After the rowdiness of our time in Munich we were a little relieved to arrive in Prague by train/bus combo where there was no Oktoberfest to speak of and best of all, they drink beer out of normal sized glasses! We found accommodation through a website called Air BnB, which allows you to find people renting out full apartments for reasonable prices in cities around the world. It was our first go at it and it certainly wasn't without it's little hiccups. For starters, the lady told us how to take the metro from the main train station to the metro stop by the flat but, the directions stopped there. "From this metro stop it is 10 minutes by walking to the flat" said the email, in a thick Czech accent. No instruction as to which way to head, only a street name and address which turned out to be wrong...cuz why would you give the correct address! Needless to say, it took more then 10 minutes to find; and then all we did find was a McDonalds with free WI-FI which we used to call her using Skype and the iPad. iPad coming in clutch, yet again. A few confusing phone calls later and we were waiting for the lady's husband to come fetch us and take us to the flat. It was nice enough, clean and amply sized but it did lack WI-FI or TV which would have been really handy for our planned easy, slow and mellow stay in Prague. Ah well, live and learn. We ventured out to the grocery store and picked up supplies and Gina whipped up a delicious pasta dinner. It's really nice to eat a home cooked meal once in a while; we realized it was our first since getting to Europe almost a month ago. After a descent, though not epic, night of sleep (the bed felt like it had little pipes a mm beneath the surface which were placed precisely in the areas where our most tender back nerves are located) we got up and headed to a gym we had seen while wandering looking for the flat the previous day. Part of the plan for laying low in Prague included getting in some exercise to repair our bodies after the carnage of Oktoberfest. Turns out day passes were like $30/ person; well out of our budget, but they would let you in for free for one day if you went on a tour and sat through their pitch. Un intimidated by this prospect (we sat through 3 this summer in order to get trial memberships at gyms in Wisco and Cali) we fabricated our story: Gina was here in Prague from Australia interviewing for a job and Adrian, the dutiful partner, was there with her to check the city out to make sure it was somewhere we would be happy living. And it worked a treat, boy; we even got a quick demonstration on their new high tech machines (Power Plates, I think) which vibrate vigorously while you do squats, etc. In the end we looked the woman straight in the eye and told her that we'd know if G got the job in Prague in 2-3 weeks and could be here in as little as 6 weeks, and quickly grabbed our day passes and headed for our hard earned workout. Come on now: don't judge us; we've got a long trip ahead of us!!
After a strenuous workout we headed back to the flat for a shower and to eat a museli, banana and yogurt breakfast. Problem; we couldn't get the damn door open. No matter what we did, the thing wouldn't budge. Now this is an irritating situation at the best of times, but when in a foreign country with no cell phone and no clue as to what to do, it begins to border on terrifying. Finally, Gina called he guy from a pay-phone down the street (when was the last time you used one of them) and he notified us that he was in Germany on business for the day but that we should try the door again, this time pushing "really hard". Thanks pal.
We returned to the door once again and after a number of forceful attempts; finally Adrian was able to get it; apparently you have pull hard THEN push.
That afternoon we walked through the park, Prague Castle, across the Charles Bridge and around the Old Town before taking the metro back to the pad to change. We had caught wind of a great night out: Jazzboat which is as per the name. It's a boat that cruises the river for 2.5 hours while a live Jazz band plays. We had dinner on the boat: Veggie Lasagne, Salad and olives while listening to the "Bohemian Jazz" group 'Stan the Man' rock it. Stan is definitely the MAN! We spent a little time on the top deck area where we also saw the Prague sites (castle, bridges, etc) lit up. Beautiful.
The night and day was nice and warm too, however just as we docked the season changed: from late summer to autumn just like that and the skies opened up out of nowhere...it was a wet run back to the metro and then to the house and it has been cold ever since.
Friday we started the day off with a jog then hit the Old Square for a coffee before joining the free Prague tour which was led by a very enthusiastic and very thorough Aussie/ Czech girl. It was a full 3 hours packed with history, stories and anecdotes about Czech and Prague history which has been a tumultuous one. For example, they only gave communism the boot in 1989 and couldn't afford the lights on the castles and bridges that are there now; so do you know who paid for them to be installed initially? Mick Jagger. Who knew?! After the tour we headed home and made another home made dinner before heading out to listen to the Brewer's game. (see separate blog for this story)
Saturday was an easy day. We decided to take the day off playing tourist and just have a 'normal' Saturday. Lazy morning, no run, bought some train tickets, coffee, bit of Internet, Adrian bought some shoes, you know...easy. For dinner we hit a recommended place not far from our spot; it's recommended as one of the better Jazz venues in Prague and after dinner we saw a live Quartet put on a better than expected show. The bassist pulled a no show so they played the first set without a bassist before their 'backup' guy could make it down. Still it was a pretty good show, the drummer was actually pretty amazing.
Sunday morning: travel day; quick jog, pack up, clean up, and to the train station to catch the 11:39 south towards Budapest. We're stopping in Bratislava, Slovakia for a night cuz, well it's on the way and why the hell not. Let you know how it goes!