Subject: Travelogue Part 1: Prague
Dear Ziners,

My husband and I got back from our European trip July 4. We had a busy and enjoyable 21 days. Please read on if you are interested in my reflections on Prague. Four days in Prague were not long enough for me (but plenty for my non-traveler husband). We had very hot and sunny weather except for one afternoon and evening of continuous rain. Our first afternoon we went up to Petrin Hill by funicular and found the restaurant that Elena had felt we must not miss. It turned out that they were having a party and had closed the restaurant to others. We were disappointed. However, there was another restaurant in the opposite direction called Restaurace Neboziek. We had a glass of Czech wine. I had breasts of duckling, red cabbage and both flour and potato dumplings. My husband had chicken medallions w/saffron sauce, asparagus and potato bakers' style and potato medallions. Both meals were delicious. (Including our tip, Visa charged us $24.31.) The inside had mirrors that reflected the view. Potted trees added to the atmosphere.

A couple of people, I'm not sure now if it was with the Travelzine or another newsgroup, had suggested Betlem Club in Old Town for accommodations. It sounded quaint and the price was good ($78.00). We knew we were going to have an attic room so didn't expect anything grand. However, we did not sleep well that night. Our bodies ached the next morning. We discovered that our 2 inch mattress on wood was more than firm. We thought that maybe it was due to our cheaper room that the beds were so hard. The next morning at breakfast we sat with an English couple and a lady from France who were also in the senior citizen age bracket. When I asked the English lady how the beds were, she exclaimed, It was like sleeping on the floor! The French lady grimaced as well. We had a second night of very little sleep. This was due partly to another night of young men at a drinking establishment across the street from our room yelling, laughing and applauding until after 1AM. My husband said he couldn't take two more night of this. After breakfast, we went to look for a laundry to do my husband's pants and shirts. While wandering around we came to Hotel Central also in Old Town. We went up to check the bed. The mattress was about 4 inches deep, also on wood, but appeared much softer (and was). They charged 4200Kc per night for a double (which came to $132.13). We had a nice, large room with a balcony. We checked out of the other hotel and transferred to Hotel Central. I had wanted to experience the native way of living and that we did. ;-)

During our four days we hired two personal guides (friends of each other) for a tour of the Castle area one morning and the Jewish Quarter another morning. The suggestion to do that proved worthwhile. Sabina is Jewish so she was able to share lots of information as we visited the old synagogues. She took us inside the Spanish Synagogue where she and her family worship. She pointed out how we could tell that it was being used as a place of worship. Because Prague is so large we could have saved a lot of time and leg work had we continued to hire guides or taken walking tours for other parts of Prague.

Elena's suggestion to see The Best of Image (black light theater) was a good one. It was most unusual. In between the scenes they had two mimes who very funny. We were glad we had gone.

One day we took a private tour of the Tower in Old Town Square with an elderly lady. We thought it was most worthwhile. We had had no idea what was inside that tower from the bottom to the top (charred timbers from a fire, wells, storage bins, mosaics on the walls, a chapel, to name a few). We also got to peek into the room where the heads of the Apostles are that go about at the window of the Astronomical Clock each hour. If you go to Prague don't miss this tour. We also paid to go to the top of the tower where we had a grand view of Old Town.

One day at 5:00 PM we attended a soprano, tenor, organist concert in the Hall of Mirrors at the Clementinum. The acoustics were marvelous!

We checked out of our hotel on our last morning. Our luggage was left in the holding room until late afternoon. We returned to take the hotel's taxi to the dock at the appointed time to board our ship for the cruise. However, when we got there, our ship was nowhere in sight! There were no other passengers. Our driver droves us back and forth, stopping to ask if anyone knew where the ship was. Finally, we went aboard a floating hotel. The receptionist said another couple had come in with the same problem. All she was able to find out for them was that the ship wasn't leaving this day. We figured there was nothing more we could do about the situation until the next day. Fortunately, Hotel Central was able to put us up for the night. That evening we took advantage of the extra time, taking in the marionette/puppet show of Don Giovanni. It was cleverly done. ( I personally was glad we had an extra night.)

To make a long story shorter, I was able to locate our small tour group leader by phone about 9:30 that evening. It turned out that the reason the ship wasn't there for us to board was that the river was too low for the ship to come into Prague! (Has that happened to any Ziners before?)

The next morning our host and a local guide came to our hotel and took us to join the others. We had a short walking tour of Old Town including the Jewish Quarter. In talking with this guide, I told her about the Spanish Synagogue being used today as a synagogue. Oh, no, none of them are, she insisted. It was pointless to argue with her. Then we were bussed to the intriguing Fortress Konigstein and boarded our bus following that tour.

Needless-to-say, our first five days were full of adventure and surprises. Regards, Carollyn