Friday, January 04, 2008

Prague - day one - it's not all flat you know.

So we left Gatwick as the first flakes of snow started falling, and were promptly served the strangest sandwich I have tried. For the record tuna, chives and sweetcorn don't seem to work together. Still being used to budget airlines any food was appreciated and the free drinks seemed a real treat. OK maybe coffee and orange juice aren't that astounding to most travelers but if you do enough cheap flights it is.

We landed (gently, not the normal throw the plane at the ground) to find a light dusting of snow and the usual not cold cold weather. Public transport here is cheap, clean and efficient, for £15 we have a five day travel pass that includes getting to and from the airport. As you might expect the area closest to the airport is not the mot attractive. The first part reminded me of Scandinavian industrial zones, but as you head into the city it morphs into distinctly continetal architecture with a style of it's own.

As soon as we could we got on the metro, which has three lines, A, B, and C. Easy for visitors to get to grips with. I did get very confused that trains reaching the end of the line don't turn around and go back the other way. I have been assured that there is a magic turny thing just out of sight that put the train on the other platform to keep things easy. It still seems a bit odd.

Much gawping followed as we made our way to our room. It is pretty close to the metro horizontally but vertically there is a good distance to cover. Looks like I will get enough exercise to use up all the extra calories I eat here. However the room does indeed have a great view, two in fact. The picture is looking south towards the river and the center of town. Forgive it being a bit small and blury I am trying to keep to an upload budget ans the picture was taken on the phone. The other view really needs my camera to do it justice, the tv tower is on the next hill and when lit up after dark looks amazing.

Our chosen restaurant has got busy since Nat was last here, so we had to make a reservation for tomorrow and find somewhere else. We found a very relaxed mostly italian restaurant. The food was fantastic and amazing value. Dinner for two, including the best Irish coffee I have had in a long time was less than £20. I was particularly pleased with this restaurant as it had candles outside the door as is the custom in Sweden this time of the year, it made me feel more at home. On the subject of Sweden, Swedish seems to have become my default foreign language. Bit of a shame as it is totally different to Czech. Hopefully I will get get hang of the basiccs soon. There is the same problem that you face trying to learn other European languages, everyone here speaks near great English, and is proud to be able to communicate with us, it doesn't help us learn though.

Before we left I did some reading about Prague. There were mixed messages but I found quite a few the suggested it was still rather run down from a shopping point of view. Having just been to the biggest, cleanest, and for my tastes best stocked shopping center I have ever seen, I would beg to differ. Goods vary greatly in price from about half price up to what I would have to pay in London. It was woderful to see such a range of clothes, boots, and strangely, fountain pens. Where in London most shops stock essentially the same styles, here there is variety and the potential for individuality. It's amazing. So far I have largely resisted retail therapy, but with so many boots so close to my ideal I don't think it will last.

Now to bed and hopefully a good nights sleep to set me up for a busy day tomorrow.

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