Tuesday, March 27, 2007

All hail the champion of Exit Row seating! AKA Karen.

Long before I stepped foot in London Karen rang me at some silly hour of the morning to say that she had booked us a trip to Prague in March. This was very exciting but as it was September and 6:00am on a Monday morning I struggled to find the appropriate enthusiasm. However, as we trundled towards the Czech Republic last Saturday, I was certainly looking forward to seeing one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

Karen had booked a rather early flight (we would have had to leave home at 3am to get there in time) so we stayed at the Stansted Hilton. In order to get to the Standsted Hilton I had booked us on the 8:30pm bus out to the airport. Then, to get to the bus stop we had to catch the notoriously dodgy District line. To cut a rather long and uninteresting story to anyone who wasn't there shorter, we only just made it to the bus stop by 2 seconds and that was with the bus running late. The bus then dropped us off at Stansted airport where we had to figure out how to get from there to the Hilton. Instead, we figured out how to get to the nearest pub. Things were grim though because we didn't want to visit the ATM for pounds when we really needed Czech dollars. Managed to scrape enough £'s to sink a few beverages. I like to call it "strategic planning".

My first impression of Prague was not favourable. Saturday was dark and dull and I wasn't feeling the draw of the town at all. Karen, on the other hand, had been reading the guide book on the flight over and was pointing out the streets and landmarks that were mentioned in the book. After a delicious and extremely cheap lunch we wandered through the shopping section of Old Town and visited many of the different stores. I like the way that Prague doesn't pretend to be another city. Belgium and Paris seem to be smothered with H & M, Mango, Next and Zara stores. Except for the odd United Colours, Prague proudly supported and displayed their own fashions. Whilst shopping in the $CZ99 store (equivalent of £2) things started to get very interesting...

The Czech Republic had been playing Germany in the soccer that day. The German team had apparently thrashed the Czech team. With a history of tension between the two nationalities it was no surprise then that things got a little out of hand in the main square. The same square that Karen and I happened to be in. Chanting became yelling, walking became marching and friendly banter became full blown rioting, complete with bottles of flaming liquid hurtling through the air and police in full riot gear. Cool! I loved it, Karen...not so much. Even though I was keen to stay and watch Karen ushered me into the Promod store (which my Mum will be grateful for). But the store had glass walls at the front and was two stories high so I still got to watch all the action. Good thing too, since they locked the square down and we became stuck in the store for an hour and a half. And what is a girl to do when she is locked in a clothing store for 90 minutes when she gets bored of watching the police run down the street with batons raised? She shops!

After the store let us out and the streets had cleared we headed back through the destruction to a small Czech restaurant to eat dinner and catch some zzzzzzzs.

Sunday was a much better, if a less dramatic, day. The sun was shining and the streets were filled with happy people taking part in the market festival. A stark contrast to the day before that's for sure! Karen and I booked a city tour which took us to the main sites of the city. I think the Castle and the Clock Tower deserve special mention. The castle is huge and has a diverse and scary history. I was impressed that for a long time, if you opposed the government, they would throw you out of the window! No getting your hands dirty with guns, poisons or drugs.

As part of our tour we were allowed entry into the clock tower. This is no ordinary clock tower, no, it is an astronomical clock tower! It felt like you could actually see past the horizon when you reached the top. The roofs of the building raced up to meet the blue and white sploodges of sky and clouds. The buildings in Prague feel almost alive and exude a individual personality each evident through their paint work, balconies and window shutters. As you look down the streets each building is painted in either pastel blue, pink, yellow, purple or green. Their roofs match, perfectly complimenting the "feel" of Prague itself.
Back to reality on Sunday night. Karen is the champion of budget airline flying. Those who know her will vouch for her super speedy walking. When you fly with EasyJet you can not get pre-allocated seats. So, we all line up and it's a first come first served basis. Karen is in her element as she races towards the plane's stairs and secures us the Emergency Exit row seats. She is a champion at this! You have to see her in action. I'm glad that she's on my team. My job is to carry the coats, luggage etc while she streaks past the other passengers.
Exciting news - I got a job. An actual "go to the same place each day" job until the end of the UK academic year. It is teaching a Year 1 class in Middlesex. I can commute by bus from home which is rather convenient and I can now give up travelling on the District line each day. Woo Hoo!!! The school's name is "The Blue School" and it has a good reputation for being strict on both students and teachers. The website is http://www.lgfl.net/lgfl/leas/hounslow/schools/blue/?start if you want to take a look although I am sure I will post photos once I start.

1 comment:

deev said...

nice one! glad you guys enjoyed prague. It has never been so full of excitement when i have been there, you did well!

have to chat to you about it on friday... party party party hooray!!!

hope you're not missing Karen too much.
loving your blog