One evening in the supermarket near our apartment, an older gentlemen approached us to ask, “Does the whole family speak English?” We then engaged in a lengthy conversation with him, wherein he shared that he learned to speak English after the wall fell because he figured it would be important, but he didn’t have too many people in his generation to speak to. He asked a few grammar questions, asked us where we were from in the US, and made a few other polite inquiries. A random encounter that made for a pleasant travel anecdote.
In contrast, the following morning’s encounter with a young Czech woman made for a most unusual travel anecdote. Our car was parked in the large public garage around the corner from the apartment connected to the shopping mall; the space on the driver’s side of my car was empty. I was quite literally stepping into my car when a car horn sounded. I turned around to see a vehicle, its driver gesturing impatiently with me, so I gave her the standard, “WTH?” kind of look. She then proceeded to drive forward so that her front bumper was against my open car door. When I motioned that I could not, now, close the door, she jumped out of her car and started taking photos with her iPhone–of me, my car, my license tags, and so forth. Abruptly, she then said, “Now I call the police,” before backing up to let me enter my car and close the door. Very unusual.
This “Automat” down the street from our apartment was not a clothes-cleaning service, but, rather, a small cafeteria.
The Czech Republic is noted for puppets.
And for its crystal and Matrushka dolls, both traditional and touristy. We bolstered the country’s GDP on our visit in 2001, so only a few small baubles came home with us this time.
The Czech Republic is an EU member, but they have not officially adopted the Euro currency. Stores and restaurants will accept only paper Euros, but give Koruna in change; that made foraging through my pocketbook an exasperating exercise at times. It was helpful to have paper Czech currency on us, even if it seemed like Monopoly money.
Lunch for the four of us at a very good little Italian place in Kutna Hora including beer, wine, and gratuity, came to Kć730. Good thing we had the 1.000 note.
Generally shopping malls don’t capture our attention no matter where we are. We stared at the Palladium on our arrival, New Year’s Day, however, with wide-eyed wonder. Because the mall was OPEN! On a holiday! In Europe! And the stores STAYED OPEN past 18:30! It didn’t matter that Vienna has many of the same stores as the Palladium, it just felt liberating not to be subjected to the evening, Sunday, and holiday shopping lockdown of Austria.
The mall was masterfully tucked inside an old building in the city center; and on Level -2 there was even a carefully preserved part of an old Roman wall.
The signs in this store left us wide-eyed, but for different reasons.
Klimt is not nearly the celebrity in Prague that he is in Vienna; it took almost an entire morning of shopping before we saw anything Klimt!
We stopped in Wenceslas Square one evening as night was falling, to show the children the place where Vaclac Havel inspired his countrymen.
Prague has excellent, inexpensive, and reliable public transportation. And really cool transit stations.
On a final note, scooping the poop is eco-friendly in Prague. Inside each biodegradable bag is a little biodegradable cardboard scoop!