Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Living in a State of Mindfulness

Disclaimer: This is my “new age” post.

I have just spent a month living mainly in the state of now. I did not worry much further in the future than where am I sleeping tonight, what will I do today, or when will I eat. I accepted what the situation was at the time and then acted accordantly. At times I did just what I always advise people, breathe and never felt the taffy pull of anxiety stretch my available energy to it most depleted state.

It has been a total decompression, a real holiday, as it should be, away from the pressures of my normal cares and responsibilities. 

There has been plenty of room to empty my head of useless thoughts and focus in on what is important. I have cleared my mind of the seemingly endless chatter and have been able to make decisions quickly because there has been little to no anxiety in my life.

Once again I have seen the beauty of the world. The grandparent playing with a child, the unbridled joy of connecting with strangers for a meal, or sharing a travel story, or even sharing experiences together for a short time, and the kindness of a stranger when I am lost or confused, helping me see the way.

I am experiencing a strong state of gratitude. Thankful for the life I have, the friends and family I cherish, the numerous opportunities that avail themselves to me, and the connections I have made with people along the way.

It is if I have been dancing with wild abandonment and have experienced such pure joy.

This trip has affirmed for me, that I can live amongst people of different cultures and find the commonality that exists between us.

It is not always easy not knowing what lies ahead. But I never lost confidence that something new and exciting was just around the corner.

As I sit here trying to add more of the descriptive posts to my blog, I wanted to share with you my personal feelings.

No trip is complete for me without the connections, to the people and places.  I fell in love with the beauty of many places I have visited and shared them at the moment via Twitter and latter at times via Facebook.

I expect this trip will sustain me throughout the year. That at times when I get upset or anxious about what is going on, I recall the attitude that helped me realize I was never never really lost, just experiencing another adventure.  That I continue to expect the best from people and they in turn react in kind.

My attitude on this trip has left me open to meeting special people, seeing incredible sights, connecting with history, and learning to forgive myself and other people for things that they we are not responsible for doing.

I hope you enjoyed the travel too and found something about it that resonated with you as well.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Final Train Ride (for this trip)

I just left Brasov and I am on the train to Bucharest. I am taking the train because I heard the views are spectacular. I am being diverted from this experience by

  • Getting on the wrong car (I am on train 347 not car 347, you can see how I could get confused?) and
  • A mental challenged and drooling teenager, who also gawks temporarily sitting down across from me.

But now Minnie is all plugged in and I have a windows seat facing the right direction, with my new fav snack “Gusto” (fried corn puffs no additives, all natural, blah, blah, blah) and water to sustain me.

Sighisoara: Bring Your Garlic

My first introduction to Transylvania.

DSCF6762 I really enjoyed my stay there. Nathan’s Villa was well kept and the people who stayed there amicable. When it wasn’t raining, I enjoyed sitting outside underneath the arboretum, drinking my a Siva beer and reading or working on my computer.

The town was fairly easy to navigate. I enjoyed running around the small Saxon city, which is birthplace of Vlad Tepes, Count Dracula, shopping at the local markets, meeting people, and visiting various buiildings

My favorite activity there was when I went to mass. The Romanian Orthodox Church service was very interesting. The service was filled with chanting and priest going in and out of a room in front, where he would open and close the doors while praying. Then at the end, the priest took loaves of bread and put candles in them, then he blew them out, but the bread in a bowl and covered it with oil, after that people came and took Holy Communion and left with bags of bread.

I made friends with a few people at Nathan’s Villa. First Neil, a British fellow now living in Sighisoara (he became night manager during our visit) via Berlin. An intelligent, interesting, and kind fellow, he seems a bit lost as to where to place himself in the world. If you ask me, he made a good decision staying on in Sighisoara, he might just decide what he should do next. The, Alison, a sweet young lady from outside of Mexico city – we will be spending more time together in Brasov.

I liked the small town, easy pace of Sighisoara and even though there wasn’t a lot to see and do, I could have stayed a few more days (most people stay a day or so), after three days it was time to head to Brasov.

A Small Note About Romanian Food

Sausage, cabbage, meat, polenta, and potatoes, it’s fine but no where as good as the food in other countries I have been visiting. I mostly ate what I call the backpacker meal: ramen noodles, fresh vegetables, meat and egg. Backpackers eat a lot of pasta and ramen noodles when cooking in the hostels, we just do.

The Ride Between Sighisoara and Braşov

Getting off the small jitney bus at the rest stop between Sighisoara and Braşov was an experience in and of itself. Just take a look at some of the rest stop pictures. Do check out what they sell at the store, stuff for yo9ur car, weapons, snacks, trinkets….

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bathing in Budapest


I thought I would have so much time to write during this trip, but instead I have been so busy trying to see and do everything. Of course I have been active on tweeter and Facebook, so you may have been getting snippets of my experiences.

Dorm Living

First off, I decided to forgo trying to get private rooms, since in most places I would have to share a toilet and shower anyway, I needed to start embracing dorm living. They are also about a third to a half of the price of single rooms if I can get them.

This has not been without its comical and noteworthy incidents.

Living in a dorm environment one gets DSCF6759an education in the latest of fashion for young men’s underwear and sleeping attire. It was in Budapest, that I woke up and saw the young man next me wearing super hero underwear. Another day one of my dorm mates spent the whole day in his superhero lounge pants. But most of the time the boys (yes I am hanging out with people who are young enough to be my children and some of them is more comfortable with the fact than others) wore the traditional backpacking dark y fronts. The girls normally sleep in t-shirts and both sexes sometimes barely managed to make to their beds normally sleeping in their day clothes till the late hours of the morning.

DSCF6757 People party hard and rarely do you see someone headed to the dorm prior to midnight or waking before nineish unless they have to catch an early bus or train. All in all at Goat Hostel, the people were pretty courteous. The staff was very friendly and did a great job of keeping the place clean.

Budda and Pest

I enjoyed Budapest, once again the architecture took center stage of my attention to this city.

The outdoor sculptures, the ornate cravings on the buildings, the mosaics, on the streets or the M1 the oldest metro line in the city built in the 19th century, were like eye candy to me. Yes, once again, I walked and walked, and then walked some more dazzled by what I found every time I looked ahead or around the corner.

I also enjoyed the baths and managed to go three times, twice to Gellert Baths and once Szechenyi Furdo. I liked them both for different reasons, Szechenyi has a more local feel and Gellert was more upscale. At Szechenyi I even took a water exercise class in Hungarian. They both had numerous hot spring and normal temperature pools, steam rooms, saunas, etc.

Dinner on the Town

My favorite meal was the one with tasting menu I ate at Olimpia which I live tweeted. It was a memorable and (I think was) 10 courses with wine pairings.

Unexpected Connections

I am pretty open to meeting people. I was able to meet up with an artist friend of a friend of mine, who was very helpful to me. In trying to connect with her I met the owner of a gallery that had just finished showing her work.

M. the gallery owner invited me to come in on Thursday to see some of the photographs of the artists he represents. I saw some very interesting work of Eastern European photographers. Then M. asked me if he could show me some of the night life. I ended up spending the next two nights with him and a photographer from New York. God bless M., putting up with two New Yorkers for two evenings in a row.

IMG_0386 The first night we went to the park, drank beer and listened to music. The second night was the Night of the Museums. Which is very cool, all the museums stay open until 2 a.m. and they have shuttle buses running between them.

We went to the a couple of museums. I loved the first show we saw. It was an incredible contemporary art show at the Műcsarnok. The picture to the left was taken by S. of all three of us.

Whew – I think that gives you a snippet of Budapest. Let’s see if I can start writing more about Romania tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No More Overnight Trains with Robbers


I am sure I have your attention now.

Yes, someone actually tried to rob me on the train from Budapest to Sighisoara. But tried is the operative word here.

It was a weird evening. First I couldn’t find my ticket. Then I found I had it in my day pack. Next I read the date 21.06 as the time instead of 23.13 which was the actual departure time, leaving me plenty of time to hang around the train station with no apparent waiting room. Hanging out at train station in the middle the night is not fun, it is spooky.

When I boarded the train, there was an anxious young Romanian woman, who spoke excellent English, already in the cabin, she had been traveling from Vienna. She was very nervous about the train. I remarked that we only had one lock on the door instead of the three I have become accustomed to on this trip. She said she had noticed that also and was concerned as well.

We reassure each other that the rumors regarding train travel are extravagated and go to sleep. Next thing I know (an hour or so later)  all the lights are on in our cabin. Still half asleep I ask my roommate what is going on and she tells me someone unlocked the door and tried to enter and she shoved him out. She was working on a way to barricade our door.

I have to tell you, that I sort of did not believe her. After all she was so anxious before we left Budapest, I just chalked it up to a bad dream. Then when the Hungarian immigration people boarded she went out to talk to our neighbors. It turns out that everyone had a similar story, except two people where robbed and one of the woman’s purses was found in the WC.

Apparently I wasn’t that concerned and fell asleep again, only to woken up by Romanian immigration. For those of you following me on twitter, you know I tweeted about it. Somehow I still managed to go back to sleep, the bed was very comfortable and woke up in time to wash up before arriving.

Perhaps I was not as unaffected as I would like to think. I lost the key to my locker two times within  twenty minutes this afternoon.

DSCF6773 Bottom line, I went to the markets and bought food, made a nice lunch and went to sleep.




DSCF6781Now I am drinking this genuine Transylvanian beer: Silva only 7% alcohol (hiccup), typing and chatting with my French roommate underneath the arboretum in the back of the hostel.

I am glad to be out of a big city. The birds are chirping, I can hear not just the hum of the cars, but the clopping of the horses hooves as the carts go by.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making Polish Popcorn – Part I

I could bore you with more stories of all the places I have seen in Poland.

Like listening to bored street musicians.


Or visiting a church.

Or running around Old Town, with the largest town square in Europe.

Or going to Oswiecim to see Auschwitz-Birkenau

to be continued…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Update from Budapest

Besides the fact that I am behind with my writing, I have been having trouble uploading my blog entries with LiveWriter from this hostel. I will continue to write. Look for my tweets on the right hand side.

Budapest is another wonderful city. I am enjoying running around and relaxing. The Goat Hostel is very clean and the people are friendly. I am in a seven bed dorm, but last night it was just Tony and I. Tony is a sweet young man from Spain. People are generally considerate and it is fairly quiet.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Prague Pictures

DSCF4808 For those of you who are not one of my Facebook friends, here is a link to the the pictures I just posted:  http://tinyurl.com/nfhljj.

Things are going great in Krakow. I have been all over city, to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, the Salt mines, and Zakopane.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prague ----> Krakow: Terror on the Train?


Eugenie and Jirca seemed especially concerned about my safety on the train to Krakow. So I place all my credit cards, passport, and money in a money belt and tied it to my waist.

Eugenie told me to never take my eyes off my luggage, so I got out my bicycle lock that I carry for situations like this iI order to be able to secure my packs to something so they couldn’t be grabbed and thrown out the window. 

Between you and I, I was humoring them, I did not really think they was any great danger. Then I got on the train… it was only after I got that I began to realize I was not being overly cautious but sensible.

First the conductor comes by and tells us to always keep our money on us, to lock all three (3!) locks on the door and be careful answering the door. Then my roommate, a female for a change, tells me she was robbed on the way to Prague on the train. I then read in my guidebook to be cautious on the train and that people have reported being gassed and robbed on the train. Good lord – I should have looked into this before I left.

I did some other mistakes, the biggest, I ate a big dinner with lots of liquid before I left. I know better and I normally do not drink or eat dinner before a night bus or train when I do not have a private toilet.

DSCF4960I went to sleep as usual, it comes to be three in the morning and my bladder is screaming. I do not know what to do. I am frightened to go outside and use the toilet.  I realize I have only two choices I can wake my roommate and hope it is not dangerous to leave the cabin or use a cup and the sink. I’ll let you decide how I handled it.

DSCF4959Another mistake I made was choosing the top bunk.  I thought it would be fun to be up high and if my roommate needed to go to the toilet, I wouldn’t be distributed.  What I hadn’t thought of was, that if three beds fit in one compartment, how much head room would there actually be? We did not have anyone in the middle bed, but the top bunk was so close to the stop of the compartment that I could not sit up in bed.  At least my roommate let me sit on her bed until I was ready to go to sleep.

Did I mention my roommate was from Ukraine? She had come to Prague for a convention. I was lucky she was so sweet, Her snoring did not even bother me, which most likely is due to the fact that the noise of the train drowned her out.

This experience did not sour me, I still love traveling by train. For my next trip, I will follow the no liquid no dinner rules and book the lowest berth. Since I know the score, I will be prepared with my money belt and be really to secure my luggage with the bicycle lock I carry around just for this purpose. Who knows, maybe next trip, I’ll get lucky and have a compartment just to myself?


Arriving in Krakow

DSCF5124 All of sudden it was 6:30 a.m. Monday morning and we were pulling into the train station in Krakow. I was a bit bleary eyes but managed to get my stuff off the train and to the tram to get to the hostel.   I arrived  at the Elephant on the Moon hostel during breakfast and they fed me well, cereal, bread, jam, honey, ham, pate, cheese, yogurt, fruit, and lots of hot coffee. I knew I was going to like this place. No nickel and diming here. Of course I could have breakfast and I got to take a hot shower also! My room the newest one in the hostel the  “Hippie Room” was ready by 10:30 and I was off to explore the town. Below are some pictures of the hostel and my room.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dorm Living and Other Things



Sometimes one just feels like a horse’s ass. I misunderstood about the plans for today. When Eugenie wrote me that we were going to the King Pageant, a Czech Beer Restaurant, and then to the Castle Křivoklát, I did not realize that we were not going to Jirca and Eugenie’s country home and I had checked out of the hostel.

There would be no problem with the change in plans except there was no single accommodations available. It turns out  I was fortunate to get the last available bed in the hostel, the top bunk in a six bed mixed-sex dorm. To say I was not organized for this arrangement almost goes with out saying. Incidentally the dorm room is costing about $16 a night versus $44 for my other room.

Living Outside my Comfort Zone

DSCF4840 See my bunk on top. Conditions are very tight.There are five women and one man staying in the room. How does that work for the guy who happens to have the bunk below me?

My locker is next to DSCF4841 someone else’s bed, but I was able to score the chair across from the bunk and some hooks. I hope my eyeshades and ear plugs help me sleep tonight because tomorrow night I get to sleep on a train with another bunch of strangers.

The good news is one of my roommates is a lovely Taiwanese girl, I will talk about a little later on. But I am glad this is only for one night, it should be interesting.

After all, part of traveling is going outside my comfort zone and coping, right? Well here is one of those times.

Postscript: This blog never posted last night so I can tell you it was fine sleeping in the dorm. In fact there was something comforting about being with other people and sleeping.


FYI, this is the Breakfast / TV room. See Minnie on the right in the back? This is where I am writing this post, then I will go upstairs two flights to the dorm area and connect to WIFI. It doesn’t work in the basement because the walls are to thick.

People I Have Met at the Hostel U Melounu

I stay in hostels because it is a great place to met people. At Hostel U Melounu I have met a few interesting people.

The first couple of days there was Rose, JoAnn, and her daughter. They were from Australia. Rose and JoAnn have been best friends since before JoAnn’s daughter was born. They were traveling with JoAnn’s daughter to celebrate her 21st birthday.  They I liked them and sorry we didn’t get to do anything together in town. 

I sort of met my Japanese apartment mates. They were strange. This morning at breakfast they brought their luggage down to the tiny breakfast room, everyone was tripping over it. They also left a bunch of things in their room (which incidentally was twice the size of mine, with two chairs, it was much nicer, which is not a complaint but an observation, as I would rather be in my old room than the dorm.)

DSCF4652 Last night I met two lovely Taiwanese college students on their way to France to study French. We spoke in a mixture of English and French as we somehow manDSCF4651aged to cook dinner together in this tiny kitchen and ate together two flights down in the Breakfast / TV room.

I met a bunch of different college and post college men, one from Germany, another from China, and a couple of Mexican boys who had just graduated from UT (small world.)

I also struck up a transitory friendship with a Czech sculpture who lives in Ottawa. She turned me on to the Museum Kampa, the wonderful contemporary art museum here. When I told her how much I liked it, it turned out she had never been.


By the way while the King’s Pageant was fun and Castle Křivoklát well worth the trip. It is about 45 minutes outside of town.  The Czech restaurant was very good and I enjoyed my mushroom soup and duck.

Jirca and Eugenie also took me to visit one of their friend’s weekend homes so I could see what one was like. I need to research this a bit on the internet to understand what these week-end country homes are all about.

I am quite fortunate, Jirca and Eugenie have been wonderful to me. Tomorrow night I will dinner at their house and then off to Krakow.

Friday, June 5, 2009



Clear 43°F Current: Clear Humidity: 83%

Rain 57° | 50°

Chance of Rain 66° | 50°

DSCF4572The weather has ranged from warmish to down right cold (maybe that is why I was dreaming about snow last night?) As you can see, I believe I am at the tail end of the cold Spring weather.  All I can say is that I keep moving and that helps me stay warm. Of course the Spring sun also helps, when it is not covered by grayish threatening looking clouds.

Thank goodness, as yesterday I wore a cashmere scarf, my hoodie, and windbreaker to stay warm. As you may be able to see  in the picture, I was looking stuffed into my clothes, but warm.

Looking ahead to Krakow, the weather picture looks highly likely I will be retiring the cashmere scarf and long sleeve t-shirts and only be dealing with some light drizzles:


Chance of Rain 75° | 50°

Chance of Rain 80° | 55°.

Moving Past the Beginning of My Travels: The Dreams

The last few nights I have been having the dreams.  The dreams that help free me of the anxieties and worries I carry around with me on a daily basis. They only occur if I am traveling for an extended period of time because it usually takes a few days for them to begin and about a week for them to end. I have to have a space, more holiday time, where I can move on to for the next phase.

The dreams are full of emotion, they are erotic, frightening, exciting, sad, violent, and so on. I think of them as if my brain was split open and every raw and primal thought and feeling were slithering out like snakes. When the dreams are over, a renewed sense of confidence settles in and I start to really live in the here and now.

Already I am beginning to measure my days not in the amount of things that get done, but in the quality of what I am accomplishing. The soreness in my shoulders is dissipating. My tasks appear simpler now and I can truly begin to see more because it is less about feeding my demons.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chores, Ticket, Walking, and Rest

I promised myself I would visit a bunch of galleries and then catch up on all my blogging and personal chores.  I started the morning doing the laundry – was getting desperate, hand wash is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Trip to the International Train Station

I finally got out to the train station and bough a ticket on the overnight train to Krakow for Sunday evening, I took the top berth in a triple sleeper car.  Sunday evening I am off to a new city with new adventures and new currency, how exciting  I love trains and being able to spend the night sleeping on one is such a treat, as well as saving money on a night in a hostel.

Speaking of nights in hostels, these prices are higher than I expected, I have almost given up on the idea of a private bathroom.

Lunch Time

From the train station off I went to find the Prague House of Photography which has moved there location. As I started towards what I thought was their new one, I spied a place to eat lunch.It appealed to me because:

  • It was crowded with Czech speaking people,
  • Had a reasonable set menu, and
  • Did not take credit cards (a sure sign they weren’t courting the tourist trade.) 

For lunch I ate:

Grilovana veprova krkovicka- grilled pork neck, cabbage & carrot salad & fries with Krusovice, dark beer. It was all delicious and it had vegetables, cabbage and carrots in a vinaigrette dressing besides  the usual potatoes on the plate.

A Little Bit of Wandering

I then visited a couple of galleries I literally ran into looking for the new location of the  House of Photography.  I especially liked this work from Karl Karner, a Viennese artist. Click on his name to see some more of his work and the descriptions.

Then I got tired and cold, so I decided to come back to the hostel and read.  Something I promised I would make time to do on vacation and I had not gotten started yet.

Back at the Hostel

When I arrived at the hostel the housekeeper had a package for me, my insulated lunch pail and some other items. I hugged her and only took the cooler thanking her for her other gifts but they were not necessary. Now that is a great ending to the story of the missing (not stolen) lunch pail. Whenever I use it, I will always remember the lesson that I learned when I discovered it was gone.

Hopefully tomorrow I will catch up on writing about my visit to the Jewish section of town. It was a very moving experience. Not just because of the annihilation of almost the entire Jewish population, but of the great scholars that lived here and have contributed to the Jewish culture and the rest of the world in the arts and sciences.

Looks like a fuse is blown and I am on battery power.  It is time to stop writing and go to sleep. Hopefully the weather will be warmer then they are predicting. These temperatures in the 60’s feel cold to a someone from Houston  this time of year.

Understanding Culture and Some Embarrassing Events

I like to think that I am a conscientious traveler and I am sensitive to other cultures, especially the one I am visiting. That is the way of the traveler is it not?  For some reason, there are certain people who have not read the rule book, can you imagine that?

On Kissing Czech Men – Just Shake Hands

I have made one little faux pas on the trip when I kissed a Czech man on the cheeks.  I learned this by the hard way. When I met Igor’s friends Eugenie and her husband, I naturally went to kiss and embrace her, no problem there, but apparently one only shakes hands with the man. Sorry George, I been traveling in countries were a kiss is not only appropriate but expected. It is my mistake for not reading my guidebook a bit better. 

I decided I better brush up on my Czech manners quickly as to not embarrass anyone else. I now know that I need to pick up flowers to take to their home on Friday evening where I will be going for dinner. Which incidentally, I am very excited to be invited to a local home. It even gets better, I have been invited to their country home on Saturday.

Yesterday I had a bit of a shock when I went to the refrigerator and  found that all my food and my insulated lunch sack was gone. I was shocked and angry. In all these years of backpacking nothing had been taken before.  It made me very angry and I kept telling myself that it everything is missing because of a misunderstanding.

The conversation with myself was much easier than the believing. I saw this incident as a lesson, was it a lesson about letting go? A lesson about still having trust even when confronted with a situation like this? Or was it learning that I should assume the best, that it was a misunderstanding, rather than the worst,someone took it?

I was having the worst time dealing with this situation, I preferred my preprogrammed response: anger, rather than than assuming the best. After all I lost a total of about $5 worth of stuff and that was not of any great consequence in the end.

I even had trouble sleeping, I was tossing around my emotions and wanting to let go, trying to assume the best, and feeling in my heart of hearts that an explanation would come in the morning. I now was sure this my chance to learn this lesson.

This morning the Ukrainian housekeeper came to speak to me, in Ukrainian (another language I do not speak) with the note I had written and left by the refrigerator asking if anyone accidently took my bag with the food. While I did not understanding her words, I understood what she was basically saying, that she had taken the food and bag and that is was a mistake.  I hugged her and told her it was alright. We then walked up to the front desk, as I wanted to understand exactly what she was saying. They also do not speak Ukrainian, but what happened was the owner asked her to clean out another refrigerator and she misunderstood and cleaned out the communal one. I think she has my bag at home  and will bring it in tomorrow.  Eureka, I was right it was a misunderstanding, no one had taken anything. I hope I have learned my lesson, as I do not relish going through this unnecessary angst ever again.

Sharing Space with Strangers

Next cultural issue -  I am staying in what they call an apartment, basically two doubles with a shared bathroom. Not a bad setup if I have to share a bathroom. Last night I noticed a new couple had moved in, but did not see them. This morning I hear lots of Japanese conversation outside my door and plenty of coming and going. I thought the Japanese are quiet people.  Hey ladies I am trying to sleep in here, have you no respect? Then when I wake up to use the toilet all the doors are wide open to the outside and I am minimally clad and freezing.  I saw them later and tried to explain about locking the front door but when I came back from breakfast it was closed but not locked.  At least there is a key to my room and I can lock my door. I also had to clear my things out of the bathroom because my razor was open and my toothbrush was moved – you don’t think they were shaving with my razor do you?

I Need to Learn to Have More Patience When People Show How Ignorant They Are – Especially Americans

You may be American, but do not speak for all Americans, thank you. This morning I had a nice chat in the breakfast room with several other people about museums to visit. One person, an American said that Kafka is not well known in the United States. Kafka and his family lived here, his sisters perished in a concentration camp, he survived.  They have a Kafka museum in Prague which is how his name came up. Apparently this American never had to read Kafka in school and had never heard of his before, strange?

Bottom Line on Cultural Observations

All of this is part of the experience of traveling, it is not just the sightseeing and drinking in the external culture. It is part of being human and living amongst strangers.


This morning I am doing my laundry. Then it is off to the train station to buy my ticket to Krakow, to take the night train on Sunday. In Krakow, I was unable to book a single ensuite,  therefore I will have a single with a shared bath. Today I hope to hit a museum and or some galleries. I need to figure that all out soon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And so the trip begins….


My First Day Traveling

My trip was uneventful, except for the fact that I hardly slept, which was mainly due to the excitement of going aboard for FOUR whole weeks. Every time I get off an overseas flight and leave the bosom of my American compatriots I suddenly realize that it is not true that the world revolves around everything American (okay it partially does but that isn’t my point today, so I’ll skip it.)

When I got to Prague, I started to hear a variety of languages, of course Czech,as well as other Slavic languages, French, Italian, German, and British and Australian English. I have tell you that despite a few Czech words that have seeped into the English language, I know and understand little to nothing about this language. That is okay, but I suddenly realize that I am about to spend an extended time not in an English centered world. It’s okay, really it’s okay, I will get by. At least I better adjust, because this whole thing can be a bit disorienting at times. <---initial adjustment jitters.


DSCF3859 Hostel U Melounu, the placet I found on the internet is working out just fine. It is in a centrally located neighborhood, near several hospitals and a medical university, so it is a bit outside the noise of the main tourist area. It is clean and the people are friendly. I have a lovely courtyard outside my room.


Prague is an unexpected surprise. I have fallen in love with this city. 

First of all the

– a mixture of a thousand or so years of history, one finds buildings that are from the Medieval, styles to Art Deco and Noveau. I understand that Prague was not bombed like many of the Western European cities, which adds to the abundance of so many buildings.  Since I am very good at wandering and getting lost, I have spent hours wandering the streets looking at the many well preserved facades and styles of buildings.

The city is full of green areas, lots of parks and walking areas. The public transportation is excellent and the streets all well marked. It is also quite clean.

DSCF3870 My first stop was Hradcany Castle (Prague Castle) which has been updated many times over the years.  After touring parts of the castle, I took a leisurely walk through the beautiful grounds and got the first of many views of the city from higher ground.



Afterwards I had my first lunch in Prague, beef and potatoes with beer.




 DSCF4311 My New Friend

Before I left Houston I let everyone I could think of know I was headed  here. I hoping to be given some names of people to look up. My fiend Igor skypes me the day before I am leaving, he has a friend in Prague would I like to meet her. Of course I did.

Eugenie is a darling woman. My second night here, she and her husband George picked me at the hostel and off we went to tour Prague. We walked for hours! The only problem was I didn’t take my camera. I have gone back to many of the places they took me. Besides walking through a pretty park, we walked along the Charles Bridge, including the Old Town Bridge Tower and many statues along the way,  saw the canals along side the bridge(think mini Venice), the high water marks from when the city last flooded in 2002, the John Lennon Wall, Old Town Square, the infamous Clock, a Jesuit Monastery, the Dancing building ( I had already stumbled on this one earlier), Memorial for the Victims of Communism and more. Her English is much better than my Czech, but we still struggle a little to communicate – no problem with that, her warmth is infectious.


I better stop as it is getting late.  I know I have two more days to cover.