Wow, I have a lot to catch up on here.
General impressions--the city smells like onions frying in butter, its so much more Slavic than Wein and by Slavic I mean cool. Where Wein is Germanic, clean, punctual, everything is modern, there isnt a bit of chipping paint or dirt anywhere, Praha is recovering from colonialism, rough on the edges, sooty here and there, much more colorful (as in literally lots of colors). It appeals to my visual nature. I like how large the men are here, although the biker look is very popular, unfortunately. The food is as I remembered it, and pretty similar to Wein, beer, beer, beer and meat...although here there are the odder things like sauerkraut pancakes, BLACK beer (not odd just wonderful), lots of fried cheese with different herbs. Not as much cabbage as I remember, I guess when you join the EU you dont have to eat as much cabbage.
The street where my dad and I stayed with our fictive kin turns out to be the kings processional, Nerudova, the only street up to the palace. Every single street level building has now been turned into a restaurant or souvenir shop--I doubt my adoptive family still lives here. When my dad and I were here we had a hard time finding a restaurant anywhere, much less a hotel. Now this place is like the French Quarter...but thats cool, its still quieter than Old Town and so beautiful and I'm all for the Czechs making a fast buck. Seriously, it is still incredibly beautiful below the palace. Deeply emotional walking back and forth where I was with my dad, miss him tons, but he would be happy that we are here and the boys too.
Okay, a few highlights. Tues we arrived after a 5 hour train ride from Wein to find that the hotel I had reserved a room in and paid for through Expedia, would not give us a room! They claimed I had only reserved a double whereas I was sure I reserved a double with a roll-away, which was what the hotel told me to do when I called many months back. They wanted to move us to another hotel, much farther away, where we would have to pay extra. What a disaster! As I got online and on the phone with Expedia, I saw that this was a current scam in a few places here, so I became less inclined to deal with the original hotel at all. Total clusterfuck, but 3 hours later we ended up a few doors down, in a much nicer place, with a bigger more beautiful room and very friendly staff. The girl at the front desk (who shared a birthday with Morgan) was literally the nicest Czech-Irish princess and saved us from the scoundrels up the hill. We tried to joke about it, but we were all so wiped, it was a bit of a crash landing. Eventually got some very decent food across the street and had my first black Pilsner Urquell.
Apparently part of recovering from Communism is scamming--we were warned by travel guides and our bus tour guy not to take taxis or talk to the police. Apparently government employees also very corrupt. Add to that list certain hoteliers.
From there everything has been perfect, although yesterday Morgan had the Mexican death flu that I brought home. Cyrus had it in Wein, and Morgan was down all day yday. Luckily, part of the Czech Irish princesses magic was she sold us a room with a roll away, and then decided we would be more comfortable in two rooms, so she gave us that deal for only 10 Euros more...Morgan got his own room as an early birthday present. Perfect for the 17 year old Cancerian. So while he was sleeping all day yday, and Cy had asked for a nothing day, I wandered to the Mucha Museum on my own and through Old Town and into this amazing pub right near our hotel. I saw the pub the day before when we went to the Alchemy Museumwhich is in a 16th century building where English alchemist Edward Kelley lived, and has a small and not very professional exhibit on alchemy (too much text!) but a rocking recreation of a medieval alchemy lab in the attic at the top of the tower! Super cool and creepy. Anyway, the pub is also decorated like a witch's cottage/alchemists lab, and is mostly in the second basement of this likewise medieval era building...people bring their dogs in to pubs, they smoke (eww), sit and take their time over a beer and/or food...this place was the best find so far.
I have been shopping a lot--luckily things are inexpensive. Found a new garnet ring the first day, bought Morgan a piece of amber dyed blue-green that he likes for a birthday present, little pysanky eggs and Mucha art, etc etc! Even found a mineral store yesterday and bought a piece of moldavite for crichtons_drd. Its never done much for me, but I know the rock hound types really like it. Our hotel has a really beautiful garden patio and an apple tree grows over into it from the neighbors garden. I've spent time up there twice and yday afternoon did some seership work, which was very powerful (separate post). We took a bus tour the first day and it was cool to see parts of Prague I had not seen on foot--the bus is too large to go into Mala Strana or Old Town or Josefov, which are all places I explored with my dad and have returned to on foot. the bus tour guide grew up in Chicago, but is Czech, we talked a bit about the different waves of Czech immigration to the US. Speaking of tours, the most common language I hear from tourists is German, followed closely by Mexican Spanish! So cool and funny...Obama needs to pay attention, the Latin Americans are vacationing in Europe which is just another indication that their economy is one of the few thats not in the shitter. Also many Japanese, Indians, and a few Americans, mostly college students. Many, many tourists, much more so than Wein, although May is the peak month so I'm glad we missed that. Wenscenslas Square was literally like being in Disney yday....so many people. Of course the weather is perfect, so thats part of it. The boys are both healthy and rested, so we are off to the Museum of Communism (their choice) in Old Town now, with a swing by the bakery near there for more kolaches.