steps.  After a long day of sightseeing, I will hate that walk!  I took an hour nap while Mike and Char were waiting for their room to be ready and then we were ready to hit the streets of Prague and find food.  First Walt and Mike had to check to see if their respective cell phones were working

and then Walt had to check with the Viking people, because he realized he had left his jacket on the bus when we came in from the airport.  Fortunately they had it there at the desk for him, but we finally were on our way.l

We wandered the streets near the hotel and I loved the old buildings, and especially the adornments on them.

Though we did find perhaps the skuzziest KFC in the world!

We were looking for a specific restaurant, Kolokovna, that had been listed on Viking's recommended restaurants sheet.  The guide said it offers "traditional Czech cuisine.  You can taste homemade Pilsner goulash, succulent duck thing on cabbage..."  We just knew we had to find out what "duck thing" was.  But with all their expertise in map reading, our peerless guides could not find the place, though thought they had found the place where it was supposed to be.

Walt suggested we eat at a pizza place we had passed, and I declared I was NOT going to eat pizza my first night in the Czech Republic.  The skies had turned black and the wind started to blow very hard and we needed to find any place quick.

We ducked into the first place we saw, when it started to rain.  And while it wasn't a pizza place, it wasn't Czech either.  It was a French place called La Gare Brasserie, but it was lovely and quaint and while we couldn't read much on the menu...

...they did have an English version (I was intrigued by "sauteed pig's ear from Chablis."  We all decided on duck a l'orange and it was fabulous.

We even had a wandering accordion player, who was playing old Edith Piaf tunes, among other things.

The whole thing was very French, not Czech, but it was so much better than pizza would have been!  And best of all, we took long enough with our dinner that the rain had stopped by the time we left the place.

And along the way back, I was able to get this now-traditional photo.

(the sign reads "Vychutnej si Fajn menu")

I think we all felt like this when we got back to the hotel.

So now to see if the wi fi works.  It is going to cost about $35 a day to post these entries, but what the heck...we're on vacation, Walt says, (and when we get to the ship, it will be free).

NOTICE:  I have had a devil of a time starting my computer.  In case there is no entry for a couple of days, it is a problem I can't correct, though I will be able to use the ship's computer.  I'm just hoping I've managed to solve the problem for tonight and that I can keep this running for the next two days!!!


View from our hotel room
(We overlook a lock on the Vltava river)


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