Monday, December 1, 2008

More on Prague

Saru and I are poles apart when it comes to money. I love spending and he loves saving. We were on a 2 week trip in Europe and I wanted it to be a combination of budget and luxury facilities. We would eat breakfast at a local bakery and a roadside lunch while splurging on dinner. In Bruges, we stayed in a bed and breakfast and in Amsterdam it was a 4 star hotel. For Prague, I took the advice of my friends Radhika and Nihar and searched for vacation rentals and found a very inexpensive 1 bed apartment outside the city, next to Chodov metro station. It was half as expensive as a hotel in the town and twice as big. The owner Petr was a great guy and helped us plan our trip. It was actually nice to get away from the noisy tourist infested town to the suburbs in the night.

The next morning, we took the Prague metro to a station near the old town square. Our first stop was the 15th century astronomical clock. At the top of every hour, death represented by a skull rings the bell followed by the marching of 12 apostles. Hundreds of people were waiting for this show and the whole thing was over in about 20 seconds. After this anti-climatic show, we went up the town hall for views of the city and we were not disappointed.

We then walked into a Mozart symphony in St Nicholas Church next door. I am not a music person, but was still very impressed with the performance of the kids.

After a quick lunch, we began our walkathon. We went from the old town to the Jewish quarter to the Castle quarter to the little quarter and finally back to the old town for sunset (see map). We walked at least 10 km that afternoon. Oh yes, I am into the metric system now.....whatever makes that number look big!

Vam: Oh my god! I can’t walk anymore – my feet hurt.

Saru: It is OK, just think they are not hurting and it won’t hurt.

Vam: WHAT??

Saru: Just think they are not hurting.

Vam: But they are!

Saru: If you tell yourself that you are fine…then you really ARE fine.

Vam: What nonsense! I am going to sit here for a little bit.

Saru: No no no. You can’t. If you keep walking it won’t hurt!

Let me stop here and tell you a little bit about the husband. He is a smart scientist who can be outright stupid sometimes. He occasionally comes up with these truisms that make no sense at all:

Truism #1 – If you think you are OK, you are OK!

Truism #2If you keep walking, it won’t hurt!

Vam: So, you are saying that I should walk some more, so that I don’t hurt from all this walking!

Saru: Yes. Let’s go –Chop Chop!

Vam: You are crazy!! I am not going to keep walking all day.

Saru: I am telling you! That is the only way!

I completely ignored him and stopped at a cafe to eat this fruit crepe with ice cream while trying to ignore a lecture (I warned you. It is not my problem anymore. If you complain later, I 'll say "I told you so!"). I pulled the plate towards myself and did not share even one bite with the mental case.

In case you are wondering, here are some more of Saru’s truisms -

Truism #3You are cold because you are hot!

Truism #4 (a variation of #3)You are hot because you are cold!

The charm of these statements will be lost if I explain them, so I will let you ponder on those , feel sorry for me and continue with my trip report. The trick to understanding Saru's truisms are to read them over and over again until you are convinced that he is either a brainy or a loony.

After huffing and puffing through an uphill hike, we reached the Strahov Monastery. An 18th century Baroque building, the monastery has a library with rare books. Some of the rooms had beautiful frescos on the ceilings and some paintings in the hallways.

We walked to the little quarter below the castle and along the Vltava River. We took a nice quiet stroll along the river watching folks on peddle boats and views of Prague’s old and new towns.

After all that walking, we settled down at a restaurant with a great view of the Charles bridge and Prague Castle waiting for the sunset. You know that food is not good at places where they hand out menus in three languages, but we wanted to see and photograph that view. Photography requires patience and Saru is born with it. As for me, I used to tap my foot in impatience while Saru would click pictures, but now I am getting better. We ordered food, setup our camera and tripod and waited for that perfect half hour after sunset when the lights on the monument get switched on and the sky takes on this deep blue color to create a magical atmosphere. I can never ever get tired of night views of European monuments!

While we were eating dinner, we noticed that our waiter was getting yelled at by all his clients. We didnt understand this until we got our bill. The bill was much higher than what we expected! He included items we didn't order and a service tax and a hefty tip for himself. I am a well informed traveler and I knew that service tax is included in the cost of the dish and that tipping is not as generous as in the US. We saved ourselves 20E and walked out shaking our heads at this blatant attempt to cheat unsuspecting tourists.


  1. I absolutely loved reading about your trip to all looks so beautiful. LOL @ "If you think you are OK, you are OK!"...that reminded me of my dad. You've got quite an interesting blog. :)

  2. I echo Vagabond's views here. can not say more on it.
    Looking forward to Vienna posts.

  3. While the rest of the pictues demand more applaud like the blue sky night shot with the lighted monuments (most spectacular indeed) I have to comment on the fruit crepe with icecream - mouthwatering...slurp!! Let me tell you your blog is yummy food for the mind just like the crepe for the hungry tummy. :-) I enjoy reading your updates

  4. Vagabond,
    That comment ("If you think you are OK, you are OK!") actually makes sense when you are talking about mental pain. Saru uses it for physical pain too - Think you are not cold or Think you are not hungry etc:) Anyway, love making fun of him.

    Vienna will come after Cesky Krumlov, a cute little town at the CZ / Austria border.

    You are in the US, where you can run to a Creperie if you wanted one. If I want one here, I have to make it myself!! Actually that is not a bad idea...but... Darn! I forgot I am on a post-Diwali diet.

  5. I loved your post, and last week's which I had missed while we were away. Prague is a lovely city, I too have a scientist husband with endurance well beyond mine. He had lived in Prague when he was three, so we had to go and see everything and find his old kindergarden! I need regular sustenance he can walk for miles on thin air, my feet hurt, he's don't.. I think you get the picture, but Prague is still a lovely city and you have presented it magnificently. Thanks.

  6. Vamsee - The clock thing so reminded me of the Salarjung Mueseum one. There was a long wait for the 12p one and I never understood what it was about. Know what I am talking about?

    I've heard at least one of Saru's truisms before - If u keep walking it'll hurt less. Got this advise when we were climing the seven hills of Tirupathi - something about how your brian releases endorphines (or something like that) when u start resting and when u start again, it's more painful. I am not syaing I bought the logic or even followed it, but maybe Saru deserves a little "science" credit :D

  7. Let me straight get to the truisms :)
    I started reading this blog thinking I will make fun of Saru, but then I also think there is some sense to Truism 1 & 2. I use it a lot on Bhaskar. But #3 & 4 are pure BS :)

    The night view of the monument reminded me of the Alhambra pic Saru took (which took forever).

  8. Appu,
    I definitely remember the clock in the Salarjung Museum in Hyderababd. This was almost like that.

    As for that truism - It makes sense to use if if you are trying to get to the finish line of a marathon or a hike. Here...I was on vacation. I had nowhere to go!!

  9. Kala,
    Ever since i wrote this...Saru walks around the house saying random things hoping to provide me material for my next article:)

    That picture reminded me of Spain too.