Central Europe 2008: From The Czech Republic to Poland to Austria to Croatia to Slovenia to Italy
Day Four – License To Kill, Cutting Out To Kutna Hora, Dem Bones, Now That’s What I Call Stacked, Who’s Steven And Introducing Lady Garmin
Each morning before the taskmaster (aka maitaitom or “you idiot,” depending on who you talk to) had us zigzagging all over town, we would stop at Malostranska Kavarna (across from the wine cellar) and enjoy coffee and muffins to get us going. On this morning, Kim ordered a chocolate croissant, and after one bite, he said, “Tom, I recommend you buy one of these.” Good call!
Bolstered by extra sugar, we crossed the Charles Bridge and I rubbed…well let’s just call him St. What’s His Name from now on.
We walked to the Intercontinental Hotel to pick up our rental car. The car we had ordered was unavailable (I think maybe it had read my trip report from 2005 and was hiding in the bowels of the garage), so we were upgraded to a Passat Wagon.
Sensing trepidation on my part, the rental car guy gave us a thorough explanation of how the car worked, including the very important petrol/reverse issues that had plagued us a few short years ago. I was ready to drive us to Kutna Hora and reached into my pocket for my International Drivers License, and, voila, nothing. I was sure my trusted and lovely spouse had put it in our day-pack, but no luck. Although upset at myself, unlike Rome a few years back, I didn’t run like a mad man back to the hotel, because Kim also had one, so we were on our way.
Today, a new companion joined the four of us, but at first, it seemed she just did not want to talk to us. It wasn’t that she was shy; it was just that she had not warmed up to Mary’s constant touching of her different parts. Hey, watch what you’re thinking! Mary was only trying to program the Garmin GPS and was having a tad bit of trouble. But about one quarter of the way to Kutna Hora we heard the melodic and soothing words that we would hear another 1,493 times in the next few weeks: “Recalculating.” It was a pretty straight shot to Kutna Hora, so we just let the Garmin rest. It was her first day after all. Kim did an expert job of driving, and I tried to put my Type A personality on the back burner and savor my role as passenger. Kutna Hora is a cute, little town with a few places we wanted to explore before we headed on to Kostnice u Sedlici (Sedlec Bone Church).
But sights always take a back seat to sustenance, so after parking, and since it was hot, we found a restaurant. The meal was very good under large shade trees in a walled garden patio. Beer of choice at this place was Gambrinus.
Really bad jokes can be contagious. The ceiling of the church was unique, too
Tourists and locals alike marveled at their impromptu flamenco routine, and for only a short moment, Kim and I were the most sane of our foursome. Instead of Dancing With The Stars it was Dancing With The Cars.
Obviously, not all roads lead to Sedlec, because for some reason we could not find any signs and the Garmin did not have it on her radar. We just kept ending up back at Kutna Hora. Finally, after Kim stopped, and I received directions from a bus driver from Denmark (ok, that really didn’t help), we finally found the Sedlec Ossuary (hint: look for signs to Kostnice), whose interior is created out of human bones.
At one point, this was one of the top-notch burial spots in Europe, but since it got so crowded, a monk was given the job to collect all these bones for an ossuary (aka ” container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed”).
The trip back to Prague was enlightening as the Garmin GPS took us on our merry way. Since we were not in any hurry, and even when it seemed she was leading us astray, we followed her every command. I believe this was the first day she was dubbed “Lady Garmin,” a name that she would keep for the duration of the vacation. Soon we were in downtown Prague traffic, and Lady G navigated us through the crowded streets like a woman twice her age (which would only make her two days old). We drove by the Tančící dům (Dancing House), which made Tracy very happy because now we wouldn’t have to walk here (this is not my photo, but the photo from mapofprague.com shows this interesting architectural oddity).
It is very apparent that its architect, Frank Geary, had spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, because the Dancing House looks like it just was hit with a magnitude 7 earthquake. We then drove up our street and, of course, were pulled over to the curb by the police to inspect our car before heading by the embassies. “Please open your hood,” he said to Kim. Just then we had an instant head-slapping realization (I could have had a V8) that we had not asked the rental car guy how to perform that seemingly easy operation. Fortunately, the policeman assisted us, and we were on our way to our next dilemma. There was no public parking near our apartment. Fortunately, our landlord Pasquale had mentioned that the Hotel Constance, located up the street from the Vlasska Apartments, might have parking available.
The Hotel Constance is a charming boutique hotel, and the girl behind the desk was charming as was the hotel manager, Filip. Yes, they had parking, we were told. Filip opened the garage for Kim, who expertly navigated through the narrow space and was then told him to stop. There was another car in our space, but suddenly the door in front of that car closed and then, within seconds, it opened back up to reveal an empty parking spot. Perhaps Filip was David Copperfield in disguise. “No,” he explained.
It seems the Hotel Constance has an automatic stacking parking lift that can hold up to eight cars. We didn’t see anything stacked like that again until we got to Poland (pardon me). It cost a little more than 30 bucks a day to park there. The Hotel Constance looks like a place to check out on a future trip here.
As we walked back to the apartment Mary had a sudden thought, “We need to get our money to Steven tomorrow.”
“Umm, who is Steven?” Kim asked. “Do you mean Pasquale?” Not knowing how Mary confused the name Pasquale for Steven, Kim did another quick Ambien check, but everything seemed fine. We were tired from our day, but not too tired to head over to the Noble Club for a bottle of Dornfelder 2006 Moravia late harvest wine and some cheese.
In a Jimmy Stewart “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment, I once again grabbed the candle on the way down the staircase and, like the two days before, it dislodged from its appointed place. Fortunately, the owners must have known I was coming and the candle was not lit (although in a true test of faith, they did light it before we left) .
There was a restaurant on Nerudova Street that we had wanted to try for dinner, but it was closed, and since we were tired and did not want to go in search of food for the next hour, we decided upon a place serving pizza outside in the back patio, where we dined with three Indian doctors from England. It was fine, but nothing to write home about or even here for that matter. The next day was to be our last in Prague, and we still had a lot to accomplish, but I told Tracy we could sleep in a little…very little.
Next: Day Five – Sweet Peacock, Tracy Gets Her Gardens, A Farewell To Arm, Is That The Eiffel Tower, And Au Revoir To Prague