Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ahoj Praha!

                          Lenka, me, and mom in Prague

After a long night we finally reach Prague around 10:30 in the morning—45 minutes late. Who says German trains are always on time? We had planned to meet my host sister Lenka there, but she was nowhere to be seen. (Lenka lived with us for a semester during my Jr. year of high school. Originally from Slovakia, she is now studying law at St. Charles University) Despite my acquisition of a cell phone, I haven’t been able to successfully make a phone call. I think I must be using the wrong country codes… The Burger King in the train station advertised free internet, so we attempt to send her a message from there. Unfortunately, my computer won’t connect to the internet for some unknown reason. More wandering worriedly around the station leads to a Vodaphone shop. I decide to ask if they know what might be wrong with my phone, since I can’t make a call, but the assistant claims ignorance because the phone was purchased in a different country. He somewhat begrudgingly lets us use his phone after we explain our dilemma. Moments after, Lenka picks up the phone and I see a girl talking on a cell phone outside of the shop. We had found her! I heave a sigh of relief. I feel so helpless, like a typical American tourist who can’t speak the language.

Luckily we won’t need to worry about wandering aimlessly around without language skills once we are with Lenka. We take the subway to our hotel—The Golden Stag/ U Zlatého jelena and get situated. It is a cute little place near the Old Town Square. We then head to a café overlooking the square after meeting up with Radka, a friend who studied abroad at Mt. Mercy last year and came to Coe for our German class. She was in Prague to catch a flight to England for the weekend, so we were glad to have the opportunity for a quick catch-up.  It is such a spectacularly warm and sunny day! We decide to go on a free, three-hour tour of the city, given by Christian the crazy, but wonderful, tour guide. It includes sights around Old Town Square including Tyn Church, the astronomical clock, the history of the Hussite uprising against the Catholic church (famous for defenestration—throwing people out of windows), and on to St. Vaclav (Wenceslaus) Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Powder Tower, and more—all while being given a comprehensive history. We quickly realize how colorful and ornate each and every building in the area is. It is easy to see how Prague has a reputation as being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

After three-hours of walking we are ready for a break. Lenka takes us to a secluded, local pub and restaurant where we enjoy traditional Czech dishes—Beef in a cream sauce with cranberries and dumplings, and Goulash. We bid Lenka an early goodnight. It has been a very long day after our mostly sleepless night on the train.

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