Friday, April 16, 2010

Prague-a-licious snowy heaven

Having spent six wonderful days in Venice (kick started with chilled Bellini-filled flutes), I wondered whether Prague could outdo Venice...or at least leave us in a similar spellbound state. I had already counted my blessings - Venice was everything and more. Neither HL nor I hadn't succumbed to the precarious icey pavement and slid into a canal, the aqua alta had left us in peace, and the fog lasted for only one day gifting us with blue skies the remainder of our time there.  Could we be so lucky in Prague? Friends told me that Prague is a beautiful city - but I admit I wondered how much of the city we would see if it was covered with snow. But didn't I beg for snow? Isn't it what this holiday was all about? Flying sky high over jagged mountains didn't do my nerves a world of good. You see I'm not an avid flyer by any stretch of the imagination...and flying high above those craggy snow-covered mountains didn't fuel me with confidence. The plane was a toy-sized, not the 'normal' dimensions I was accustomed to. All I could help thinking was: "if we crashed no one will find us" and "we'll have to resort to cannibalism if we're stuck there..." Gruesome thoughts I know...and to top them off there wasn't even a whisker of alcohol to be offered on the flight, not even a nasty cheap red to quell my nerves. Thankfully the flight was a safe dropping thousands of feet without warning. OK, so wasn't alcohol on offer but hot tea and Prague's version of a cold bread roll with ham and pickled cucumber were served. The in-flight meal was my first indication that we were on our way to a new destination and a new culture so very different from Italy's. Many years ago I was in Vienna for a winter holiday and I soaked up the energy of the city like a hungry child. I feel that Prague will be no different for me - the city seems to draw me to it like a magnet.

Only an hour or so had passed before we touched down without a hiccup on Prague airport's icy tarmac.  Before our departure from Australia we had booked a car to meet us at the airport. Our hotel - U TriBuBnu - had suggested they book a car to collect us from the airport.  Normally if we were travelling in summer we would have been more than content to use the public transport system. But being winter, the slippery street surfaces and chill-to-the-bone cold dissolved our adventurous spirit - just for the short term.  Yes, prearranging a car was a very wise move considering we had no idea how to speak the Czech lingo let alone adequately predetermine what the place would be like. Having travelled to Italy and France in the past you know what you're up for...but Prague with their foreign signage was too daunting to comprehend, particularly if you relied on taking public transport at the height of winter.  When we stepped outside the airport's cosy environs we immediately congratulated on our intelligence - booking the hire car was sensible move. It was snowing heavily and the opportunity to clamber into the warmth of the spongy-seated Volvo resulted in the pair of us looking like Cheshire cats grinning from ear to ear. The 'chaffeur' (admittedly I'm embellishing the hire car driver's title but it does sound sassy doesn't it) drove us from white snow-covered outskirts, through the suburban streets of Prague and on to our final destination in the Old Town right smack in the centre of the city hub. Along the way the driver pointed out the main points of interest, filling in the blank spots regarding the country's politics, while admitting that this city is best seen in spring. Oh wonderful new...he had just reinforced what my husband had been saying all along about taken white winter holidays but that didn't my spirits as we skirted past a royal palace and the impressive municipal building to our charming old hotel in a quaint backstreet not far from the Old Town Square.

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