So many sights and so little time. But before we start, it’s time to relax.
23.02.2012 - 26.02.2012 10 °C
Another day and another flight to Prague. Except it is 40 degrees Celsius warmer than last time. The downside to this is that crisp sunny skies have been replaced by a spectacular example of overcast.Still, there is fun to be had and we shall do our best to make the most of this long weekend.
The only two fixed points on our itinerary are a Chris Rea concert on Thursday night and a trip to the south of Czech on Friday afternoon. Otherwise the world is our oyster. We do want to visit my dad on Saturday and Sunday of course, and then there is the flight back to Düsseldorf on Sunday night but otherwise the world really is our oyster. Oh yeah, and I do have an appointment with the hairdresser on Friday morning to artificially enhance my ginger locks. Still, other then that, an Oyster indeed.
When critically looking at my job of the past couple of years, I sadly come to the inevitable conclusion that the elusive feeling of a motivation to give it 200%, achievement, satisfaction and even loyalty I used to frequently experience when working in the UK have been slowly but surely replaced by a disappointment and disillusion when working in Germany. The sum of the above has been gradually resulting in my growing determination to make some radical changes. Not a bad going considering I moved country but haven’t actually changed a company. Having said that, if you raise above all the slime and non-existent work-life balance, there is one perk to behold. Given the 200+ days a year I spend in hotels, I am a strong believer in the guest loyalty scheme. All hail the Marriott platinum membership with its discriminatively superior customer service.
After checking in the hotel which secured us a free room upgrade delivered by a super friendly and attentive front-desk lady, we dropped our stuff in the room and headed straight – no, not out – to the executive lounge for a dose of morning coffee. With our hotel strategically placed within a walking distance to the centre of Prague, we took to plot the day ahead.
If you found yourself in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with little more than a day to explore its famed treasures, where would you start? We went for a Thai massage. The events of the past months took their toll and I was set to relax by getting a petit Thai masseuse poking her steel fingers into different parts of my body, walking over my back and pulling at my toes. The Duke was only happy to comply.
Three remarkable things happened during this brief distraction:
1. I remembered to bring my hairband
2. We got a 50% discount
3. An odd guy walked in to ask the customer service desk lady what kind of sexual favours they offer
After the massage, feeling relaxed and only little bruised, it was with great satisfaction we realised the time had come to have some lunch. Not yet on the sightseeing wagon but getting closer, we had our hearts set on lunching in a cosy Italian restaurant which we accidentally discovered last year. We remembered it was somewhere underground just off the Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti), although theDuke tried to delay me getting fed by trying to lure me into walking in the opposite direction. Not one easily led astray, I succeeded getting us on the right track whilst skilfully avoiding causing permanent damage to his ego. Eventually, the entry into the La Scala Ristorante appeared in front of us, directly at the back of the Týn Church just off the Old Town Square.
Continuing in the decadent mode from the morning, we ordered a bottle of Bohemian Sekt, a couple of tasty pizzas and a huge chunk of tiramisu to top it all up. It was only a couple of hours later, when we were finally ready to dive into the sights. But before that, I made the Duke to gather tens of pigeons by crumbling a dry piece of bread at the Old Town square, only to make them fly off again as I was trying to take an arty picture of the Týn Church.
Walking through the streets of old Prague, we were making our way towards the river, trying to avoid the epicentres of tourism whilst doing so. Our free spirit and bravery were rewarded by spectacles such as an embryo shaped rain water drain or house-museum of a famous Czech astronomer from the break of 15th century Mikuláš Kopernik, which we did not visit.
I love the views of Prague castle looking from across the river Vltava, although the overcast did not show it in its best light. Despite the winter month, Charles bridge (Karlův most) was surprisingly crowded, even though it was nothing compared to its usual summer load. We took our time strolling towards the tower at the Malá Strana of the bridge. The plan was to pick up my sister from work at 5pm and head for a dinner, before finding the Kongres Centrum where Chris Rea was to put up a show that evening. With over an hour spare, we bought a ticket to visit the Malostranska tower at the Charles Bridge, with an extended entry into the Old Town tower at the other side of the bridge, which we left for Friday.
The alchemy museum in the Malostranska tower was rather disappointing, and took us twenty minutes tops. Highlight of our climb up the narrow wooden stairs was the unprecedented view in all directions. Having said that, the temperature was nearing zero and so after a short while we run for cover into one of the typical old town restaurants in the same street where my sister was about to finish her work. We had just about time to finish our tea when she materialised in the doorway of the restaurant, demanding us to face the cold again.
Before we could indulge in yet another eatery visit, my sis informed us that our not quite paparazzi but noticeably sized camera might not go down well with Chris’s bouncers.Agreeing she had a point, we made a quick detour to the hotel to drop it off before heading for some thai nibbles. It took another half an hour before my sister’s boyfriend found us and we were finally in full numbers and free to order some food.
The Duke and I really enjoyed the concert, although my sister’s boyfriend somewhat disappointedly commented on the differences between the life version and the CD tracks. Isn’t that the point of life music? Either way, we all agreed the acoustics and the evening overall was great, despite the communist-era feel of the building.
Before we were ready to call it a day, once again we found ourselves in the hotel executive lounge sapping up on complimentary wine and occasionally listening into a most insightful discussion led by a group of Americans at the next table, proclaiming that the Czech Republic and Belarus are very much the same. With the decibels of their talk on non-ignorable levels and us determined to stay on our best behaviour, we eventually decided to call it a day and headed to bed.
Ever since I moved into the UK and absolved some bad hair-dresser experiences, it became my annual treat to have a hair cut in Prague. This weekend was one of these occasions and so we started the day with a long-ish walk to my appointment. The Duke, being the lovely boyfriend he is, volunteered to take a walk around the neighbourhood whilst my hair was slowly morphing into a respectable do again. After two hours in the chair, I was ready to face the world again and with an immaculate timing, the Duke entered the salon pretty much to the minute my stylist put down the hairdryer. It transpired that in his absence, The Duke came across a beautifully decorated church in the neighbourhood of the hair dressers called Kostel svatého Cyrila a Metoděje.
Conscious that my sister was expecting us at her flat just after lunch and the clock was already pushing eleven am, we decided to take a walk to the river to get a tour of the second Charles Bridge tower. On the way, we stopped to take a tour through the Bethlehem Chapel, an important historical place where one of the most prominent Czech reformers of the 15th century Jan Hus used to preach. The visit took longer then anticipated and so The Duke and I resisted further distractions and pressed on.
Unlike the somewhat disappointing experience from the alchemy museum, the Old Town bridge tower, hosting an interesting and very informative museum about the history of Prague and the Czech King and Roman Emperor Karel IV., was great. Once again, we enjoyed the 360 degrees views and it was only when reminded that my sister is waiting we headed back to the hotel for our bags before catching a tram to her flat.
The rest of the weekend we spent in the south of Czech in the Cesky Krumlov area in my parent’s house. Knowing that these visits are regular occurance and likely to stay this way for a while, the Duke and I made a conscious effort to use our time here to see as much of the area as possible.Little recap for me and major exploration for him. This weekend took us to the town museum of Cesky Krumlov, which turned up to be so interesting and extensive, that the hour we had before a bowling match with my mum, sis and her boyfriend was nowhere near enough. Very kindly, the cashier ended up offering us if we want to come back on Sunday and see the rest with the same ticket. We enthusiastically accepted, which was a good move given it took us further three hours to finish the tour.