Back home (1)

July 20, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Late this afternoon, I got home from vacation. I didn’t go to an exotic place, wasn’t near the ocean, and didn’t fly — but it was an adventure.

Last Tuesday morning I left with a funny feeling in my stomach: Would my daughter really manage alone? I had to let go, and trust. Plus her father wasn’t that far away — in case of emergency.

Once on the train, I settled back to enjoy the fact that I was truly on my way. That contentment was brief. As the scheduled time to switch trains arrived, I was still on the train. It was running late. In fact, I was so nervous that I got out at the wrong station — the West Station instead of the Main Station. That turned out to be a blessing, as there happened to be a different train leaving for Munich in the next ten minutes. It was just a bit slower, so I got there an hour late. From there I had to take three more trains: to Furth im Wald, Pilsen, and then the train to Prague.

When I got off the train at Furth im Wald, I thought I was in a movie. The place looked deserted, grass was growing between the tracks, there were only a couple of old signs hanging on the wall. But the conductor said: “That is track two” and directed me to the next track where a little yellow wagon stood all by it self. I boarded the train — and saw an open wagen with thinly cushioned seats covered in red leather (imitation?). It was a loud, bumpy, two-hour ride. But being an old train, that meant we could open the windows. That was nice, as it was rather hot.

I arrived in Pilsen right on time, and when I saw “Praha” as the destination of the train at the platform, I felt utterly relieved. I’d begun to feel just a bit stranded and not so sure I’d get to Prague that day — but I did, after travelling for 14 hours (3 hours longer than originally planned).

The train station was rather dark and empty. I wandered around, having difficulty finding a taxi stand, but finally did. It all seemed a bit strange and set back, but I was so tired that I didn’t care. Even when he told me the price of the taxi to the city — 980 Krone — and I asked how much that is in Euros (about 40), I didn’t get overly suspicious.

The driver gave me quite a long ride. I had looked at the map from the hotel before I left, and really thought it much closer. But like I said, I was tired. I got safely to the hotel. The restaurant was still open, so I had a salad with pieces of chicken breast and a glass of red wine. During the day, I’d only had breakfast, 2 candy bars and a bowl of potato soup in Munich! Afterwards I went upstairs to my room, had another glass of wine and ate the little pack of cashews from the mini bar, then dropped off into a deep sleep.

The next day, I got a map of the city from the concierge. As I walked outside, I saw the hotel price list for taxis and realized that I had paid around 3 times too much! Well, maybe the driver had a wife and lots of hungry kids at home. Anyway, we westerners have taken advantage of them as well, so I’m not terribly mad about it.

Still, next time I go to a foreign city, I will inform myself a bit better. It is my responsibility to get the necessary information ahead of time. Oh, by the way, the driver had definitely taken the long way. The hotel was just a little over a mile from the train station. I bought a 24-hour public transportation ticket for 100 Krone, and took the subway back and forth. It was only 6 or 7 stops to the train station! And when I went back to the train station, I saw the “official” taxi stand sign. It definitely looked more credible.

Next time I’ll know better! And there will be a next time! My visit was way too short, and Prague is a wonderful city. I want to go back some time and stay a bit longer. More later. I’m tired. After I got home, I did housework for around an hour or so. The place was a mess. My daughter wasn’t home. I called her to ask her a question, and said the place was a mess. She acted surprised, and said she didn’t think so.

She just got home a little while ago — and brought me a present: a little buddha statue that I’ve wanted for ages! I gave her a kiss. It’s the first gift she’s given me in quite some time. I smiled, kissed her, and said: “So you don’t think the place was a mess?” She smiled back. I’m glad everything went as well as it did.

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