Travel Journal

...and we're off! Prague, 9/17-9/21

(Monday 20 September 2010) by Joanne Chang
Ok. Hm, a travel blog. Before I arrived in Prague three days ago, the chances of me blogging were slim to none. I wanted to disappear, travel unnoticed, roam free of expectations and attachments. But I had a dream last night. Third night in a row of vivid dreams and interrupted sleep, awake for hours at a time in the middle of the night, writing and putzing around on the internet (jet lag has never really affected me, burning man must have really done me in!) In my dream I had this anxiety, this worry, about not being able to share this trip with the people in my life who helped me get here (Dave P, I'm sure your voice was also in there somewhere!) You all have given me an incredible amount of love and support, notwithstanding the last two years, which is allowing me to embark on an adventure I could only have dreamed of. This trip is as much yours as it is mine; I dedicate it to you, and I want to share as many moments as possible with you because you are here with me, always.

So that's the why part. Now the how part is a little tricky. I only have an iPad with me (Marc B, you were right. A girl like me needs a MacBook). I can't upload photos with an iPad. I'm sure there are ways around this but if anyone has clever ideas short of buying a Mac or downloading at an internet cafe, please let me know. Did you know that a MacBook in Prague costs 1.5 times the price in the US? I learned that today after trekking to the Apple store in Prague. They said it was taxes and stuff. Czechs with Macs must really love their technology. So photos are tricky but I'm figuring it out. Look!

Jo at Charles Bridge, Prague
Jo at Charles Bridge, Prague
On with the what part. What have I been up to? Mainly, trying to sleep. And walking walking walking around town. I've been up and down Old Town (Stare Mesto) New Town (Nove Mesto) across the Charles Bridge, through Prague Castle (avoid on weekends, it's madness!), up Petrin Tower, and in between the adorable winding lanes of Mala Strana. I found the Lennon wall after a few tries (totally worth it!) and entered into Wenceslas Vineyard just below the castle. Who knew there were working vineyards in Prague?

Barbies, Toy Museum, Prague Castle
Barbies, Toy Museum, Prague Castle
I visited the toy museum with an enormous collection of Barbie dolls and the most intricate doll- sized toilets you've ever seen. I walked through the Jewish quarter which plopped me down on Prague's version of 5th Avenue which was alarming at first, it seemed so out of place. I stumbled across a really impressive sculpture made of keys (below). And, well, it wouldn't be a Jo adventure without a wine festival mixed in there. The Prague wine festival fell on this weekend steps from my hotel, giving me a new appreciation and respect for Czech and Hungarian wines. Petr Skoupil is a winery in the southern Moravian region making some tasty reds, varietals I've never heard of like Dornfelder and Rulanske -- earthy and elegant, would have guessed they were Italian. Ross Bott-- I don't think I've seen a Czech wine tasting out of you which means you need to get traveling out here to start collecting! The whites were on the sweeter side, but fruity, bright and well balanced. So much for my detox plan in Prague. Guess I'll be saving that for France or Italy :-p

Key Sculpture, Prague
Key Sculpture, Prague
Czechs love beer. Pilsner Urquell was born here and it's everywhere. Beer, like wine in Spain, is cheaper than water. In some places half the price. And they loooove sausage. Pork. Ham. Anything made with pig parts, served with potatoes or dumplings and cabbage. You all know this is not my kind of thing, but today I went to Olympia for lunch, one of the original Pilsner Urquell pubs where they get their beer non-preserved direct from the source, and had a pilsner with meat and sausage. Check! (or Czech! haha).

A few other things I've learned on this trip: if there are nuts on the table, don't assume they're free. I paid 5 usd for a handful of almonds. Lambrusco wine (Italian) is served cold and fizzy, and tastes like wine gone bad. If you experience this, don't send it back, it was made that way...just don't order it unless you're in Italy. You can be in any random country and witness another Asian girl talking and carrying herself exactly like you-- same mannerisms, same tilt of the head, same expressions. It's a strange thing to observe while lamenting your Lambrusco.
Across from Charles Bridge, Prague
Across from Charles Bridge, Prague


Tomorrow, off to Vienna by train for Lisa's wedding. Very exciting. Tonight, off to find something yummy to eat, that didn't come from a pig.

BTW, if anyone's going through Frankfurt security in the next 6 weeks, they have my leatherman that was confiscated at security. It's a nice one and yours til we meet again if you want to grab it... :-)



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