Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bye Bye Bratislava-Peekaboo Prague.

Our time in Bratislava has come to a close. When we awoke this a.m. we did a little packing, then went downstairs. Scooterchick waited with the bags while I toddled off to pickup our clean laundry. I also had to cambio some more American Dollars into Euros. When I arrived we checked out of the Mercure and started the uphill climb to the Hlavna Stanica. When we got there we purchased our tickets to go to Prague.

We were informed that the train we were to catch would be marked Berlin, and we got a bit to eat and sat on the platform. When we finished our unusual foreign burrito, I set  off to find which platform our train would be departing from and to get a couple cups of coffee.

I returned with 2-5.5oz cups of latte, and was secure in the knowledge that we would board from the platform we occupied.

That security was to be short lived as 5 minutes before our train was to arrive,  they made an announcement in garbled English that our train was in fact arriving on Platform #2. A mad rush of people, a veritable sea of luggage and child encumbered passengers immediately made a frenzied rush for the stairs because, as we are all too keenly aware, you can't get there from here.

We had to lug our suitcases down a long flight of stairs, through a tunnel filled with frenzied people, then up another long flight of stairs to arrive, eyes rolling and perspiring on Platform #2.

When our train arrived we rushed to find our seats, and actually had to board 6 cars ahead of our assigned seating, then curse, heave and roll our suitcases a further 6 cars back to arrive at our seats in the last car. we no sooner boarded then the train began to roll. Sheeeeeeeeeesh!!

Here we are in our seats sweaty, out of breath but still grinning.

The train began rolling through the countryside. As usual the quality of pictures is less than optimal, but I will try to give you an idea of the countryside through which we rolled.

We passed thorough Breclav, and numerous other small towns which went by so quickly that they couldn't be captured with as fast shutter.

I did manage to capture the cathedral in Brno, but the train maddeningly stopped just where it could be framed with poles and wires.............honestly.

Another pole and wire encrusted view of Brno. It is a fairly large town in the Czech republic of about 370,000 people and an unknown number of pets.

By now it was definitely time for a snack. We had some cookies and chips and you know "everything goes better with Banjok!" In fact "neked is egy Coca-Cola", whatever the heck that means.

Another town which alas must remain nameless and an old building in said town.

This picture contrasts the old in the foreground and modern Czech architecture in the background. Quite the difference.

A look down an avenue of apartment buildings. I was surprised to find that some Ladas and Trbants still survived from the bad old days. I thought they all fell apart long ago. Now that's commitment to a failed system.

Another large old building. We also passed some new mansions with well manicured grounds and fences, with Mercedes' and BMWs in the garages. Truly a land of contrasts. With a GDP of $18,500 it is considered middle of the road prosperous, but we still saw plenty of "squats" as we passed by.

Then from seemingly nowhere a town would appear. We would round a bend and there would be a clutch of houses and well tilled farms, then bush again for a long while. We wondered at it all.

We passed through Pardubice, slowly enough that I could get the camera to half way focus on the station sign. I looked at my GPS and it showed that we were approaching our destination. 

We also started to parallel a river, and I believed without any evidence to support my assertion that it would join the Vltava which flows through Prague and eventually joins the Elbe at Melnik.

Here is another grainy "through the window of a speeding train in a hopelessly encumbered effort to enlighten and delight imagined readers" shot.

This one is actually in focus and not obscured by grimy rail carriage widows. It features none other that Scooterchick gleefully clutching 2- 32KC (Czech Koruna) tickets for the metro. That's about $1.65 Considering the official taxi fare would be about $7.00, and we had heard that taxi drivers at the train station would gleefully charge you 5-10 times as much, then hold you hostage until police arrived if you would not pay, yeah, we'll take the metro.

If you remember our first picture was Hlavna Stanica, and this one is Hlavni Nadrazi, it's easy to see how close they are together. Of course they were always 2 separate countries until the end of WW 1, when they were lumped together and enjoyed a brief and mutually beneficial union, which lasted until the Nazis invaded At the end of the 2nd. WW, the Russians took them over together and made everyone simultaneously salute and loathe the "Hammer and Sickle." They finally got out of that horrid and sour pickle in 1989, and joined the EU in 2004.

The metro is modern, quiet and fast. we only had to travel 1 station to Florenc, then change trains. we spent more time walking to our other train than we spent on the first, and with the speed of transit, we spent even less time on the second before we reached Krizikova Station. 

When we disembarked at Krizikova, we had to climb a flight of 16 steps. Did |I mention the heavy and unweildy luggage. we took a deep breath and went up 8 steps..........breathe, rest, breathe...........then 8 more, breathe, rest.

Then we turned a corner and were confronted with a Euro Spec escalator. Allow me to explain. They move at conservatively 2 times the speed of North American
ones, and at twice the pitch. Patsy can only ride them while looking at her feet to maintain a sense of equilibrium. With me it's just like being stopped on a sidehill while skiing. I find it exhilarating, she finds it nauseating. Still we manage.

We disembarked at Krizikova. I knew we were close so I inquired of a couple passers by who professed complete ignorance of our destination. I knew I couldn't have gotten it that wrong. Looking at the street was not helping. I knew the Hotel Charles Central should be within spitting distance.

Had I turned around the large red banners marked "Hotel Charles Central" might have given me a clue.......d'uh!

I got Patsy to look in the window and smile. This is you and me Prague!!

We got checked in and boarded an elevator which is angling for a spot in the Guinness Book for world's smallest. By the time we got the suitcases in ,with the roller case on top, there was just enough room for us.

Here is our room. Pretty standard for a Euro Room. Not as chic as our last but perfectly serviceable with large opening windows and private bath.

This is the bath, outdated yes. Clean and usable, again yes.

Here is our view. That's pretty UnAmerican and also UnCanadian. Maybe that's because we're in cool is that? I'm still amazed at all of it all.

Two beds. Nothing new here, although we both prefer 1.

Oh yeah,  just in case you thought I might be kidding about the elevator, here is another picture to prove my contention. I would have to go with 3'X4.5' max!!

At the rear of the building there is some kind of art adorning the back wall. If you have any idea what it might be please let me know.

We walked out to see if we could find some dinner. The area is very pedestrian friendly, since the metro lets out just here.

The ruins of the industrial past are never very far away though. Just off the street abandoned and disused factories appear. The gentrification continues with disdain for the old order, and an encouraging embrace of the new.

We decided on the Charleston Restaurant. if the picture looks dark it's because I took it on the way out.

The restaurant was eclectic and leaning towards jazz. When we asked about a table, we found that street level ones were reserved. We got to go downstairs.

We went down a steep and winding set of steps into a grotto, with Barrel Vaulted
ceiling and subterranean charm. There was room for about 22 patrons.

I hadn't even noticed until Patsy pointed it out to me, that this unfortunate soul was imprisoned in a dry well in the floor holding on to his flugelhorn, perhaps for non payment of his bill. 

Nor had either of us noticed that Scooterchick was seated directly adjacent to the herpetarium. Kinda creepy, but the snake was well behaved for the duration of our meal. Just as well, it would have been us or him, and it wouldn't have been us. When we arrived, there were only a few other patrons, before we left the place was packed out.

I started with a delicious locally inspired soup, with forest mushrooms and pureed potato, delicately and perfectly spiced. Scooterchick tasted it and declared "there's a chef in the kitchen."

Next up some grilled Mozzarella, wrapped in Parma Ham, served on a Tomato Ragout Base with some Fresh Basil. The delicate cheese, with the full flavor of the ham and the piquant flavor of the tomato was altogether delightful. Seriously, my mouth is watering as I am describing it to you. It was ridiculous.

Scooterchick opted for Roast Knuckle of Lamb. This offering was served with creamed Spinach and Whipped Potato in Gravy. Check out her blog at  for a description of the la-a-a-a-a-a-amb.

And to finish I tried a local specialty. Sliced Apple, dipped in a Crepe like batter, fried and served with Whipped Cream, a Sprig of Fresh Mint and some Vanilla Ice Cream. Divinely Inspired, Expertly Rendered and Enthusiastically Polished Off.

Again with the mouth watering, really? Really? Oh well I leave you here. see you tomorrow likely.

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