Bring on the Bling

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting to Europe/Prague

It's taken me a while to get internet in my room, so this post was written quite a while ago when I was in Krakow...

I finally have a chance to sit down and just type. Quickly, I might add. My laptop is running out of juice and the adapter I brought doesn’t fit the 3-pronged outlet of my charger! I might have to finish this when I get to Germany, OR I can go visit the Apple store…I think I saw one. Not only do I have the chance to sit down, I’m clean, full, and ready for bed! It’s only 7:30pm local time, but I haven’t slept much since I left LA. I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep the night before I left, which should have been fine. I wanted to get accustomed to the time change as quickly as possible. The best way I figured was to sleep on the planes. Little did I know that I would be uncomfortable as all get-out.

There were a couple highlights to the flights:

LAX->DET was the first flight I actually felt cold. I had an awesome seat in the middle of the plane with the side door and flight attendants seat in front of me. I got to watch Veronica Mars (totally didn’t pick that one), and the flight attendants were all super-duper nice. Like, where has this been all the times I’ve flown?
Tons of legroom!

Awesome neck pillow makes me look like a chipmunk!
DET->AMS, I was squished! It was a long flight (9 hours), for which we were provided dinner and breakfast. It was weird and I didn’t know how to feel about the food, but hooray for not having a stomachache after! The good part about this flight was that we all had individual screens in front of us. So instead of sleeping, I decided to watch the Lego Movie, Monuments Men, Hannah, and finish Jack Ryan. Oops!
Hanging out in Detroit
AMS->PRG…I’d rather not talk about this one. The plane was a small KLM operated flight that was on the completely OTHER side of the airport, and I only had 40 minutes to “run” through customs and book it over. I’m sure I was “that person” that nobody wanted to sit by…dripping sweat, face flushed, out of breath. Oh yeah. Hot mess. Woof.
Oh yeah...hott mess...
When I finally landed in Prague, it was 8:30am on Monday. I left at 7am on Sunday. Even with the time change, that was a brutal itinerary. I raced off the plane to apply more deodorant and brush my teeth. Sweaters, ick! Once that was taken care of, I found an ATM and pulled out some Kronor. I didn’t realize how bad the exchange rate was! For them, I mean. I felt rich for a minute. Good thing I remembered to call Wells Fargo from LAX to add this trip to my travel itinerary so they wouldn’t block the card! Can you imagine? I don’t want to…

Shuttle ride to Old Town
I was off…off to where became the question. I knew I was ready to go, but wasn’t sure how to take the first step. I don’t have any experience with Czech, but I had brushed up a little on my German, just in case. I found a shuttle that took me directly to Old Town Prague. Well, it took me 2 blocks away and I didn’t understand the driver (again, no experience with Czech), but I figured I should head in the direction of the crowd.  I found the square and I did a quick lap around before I ended up in front of the Astrological Clock. I was fortunate to arrive just before the hour (thanks Nikki). I will say this about the “show:” although it was a big disappointment of a show, the clock itself is really quite spectacular. It’s beautiful.  I took a lot of selfies and I hope that some of them turned out!

Astrological clock

City gate

A few weeks before I left, I purchased some overnight train tickets from The only catch was that I had to pick them up from a hidden office up by the castle. Problem was, I only had 90 minutes to find a cabbie, find the office, and then make it back to Old Town in time for my bike tour. Oh, and grab something to eat. I was starving! I started asking the guys that were wearing the ugly vests promoting city tours. One guy pointed out an old man driving a beat up car, saying he was a taxi and would give me a good price. I was a little apprehensive, but went over. After trying to talk to him about the address, we drove off and stopped by another cabbie to ask him directions. Total confidence booster, right? I didn’t have a choice at this point. We drove up to where he thought the address was, and happened to drive right up to the US Embassy. Well, at least I knew where that was! He kept trying to say “Embassy? Embassy okay?” I said no, and we drove a little further. Finally we found the street, but I had to run out and search a little more. He assured me that he would stick around and I RAN. The office turned out to be this little cute hole-in-the-gorgeous-wall with really nice people. I ran back with bated breath, but was able to relax once I saw the driver hanging out.  Whew!
Crazy old cabbie...
Just a little frightened...

My next order of business for the day: finding food. I found this cute little place next to where I was going to meet for my bike tour, but decided to just get a flat-water instead. I still had a bag of snacks from the plane and downed an apple and granola bar. I know, I know…woof. Not as good as a pastry or fresh bread, but it was fine. I drooled over some of it though. Hehe. Then it was off to go find Praha Bike Tours. I was so excited for this!  Riding a bike through a town is a great way to get an overview! I met some awesome people from England and South Africa (I was the only American aside from the guide…Travis from Boise). I have to say: riding a bike through loosely connected cobble stone streets is pretty scary. It was a good rush for someone who hasn’t ridden a bike since San Francisco last August. Luckily we had no crashes, although we had an older lady in our group that kept bumping tires against the person in front of her…and she would stop suddenly and get off her bike because she didn’t really think the brakes were going to stop her in time. I stayed away from that one.

Getting ready for riding a bike through cobblestone streets...

Liz and Katie from London...I was the only American

Awesome park where we stopped for drinks (thank goodness for Coke!)

St. Charles Bridge

Prague Castle from a distance

After the bike tour, I grabbed some food at a local place that Travis recommended, called Hastalsky Dedek. It was out of the way enough that it wasn’t a tourist trap, but not too far for my comfort. I’m so glad that my German teacher Wendy taught us about European culture! I knew to go in and sit at a table then flag down the employee and ask for a menu in English (since I can’t even pretend to know Czech). I ordered turkey w/bacon and carrots with a side of potatoes. And a Coke. Everyone here drinks Coke. Why can’t I have a Pepsi? Oh well. It was so good! And when I calculated out the exchange rate, I think it was under $5 USD. What? I need to go back! After “lunch,” I decided to wander around old town a bit more. It started to rain, so I jumped in one of the smaller city tour busses to go check out the castle a little bit more. I think I’ll try to get down here again before I fly out to see the castle a little closer and take a tour. It’s so beautiful!
I'd go back to Prague just for this meal!

Waiting at the train station...a little early

By this point, I was done. I was tired and my bag was starting to feel even heavier than it was. Plus, I was anxious to get on the train. I was a little nervous, since my only train experience has been minimal. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I was in a “couchette,” whatever that means. After arriving at the station, I figured out where to watch for the trains and hung out for a little bit, grabbing a quick snack. I met a brother and sister from America who were taking the same train. We chatted a bit, but I never asked their names. Oh well. They were booked in a 2nd class car, where they had to sit up all night, I imagine. I was feeling thankful for my decision to fork out a few more Euros to be horizontal for the trip. I found my train and car, only to realize that the couchettes were like bunk beds, attached to the wall 3 high, 6 to a small room. My bed was supposed to be on the top. Ugh. I wasn’t thrilled with that idea, but the people I shared the room with (5 friends from Virginia) said I could have the bottom since I was getting out early. I was so grateful at this point because the final 3 people came into the “room” with a box full of alcohol and everyone started drinking. Thank goodness I bought an eye mask and earplugs! Although, they didn’t do that much for me for the first part of the journey: my bunkmates woke me up every half hour asking me if I’d like to take a shot with them. Stay classy…
LOL found a Burger King...
My first European train ride!

Not a lot of space to roll over in my "couchette"
Next day…Auschwitz…

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for sharing Rachelle! I wish I could go on a study abroad. You are going to have so much fun with this trip. It sounds like you already are!! :0)
    -Heather H.