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Prague/Praha Paradise

October 31, 2007

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We could have stayed a month in Prague and yes, it is even prettier than everyone says. No crowds in October during the week made it even a greater delight. Not that we did not run into lots of people on the famous Charles Bridge that is probably always crowded and carnival-like, but except on Sunday, when there did seem to be an inordinate amount of tour guided groups, we felt we had much of this beautiful city to ourselves with mainly locals.

We heard mostly French and Italian voices along with the Slavic ones. I heard one distinct Polish conversation because they started with the two phrases I know in that language, but other wise I can not decipher what is Czech and all the other Slavic languages. We also met a few Americans, but they seemed to be a minority here at this time of year. Most of the big tour groups that we saw on Sunday were either Slavs or Asians.

As a “thumbnail” description, I would describe Prague as looking like a cross between Paris and Brugge at first glance. This is a place we have wanted to see for a long time and it did not disappoint. We thought we would just spend a few days here because of our fast travel goals and then go to Krakow for a few days. We even thought about taking the train to Krakow to save the drive, but Prague was just too beautiful and full of life to leave and we are just not cut out for fast travel.

I do not know how others do it, as we seem utterly incapable of doing fast travel.I can blame some of it on having a child, because that does slow one down. Families, especially with young children, are just a very different dynamic than a traveling couple. Or perhaps it is all of these months of travel at a leisurely
pace or our tendency towards late starts. I see tourists up and out at eight in the morning and my jaw drops in awe, although we have managed that a few times. Perhaps because we see so much, we can not do it intensely.

What ever it is, we somehow seem all but incapable of moving too fast and find ourselves adding days always, even when we are suppose to be in a fast mode. It did not help that we have been passing around colds and now I was on my second one which is very unusual for us. The colder nights and some rainy or cloudy days also impact. We were really sorry to miss Krakow, Poland as we have heard it is really lovely, but it seemed in our better interest to just let it go and savor Prague a little more. We felt at the very minimum, we needed a good week to do justice to this city and we were yearning to head south for our beloved warm weather and endless sun.

The campgrounds in Prague are different than we have seen anywhere else. We picked one amongst many in a northern suburb just ten kilometers from the center of Prague on an easy bus and tram route. What was strange is they were in peoples backyards of quite nice suburban homes. They have parking space for about five or six small RV’s an even a couple really tiny “zimmers” or rooms to let for those without a tent or RV. It was all very neat and well cared for and the showers, bathrooms and dishwashing sinks (known as sanitary facilities in European camper-speak) looked new.

We stayed at one on a street filled with house after house with camping in the backyard and the family was very nice and helpful. They even did laundry for you for a low cost so we took advantage of that. It was late in the season, so there were only two or three RV's during our stay. I have forgotten the name, but it is the one next to autocamp Trojska (www.autocamp-trojska.cz) which is the one we had planned to go to, but it was closed for some reason. Another advantage for kids is it is only two bus stops away from the Prague Zoo.

It is the beautiful architecture of Prague that first hits you. Like Paris, much of it is in the eye-pleasing nouveau style. On our first day in, we stopped at the beautiful Four Seasons to get directions and use the bathrooms. They gave DaVinci a pen and pad of paper with the directions and later I passed it on to Mozart while we tried to gather information from the tourist bureau nearby.

As is her habit, when she has to be quiet and still and does not have a book in her hands, she decided to draw some quick sketches of what was capturing her eye. We were distracted gathering brochures and standing in cues, but I got a kick out of it when I saw it and the buildings she drew. The funniest part is how she spelled Prague and how she used frog next to it. It will be hard to ever think of Prague again with out this image and the “Prog (frog)” caption scribbled on a Four Seasons pad! It is the many little moments like that which remind us of the special joy of traveling with a child and seeing it through her eyes. We are convinced now that family travel with a child is really the best travel of all.!

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Anna

God, Prague is one of the only places I've been to that I feel, yes, I could live here forever. I have a picture at the same puppet stand!
http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v87/supervixennyhc/?action=view&current=100_0015-1.jpg

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