Now to Prague, well I have to tell you, this city had an amazing impact on me, we arrived by luxury bus (reserved front seats, individual TVs, free hot drinks etc) from Vienna, how Kev finds these we still wonder? It cost for this 4 hour trip $125 Aus for the 6 of us!!!! We relaxed again and let the scenery drift by until reaching the outskirts of Prague city and it was grotty, industrial, huge ugly unit blocks, some older crumbling structures in great need of attention and I thought what has everyone been raving about?? Then we finally transferred to our accommodation pick up van ($50 for 10 mins!!!) and were whisked along tiny cobblestone alleys with beautiful old 3-5 storey building of the loveliest varied designs lining both sides, so that you just didn't know where to look.
Getting closer to the centre we could see clock towers and spires rising into the sky then one short block back from the "Old Town Square" (where absolutely everything happens day & night) we were dropped to our 3 bedroom attic style apartment with direct views of the Clock tower and the gorgeous fairytale town castle with double spires and many minuets covered in gold balls. Both these building get lit up at night in several colours and are just everything a fairytale (think Disney at his best!) old world city should be! I intentionally drank more wine than usual at dinner most nights just so that I had to get up several times during the night to check the magic (and the time by the clock tower) from our bedroom attic window!
Not only the beauty of this mostly still original city (not a lot of wartime destruction as in many European cities) has got to me but her story as well. We were very fortunate to have a couple who were friends of friends (via Jeff & Gayl) meet us on our first night and took us to a famous tiny, smokey, local bar (President Clinton once drank there with their PM) for the biggest cheapest (and the boys tell me good) beers accompanied by a dish of pork steak coated in a type of mashed potato then deep fried that we all thought was delicious (we all had extra cholesteral pills that night!!). Michael & Elena were smuggled out to Australia with their 3 month old son in 1968 when the Russian invasion got worse and could not return for 21 years. They are both teachers and because they have their children permanently living in Oz, they commute between both countries teaching in both as well. After dinner they took us on a walking tour of the city explaining all the beautiful sites and many of the tragic ones and, as they were personally involved, it was very poignant and made it all seem so much more real. Again I thought how lucky and protected we are in Australia as all this was not that long ago!!
We walked every square inch of this lovely old town, walked the Charles bridge many times, ate, drank and observed all and sundry as this town caters to locals, and tourists from 16 to 96... The youth market here have a great time (AND A FEW AUSSIE TOURISTS!), the beer is cheap and the food plentiful and filling (no nouvelle cuisine in sight). Young and old Russians love this place as all young Czechs speak Russian because they were forced to learn at school, but the two nations on the surface seemed to have reconciled, but I have my doubts that it is genuine, the Czechs are still poor (but getting better) & the travelling Russians seem very wealthy!!
Next stop the French Riviera......
Lots of love,