Where to start?
At the beginning, I suppose. The flight from Vancouver was good, got into the air without a hitch and the flight was comfortable (except for the over-ripe Dutch woman beside my girlfriend who couldn’t help but take up all the space she paid for… plus half of my girlfriend’s.) Getting off the plane was interesting, though. When we arrived in Schipol airport, we couldn’t help but notice all the dozens of guards armed with machine gun. I suppose that’s what happens, though, when you arrive in a westernized country on September 11th. Despite the guards, we arrived safe and sound… to find the city of Amsterdam taking a beating from a torrential downpour!
After the rain stopped, we spent a couple of hours wandering around the city (more or less in a stupor caused by endless hours without sleep and major jetlag) waiting for the shuttle to our hostel. We weren’t impressed. Just like last time, the city overwhelmed us, but by the end of our stay we had fallen in love with the little city. The first night is a bit of a blur, spent mostly sleeping, and we were up again before we knew it and back in Amsterdam. Lucky for us, a good friend lives just outside of Amsterdam and she was cool enough to offer us a bed for the night, for which we’ll be eternally grateful. You’ve got to see her house! It’s exactly what you’ think a chic European house would look like! Definitely a step up from the hostel.
We did the touristy things like taking a canal cruise (our pilot was funny!), eating pancakes (which were great) and wandering the red light district (the ‘Ladies of the Night’ are suprisingly hot, certainly a step up from the ones wandering street corners back home!)
Over our jetlag, and finally excited about travelling, we were sorry to leave Amsterdam, but excited to get the show really on the road. We flew out of Amsterdam (taking a small plane that we loaded straight off the tarmac!) and arrived in Prague near 11:00pm local time.
Prague is fantastic, there’s just so many bloody things to do here! Over the past two days we’ve done two different walking tours, each focusing on a different part of the city and lasting for over 2.5 hours each. We find that walking tours are a great way to orient ourselves with the layout of a city, and they also teach us a good deal of the history surrounding the city! Our first day we got to go to Prague Castle (Holy Huge, Batman!), the John Lennon wall, saw the Charles Bridge (still not sure why I’m supposed to care about it) and saw the oldest bar in Prague (This, on the other hand, I was damn excited about). It was a good day (no rain!), but we were really tired by the end of it. We did, however, find time to squeeze in a traditional Czech meal of Beef Goulash, dumplings and cheap beer.
Day two, we wandered around the other half of the city and got to see a big metronome (I dunno…), the astronomical clock (not nearly as lame as the Glockenspiel…) and the Jewish Quarter (which was charming and depressing all at once). Especially touching was a Synagogue with the names of over 70,000 Czech jews who were killed during WWII, and the Old Jewish Cemetary (a haunting place that had me clicking my camera like mad… in a manner most respectful to the dead, I’d like to point out.)
All in all, we’re really enjoying Prague, so much so that we booked an extra night! We’re going to travel to Plzen tomorrow (the birthplace of the Pilsen style of beer) and then to a medieval village the next day! We’re definitely over the pre-arrival blues (those first couple of days are hard) and ready to travel.