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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 6
Europe 2005
London, Paris, Normandy, Prague


Carol and David  
Day 5
London / Prague


I slept very well; Carol seems to have caught a bit of a cold.


We rose at 6 and had an early hotel breakfast, then finished packing. The concierge flagged a taxi for us, and the aggressive woman driver plowed us through rush-hour traffic at break-neck speed past Leicester Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, Buckminster Palace, St. James Park (where some sort of large televised activity was being prepared at the Queen's Horse Guard's, with lots of security) and screeched us to a halt at Victoria Station, where we caught the 30-minute Gatwick Express. We are always so sad to leave London, but the last leg of this chapter of Our Incredible Journey will include two more days here before finally flying home.


Carol on the Gatwick Express


The train crept slowly south from Victoria Station, across the Thames, past the large, abandoned brick power station at Battersea Park, past row houses and ever-present graffiti. The day is cold – not cool – and gray, with the promise of rain. The green trees and grassy fields are so welcome and different than the desert we live in.


The sadness of leaving London is mingled with the excitement of experiencing Prague for the first time.


Arrived at Gatwick conservatively early and wandered around taking in the flood of sound and sights. The departure monitor displayed exotic and attractive destinations: Moscow, Krakow, Palma Mallorca, Amsterdam, Sofia, Belfast, Barcelona, Malta, Tenerife, Guernsey, Kiev, Asturias, Nice, Tripoli, Marseilles, Copenhagen, Budapest, Milan, Dublin and Prague.


Security at Gatwick was so vastly different than in the U.S. No hassle whatsoever.


Carol bought chewable vitamin C to help fight her cold only to find out when she chomped down on one that she had bought non-chewable C. Wish I had snapped a photo of her face.


We have lost track of the many different languages we have heard as we walk through the airport. It all begins to blend together. We are in our element.


As usual, Carol has astounded me at her ability to organize all aspects of our trip – this is no exception. She has even miniaturized and photocopied onto an index card the denominations of Czech paper money so that we came better equipped to deal with that logistic.


We are comfortable and are spending over two weeks in various European capitals and cities, living all the while out of two overnight bags. Her skill at organization and space conservation is a gift that I certainly do not have and will be eternally in awe of. I am blessed to have this modern-day wizard at my side. I keep telling her she ought to write a book.


Finally it was time to board our EasyJet for the 2-hour flight to Prague.


The EasyJet boarded and took off relatively on time. One of the passengers took offense at another passenger's late arrival and they had words in the British chivalric way, and then we were off into British airspace and aimed towards the Czech Republic.


We are now starting to hear more announcements made in Slavic and Russian languages.


We landed in Prague and were met by Charlie, a Canadian transplanted to this city years ago. Charlie drove us to our hotel, the Maximilian, very close to the Old Town Square. Charlie was a character, full of personality and stories and valuable tips (about pickpockets) and we wished we could have spent more time with him.

Sign at Prague's airport

We checked in the Maximilian, a recently updated upscale modern facility. We were more than impressed with the room and the hotel in general. Very spacious and clean, with a queen-sized bed and granite bathroom countertops. Nice large tub for Carol. Swiss minimalist style – very trendy.

Prague's Hotel Maximiilian
The bar at the Hotel Maximiilian

We had Internet access at the hotel, so we emailed Chris and Dan, then walked a few short blocks to Old Town Square. The first thing that seized our attention as we turned the corner was the incredible and ancient architecture, particularly the ornate Clock Tower that dominated the Square.

A typical building in Prague's Old Town Square
A street near the Maximillian

The second thing was the thousands of people. The Square was blanketed with humanity. I believe every race and nationality was represented.

Church at Old Town Square
Carol's favorite sign:
Carol's favorite sign


The Square's perimeter is lined with cafes, so we chose one very close to the clock tower, ordered a multi-variety cheese platter with fresh grapes and incredibly thick, crusty, tasty bread. Carol had a glass of red wine and I had a delicious pilsner beer. Prague is considered the “beer” capital of Europe and is where pilsner beer was invented. Our lunch was delicious and the people-watching was world-class.

Carol enjoying a Czech wine

Old Town Square reminds us very much of Piazza Signori in Florence Italy, only vastly larger.


On the hour, each hour, the clock tower comes “alive.” As the bell rings, the windows of the tower slide open to reveal a parade of carved mechanized characters. The entire Square stopped to witness this. Carol took a movie of it and for 60 seconds we were transcended, as a group, back in time. This clock has entertained masses of people, just like this, for hundreds of years.

Prague's amazing Clock Tower from the north

It is chilly at 6pm but we are snug as bugs under a gas heat lamp. We are enjoying the magnificent ambience. A lovely Australian couple, Doug and Pam Jones, caught our attention and we enjoyed comparing travel notes with them. They are on their way to Vienna, Paris and India . We enjoyed their company (see Doug – I told you your picture would be on the Internet) and then we said farewell and ambled through the Square, window-shopping at the various stalls before aiming towards the river. On the way we found ourselves on Brenova, a Rodeo Drive-type avenue lined with very exclusive (read expensive) shops offering unique glass and crystalware and amber, all of which Prague is world renown for.

Doug and Pam Jones from Down Undah

We reached the Vlata river and sat on a bench admiring the Castle on the hill and the slow boats drifting up and down. The air is cool with a light pleasant drizzle. We are very much enjoying these flavors, sights and sounds.

Carol at the Vlata River with the Castle in the background

We spent some time browsing among the myriad of restaurants before settling on Metamorphis, not far from our hotel, the Maximilian. Since Carol has come down with a slight cold, we intend to make an early evening of it. As we sat down at Metamorphis, it began to rain, but we were quite cozy under the awning and kept warm by the heaters. Very romantic.


Carol had delicious pasta with salmon and red wine, and I had an excellent tomato soup with mozzarella cheese and a dark Czech beer.


A chocolate ice cream sundae and cappuccino topped off dinner, and at 9pm we strolled slowly back to the Maximilian and immediately fell asleep.


Pedometer reading for today - 3.5 miles

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