The Day Greg Nearly Cried Over Breakfast

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, July 19, 2010

From Greg:
In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel. If nothing else cool happens for the rest of the trip, that breakfast makes the whole tip worthwhile. I nearly cried. It was the huge selection of cured meats that did it. That and the eggs benedict was one of the best I'd had...

Trains are a pretty good way to travel. No one even checked our passports to get into the Czech republic. It's a lawless country.

Just in the course of normal interactions today, I spoke 4 different languages... How cool is that?

Pilsner Urquell... On tap it isn't skunked. Imagine that. In Prague, it's on every sign, umbrella, and coaster. It actually tastes pretty good too. No malt character, though well balanced. No hop aroma really, just a moderate level of bittering hops. Clean fermenting yeast. It's a good, clean, light beer. Lawnmower-esk.

Finally, we saw some old stuff too. There are more shopping opportunities in this town than I've ever seen in a tourist trap. It's nuts.

From Cari:
We got up early this morning to make our way back to the German Parliament and up the lift to the Reichstag, the giant glass dome on top of Parliament that symbolizes "openness and transparency in government." Interesting thought…. We were originally going to go to the dome first and then to breakfast, but a quick inquiry in the guide book told us that the dome did not open until 8AM. We decided to flip the two activities.

The breakfast was delicious. The hotel had pretty much anything you wanted to eat: the breads were made in-house, the meats were cured at an outside source (but Greg said that they were delectable), Greg ordered eggs Benedict (included in the rate!) and he looked as if he were going to cry. He even said, “This breakfast is so good, I could cry.” The pastries were my favorite, although they didn't seem to hold much weight on Greg’s scale.

When we arrived at the Parliament, the line was significantly shorter than it was the night before (maybe because it was 8AM). We still had to wait a minute because the doors had not yet been unlocked. We passed through security, up a glass lift, into a lobby where we picked up audio guides, and began our assent up the giant ramp swirling around a giant mirrored inverted cone that had its point directly over the center of the general assembly. From the ramp and with the audio guide, we got a feel for the city skyline of Berlin. Most of it we had already seen up close and personal, but it still made for some interesting listening and pictures. Once one reached the top of the ramp, he headed back down the other side, winding directly above the ramp that he ascended. Once down, we turned in our audio guides and waited until the elevator was ready to take us to the main floor. The doors to get out of Parliament were crazy. Two older women were denied exit when the set of doors behind us in a small chamber closed before another set of glass doors opened, releasing us back into the outside world. They certainly took security seriously. 

After the Parliament, we returned to the hotel, finished gathering our things, and checked out of the hotel. We took the U-Bahn to the main train station, Hafbaunhof. It was a giant glass building with both a train station and a mall. We found our platform, got a bottle of water for the journey, and waited. Once the train arrived, we boarded on our car (263) and found ourselves situated in a compartment with a Spanish family. The youngest girl was very hyper and talked almost the entire way to Prague. I say almost because, for a time, they were in the dining car eating, and Greg and I decided to eat when they were nearly finished.

The train conductor was crazy! Apparently, you are supposed to write in the date you use your ticket before the conductor comes around and stamps it with the date, but we didn’t know. She told us to “scriben!” but we didn’t know what she wanted us to write. She didn’t speak English, so obviously the best solution to the situation was for her to yell louder until we just did something.

I slept most of the way to Prague, but I did get to see a little bit of the more scenic countryside when I woke up, saw that the hallway was packed with people, freaked out, and woke Greg up because I thought we were at Prague. Our tickets were for the station in the suburbs, but the Spanish couple from Sevilla  told us that it was better for them to arrive at the central station and that the conductor told them it was ok. We stayed on until the central station.

We hitched a taxi (which I think actually turned out to be a car-for-hire) for a little more than we probably should have paid because we got the conversion rate wrong. Regardless, we made it to our hotel which, we discovered, was pretty centrally located (although not nearly as cool as the hotel in Berlin). 

In our room, we found chocolates and another bottle of champagne, further proof that these people think that we are married. After cleaning up a little, we headed out to see some sights. First, we asked the front desk where we should eat dinner, and she recommended the restaurant Celnice which is owned by the brewery Pilsner Urquell. I was excited because that is where I had been trying to find. She made reservations for us for 8PM. When she called, it was the first time either Greg or I had heard anyone speak Czech. Greg got it pretty much correct when he retorted, “No kidding.” 

Our miniature adventure took us down the main shopping street, passed the National Theatre, the Dancing House, and to the river. From there we rented a pedal boat from a man and cruised down the river, contemplating deep thoughts like whether Czech ducks cold understand American ducks.

Dinner was at Celnice, which was in a little plaza across from the Municipal House. Our reservations were for inside, but Greg and I wanted to sit on the terrace because it was a very pleasant evening (if not a little chilly at times). Greg was most excited about ordering a pint of Pilsner Urquell on tap. When it came to the table, both of us (especially him) were anticipating whether it would be skunked like it is in America. He said it tasted good, and it didn’t smell like
it normally does. The food was ok…this was, by numerous sources, the best place to get Czech food. I had some sort of beef sirloin in a vegetable cream sauce with cranberries and bread dumplings. It was sweet tasting. Greg had a pot roast with jalapeņos, bread dumplings, and potato patties. It was a little spicy. I enjoyed the dinner in Berlin better, but it was still good. 

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night. We need our rest to explore the next day.
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