[flv width=”500″ height=”375″]http://www.janicek.com/video/20101026_Prague.flv[/flv]
I must preface this by noting that it’s 3:30 p.m. in the U.S., 10:30 p.m. in Prague on Tuesday, and we’re still kind of on U.S. time and haven’t really had much sleep since Monday morning.
We stayed up really late Sunday morning because Elise was packing and I tried to stay up all night so I could sleep on the plane ride to Frankfurt. Neither of us were successful in staying up all night and we wound up going to be at 4 a.m. and had to wake up at 7 a.m. to head out.
Red-eyed, we said our goodbyes to Steve, Joanne and Maly and hit the road to Dallas. Got to the airport with time to spare and everything was smooth sailing with checking in and boarding.
The trip was pretty uneventful. Nine hours long and uneventful. Neither of us managed to muster much shuteye beyond and hour’s worth of dozing. We watched “Grown Ups” (that Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James & David Spade movie). It passed a couple hours but wouldn’t really recommend it. Then I unintentionally setup an American movie marathon with “The Way We Get By”, a documentary on 3 retiree troop greeters from Bangor, Maine. Great movie and a bit of a tearjerker. Then I watched American Graffiti. Didn’t mean to turn this into a movie review, but on a 9 hour cross-Atlantic plane ride, watching movies passes time pretty well.
We touched down in Frankfurt right at 7 a.m. local time (midnight in Austin on ~3 hours sleep for the both of us). Getting through the airport, getting our bags and getting through customs was quick and painless as well. Trying to get our train ticket from the Frankfurt airport to the main Frankfurt train station was a little more tedious. We stood in a line for a train ticket vending machine for half an hour, only to find ourselves completely dumbfounded and without help when we got our turn to buy our tickets. We quickly gave up and decided to speak to the human help at the Deutsche Bahn counter, who were able to get us on the right train.
After a quick 10 minute ride, we were at the main Frankfurt train station by around 9 a.m. Our train to Nuremberg wasn’t due to depart until after noon, so we tooled around the train station for a while. We exchanged some dollars for euros, grabbed a cup of coffee, and I peed in a German Burger King bathroom. Elise tried to use the bathroom, too, but she had a hard time getting past the bathroom attendant charging the 50Â¢ entrance fee. Long story short, Elise used the bathroom, didn’t have correct change, so we grabbed lunch at Erich Zeiss and took the 50Â¢ to the bathroom lady (Elise brought up karma, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to abide by the pay-to-pee law).
After finding that our train to Nuremberg had been delayed by 40 minutes, we again sought the help of Deutsche Bahn who put us on another train that would come close to getting us in in time to catch our bus to Prague.
The train ride from Frankfurt to Nuremberg was wonderful. I’d guess we cruised between 80-100mph and the German countryside scenery was amazing. We both managed to conk out a couple times and get a couple naps in during the 2 hour ride. During the ride, I texted Radek to give him updates on our status. He was able to find out that there was a Deutsche Bahn employee strike, hence the train delays.
Thankfully we got to Nuremburg just in time for us to run through the terminal and catch our bus to Prague. The bus ride was a bit slower and took almost 4 hours, but the scenery easily made up for that. Lots of beautiful rolling hills, lush landscapes, tall pine trees, little villages and gorgeous yellow, orange and bronze fall colors throughout the entire commute.
We arrived in Prague around 7 p.m. local time and Radek and I spoke on the phone for the first time since knowing each other for nearly 3 years. He was at the train station waiting on us. We quickly unloaded our bags from the bus at the curb and found Radek. We all shook hands, said our hellos, hopped in his VW and hauled through town. I can begin to explain how lucky we are to have an English-speaking local and a friend to be our host here. He pointed out landmarks as we passed them and indulged us in the countless, “how do you say ______ in Czech?” while he drove us the 15km to his family’s house.
Once at the Janicek abode, we walked up the stairs where we got to meet Jana, Radek’s wife and Nicole, their 15-month-old daughter. Jana might know 5 English words, but we found it relatively painless to have a basic conversation with her and express our gratitude for their willingness to be our hosts.
Jana cooked the Czech version of schnitzel, potatoes and pickled cucumbers for us, so our first meal here was an absolute authentic one, and we both scraped our plates clean. Radek then presented us with a generous gift of 2 tickets to the Czech opera’s Carmen for Thursday night. He said the inside of the opera house is a must-see, so we’re really excited about that and very appreciative of such a thoughtful gift.
We played with Nicole and gave her a little farm animal toy set that we picked up for her in Austin. We also met Jana’s parents, who occupy the 2nd story of the house (I wish I could remember their names right now, but I’m still a little brain bent on the fact that you have to pay 50Â¢ to pee in Germany). We chatted with our hosts for an hour or so before Jana needed to give Nicole a bath, and then Elise and I had a video call over Skype with Steve, Joanne and Maly. It was great to see that everyone was doing well back in Texas, especially Maly. Being away in another country has done a number on our respective parental nerves, but being able to see and talk to her is a definite blessing.
After saying our goodbyes to Steve, Joanne & Maly, Elise and I hung out with Radek in the living room and watched ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Big Ban Theory’ on Czech TV. We chatted with Radek for a little while in the living room until Elise’s and my my heads were about to fall off from exhaustion. We retired back to our room just in time to find my mom calling me on Skype, so Elise and I talked to her for a few minutes as well.
Now I’m fighting to keep my eyes open and Elise is already sawing logs. Radek has lots in store for us tomorrow, so we’re (well, now it’s just me as I type this) really excited to get some rest and get up early to get out and experience Prague!
Photos from the travel day can be seen here.