Trip Start Jul 30, 2007
Trip End Nov 2007

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

11/10/07 Day 73
A shortish drive today as we are going to Prague, Tom Tom has the site in her memory, but her route involves driving on roads that do not exist yet - a big problem, George could handle the off road experience, but Nelly may have trouble.
We find the access to the motorway - good tip here, if you have no road signs facing you, no-one driving on the same side of the road as you then you are probably going the wrong way, not that we have yet (well not much) but we have had a few close calls.
We set up, had some lunch and prepared to hit Prague tomorrow, got the maps, got the tickets and are heading out early doors.
Currently we are sitting in the bar watching Ice Hockey, it appears you don't need to know the language as it is just as incomprehensible in Czech as English.
JENN - this morning I was on the hunt for gorilla's after Rob crow barred me out of bed, the mist was impenetrable and the tiles in the showers was like ice. Even the Czechs think this is cold, telling me it wont warm up till Monday, on my!! I need to point out that Rob started the heater when I was outside monitoring the washing as per instructions.
12/10/07 Day 74
We head into Prague via the bus and metro and find ourselves, well in the centre somewhere, we still don't know. The only map we have is pretty useless but we manage to find an information centre. We are heading out on the big tour tomorrow for 6 hours which in walking for 4 a lunch at a pub then a boat trip, so today is a recce and general look around. We both like Prague, in fact first impressions indicate it may get all the way to number one. It vibrant and busy with amazing architecture and building at every turn, a post card everywhere you look. We visit a lot of the places we will no doubt visit tomorrow including the clock tower with its famous hourly display, the power tower, the municipal house and we take a walk along the Charles bridge a see the castle. We visit a torture museum on the way back, they sure had imagination and a fixation of genitals and durance. The best thing was that after they had tortured you into a confession, e.g. witchcraft, they killed you, as I often tell Rob when we visit places or hear stories of amazing survival or tolerance of such unimaginable suffering, I would take the easy route and get killed as quick as possible, no heroics, no amazing feats. We head on to find some lunch, we are starting to get on each others nerves, Rob needs fluids and I need food, no arguments, just eye rolling and huffing. Unfortunately Rob manages to find the sex machines museum, and you just cant give up that kind of opportunity, so in we go. Nothing amazing, they showed 1920's porn which was hysterical and the best thing ever, a electric ant masturbation machine from France 1915, so the parents were notified by a bell from the other room if any form of erection was suspected. God the parents of some of the men I have know must be up most of the nights... no pun intended. We finally find some tucker and am very grateful for it. Its cold today, the sun come out for a little reprieve but its mostly overcast and all too cold. We head back to the camp after 4pm via metro but luck is on our side, the bus which goes right to the door is awaiting us, we hop on. The bus reaches its terminal stop, but we are not home yet... bugger!! I as nominated representative (as I always am in tricky or embarrassing situations) to question the driver. No English, but I have a pamphlet with the camp logo and he is a lovely man, so with much smiling, pointing, and him getting off the bus to show us directions we have a plan. We can wait close by for another bus with is 30mins away, so like normal we head off on foot, it cant be far. Its only about a 20min walk and we don't get lost, so all in all not too bad. Our delay means the bar is about to open, I twist robs arm (my mentioning it) and we go in for a drink and discuss the problems with the world, reminisce about family and things, and leave after a while with no notes to refer to, so we may have to do it again. I am getting a cold unfortunately and as normal its going to my chest, so after a late lunch its snuggling in Nelly's belly and a early night planned for me. I have gone through all the photos we have and picked my favourites for a folder to have on our wall in OZ. So far 80 and that's just black and white ones, so we need a big wall! Rob is playing the MOST boring x-box game in the world and rings Matt.
13/10/07 Day 75
Up and at them at early doors, Robs all bouncy and singy today (like most days then) and has been dreaming of McDonalds all night because we skipped dinner, so we get into the city centre and feed his desires. Now feed and watered we wander around and go to the meeting point for today's 6 hour tour. It's a milder morning today, still cold but the sun is up and we are hopeful of a warmer day. Its just us, a French man and a pretty Czech guide and off we head. We visit may of the places we had seen but now with stories and information, along with the Jewish quarters, the castle and changing of the guard (not as impressive as the Queens!), and cathedral, its cold.. Proper cold, all morning the three of us (Rob, myself and our French friend Cyril) had been putting on increasing amounts of clothes, a cold wind was biting. We had beef goulash with dumplings for lunch followed by a short boat trip. I say short, and it was the slowest 600 meter circle of one area, it was literally that, no following the river around, just up a bit and back a bit. Made even odder by an older American couple behind us repeating what the guide just said, we all missed the next bit, and they would ask what was that... now we missed the next thing... and so on. Anyway it was good for a few photos and the sun come up at that point. We finish the tour at round 4pm and made plans with Cyril to meet up for the ghost walk and to watch the French -v- English Rugby together. We wander around and find an Aussie pub.. (what a surprise) showing sport, Rob starts to pant, the England football (soccer) team are playing Estonia in European 2008 qualifiers. Well that settles that, we watch the game in warmth with a few ales. I avoid the vodka and orange after the first one was 500mls and strong. England thrash them, which was expected and the chorus of God Save The Queen echoes around. All day we have been planning to ring Robs Mum for her birthday and now is the time, we sing happy birthday, proud of our rendition until we find out Rob has the wrong date and even that was 2 days ago, so all in all a real cock up. We are meeting them in Berlin in a few days so we will have to make up for it. Rob was outraged that his mum hadn't told him when he last called, or that his dad didn't text him, my fault too apparently. We meet up for the ghost tour with the same guide with 2 American girls, ones a nurse and soon we are chatting away easily. Its odd our nurses need to touch the person they are talking to, we are walking around talking and touching arms as soon as we discover we are nurses. The tour was interesting but didn't see anything new, Prague is beautiful at night, and being a Saturday night its busy. Cyril, Rob and I walk urgently back to a few of the pubs we have seen showing the Rugby, unfortunately as its kick off time the places are packed full. The second place we went to the English lads who obviously celebrated the football win and were continuing on as we left Rob commented that there was too much aggression in the tone and urgency of their testosterone chants meant it was likely to kick off at some point. We finally settled outside an English pub standing up, a crowd continuing to form. Next door an empty pub courtyard with one German man watching their football qualifier, I did ask, but the yes didn't produce a remoter control. A tight match, the English finally coming through and it was like magic, everyone just disappeared. We found a place to sit down and the wanted warmth of a patio heater, chatted over a few beers. Cyril is as Rob commented, a thoroughly nice man. His fantastic English we found out was from studying in Japan and South Korea in English, well travelled and a great sense of humour, good company all round, we shall keep in touch. A good day, now to find our way home, easy, metro then bus... but first Mc D's for some food, didn't get what I ordered, but hey ho, off we go. Get to the metro station and realise the buses have finished for the night, there are no taxi's, no people and the petrol station we walk to is closed. I see some police and ask them, no help but nice, ring directly assistance and we finally manage to organise a ride. We are picked up and give the driver the site information, we head off in a warm car about 0145, I cant feel my cold toes anymore and I need the loo. We stop a few times, he refers to the map and I start to worry when he mutters and rubs his eyes and face with his hands annoyed. In the end in broken English he tells us he read the wrong area and that in Czech there are many names that are similar other than a letter or accent, so we are in the wrong place. Not to worry he knows where we need to be and keeps apologising and turns off the meter. We get there and ask how much, he just shakes his head, we guess and add a bit to what the meter was last time Rob saw it on, just grateful to be home at all and he was a nice man. Run to the loos before heading inside, its freezing, icicles on the interior of the awning and everything you touch is fantastically freezing. Heater on, in 20mins we are warm and snuggled in bed, water bottle and radiator Rob to keep me warm, we sleep. Its well after 0230, so plans for the early tour tomorrow, (now today) scrapped, but a good day all round.
14/10/07 Day 76
Headed into town after a little lie in then headed into town around lunch ready for to join a communist walk early in the afternoon. Our guide was a 75 year old man who has lived in Prague his whole life and has been a tour guide for over 40 years or so he proclaimed. He was a great story teller and according to his many tales was the first tenor in Prague's opera company, a solider, a teacher and many other things, either way he was interesting and energetic. Best of all he was the antidote to communism, erratic, unfocused with tendencies to wander off physically and psychologically from what where he started. Multilingual to 8 languages which he used off an on throughout, Czech, German, Russian (all obvious considering the history of Prague) but also Italian and Japanese where he toured when he sang professionally, French as his wife was born in France though her parents were native Slovenian's who were refugees and English (quite helpful to us). He told us of his life during Russian occupation, pointing out the positive and negative aspects of communism, the fact they all had jobs and money, but nothing to buy, that crime such as pick pocketing which is rife today was non existents during that regime and healthcare was free to all (two American men argued this couldn't be true a few times, very confused when they were told that many countries including Australia and Britain have a state funded healthcare system). Despite this their pure hate of the mother land and Russians continues today, just more openly, they boycott Russian shops, which he pointed out and encouraged us to do the same, empathised with the fact that so many Russians are now refugees here and are beggars ect as Prague is more stable. The group was largely full of US tourists and he enjoyed baiting and criticising Americans as much as possible, including telling them not to correct his English, his was the British version, the correct one!! And that Americans' ask stupid questions, having no idea about countries other than their own, yet expect everyone to know all about America. He took great delight at the communist goal which is now a hostel for tourists, that president Vaclav Klaus was know to be kept overnight regularly in cell number 6, now room 6, and Americans were always complaining that they had booked the presidential suite for tiny sums only to find out it was a small room with a sink. The lack of inhabitations and nonchalance concerning others opinions of I gather is a combination of suppression by everyone from the Austrian-Hungarians, Nazis' and Soviets and the fact that at 75 he did these tours to amuse himself rather than please the patrons. Because of these traits he also failed as a communist from what we could gather, being fired 3 times, passport taken away twice, but he was happy about all of this as although the communist wanted full control, one hand never knew what the other was doing, so he would go to a different passport office and tell them he had lost his and got another one, and now has a whole collection of them at home. An good tour as it was the life of the people and not just dates, though we lost some information when he saw something shinny which would distract him mid sentence. He also had a habit of stopping and talking to the group when thoughts came to him, including in the middle of a main road once. After the tour we looked at some shops and headed home in the evening, its cold... COLD people, proper cold and I have a chesty cough I cant shake.
15/10/07 Day 77
Later start, but still up and going early. I put on some washing and head off to the shopping centre for supplies as we are heading back into the expensive western part of Europe tomorrow. We are meeting up with Robs parents for 5 days in Berlin so I want to not have to do any boring chores while we are with them. It takes me more than a few hours as I am easily confused and distracted and im not even close to 75 years old yet!! I am trying to find a cake for Pat (Robs mum) for her B'day, contemplate cooking it, but the logistics and inconsistency of the oven is too much, at last, from 100 meters away I find her... the answer to my dreams. The most beautifully grotesque lady cake I have ever seen, a Barbie doll iced into a cake dress of yellow and green with sparkles which I was pretty sure would glow in the dark. Not even looking at the price I point and get the little lady, she is undignified packed into a large box which brought me back down to earth, how was I going to transport and store here till we meet Pat?? My joy returned however when the lady looking bored searched through another box to find matching legs!! Fantastic... now I have a whole doll and a cake, only problem is that the legs where twice as long as would be proportional to the body, but it has red cowgirl boots... so everyone's a winner!! We get organised and pack up to leave at the crack of dawn for a long drive to Berlin tomorrow. We have dinner at the campsite and it was as appetising as the French camp toilet blocks... didn't even attempt to eat it after a trial bite, no wonder the whole thing with drinks cost us less than a bus fare in England, head off to bed.
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