Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving in Prague

After a 12 hour trip home including changing planes in Amsterdam and stopping in Bangor,Maine to refuel (how does a plane not know how much fuel it needs?) the very unpleasant customs office snarls at us "Prague, that's pretty far to go for just four days". Thanks, Sherlock, would never have known that.
To be honest I was not looking forward to the trip based on a combination of not being with my cousins on Thanksgiving,touring a city in the winter with 22 other people and going so far in such a short time. However, I was wrong. Yes, I know ,that's a shocking occurrence. The trip went incredibly smooth and everyone had a great time. Prague is a beautiful city. The twisting cobblestone streets,vendors selling mulled wine in the town square,and a fairytale castle,are so untouched by time that it looks fake. At any moment you expect to see them carting away the facades or Cinderella to pop out of the castle. We all loved it, though I do not recommend visiting in the winter. Its grey,cold and damp. Ken calls it Iron Curtain weather!
A few highlights, and low-lights.

Although I hate US airways and even tweeted something nasty about them before leaving they probably didn't deserve my getting sick for an hour all over the plane. Sorry USair

The Four Seasons in Prague has the kind of service that makes you want to move in, forever. When you leave your(free)newspaper laying around the maid neatly refolds it. Your loose change is gathered up and put into a lovely paper box. Sewing kits are delivered on a silver tray.

There is a ton of fascinating,though sad,Jewish history. We had an amazing Jewish tour guide for all 4 days-Sylvia of Whitman tours. She was incredibly knowledgeable, fascinating,opinionated and bossy.She drove some of the group mad but I thought her strong personality and very politically incorrect opinions were part of the experience. When you get to talk to European Jews you realize they have lived through the history the rest of us have only read about. Both her parents survived the camps only to be arrested and persecuted again under the Communists.

We decided to go to the main square Saturday evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree. It seemed like a tree lighting in Czechoslovakia would be a once in a lifetime experience.Fortunately, it will be.I get very claustrophobic in crowds so we decided to go to the outer edge of the square. We got about halfway across the square when the crowd of several thousand people merged together trapping us without even space to turn around or raise our hands. I'm short in America and in Prague, land of incredibly tall blond people, I am even shorter. After a few "I can handle this moments" I realized I could not. By some miracle I was able to weave my way out to the edges again in what seemed like the worlds longest 15 minutes. The tree was nice, thought!
So, its always good to be home but I do miss dashing to the square every afternoon for hot wine and the doughnuts cooked on stocks over hot coals!

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