Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prague, Toy Trains & Goulash


Just a few days to go on out trip around the world. We will be back
next Monday and on pool deck again next Tuesday.

After 3 solid days running our fully booked Clinics in Windsor, UK, I
took the opportunity to catch up with Mish and Jackson who had been
gallavanting across Paris. We met each other for a 3 day trip to
Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is a beautiful medieval city which I've always dreamed of
visiting. I packed all my camera gear including a special lens which
I've been saving up for just such a cause. Despite cloudy, leaden-
skies full of snow, Prague is every bit the fairy tale city you would
imagine, complete with some unique quirks. On our first evening we
were greeted outside our hotel by a gang of youths struggling to
control a leashed dog. The solution seemed to be to pick the dog up by
the neck an body slam it (hard) against the public conveniences! We
couldn't believe such cruelty. Noone dared intervene however!

The next day sadly Mish accidently dropped my camera complete with
specialist portrait lens. Caput! It went to camera heaven in the sky!

Despite the disappointment of the camera saga we decided to get a good
look of the city from ahigh on our last day.

Prague Castle is situated atop a picturesque hill overlooking the
city. It has a charming funicular dating back to the mid 1800s which
for around about $2 will take you all the way to the top for a
stunning vista. We took the little train up to the top and were
coerced into a lovely restaurant serving local delicacies and beer at
less than $1.50 a pint! Superb. Poor little Jackson though (who has
been a super star this whole trip) started to run a temperature at the
restaurant so we decided to curtail our stay a little earlier.

Upon exiting the funicular back in Prague we were confronted by a
guard who kindly informed us that we had over stayed our allotted time
by 15 minutes. We explained that Jackson had been sick in the toilets
and was clearly running a fever to which he simply explained in a
stereo typical eastern European brogue: "no problem, I fine just you
and your wife 700 each" (~$75). Needless to say we were gobsmacked. As
soon as we protested he demanded our passports and threatened to call
the police. The police! With a baby! We hardly looked like anti-social
hooligans!! At this point he said, "you, American?!" We told him we
were Australian (he clearly didnt want to know about our United
Nations background) to which he said, "American, Australian - all the
same!". We were clearly getting nowhere! Mish told him we had no cash
so would need to go to a bank to reluctantly withdraw the fine. He
demanded to come with us and hold our passports to prevent us doing a
runner. As we marched along (me cursing him under my breath and
planning our escape) I suddenly demanded we stop and that we call his
bluff and call the police anyway. He simply decided to increase the
fine to $750 each (plus Jackson!) and tried to tell me that I should
have read the sign (in Czech) warning of the time limit. I said, "show
some compassion, we have a sick baby here!" he simply said that it was
tough goulash if I couldn't read the sign and that if our roles were
reversed that tourist signs in Australia would not be posted in Czech.
And so we marched on. Now goodness knows why, it was 2pm on a
Wednesday afternoon, but you can only imagine this fat, bitter, old
communist's face when he saw that the bank was indeed closed! Ha ha!
Fancy that! I could have screamed hallelujah out loud. Instead, we
grabbed our passports and ran, vowing never to take a ride on his
crappy little toy train again!

Prague - lovely city, just make sure you can read the signs!

See you soon!


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