Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Safe and Sound in Prague (July 11)

Well, after a long, dull, and very hot train ride, I have arrived safe and sound in Prague.

There was a little delay at the border when they couldn't find my Polish arrival stamp (the border guard hadn't bothered to make sure there was ink on the stamp when he marked it). I was able to show my Hungarian exit stamp for that date, and after a brief consultation, they filled out some paperwork and let me leave.

The air had cooled and dried a bit when we went up into the hills towards the border, but as we descended to the rolling plains, the temperature shot up. At one station, I saw the temperature posted as 37 C (about 99 F).

One odd thing about the train: on the way to the border, we passed through two tunnels, during which time the train was completely, pitch black. I felt like I was in one of those murder mysteries where the actor says "I know who did it, wait, let me tell you. I was standing at my window, looking out, when all of a sudden...." Just then the train enters the tunnel and a scream is heard. 5 seconds later, the train emerges and the actor is now dead with a knife in his chest.

The odd thing was on the Czech side, just as we were approaching Prague, we passed through a similar tunnel, only this time, the lights came on. Apparently they only work on Czech side.

There were the typical learning curve issues on arriving in Prague, but without too much difficulty I found out about and bought a three-day tram/metro pass, managed to get to my hotel and check in. Later, I found an ATM that took my card and bought a guide book to Prague.

But the really good news is my hotel. This is the most expensive hotel of my trip (well, tied actually with Dresden) at about $75/night. I had originally intended to book a cheaper one, but when I read the reviews that mentioned pickpockets working the tram that stopped at the hotel, I upgraded. I figured at the time (rightly) that I might need a little bit more luxury after Poland. And luxury is what I got.

First and foremost: CENTRAL AIRCONDITIONING. The thermostat was set on maximum cool (15 C -- 58 F). I showered and did accumulated laundry in a large, capacious sink, that easily accomodated 4 pairs of socks and 2 pieces of underwear. Instead of just the two (or sometimes one) towel, this hotel offered six. They even have a bidet, but I've never got the hang of using those; I'm always trying to get the water temperature right. I also have both Sky TV and the BBC. The bed also feels comfortable. I have a north facing room and it looks like also dark curtains, so I'm hoping to sleep in til maybe 7 am tomorrow (which will be over an hour later than usual for me).

So now I'm going to check my book and find a nice place for dinner.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I think the one we went to. If there is a guest book, check back from Nov 1998 and see if there is a large sketch from some visitors from SF (that would be our group). I think there was a sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge done by a guy named Martin ?. If you see it, get a picture! :-)

CASABLANCA (not middle-eastern as it is mainly Moroccan, but close enough)
Adress: Na příkopě 10

Praha 1
Phone: 2421 0519
Open: Daily. 19.00-02.00 Excellent dishes that are professionally prepared and served. Interesting atmosphere (maybe the belly-dancer helps with this). VFM 4/5 (AMEX, V, MC, DC)