Off to Prague

Trip Start May 13, 2011
Trip End Apr 28, 2012

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Saturday, August 13, 2011

The morning of August 13th, 15 days before our adventure in Vienna ends, we found ourselves speeding through the Czech countryside in an orange bus.  We were headed to Prague, or Praha in Czech, our last big journey outside of Vienna while we reside in Austria.

I have always fantasied about Prague; the historic buildings, ancient architecture, post modern Communism era buildings, Charles Bridge, and of course, the amazing Czech beer.  For as we have learned, the Czechs invented Pilsner, so we bow our head in reverence to the original Budwar Budweiser.

On our way here, we found ourselves charmed by the countryside.  The fields of yellow and golden sunflowers, all bowing their heads as they ready themselves for their destiny of harvest, picturesque cottages and small villages built around fields of corn, sunflowers and hay.  The hay was rolled, anticipating being loaded on trucks, headed for hungry bovine bellies.

We passed through the town of Brno on the way to Prague, an industrial looking town, until we came upon a massive church in the center.  It is amazing that the churches here in Europe look so ancient, so mysterious, compared to the ones on Ingraham Street in Pacific Beach, although they hold the same precepts and ideas.  I normally do not set foot out of curiosity in San Diego, but will even pay to view the guts of these stoic and impressive buildings here.

We arrived in Prague eager to set foot in Czech.  After finding a Bankomat machine to extract from it koruna, or Czech crowns, we managed to buy a metro ticket all in Czech.  The girls and I have been practicing for a few days, and we can count to 20, and have some basic words like please, thank you and dark beer:  ).  Navigating the metro in any city is now a piece of cake, and we found our way easily through the cavernous underground of the metro station.  Only once did we pause as we headed to the steps of an escalator, the seemed to being moving at warp speed.  The first few steps were flat, so you just hold your breathe and go for it, hoping your foot would land solidly as it descended, and wow, did it descend!  It took 38 seconds to get down to the bottom, even at warp speed.  After convincing Kahli that she would not para-glide down the escalator, we made it to the bottom, only to encounter another one.  This one, well, we just followed the locals and went for it.  I am glad my eyes were closed.  

Finding our house on Melnicka cesta was no problem, even getting on and off of the trams were a snap, now we were used to how they worked and such in Vienna.  And, it is good to have a master map reader in Amit, as it takes me just a bit longer; read, 20 minutes, to get my bearings on a map.  He has no patience for my methods and plows ahead, mostly, he is correct.

After meeting our host Zeki at the building, we viewed our flat, did the mold check in the bathrooms, and it passed, only a little.  I have adopted the don't look, don't tell Abi policy and so far, it works fine.  Off we went to explore our new city and of course, the rain has followed us here again.  It is amazing, it seems like we are in San Fran or Seattle in the winter... that is how cold and wet the summer in Vienna has been.  We were hoping our last escape would also be from the rain, but it seems to follow us.  Yay for our rain jackets.  We found a grocery store with a Mexican restaurant nearby... Hombre del Mundo.  As we longingly gazed at the menu, looking for any glimpse of California, it seems this was a meat mostly establishment, with touristy prices.

After buying some needed fruits and of course for Amit, a local bottle of wine, we headed back towards home.  On the way to dinner, we encountered a line of metal men going up a steep set of stairs.  We had fun guessing what the symbolism meant, and vowed to look it up when we had Internet access.  Heading across the bridge Legil from Mala Strana to Nove Mesto, we encountered a festival... a rainbow festival.  We were overjoyed to know that gay pride was alive and well in Prague, with many rainbows painted on faces and people out in droves.  It was a pumpin' scene, music and laughter and so many police that it made us want to join in the fun.  Well, maybe next time, as the kids we hungry.  Amit and I lament our times as youth when we were alone, exploring a city like Prague.  But, we also praise that our kids bring to us things we would not notice or seek out as well.

We ended out 10 minute walk at Lenka Hlava, or Clear Head.  It was a vegetarian place that also had vegan food, and it was noted as an expensive but yummy restaurant.  We did not have a reservation, but it seemed we needed one.  The server did tell us if we promised to leave by 8pm, then we could have a table.  Um, it was 5:45pm when we arrived, I think no problem.  

The menu was large and inviting, with many vegan dishes, of course, many with tofu and soy, but we know that chefs mostly think that is what vegans eat a lot of.  We dined on guac and chips, red lentil and coconut milk soup, roasted potato, greens and beet salad with a soy sausagey things that we did not like, Thai red curry with crispy jasmine rice, pasta with smoked tempeh, and eggplant quesadilla for Amit.  The food was excellent, all but the pasta, which we think we did not specify to make vegan and we swear had cream as part of the sauce.  Abi and I were a bit upset about this, and gave reverence to the cow, wished it is happy life, and promised to donate to the Farm Sanctuary when we got home.  

With a successful meal and a full belly, we headed home.  Our flat is a two bedroom, with herringbone parquet floors, creaky doors and a shower with a force to blow you away.  Today was a day filled with 5 hours on the bus, gorgeous scenery and an eagerness to explore our new city tomorrow.  Besides, we have a brunch appointment at 11am..... and we are off to explore the Jewish quarter and my heritage.
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