So, of the three cities we visited, Prague was probably my favorite, although I think all three cities had their Pros and Cons. Prague actually had the most tourists of the three (which surprised me). I also felt like it was the most expensive (for some reason I expected Vienna to be the most expensive). It was also the coldest, in my opinion. I don't know if the weather reports would support my conclusion or not, however. Also, when I saw the architecture in Prague, the movie title "How to Slay a Dragon" came to mind. I've never seen the movie. Don't know if it's even about slaying dragons. The point is basically it made me think of Dragons. I also told my brother that the architecture was very Bohemian. He agreed, and pointed out that Prague is a part of Bohemia, which may account for the architecture looking Bohemian. Prague is also the city where I probably tried the most ethnic food (of the country itself). In Austria I did have a Kebab Box and a Falafel Box. Those are technically ethnic foods, but I wouldn't really consider them to be Austrian foods. In Prague I tried Beef Goulash, Goulash Soup in a bread bowl, and Sirloin Steak in a cream sauce. I forget what the sides were. Something that I should note, however, about restaurants in Europe that is different from the restaurants I've been to in the US - If they put potato chips or a basket of bread and spread for the bread on the table, don't eat it unless you are prepared to pay for it. The sirloin steak was a pork sirloin, but it tasted great. Probably my favorite of the meals. I will admit this is the only city where I did get some American fast food as well. We ate at KFC the first night. Not my favorite of the meals. Enough Dialogue - onto the vacation info.
Day 8 (continued) - When we arrived in Prague, we of course started by catching the Metro and then walking to our hotel. Since it was a Sunday, the metro ride with the luggage was not bad at all. Our hotel had a great location, It was only a few steps away from The Charles Bridge (Karlov Most) - a very famous pedestrian bridge in Praha. We didn't waste much time before utilizing the Bridge. We headed across it and wandered through the souvenir shop-lined streets of Prague and along the way we happened upon the Astronomical Clock and the town square. We then went back to the hotel, and later we headed across the bridge again to find something to eat (and we ended up eating at KFC). I think that pretty much sums up Day 8.
|Ceiling - St. Vitus - Praha|
|Exterior - St. Vitus - Praha|
|The Bookcase in the Old Castle|
So, in Prague, Castle Hill was more easily identifiable as a castle. We bought the ticket for the long tour, and went to every single one of the exhibits to which we were entitled with the ticket. I really loved some of the architecture, particularly the ceiling architecture, and St. Vitus Cathedral (our first stop) was very nice.
|Stained Glass Window - St. Vitus - Praha|
|The Mirror Maze|
|The Penguins at the river side|
Day 10 - Josefov, The Market, The Astronomical Clock again
On Day 10 we went to Josefov and saw a synagogue. There were a few options. We could either visit Old New Synagogue or we could visit a number of synagogues and the cemetery. I decided on Old New Synagogue, thinking we could visit the cemetery as well. It is the one of the largest Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. Unfortunately, we could not buy a separate ticket for this, but were able to catch a few glimpses anyway. The Old New synagogue was where legends say the Golem's body was stored. Initially, I was very disappointed with the synagogue. We were given a little pamphlet and were able to see one room (where the men sat) and the gallery where the ladies sat. We went back out and asked if that was all, and an old woman was just arriving. She took us back into the main room, and she started explaining many things about the room, the culture, and the Golem legend to us. This made it much more worth my money. I also learned that she was 90 years old, and had lived through World War 2. I wanted to ask her about that, but I was to chicken to ask her. I didn't want to stir up unpleasant memories for her.
|The Jewish Cemetery in Praha|
After the synagogue, we wandered through some more of Josefov, and then back across the river at another location so that we could visit the market. The streets on the other side were a big difficult to navigate as a pedestrian, as sometimes it was hard to find places and opportunities to cross the road. In the end, the market was a bit disappointing. It was mostly Asian people selling cheap clothes and bags. Not things I was interested in. We were going to take the metro back across the river as we had already done quite a bit of walking, but in the end there was a misunderstanding on my part, so we ended up walking back to the astronomical clock area. While we were there this time, we were able to see it go off a couple of times (it goes off on the hour). When it goes off, there is a parade of figures through a couple of windows in the clock and a skeleton rings a bell. After it finishes, a trumpeter at the top of the tower plays a little fanfare. Most of the rest of the day was spent searching for souvenirs for family whom we had not found souvenirs for yet (and for ourselves).
|The Astronomical Clock|
|Trumpeter atop the tower at the astronomical clock|
Oh, we did also go to the shop at the Franz Kafka museum. I'm not a fan of Mr. Kafka, as I find Metamorphosis very disturbing, so I didn't want to go to the museum itself. A minute or two after we arrived, I did hear one of the shopkeepers telling someone else who wanted to go to the museum that it was too late as they would only have 30 minutes to go through if they bought a ticket at that time, and they really needed at least 45 minutes. So, he probably wouldn't have let us go in if we would have wanted to. Mostly I wanted to see it because it had been on The Amazing Race. I do have to say that despite writing disturbing stories, Franz was a nice looking young man, and based on the pictures of him, he did not look like a disturbed person.
This year, my leap day was 32 hours long. I started it off in Prague and ended it in Billings. The day started early as we woke up at 4 a.m. so that we could catch our 4:40 a.m. airport transfer. I do have to say, the driver knew the streets of Prague well, and maneuvered through them very deftly. As many of the streets seemed to be for pedestrians and cars, I think I would be afraid to drive the streets of Prague. The flight home involved going through airport security 3 times. The first security check was in Prague; the second, Paris as we had to change terminals, and the security in the CDG airport it at each terminal; The third, Salt Lake City, as I had to go through customs there and security was located after customs. The layovers were also pretty short and we spent most of our layover in Paris getting from one terminal of the airport to the other.
After arriving in Billings, I called a cab to take me back to my car that I was able to keep in the hotel parking lot. It took the cab 45 minutes to an hour to arrive. The cab was also picking up a couple at the airport, and they wanted to be dropped off first. I was fine with that because I wasn't in any hurry. When I arrived back at my car, however, I discovered that the battery was dead because I had left the dome light on the night before I flew out. I went into the hotel to see if there was anyone who could help me jump my car. There was a man who worked in the kitchen who could help, but he didn't have cables with him, and neither did I. I went in search of cables at the nearby Home Depot, and when they didn't have any, I bought some at Walmart. He attempted to jump my car, but I do have to say that I really don't think he knew what he was doing. As I popped the hood, I saw the battery terminals and commented that my battery was really corroded. He told me there wasn't much corrosion. He hooked the battery up; and, after a few minutes, my car still wouldn't start, but was making the dinging noise it makes when the key is in the ignition and the door is open. After a few more minutes, it still wasn't starting, so he decided the battery was not the problem. I was tired, so I wasn't thinking and I didn't dispute him, but as I went to my car later and the power door locks didn't work I thought to myself, "It has to be the battery."
In the end I ended up calling a garage to come jump my car the next morning. I felt bad asking someone at the hotel to jump my car again, and I felt awkward about the idea of hanging out in the parking lot stalking people who were staying at the hotel and asking them if they would help me jump my car. The garage had one of those handy little chargers(I had considered buying one of those myself) that can jump a car in a few seconds. The guy who came did tell me that the battery terminals were pretty corroded and that they probably should be cleaned, and he did say that without the charger it probably would have taken awhile to get it charged enough to start. I felt validated. He told me to be on the safe side I should probably drive my car for 45 minutes before stopping, so instead of staying in Billings and stopping by a few stores, I decided I should probably just drive back home.
That concludes the report on my vacation. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you have any. Also, I hope you enjoy the pictures that my brother took. There were so many other good ones that I did not include in the post.