Thursday, May 28, 2009

Czech Me Out: Prague, Czech Republic.

Hola queridos,

The city of Prague was very highly recommended to me as one of the more beautiful cities in of course I had to make plans to go there! But first...

Travel during the first part of my Spring break was done primarily by plane & the second part (through Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy) were all done by train with the use of our Eurail passes. The Eurail pass entitled us to 5 days travel in any of the three bordering countries: Czech Republic, Austria, & Switzerland. This pass would eventually prove to be a great thing, but it didn't start off so grand.

To begin, when I finally received my package, it was missing the actual pass! So of course you're left to think that someone just walked off with my $300 + pass and I'm left with nothing. My host mom, who'd signed for the package (that appeared to have been tampered with), felt horrible and took me to the police station. Yes! I was in the police station in Spain to report my package missing. Fortunately, the company somehow managed to find the rest of my package and sent it to me. Phew.

Then, in order to use the pass you have to get it "verified." This proved to be an even greater challenge as we were trying to do this in Poland, where English was very minimal, and they had very little knowledge of what the Eurail pass is. So we boarded the train anyway, without it being verified, which may very well be illegal, but all the documentation was there so we did it. Once in some very random city in the Czech Republic, we waited in line forever and were then told that we had to go to the "Conductor's Office". So we walk around, this women greets me (and by greet I mean grunts and stares). Seriously, she looked at me like I was from another planet! Then she wakes her boss up, because, oh ya! it was 2 am. He speaks very little English but at least had patience to try and understand our situation, although, long story short, we got back on a later train and still didn't have verification.

So first order of business when our train arrived to Prague, was not to sightsee, but to find a place where we could be verified. Customer service wasn't any better in Czech & I was starting to get frustrated because it seemed that no one knew where or what these passes were. We then left the main train station for another (where we "needed" to go) but no surprise when the women (who didn't speak any English) said that we needed to go back to the main train station.


Not ready to just find our way back to the train station, I was using as many hand signals as possible to convey that we were already there, they told us to go here, blah blah blah. Finally, I pulled out the only German word that I knew (because she spoke German) and I said "YAH" and pointed in the other direction...and it worked! So she called the main station, then slid the phone underneath the glass window and I was able to talk to someone in English. Phew.

So after we found our way back to the same station, we got our stamps, and went off sightseeing, but not after a cup of Starbucks Coffee. Prague really is a pretty city, there's some good history here as well. We saw some churches and visited the castle as well. Although I didn't find it as beautiful as was previously described to me, I still had a very pleasant time.

At the end of the day, we boarded the train and headed off to Salzburg, Austria.


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