Been rather busy, so I haven't had a chance to continue recording the
We got into Zurich (albeit late), without
incident. Immigration was the biggest joke ever. There was no paperwork at
all, and we just handed our passports to the guy, who just looked at them
casually, and waved us through. No stamp, no scan, no nothing. It was a bit
We got our rental car, and drove around aimlessly for a bit, until the GPS
got lock, and then headed for Prague. We went through Austria, where the guy
at the border did give our passports a more thorough inspection, more
because we were confused and were waving them at him. He also gave us a
stamp. The woman from Hertz told us we needed to buy some sort of highway
sticker for the car to drive in Austria (wow it's hard to type "Austria",
"Australia" just keeps coming out from muscle memory), so we bought one of
them and stuck it on the windscreen, and then promptly entered Germany.
The autobahns in Germany are wicked! Everyone's screaming along at a
ridiculous pace. The fastest I got up to was 180 km/h. The roads themselves
were surprisingly quiet, and only two lanes.
We stopped off for dinner somewhere in Germany, and finally arrived at the
hotel in Prague at about 1am on Sunday morning, so it took about 7 hours
instead of the 6 that we'd estimated.
We got to bed by about 2am. I woke up at about 10am, then went back to sleep
until about 2pm. We finally ventured out for a bit of exploration at about
3pm on Sunday.
One observation about Czechs: they seem like a pretty dour bunch. Here we
were wandering around, being all wide-eyed and touristy, smiling at
everyone, and they'd just scowl back at you, no matter how hard we tried to
get a smile out of them.
After that initial wander, we discovered that there was a Metro station
right across the road from the hotel in another direction, so we caught that
to go and check out Prague Castle. The
Metro system is another one of those great subway systems that I love. It
ran regularly, so you didn't need to concern yourself with a timetable. The
ticketing was a bit bizarre. It seemed totally honor-system based. There
were no barriers to stop you getting in or out.
It was fairly late by the time we got to Prague Castle, so we just wandered
around the grounds, took a look inside Saint Vitus's
Cathedral, and caught an orchestral performance in Saint
George's Basilica, then headed back to the hotel.
Everything at Prague Castle was pretty mind-blowing. The size of grounds.
The view. Saint Vitus's Cathedral. The Cathedral was huge. When you
stepped inside and looked up... words can't describe it. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, we didn't bring a camera with us, so we don't have any photos
from the Sunday excursion, but Sarah went back this afternoon, and her
photos are here.
I think the thing that struck me the most was that here were some seriously
old buildings - older than my home country, and they were in amazingly good
condition. They really built things to last back in the day.
The weather so far has been pretty miserable, and if the forecast is anything
to go by, will remain miserable until we drive out on Saturday.
We've survived, language-wise. The default language of the hotel
staff seems to be English, and most random people we've had to interact with
seem to speak English. I feel really arrogant and rude just speaking in
English to people without first asking if they speak English, but I'm
also getting really sick of starting every conversation with "Do you speak
English?" The printed language is by and large indecipherable.
The currency, which in English is called a "crown" is crazy. One US dollar
buys about 16 Czech Koruny, and the prices are ridiculous. A glass of wine
at the hotel is maybe 250 CZK. Granted, the hotel prices are obscene, but
seeing triple-digit prices for a glass of wine seems totally bizarre.
The prices in general seem pretty steep. Sarah said she got a 2 koruny coin
in change today. We've got no idea what you'd actually use that for.
Last night, after the conference had finished for the day, we wandered off
in a different direction again, and wandered through the grounds of Vyšehrad Castle. The
of Saint Paul and Peter has an amazing graveyard in it, including the
grave of the composer
Dvorak. We grabbed some dinner at a nearby restaurant, which was
substantially cheaper than the hotel restaurants. Again, we forgot to take a
camera with us.