Somewhere in each of the thousands of travel books written there is probably a section that advises savvy travelers to avoid landing at a foreign airport after a 16 hour flight, staying up all day, and boarding a train that evening, even if you have reserved an en suite sleeper. Alas, we may have missed those admonitions. We wanted to try something we had never tried before and the overnight City Night Line from Zurich to Praha (Prague) seemed like a romantic enough way to kick things off. In many ways, it lived up to its billing. From the complimentary Czech Champagne upon arrival at our berth to the world’s cutest shower and lua and from the nicest train steward to the incredible little meal of goodies from the aforementioned shops in Zurich, this was everything we had hoped for. So imagine our surprise when the train actually moved when we tried to sleep. It’s funny how you forget to consider the simple stuff.
Check and Scratch
Arriving into the Czech Republic requires a couple of basics. Remember that Slovakia is doing its own thing now and try not to speak much Czech without some support. We only goofed up the first rule once and we have been ignoring the second rule pretty much since arrival. Do those language translators that say the words way too fast count as support?
Before we get too far off base, and by the way, “How about those Cubs?”, we did have to check that our train to Budapest in two days was running. For a while, no trains were crossing the border. We were relieved to discover that everything had been reinstated and we should proceed as planned.
Then it was on to the head scratch. Standing in front of the map in Czech. Standing in front of the ticket machine in Czech. Standing in front of the metro entrance with Czech symbols. Mouth slightly agape, eyes a bit glazed, and that calm feeling that comes over us whenever we’re clueless.
It all becomes clear once you watch someone else. We are very good observational learners. Before you could say, “World’s longest escalator” we were in the subway hopping on and off trains like we lived there. Our final stop featured what was by far the longest escalator we have ever been on exiting the station. We were told it takes 2 ½ minutes! It was 4 stories high. Welcome to Prague.