Friday, April 01, 2005

48 Hours in Prague

Tim and I took advantage of our in-house staff-- my Mom and Dad are visiting from the U.S.-- to leave the boys behind and visit Prague in the Czech Republic. Prague, or Praha as they say there, has always been on our list of European cities we wanted to visit. It's a beautiful city, which I say despite the fact that a pickpocket tried (and failed) to lighten my load less than two hours after we arrived there.

We had a wonderful time, but I can't say for sure if that's due to the absence of the kids or a reflection of the city (probably both). I can see why so many movies are filmed there, as it easily stands in as Generic European City. It seems as though time stopped around 1910, as the city is filled with perfectly preserved Art Nouveau buildings. The beauty of some of these places literally stops you in your tracks. At least the Communists had the good sense to leave well enough alone.

In fact, I was somewhat disappointed not to find more reminders of Communism. On our last day, we saw a fascinating exhibit called "Propaganda" featuring Communist Party posters of the 1950s and 1960s used in both Czechoslovakia and the U.S.S.R. It shed some light on what it was like under Communist rule. Artistically, the graphics and fonts were really interesting and beautiful in their own way. We could have gone to the National Art Gallery to see some Impressionists, but we've seen all those painters before in one country or another. This was the first, and possibly only time we'll be able to see something like this.

The food is heavily oriented toward cheese, which made me very happy. For our first meal (dinner), I had fried camerbert for a starter. For our second meal (breakfast), I had some cheese with bread. For our third meal (lunch), I had cheese on top of a filet steak. I almost had to break the cheese habit because the restaurant didn't have any steak, but the waiter ran up the hill and got a fresh filet from the restaurant next door. For our fourth meal (dinner), I had marinated cheese as a starter. For our fifth meal (breakfast), I had cheese with bread again. The desserts were also delicious. Yum. Yum. Yum.

The city was filled with tourists, many of them American and British (the fact that I could understand what they were saying gave it away). If I could just take a moment to rant-- and what's an online journal for if not to complain every once in a while-- I'd like to talk about some of the sartorial choices these tourists made. Now I understand that I was basically on a three-day date with my husband so I made a bit of an effort (The Skirt Initiative was in full force). But if you're eating breakfast in a five-star hotel wearing ratty old jeans and a stained sweatshirt, I wonder-- what do you wear when you're cleaning the house? A little bit of effort goes a long way.
I had every intention of running while I was there. In fact, I brought two days worth of gear to do so. But when given a choice of having a lazy morning with Tim or going out to pound the streets, I wisely chose the former. (However, I did do Pilates both mornings while Tim was in the shower. So I wasn't completely negligent in my preparation for the race.

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