Grant McWilliams

Prague

We ate the last of our food and the kids were starving but I couldn’t do anything about it. Had this been Budapest or Ljubljana I would have sent Natalya out for food but none of us new Prague so if she got lost she couldn’t even call me and I couldn’t contact her so we waited. I ate a dried out strudel to get strength and we ventured outside. There was a fruit market across the street with bananas and nectarines. Had I known this we would have at least had fruit. It was Sunday so not much was open. We found a pizzeria on the corner that cooked up a Hawaiian pizza for $5. One of the ingredients listed was tomato but I wanted to keep things simple so I didn’t have them taken off. We got the pizza home and it didn’t have tomatoes on it so apparently they were referring to the sauce. Good thing I left it on. I went back to bed. The walk to the end of the block wiped me out. The kids ate and I finally got a few hours sleep. The next day was our last day in Prague so we needed to get out to buy our train tickets. I actually slept most the night but still didn’t feel good enough to get out in the morning. I was eating whole bananas and drinking 6 oz of water at time but I still couldn’t get away from the bathroom. At 1pm we headed for the train station. We arrived at the main train station and some of the stuff I wrote about Budapest having big wonderful buildings that are about to fall down could be said here as well. The train station is a monstrosity but looks like it’s not even being used anymore. We did find a door open and inside there was this wonderful domed ceiling and elegant stairway downstairs but no ticket agents or people waiting for trains, how strange of a main train station. We venture downstairs and see a bit more life. There was a casino and more stairs to the Metro. I ask an information person and he says go downstairs again so we do. Two floor underground in the basement are the ticket agents and shops selling food, drinks etc.. So you have this big beautiful train station and the only part they use is the basement. The rest is slowly crumbling into nothing, sad. We stand in line for about 30 minutes without getting to the window. We also realize we didn’t bring our passports so we ride the metro back to get them. We come back via metro and stand in line for another 30 minutes just to have the ticket window close when we get there. We choose another line and stand for 10 minutes then notice there are windows open 24hrs and think this is a horrible waste of time when we could use the last 6hrs to see the city so we leave the station with the intent to return when there’s nobody standing in line.

Charles bridge

My impressions of Prague come from only spending 6hr walking around so they may or may not be accurate. We head west to the touristy section of town and the river. I decide I might be able to eat something but it would be best to eat something familiar so we find a Mexican restaurant in the Let’s Go guide and head for it. We find the exact address and it’s a hotel. Strike 4 for the Let’s Go guide. I’m really disappointed by this guide. If this were a Rough Guide or a Lonely Planet guide I wouldn’t be ranting about it because they’re wrong more often (or one or Rick Steves maps!) but the Let’s Go guides have never let me down until this one. Anyway we find another Mexican restaurant and we eat Taco Time level Mexican food for about Taco Time prices. There was a business group that came in and sat next to us from somewhere else. There was one Czech lady that seemed to be leading them. A black guy that presumably was from Africa from his looks and accent said “this was the best food I’ve had since I’ve been here”. The Czech lady thanked him as if Mexican food was Czech. It was hilarious and I wanted to tell him that he needed to go to Mexico (on the other side of the world) to get real Mexican food. I don’t think he even realized it was Mexican because the sign out front didn’t say it anywhere. With food in my stomach we headed toward the Astrological Clock and Charles bridge. I wanted to avoid spending too much time here because Prague is groaning under the weight of the tourists and I’m not a touristy type of person. Venice would be really cool if it were something other than Disneyland these days and I had categorized Prague with it. There are a billion tourists in Prague but I think you could avoid them if you just stayed off the main drag. Charles bridge was pretty as was many of the other buildings in Prague. Rick Steves says Ljubljana will be the next next Prague (Krakow is the next one) and I can see that. They are similar cities but Prague is bigger and the historic area of Prague is much larger. This is another place I need to return to but I may plan an October trip here to lessen some of the tourist impact. I think Prague is a very beautiful city but I wish some of the tourist dollars would go into fixing up the rest of the city as it needs repair. We head back to the train station at 10:30 and there is one person in line for tickets. We get our tickets and don’t need our passports (weird) and head home. Tomorrow we head to Krakow Poland. Goodbye Prague, it feels I hardly know you.