Heading home…

The Tulip Room in Prague

The train for Prague left at 9:35 am so I had plenty of time for breakfast and to check out.  I bid farewell to the staff at Nossek, who really had been very gracious and friendly, and set off for the Meidling train station.  I got there early – around 8:25 am – and had to wait till my train came up on the Departure screen (they usually only show about an hour’s worth of trains) so I could see what track I was leaving from.

After about 10 minutes, it came up and listed Track 5.  It also said that it was delayed twenty minutes.  Rats!  If I’d know that, I wouldn’t have left so early.  Regardless, I headed out for the track and plopped myself down on a seat to wait for the train.  Around 9:55 am, it finally pulled in and everyone got on.  It was quite a crowd and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t find a seat.  I hadn’t bothered to get a seat reservation, but I finally found one (plus an empty one next to me), and settled in for the long 4+ hour ride to Prague.

The scenery was pretty but relatively uneventful except for the occasional glimpse of some ruins or a pretty church.  Mostly I read or worked on my journal.  We made a few stops and at one point, a Czech man got on and sat next to me.  Luckily, it was only for a brief time as he stank of stale cigarette smoke.

Finally, we got into Prague around 2:30 p.m. and everyone piled out into the station.  This was the first time I’d been to the Prague train station, since I’d flown in before and we left by bus, so I had to look around before I found the Metro.  I bought my ticket (plus one for the next morning), validated it and soon found myself on the way to Lesser Quarter, where I had booked a room once again with Castle Steps.

This time, I was in the Tulip Room.  It was not as big as the Buttercup Room, and didn’t have the enormous bathtub, but it WAS at the base of Nerudova Street, which means I didn’t have to climb the hill.  In fact, it was right off the square, so it was very convenient to the tram.  It was in an apartment, and my room was on the second floor.

View from bridge

Once I got settled, I headed out.  My sole goal was to spend the remaining 300 Czech crowns I had (courtesy of Pat), and to eat dinner.  I was tired after a long travel day, and all I wanted to do was rest in my room.  So I headed for Manufaktur, a very nice shop that only sells items made in the Czech Republic, and bought a small gift for my daughter.

Having divested myself of the Czech money, I took the tram to Cafe Savoy in New Town and had a nice dinner of sausage, ham, cabbage, potatoes and wine.  Afterward, I indulged with an apple/cheese tart and Cafe Savoy’s house coffee, which had cinnamon and chocolate in it, and paid with a credit card.  I still had Euros left, but those can always be used again on another trip.  I wanted to get rid of the Czech money because I wasn’t sure when or if I would be back here.

Finally, it was time to go.  I walked back over the bridge and looked out at Prague in the evening dusk.  I could see the castle sitting high on the hill above the city, and had a brief spurt of melancholy that I was leaving this beautiful area.  But truth be told, I was ready for home.

View of castle in distance

When I got back to the Tulip room, it was blessedly quiet and peaceful.  I did some hand-laundry, worked on my blog and finally got everything packed up and ready to go.  The bed was huge and very comfy and I was soon fading away….

The next morning, I was up early as I had to catch a tram, metro and bus to the airport, and I wanted to make sure I was there two hours before my 10:35 a.m. departure.  Since I wasn’t going to be able to eat breakfast at Castle Steps, I stopped at Bohemia Bagel and got a couple of bagels and a cup of coffee to take with me. The bagels are great – just like American bagels – but the coffee was pretty weak.  However, it was hot and had caffeine, so I drank it down.

I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  I usually fly just with carry-ons but because of the gifts I was bringing back, I had to check a bag. So even though I had checked in online, I still had to go through the check in process. There was a moment of panic when I saw a huge line at the Delta counter.  However, I noticed the Business Class section (which only had a few people) allowed all classes of Medallion members to check in – I’m silver class. I was able to get my bag checked in record time.

Cafe Savoy

As I made my way back to the assigned gate, I noticed that I had not gone through any security lines, which seemed very strange. I was just starting to wonder if I’d accidentally slipped past them when I realized that the Prague airport has the security lines at each individual gate.  It certainly makes it a lot easier and convenient.  I’m curious whether it’s cost-effective for the airport to do it this way.  On one hand, you can move personnel from one gate to the other, depending on flight times.  But on the other, you need a lot more equipment for each gate.

At any rate, I made it on my flight and joined the rest of the passengers as we taxied out of Prague Airport. The flight home was incredibly long, but the man sitting next to me was very nice.  He spoke with an American accent, but several times, a young high school boy came up and talked to him in Czech.  I assumed it was his son, but he told me that the young kid was actually a Czech pitcher who just turned 17 and has just been signed by the Philadelphia Phillies.  My seatmate was a scout for the Phillies and was bringing the boy (his name is Marek Minarik) over for instructional training in Florida for a month.  Then he comes back in the spring for actual spring training.  Marek was very tall (probably 6’1″ or 6’2″ and the scout said that he is still growing.  He was very cute, though, and obviously very excited about coming over.

We finally made it to JFK, where I had the pleasure of a six-hour layover at the world’s dirtiest airport. But finally I was on my way home to CVG – and already planning my next trip!

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