Morning dawned, gray and dreary, on our first full day in Prague. And the lessons continued...
1) When visiting a large city (about 1.3 million), be sure to take full advantage of all forms of public transportation. We made the mistake of taking the Metro to an area near Old Town Square and then walking instead of using the buses and trams to get closer to our destination. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll from the Metro station to Prague Institute, where Megan had her classes, and around various sites downtown to one of her favorite lunch spots - Club Architect. We enjoyed a tasty, authentic Czech meal at a reasonable price (88Kc = $6) at the quaint underground cafe,.
2) Don't be a guy - ask directions! I kept thinking, "I remember, it's just down this street!" Unfortunately, in the Old Town area, 'this street' looks just like 'that street' - so we ended up spending way too much time wandering in search of a particular site I wanted to share with Mom. By the time we drug ourselves to the bus stop to head back to the hostel for a rest before dinner, we had spent about six hours on our feet and were all three exhausted.
3) Another large city lesson - beware of pickpockets! Of course, we knew this. We'd heard plenty of stories of cameras, passports, and wallets stolen without the victim having the slightest hint when or where, let alone, who was responsible. In our case, it was a little less subtle than that. As we boarded the bus, Megan got on first and I hung back to make sure Mom could make it up the tall step on to the bus, but as I took her arm to help her, a young man jumped in front of her and stopped, asking in Czech where the bus went. I was totally oblivious, but Megan must have recognized that something was amiss because she started waving him off and yelling, "ne" (no) at him. Meanwhile, a couple of other young men were crowding in behind us and I naively thought they were also trying to get on the bus, but Mom recognized they were a little too close for comfort and shouted for them to get away. They left and we got on the bus, congratulating ourselves that we all still had our wallets - until we got back to the hostel and realized they had lifted the camera from mom's jacket pocket. We were so devastated - we had spent those six hours chronicling our trip and now all those pictures were gone. We eventually bought some disposable cameras and took some pictures with our phones, but the quality was not very good...hence the reason there are few pictures accompanying this blog!
4) Ask whether tour packages include all beverages or only alcoholic ones...while we were downtown, we had booked and paid for a dinner cruise on the Vltava River which included drinks and cost about $75 each. We discovered when we boarded the cruise, that it included alcohol, but not other drinks - not even water! So we ended up paying an extra $10 or more each in order to have water with our meal. Nevertheless, this was probably the highlight of our time together in Prague - the cruise was lovely as we passed swans and castles, the Dancing Building and Charles Bridge. We traveled well south of the city, using a lock to travel upriver past a shallow fall, and then returned in the course of about 3 hours. The views of the city and the countryside just outside the city were spectacular. We were even surprised to see a riverside RV park along the banks.
5) Inquire about road work or other changes to the public transportation routes (learned this lesson again in London!) It turned out that the bus we had used to get within a reasonable distance to the riverboat did not run in the opposite direction due to road work that was underway. Consequently, it was another mile hike back to the Metro station. My poor little feet ache just thinking about it!
Needless to say, we all tumbled into bed exhausted once again.