Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Written last Friday on the 777 flying from Frankfurt, Germany, back to the US

I’ve heard it suggested that you should travel together before getting married, because the stresses of travel will show just how strong your relationship is. Anne and I have generally traveled just about perfectly. Heck, a trip to Oregon had one of my worst Crohn’s attacks ever, and still rates as one of our best family vacations ever. (Anne has had to get me to the hospital on so many vacations that she always knows where the nearest hospital is.) I had even commented on Wednesday how Anne was the perfect travel companion. 

Yesterday, we had a lovely morning walk to and through the Erfurt castle [pics to come], then made it to Frankfurt and had a wonderful Ethiopian lunch, sitting outside with no one else around.

Then it went south. 

Using my phone (omg, how did we travel before these? Phone, camera, maps, email, texts, purchases, research) I bought tickets for the train from the main station to the airport stop. As I had numerous times before on the trip, I showed the QR code to the agent. But it turns out I had only bought one ticket. He called the senior guy, who took us off the train at the next stop and walked us to an ATM to get cash for the fine. (I wonder if it occurred to him that buying one ticket had to be a mistake. Either try to ride for free and risk getting fined, or buy two.)

OK, it is just money. When we’re about to die, I won’t look back and bemoan that withdrawal. I felt stupid, but not too much – people goof up, especially on a website in a language they don’t speak. But things kept going wrong after that for the next few hours, ending with us backtracking in the sun after yet another wrong turn trying to walk to the hotel. (At the end of our 2018 trip, we took a cab from the train station to the airport. I knew the place was less than two kilometers away, but the driver drove all over and charged us forty euro.) And while we were slogging with our backpacks and carry-ons, Anne was thinking that we’re going to have to walk it again in the morning to get to our flight. At the hotel, they mention a shuttle that runs in the morning (which I knew about), but Anne heard “forty euro a person” instead of “four.” Oy.

I am well aware of the “peak / end” effect of memories (that you judge an event based on its peak emotional moment as well as its end, rather than its overall balance of good vs bad). But luckily, I knew the entire trip that I was having a magical experience, and I know the memories of the trip will be a regular source of joy going forward. (I know that even while in pretty significant pain right now, crammed into this cattle car seat on the 777 flying back to America.) 

There she is, the pretty-old 777-200.

Probably Newfoundland; this flight didn't go over Greenland.

Dresden pictures soon (I hope).


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Prague to Dresden

This was the time I thought I was most likely to catch covid, as we were in a compartment with four other people, three of whom clearly didn't care about covid. But we avoided catching it the entire trip!

The Prague Marathon started the morning we left. This was the start of the "fun run." 

Train station. If you love architecture, you have to go to Prague.

On the border, where the signs are in both languages.
This is where the crews of these two trains switched - our crew went to the train going to Prague, and vice versa.

These three are from Vegan House in Dresden's New Town.



These two are the view from our Airbnb. Above to the left is the Frauenkirche, the most famous church in town.


Covid testing station.

The next day was just incredible.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

More Prague?

Greetings from Tucson! We're trying to get a bunch of stuff done, so here are some pics from the next day of our trip, Saturday, May 7 (warning: a sculpture that involves a snake below):

No, not the streaming service.




Albino peacock!

What I hope American women do to Republicans come November.







These two are at a lovely veg place for lunch.



One of the many statues dedicated to Kafka.

These two are from the Municipal House, an example of the Art Nouveau architecture in town.


These three of The House at the Black Madonna, perhaps the most famous "cubist" building in Prague. 


Not a fan of the "tons of foam" style. 

The three musketeers! 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The One Song

In my Colbert Questionairt, I chose Everybody Wants to Rule the World as the one song I would listen to if I could have only one. That is, in part, because there are so many versions! Here are five of the best.

This (predictably strange) Lorde version has 15M views (and 12M here); TfF has used it to open shows.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

First full day in Prague

What a lovely, lovely city! 

Pretty much the only gray day on the trip. A week out, the forecast was for cold and rain, so much so that we brought tons of gear we didn't really need. Thanks for the jacket, Carl!

Tyn Church, Old Town Square. Because of the decades of communist rule, Czechia is a very non-religious country. Many churches there are used for concerts and other secular activities.

Jan Hus, who got a lot of people killed because he questioned the Pope.

Gehry's "Dancing House."

The church at Vysehrad Castle.

Top of the Dancing House.


At the top of Petrin Hill.

Being on the top of this hill, the tip of this tower is the same altitude as Eiffel. 



Powder Tower.


National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square.

No horses were harmed.



Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Monday, May 9, 2022

Train to and first day in Prague

Prague was amazing. Just incredible. And there was a different tension, since neither of us speak or read Czech. Don't go on the weekend, though, as there are drunken hordes in the evening.

In the Regensburg train station. Wasn't open yet, though.

First picture in Czechia.

No masks in Prague. If I have covid, it is from the train ride back.


These pictures are from the castle (a town within walls). Went after 5, so free!



Even the doors were amazing.

Kafka.

Story below.

Since we originally planned to come to Prague, back in October 2019, I have been watching videos from the channel “Honest Guide.” Janek, on camera, and Honza, have over a hundred videos about Prague (and other places they visit, but mostly Prague). Anne would sometimes stop in my office while I was stretching or doing physical therapy, so she had watched a lot of Janek about Prague.

Once we got into Prague on Thursday, after the long train ride from Regensburg, we dropped off our stuff at the Airbnb and headed out. After a good meal at one of the many vegan places (we only scratched the surface during our four days), we went across the Charles Bridge and up to the castle, where we could get in free and wander the grounds with many fewer people than during the day.

Walking briskly (the only way Anne walks) on a sidestreet at twilight, I said suddenly, almost without cognition, “Are you the Honest Guide?” Janek was already past us, but he stopped and came back, submitting to a selfie. 

It was pretty incredible. He had just been filming (he doesn’t live close to there), and just happened to be on that sidestreet. Pretty quickly, Anne processed how amazing this was – we know of only two people in Czechia, and we ran into one of them. While Anne was saying, “Oh my god! How cool was that? Why aren’t you more excited?” I was mostly just stunned. But I messaged him on Facebook and heard back, so I guess it really happened.