Politely Lost In Prague

This is how it always starts, a few frazzled minutes through security followed by some uneasy down time before the cattle call to board the plane.  Flying is always a yo-yo event with so many things that shouldn’t but could go wrong that my happiest moment isn’t until my feet are finally moving under a sign like this in whatever local language…

which reminds me of a conversation I had with someone in Belgium. When I lamented that everyone in Europe seemed to speak so many languages compared to Americans, he quickly told me that while that may be the case, at least Americans were lucky to know the most important language of all. But is that why we are generally unmotivated to learn foreign languages? I hope not, but no matter the debate behind that, today in Prague, in the Czech Republic, I am relieved to see English inside the airport because in a few minutes, once outside its gates, it will be interesting to see if I will have any trouble navigating the city on just a few basic Czech phrases. Like prosím (please) or děkuji (thank you). If anything I will be politely lost in Prague.

Happily it’s easy enough to buy bus and metro passes inside the airport. My hotel had already emailed me basic instructions about which metro line to take so I’m not too concerned. The bus delivering me from the airport to the subway station is where it should be,

and after 40 minutes of sightseeing local streets from a crowded and very warm bus, I’m relieved to find the subway stop:

English is getting fewer and farther in between already:

Once on the subway I scan the people around me, in an attempt to find some common denominator in the tired faces of people on their way home from work. I’ve not traveled far enough eastward or northward to see a significant physical difference. Perhaps here, in central Europe, the most tangible difference will be a cultural one.

Out on the street the architecture is immediately different, and it’s just row upon row of huge buildings…

but at this point I’m only interested in finding my hotel in a slew of many.

It’s too late to walk into city center for dinner so I take a chance at a restaurant four blocks away from my hotel. Its menu seems to offer a decent variety of local dishes and as I’m a bit outside of the touristy area, I’m hopeful that I’ll get to taste some authentic fare tonight. Plus the name of the first dessert, hot love, seems appropriate when dessert is misspelled as desert:

My main dish tonight is tuna with potato pancakes that are blended with cabbage and fried to a crisp. The pickled red cabbage adds an extra layer to the already delicious food.

I can’t quite place the flavor of the Czech beer, and after a full meal I pass on the hot love. So far my first meal here has been very enjoyable. That’s always a good way to start an adventure. Can’t wait to see what’s coming in the morning!


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