Isla's second birthday in Prague

Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
Trip End Aug 01, 2006

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Thursday, March 2, 2006

Next stop - Prague, Czech Republic.

WOW! Not enough time at all - only 4 days spent here but the city was worthy of a two week visit. Magical, majestic ....forget the 'Paris of the east', Prague is a strong rival in our view to Paris as to which city is the most beautiful. The view from Petřin Hill over the city, across the Karlův Most (Charles Bridge - any movie filmed in Prague likely to use this setting) and the Vltava river is gorgeous - even in March when few countries/cities are likely at their best. The Old Town - gothic architecture, narrow curved roads (cobbled of course), marionette theatres, fair number of tourists despite the snow we had and chilly temperatures. We heard from some British tourists that Prague is 'the place to go' for a 24hr visit - often for a bout of drinking (beer of course), stags, hen parties etc. Am sure you could find some cheap flights from London with Easyjet or Ryanair or.... (no, we do not receive any sponsorship for plugging airline companies - if we did, we would choose the expensive Air Canada!) - but watch out for those taxes when you have purchased your ticket for £ 0.99.
Having become quite accustomed in France to the 2 boulangeries per block 'rule', we had quite the adventure trying to find a birthday cake for Isla (and not planning on baking!!!!!!) - ended up resorting to a café and a couple of slices of cake - as long as there is a candle (or 2) to blow out, it counts, n'est ce pas?
Food - hmmm - well goulash and dumplings, potato soup and paprika, the 'real' Budweiser, pig's knuckles served alone on a plate (no, did not try - bet Bruce, Kenzie, Gabi etc would love these), sauerkraut - if you like, and more dumplings, and more dumplings, and more....
Being in Prague we had to take in a marionette performance - the only one going in March was "Don Giovanni", but it was in the oldest marionette theatre in Prague. "Why Don Giovanni chopped the head off his rival and why the ghost took Don Giovanni away?" would provide endless question periods by Aidan and Isla for days. (actually still asking 2 months later!). However, the performance was 1 hour long and Aidan and Isla were mesmerized by the life size puppets and the stage set for at least 30 minutes. They encouraged the puppeteers with their laughs and shouts, and amused the people around us.
While purchasing the obligatory puppets we learned that witch marionettes are meant to bring happiness into the house. Traditional puppets are the jester and witch.
Adventure time - had a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ted had just used the ATM when a police car sceamed in, responding to a robbery alarm- looked at Ted at the ATM and told him to stay put, checked inside the bank, and then gave Ted the once over. It didn't help that he didn't have his passport on him. Without much explanation after the interrogation, they shrugged and said, 'it is all a matter of formality'. Is it the short hair, the Canada ballcap, and the smug grin that said "I am not involved in this but go ahead make my day"?
In retrospect it may have been easier for us if we had traveled when the kids were toilet trained. Finding diapers for Isla meant a tram ride away from the core city to the department store - none to be found in the corner shops. Does everyone use cloth in Prague? Mind you, finding public toilets not always easy on demand either.
At the top of Petřin Hill over looking the city is a restored Tram/funicular that was well worth the time and effort to ride. Also on Petrin Hill is a vintage Hall of Mirrors and Maze built in the 1890's - quite a hoot for the kids. Especially the mirrors that distort your size and shape.
We are so glad we came to Prague - much too short a visit, we could have spent two weeks here. Will have to see how things may change once the Czech Republic switches their currency to euro in 2007. (member of EU since 2004) I am sure the price of beer will increase to Western European prices...
Jan topped off the visit with a music concert. The Prague Royal Orchestra played in an almost 1100 year old stone church in the Prague Castle grounds. Ahhh - listening to Mozart on violin, bass, cello in a candle lit stone church .....okay, so it was unheated and our breath was visible - at least the benches were not stone!
On every train we boarded Aidan sought out people who spoke English. He was quite astute in determining who could and couldn't communicate with him. Aidan loved being the 'passport control' man, taking our passports and stamping a train picture; talking to all and anyone on each new train.
Next stop - Budapest
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