Messages Home: Feb. 16, 2009

From Loretta Jasper, CSJ, who is working for a month at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany. To learn more about her mission, click HERE.

Sat/Sun: 2/14-15 — Three of us drove to Prague for an overnight…three hours by car.

We were expecting to: tend to border crossings with passport and all, according to housemates who went before us; high prices; and pickpockets. We did need to purchase a sticker for our car when crossing the border in order to prevent a fine, if we were noticed without it. The prices we paid for meals; hotel and purchases were more than reasonable and safety merits anyone’s walk and driving anywhere–no harm or losses to us.

Our drive to Prague through the open European snow-covered countryside was pleasing and so lovely. Lady GPS took us right into the center of Prague as we wanted, but we literally drove in circles within 5 minutes of our hotel because we were unable to move beyond the pedestrian streets, which the GPS was targeting as our drive to the hotel. Since the city is so compact, with limited rhyme or reason to the routing of the streets, many locals were either unable to assist due to language limitation, or unfamiliarity to our hotel.

Needless to say: an wonderful adventure! I drove and followed the lead and hunches of the two who were in the car. Jewel managed the GPS, and Bob kept asking for directions. 1.5 hours later we landed in our hotel. Wallah!

Within 20 minutes of check-in we were in a tour bus which provided us with a 3.5 hour ride/walk through Prague by a historically savvy guide. THE best way to get a thumbnail sketch of this massive city loaded with many stories. Courtyards of castles; guard changing; cobblestone streets; charming homes and vast buildings; and overview of the city from one of the many hillsides, etc.

Of course no trip is complete without eating ethnic food. The Czech dumplings and strudel are different than those of Bavaria. Lighter, with fewer sauces and sugar(perhaps).

The plazas and courtyards hosted a fair of vendors: lots of marionettes which are Czech noted. Shops were filled with the Bohemian crystal–some being of touristy varieties; some authentic as you might guess.

The city is OPEN and very active, even in the off-season: meaning the buildings are colorful; folks tend to be more reserved than in Bavaria, but nonetheless engaged and enterprising. The shops, churches, galleries and museums are all open on Sunday; whereas in Bavaria the shops are closed–with the exception of eateries and some gas stations–on Sunday; and the galleries and such are closed on Monday. The (iron) curtain is absent. It is lovely to see that there are not too, too many electronic marquis (yet) filling the air. Time may tell.

Imagine trekking through original buildings construced in the 12th and 13th century! And artwork from those same eras. One certainly gets the messaage that artwork was the mode of communicating history. That is Prague. In Frankfort and Munich many buildings were destroyed in WWII, and have since been re-built to replicate the original structure. A difference.

Today begins the second half of my month in Europe. Since today, Monday, President’s Day, and a federal holiday celebrated by USA posts, we consultants are able to trek through the country. There is a crystal factory a couple hours’ drive which we will peruse today. Stay tuned.


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