Oh Dear Prague

I have to be honest and say Prague was not my favorite city.  I did not connect to it like I was hoping.  We were really looking forward to seeing this city that we had heard so many great things about, so we were quite disappointed and had one of the toughest weeks of our journey so far.  It is inevitable that this would happen and so we persevered and kept on.  I think a lot of lessons were learned this week.  Maybe it was just the timing that was off, as it was cold and grey outside or possibly our experiences with not so friendly locals, filthy streets and smoke-filled restaurants and cafes or maybe just even the apartment we rented which was dirty, missing essential items and had mostly chipped and broken dishes.  I think it was a combination of it all that just left us with an unfavorable impression.  I will not let this one time experience completely dismay me from ever returning though, as I imagine another experience might be totally different.  Although, I am not sure I would recommend Prague for families, as it is not the most kid-friendly town with it’s Las Vegas touches, in the casinos and “girls” and there is just not a lot for kids to do there.

The Old Town is wonderful architecturally but the tacky tourist shops are one too many.  It is the architecture of the city though, that was my absolute favorite part and makes me want to return under different circumstances.  The city was virtually untouched during the World Wars and so it’s architectural history spans 1,100 years.   You can see Romanesque churches, along with Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau designed buildings.  There are also many buildings that were built during the communist rule (Functionalism) which is such a contrast to the other architectural styles, it is very interesting.  The city is truly a museum of architectural history.

There are wonderful places to hear classical music, affordable nice restaurants and really really affordable beer.  Incredibly the beer was always the cheapest item on our bill, my daughters’ hot chocolates were more expensive!

I do hope that I can return and give Prague another try one day, preferably without kids and on a warm sunny day where the Vltava River might glisten in the sun with the Charles Bridge in the background, ahhhh!  That I would like!

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Long Live the Queen!

We have been in England for two weeks now and really love it! Arriving into England, after driving off the train, which took us under the English Channel from France, we found it really nice to see road signs that we understood! Although, there are still several words that got lost in translation… Several times we all looked at each other and said, huh what did he say? We are all speaking English but that doesn’t necessarily mean all things are understood! There are many books out there to help us Americans as we travel through beautiful England.

We are staying in a lovely cottage in the heart of Kent, owned by a wonderful couple. The cottage is a refurbished barn and the main home is approximately 700 years old. It is so green here and coming from Southern California, green is a very nice change. My sister and her really good friend Karen came to visit us. It was so great to see some familiar faces! We spoke with the owners of the cottage about getting a cot for them to sleep on. They asked if we needed a high chair too and we went, uh oh, I think we got off track somewhere. As we found out, a cot in England means a baby crib and no my sister is not a baby sister…so we opted for a blow up mattress instead. We are getting quite use to the language differences now and of course, love the accents. Once, we pulled over to ask for directions, and this sweet girl said she loved our accents, I have to say I have never heard that one before!

We have seen some amazing places. The richness of the history is so striking from Dover Castle, Leeds Castle, the City of Canterbury to the British Museum. The City of London itself is a museum, with its amazing buildings and tradition, and the Royal Family, I am in awe.

It is incredible to experience a country that has had so much history and importance. Dover Castle’s history spans over 2,000 years from the Old Roman Lighthouse to the World War II tunnels it was fascinating to see.

The English love their sports and we enjoyed visiting Wimbledon and watching a football match (soccer…) at Wembley Stadium, such a treat! We heard lots of “outstanding” and “brilliant” as the English football team easily defeated Italy’s San Marino team. We heard a lot of other words too that we’re not “lost in translation” but I am trying to keep this a family friendly blog.

We are here for another 10 days and are planning to see Windsor Castle, the Tower of London and will also be visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour for my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday. What a life I am living, feeling very lucky!