It was pretty amazing how smoothly everything went with our travels from Germany to Prague. We were able to buy tickets at a counter in the airport that took us all the way from Munich to Prague. We transferred a bunch of times, but were still able to buy all the tickets at one place. It may have been slightly cheaper to buy the Czech tickets in the Czech Republic, but that would have involved changing money first and finding the ticket window, then hoping the person understood what we wanted or spoke some English. The woman at the German counter spoke English and was very nice.
Even though US Air lost my pannier, they did deliver it to Tasha’s house a couple of days later. The only travel snag we ran into was when the conductor of the Czech train didn’t think we had bought tickets for our bikes. He was annoyed that we don’t speak Czech and surprised that we don’t speak German. We had the correct tickets, and pretty much just kept showing them to him while he talked at us in Czech, and eventually he saw what he needed to and let up on.
Transferring from the German train to the Czech train was pretty interesting. The German trains were very modern and clean-looking. The Czech train (and maybe it was just the line we were on) looked really old. It wasn’t dirty like the streets of New York, it mostly just looked a good twenty years old. Like those old brown-seated New Jersey Transit trains, the ones that are all sown together versus the new ugly pick trains with the doors that open at the push of a button so that you don’t have to wrestle with the sliding doors.
For anyone who’s planning a similar trip, here’s what we did: we bought the Bayern pass, which was 29 E for up to five people traveling anywhere in Bavaria. That includes the S-Bahn (the subway that you take from the airport to the train). We also bought two bike tickets from Munich to Prague for 10 E and two people tickets from Cheb (say Hyeb) to Prague. It all adds up to about 85 E, which is cheaper than the 190 E per person it would have cost to get the direct train from Munich to Prague. Plus, it wasn’t crowded, so traveling with our bikes was pretty easy. But, after being on a 15 hour flight, a six hour train ride instead of traveling from about 1:30 pm until about midnight with three transfers, it might be worth the extra euro to take the direct train.
Old Town Square
We went to see the clocktower in the Old Town Square and watched an orchestra that was dressed in military-style clothing that played songs from Czech movies, the Titanic theme song and a John Williams medley. We ate three pastries that cost a total of 25k ($1.25).
Jedna Cappuccino Prosim
We’ve been wandering around Praha for a couple of days now and it’s been only the beginning of our adventure. We’ve been trying our best not to be obnoxious American tourists. I’ve gotten pretty good at ordering coffee – jedna cappuccino, prosim – does the trick. But I keep slipping up when asked any other questions, like if I want sugar (suka is very similar to sucre, in French) and answer “one” or “yeah.”
I’ve noticed that people smoke everywhere – I guess I’m pretty spoiled by California. Also, people eat a lot of fried foods and mayonnaise, but most people look very healthy and skinny. Perhaps it has to do with McDonald’s being so expensive here. It’s just not the default if you don’t have much cash.
The food we’ve experienced has been mixed. The cappuccino has been lovely; it’s my only hope for dealing with the time change. The beer (pivo) has been delicious! Greg and I have both bumped our eating habits up a notch. I’m not trying to not eat dairy and Greg has been eating meat. Dealing with both the language difference and strict diets would just be more than we could handle. In fact, last night we stopped at a pub that had offensive cartoons all over the walls. Greg ate goulash and I ate a brick of fried cheese for dinner. We have been trying to keep with Czech culture and to stay away from all the touristy stuff. The best food I’ve had was a Café Bar Bar where I ate crepes with cranberries, various cheeses, and apples. Mmm… Plus, our lunch, with a beer each, cost about $12.50. We’ve been eating pastries every day – just because it’s so cheap for us. It’s pretty luxurious. We figure we won’t be back here any time soon, so we might as well try everything. We’ve been trying to say prosim and dekuji even though most people here speak English.
A note: anno (yes) can be shortened to “no” and Czechs don’t like it when you don’t give them exact change.
After frustrations over the map store we needed being closed (we just assumed that stores would be open on Saturdays), we found all the bike maps we needed at an alternate store. It’s exciting to think about biking again. Prague itself is not such a kolo-friendly place. The streets have cobble stones and the sidewalks are all made of small cubic stones. There are lots of trams, which are great for getting around, but not so great for skinny bike tires. Also, people drive fast and pedestrians have to be aggressive, other wise they would never get across the street. It’s a stark contrast to the abundance of bikes we saw locked to all the racks at all the train stations in Germany. The few bikes we’ve seen here have been mountains bikes, which are probably much better on the cobblestones. Many of the riders have been bike messengers.
Greg had a lot of fun buying a new derailleur cable at a local bike shop. It involved lots of pointing.
Anno, I mean uchet.
A note on restaurants: when you’re finished with your pivo, never give the waiter a thumbs-up to say that you’re satisfied and don’t want any more. A thumbs-up means one, he will bring you another beer.