Thursday I found out that I had a day off Monday, no one bothers to tell me these things. A couple of times I found out it was a holiday when I went to the UN and no one was there. I thought if only I could have been told about this a couple of weeks before I could have planned an adventure. It’s been hard being here alone and I like doing things when ever I can but I hardly every feel like doing too much anymore. Vienna has lost some of its shine without Lori and the kids being here. Saturday I was feeling especially lonely and it was shaping up to be a boring long weekend. All the stores would be closed Sunday and Monday. So what to do? Well, when all seems boring they say there is nothing like a trip to Prague to lighten your mood. So Saturday I booked a ticket to Prague up and back the same day for Monday, my day off. It’s about 4.5 hours on the fast train (+300 km/hr). Why Prague? Well why not. It was a doable one-day trip. Doable meaning I could get there and back in only 9-10 hours total and still have about six hours to see some sights. Brutal? Sure but so is sitting around Vienna. So I did it. My reasoning was that I never know when I’m getting back here. I remember being in the Army in Germany and not taking advantage of travel because Europe seemed present and always available. I could always do it next weekend. It’s hard not to feel like it will always be this present and available and easy not to take advantage of it. How often will a trip deep into Czechoslovakia even be possible?
But first a note and a confession. I am a terrible traveler. Ask Steve Hawks about my ability to worry while we were traveling here. He will tell you that my ability to fret is shameful. Puke worthy. I always expect the worse. Indeed it is a wonder that I just don’t stay home and hide I’m such a bad traveler. It is a testament to my fortitude and courage that I can rise above such anxiety and brave the hassles of travel as often as I do. For example because I had 10 hours to kill I thought I would bring my laptop and toil away on a paper I’ve been trying to get out. Well, that is fine in theory, but it meant that I was lugging my laptop (and it’s battery), my Kindle book reader (in case I had to read), and food and water with me everywhere I went in Prague. So my trip was way less fun than it would have been had I planned a light and breezy excursion, one filled with snoozing and a good novel. No I had to come equipped as the modern traveler loaded with electronic gizmos, hand sanitizer, baby wipes (In case I need a dipper change), cookies and candy bars, bottles of water and Diet Coke, camera, camera batteries, umbrella, two wallets (one with passport and single credit card just in case the other gets stolen, the other with money, tickets and other things I really need access to) and then there are the accumulating souvenirs. Add hoody and coat and I’m like a lumbering camel packed with too much stuff. My Bushman ancestors must be shaking their heads in horror at the cargo I carry with me: “Who(!) is thi(!)s a decen(!)dent of(!)(!)(!). He is a (!) dis(!)grace.” So I was lugging my bag around all day. It was soooo heavy. Who packed this thing anyway? My travel consists of the travel plans of most people, two or three backup plans, contingency options for just in case, expectations for major accidents and robbery. Precautions to keep from getting horrible diseases. It’s embarrassing. But I give you this because most of you will think it no big deal to hop on a train and travel to adjacent country for a day of sightseeing. No it was a big deal! It took raw courage. Undying fortitude as I said. And a touch of insanity. So there. I just didn’t hop on a train and go for a day trip. NO I mounted an expedition into the unknown. (Which was truer than you might guess, since I just sort of picked Prague out of the air. I knew absolutely nothing about it except it was in the middle of Czechoslovakia, which sounded cool, and was on my list of countries to visit ever since I stuck my foot within the border while guarding the German-Czech border when I was in the Army. With only my right foot having been inside it, it never really felt right adding it to my list of countries visited—although I did). I should have at least Wikipediaed it before I left I suppose.
But there is a lot of history that has taken place there:
Someone once told me that Vienna and Prague were the twin gems of Europe. Well, they are! I’d heard that if you had to choose Prague would be the winner. Not so, but let’s see why. First we’ll play a game called Prague or Vienna see if you can guess!
Which is Prague, which Vienna?
St. Stephen’s Dome or St. Vitus Cathedral?
Which is the Kafka Museum in Prague or Museum of Art Vienna?
Skyline Vienna or Skyline Prague?
Horse-drawn carriage Prague or Vienna?
Danube or Vltava?
Museum of Communism or Flaktrum Art Museum (military bomb proof building Nazi era)
(One of the ways the communist regime controlled its people was with the use of an addictive drink!)
Could you tell which of the ‘Gems’ it was? What? That’s like not being about to tell a Jack-in-the-Box Hamburger from McDonalds. Yes Vienna and Prague are that different!
There were lots of puppet activity, stores people all kinds of things:
Fewer people with dogs and so less dog poop.
St. Vitus won over St. Stephens Dome.
Pastry (clear winner)
Friendlier (this was close, but advantage Prague)
Cleaner (Prague Clear winner)
Large Jewish quarter (Vienna’s was almost completely lost to Nazi purges, Czechoslovakia’s were ghettoed).
Diversity of people
Diversity of museums
Managing crowds of tourists
But I did it. I pulled it off. Yea! I’ve been to Czechoslovakia! Man, am I tired. And it was just like my right foot remembered it.
Answers to questions:
Which is Prague, which Vienna?
First is Vienna
Both St. Vitus
Woman is from Museum of art Vienna display at Flaktrum the rest are from Kafka museum
Sky line: 1st Vienna, 2nd Prague
Horse drawn carriage Prague
Heads-Museum of Art Vienna Flaktrum
Lenin-Museum of Communism Prague
For your entertainment scenes from Prague:
An Outbreak of Nazis
4 hours ago