Waking up in Prague on day 6 of our 11 day trip...and I’ve made a few observations.
1: There is no denying that Prague has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The architecture here is just remarkable-you can’t do it justice with pictures or words. It makes me wonder if the men who created these buildings even fully recognized the impact they would have on later generations, those of us born in times where no one has the time or maybe even the skill to create something like it. I can’t help but think that if more people had the chance to see it in person, the character and life it adds to a city, there might be more inclination to replicate it. Maybe not, but it’s still a nice thought. I’m grateful to have gotten the chance to see it for myself.
2: The taxi drivers in Vegas, Houston and New York have always had the notable distinction of being the worst anywhere. Yeah, they’re not even on the same level as the taxi drivers in Prague. The drivers here make the ones in America seem like they’re driving the church bus. More specifically, I’ve never been so certain I was about to die in a fiery crash than in the first taxi we got into here. Obviously it doesn’t help that we can’t read the street signs or understand their traffic lights and laws, not to even mention the language barrier. But I really would’ve thought the terrified look of fear on our faces would translate to any language. Maybe it did and that’s how they get their jollies-who knows. Let’s just say we were joyfully surprised when we made it to our destination in one piece. Shortly after that we discovered that Prague has Uber, which for sure helped a little. Uber drivers at least have the added incentive of wanting to protect their own cars...which works into a happy benefit for the passengers.
3: I’ve always heard that people either love traveling in Europe or they hate it, and there’s very little middle ground. Being here has clarified that a little for me, but I don’t agree on the no middle ground part. For myself, for instance, there are many things that I absolutely love about being here. There are also a few things I’m less crazy about. But if I’m being honest, the things I’m not enjoying so much, are very inconsequential things, conveniences really, that we take for granted at home and think we can’t live without. Like air conditioning, for example. I’m not saying they don’t have it in Prague...I’m just saying they don’t seem to depend on it much. Most of the vehicles don’t have it, or if they do the drivers don’t offer to turn it on. The majority of the shops either don’t have it or just don’t use it much. I can’t speak to the private residences but I have to assume it’s similar. For the most part the locals don’t seem to care much, or even realize how much more comfortable they could be, or that their guests could be. In their defense, this summer is the hottest summer they’ve had here in a very long time. It’s usually 10-15 degrees cooler, so I guess that would explain why they normally don’t need a lot of AC. But speaking from a spoiled American’s point of view, particularly one from Texas, I definitely miss my AC. Judge if you must, I said it and I stand by it.
4: The whole concept of “when in Rome” is a lot easier to talk about, I’ve learned, than to actually practice. We’re all guilty, me especially, of having grand ideas of traveling somewhere exotic and trying all the local delicacies, etc. And I can honestly say that for the first few days, we genuinely did that. I’ve ordered things and eaten things that I couldn’t pronounce the name of and certainly can’t tell you what it was. I can’t say I enjoyed all of it...maybe 70/30-ish...? What I can say is that I felt very European ordering and eating those things, and I guess that’s kind of the point. Have to say though, halfway through our trip, I’ve already asked the concierge to mark the route on the city map to the nearest McDonalds...so, there’s that. #notsorry.
5: For the most part, the people of the Czech Republic are very warm, welcoming people. Of course we did receive the usual warnings about pickpockets and thieves and the importance of staying in groups, etc, but in reality we haven’t really witnessed anything that alarmed us much. We’ve for sure seen some sketchy looking characters at times, but, knock on wood, it hasn’t been nearly the problem that I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, I still bring my taser and pepper spray with me every time we leave the hotel, and am completely prepared to use them if necessary. But just to clarify, there are plenty of places in the States I would do the same in-definitely not a reflection of the people here.
I think i mentioned in my last blog that the whole reason for this trip is that my mother in law is competing in a ballroom dance competition here. So I’d also like to share a few observations I’ve made about that specifically.
Ballroom dance and the passion exhibited by the people who pursue it is the same in every country represented here. Which is cool to see all these people from all over the world expressing their creativity through their moves and their costumes, almost as a common language they all share.
And apparently the energy level of the instructors is universal-like the Energizer Bunny. Seriously, I’ve never seen a group of people who can dance nonstop until 2 am, be back up at 5 am for hair and makeup, and then dance another full day with the same energy of a rock concert. Mid afternoon this is pretty entertaining...7:30 am, not so much... Coffee first, then Conga line. Just sayin’...
Ballroom dance is like every other sport, hobby, pastime, whatever—people who love it choose to put their time and effort into it. And their money. The financial commitment of the costumes alone is impressive. If you’ve never seen one of these events, it isn’t people dressing in their Sunday best and dancing together. These people spend hours and hours every week choreographing, planning, practicing-all for the perfect performance. There are strict guidelines of course and regulations, but the difference is in the art of it. They are artists for sure, and movement is their medium. Never having given ballroom dance much thought, myself, I have to admit it is inspiring to watch it performed at the competitive level. And I admire the dancers for their mastery of it.
And no, I’m not signing up for lessons. I can’t afford it and horses too. One vice per person is enough.
So, halfway through the competition, and halfway through our trip, I’m still 2 thumbs up. Many more good experiences than bad so far and still enjoying my traveling companions. Bayli and I are actually very compatible sharing a hotel room-she’s not a crack of dawn person either so I don’t feel like punching her...so that’s good. You can’t room with me and be chirpy right out of bed-my sister survived doing it for years but she for sure has a few stories she could tell.
Still have lots more to see before we come home and I’m sure it will all be unforgettable. Will I ever travel to Europe again? I certainly hope so! Next time hopefully the rest of the family will want to come, although I’m less optimistic about one or two of them being “Europe-compatible”. We’ll just have to put a pin in that and wait and see.
For now, I’m signing off from Day 6 in Prague. Gotta get some rest and be in the ballroom at 7:30 am sharp for the Conga line.
And try not to throat punch the Energizer Bunnies.
Gotta fight the battles you can win....