Getting to Prague

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We left Driebergen early, accompanied by Arne, Wieteke and Kees’ older son, who is doing many interesting things including setting up a coffee roasting enterprise in Ethiopia. At Schiphol it became clear that I could only check in one piece of luggage – but I had two panniers – yikes! What to do? One pannier then became cabin luggage but alas, that was the one that contained my Swiss Army pocket knife. The excellent luggage scanning picked it up straight away and now my knife is in the bin.

We arrived in Prague with an erroneous understanding of the exchange rate and believed our taxi ride from the airport to have cost $100. But when lunch cost the same amount we did further research and everything suddenly got a lot cheaper.

We are staying in a hotel where Margaret & Graham stayed when they were here some years ago. It is just below the Prague Castle and is reached along a narrow cobbled street. Nearby is the American Embassy and there appears to be a permanent police presence there that checks every car that passes – mirror on stick etc. Just down the street is also the KGB Museum – we’ll probably have to go in.

Our tourism activities of the day involved a walk around the castle, watching the changing of the guard at the gates, St Vitus Cathedral, and a climb up the tower (267 steps) from which a magnificent view of the city is available. We are blending in well with the crowds as we have camera and guide book in hand. There are tour groups everywhere so it is pretty easy to listen in on a commentary if you want to.

At 6pm we attended an organ recital in the St Nicholas Church, an amazing baroque building with marble and gilt everywhere. Cherubim are flying and gazing on all sides and there is a lot of smiting and slaying as well by saintly types who are entitled to do such things to persons who deserve no better. The concert program included Bach, Vivaldi, Dvorak and several other Czech composers. The audience were uncertain whether to applaud so we got things started when the organist looked down on us from on high in expectation of acknowledgement. We then received an encore!

Walking down to the Charles Bridge Ian had to fend off an insistent man who wanted to change money. We admired the portraits, caricatures and souvenirs but were able to resist all of these.

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