This holiday we have mainly been staying in appartments. We have been using various web sites to contact the owners. The owner of the Prague apartment has been very vocal and has e-mailed me frequently about arrangments. She gave me “clear” instructions on how to get to the appartment. So we arrived bright and early on Wednesday morning after our night train journey (see Day 3 blog). We got her e-mail up on the phone and began following the directions
“The way from main train station is quite easy .You will go to main hall and from that you will see park.”
Yep, so far so good. Outside of the station there was a small park leading down to a road, but no tram stop. The Tram line was off to the right. So presumably she meant go through the park to right did she? She also said:
“Don’t forget by ticket BEFORE you enter the tram for each of you and luggage. 24czk per each person and 16 for each luggage bigger then 25×45×70cm.Buy a ticket at newspaper stand oposite of tram station.”
Now I could see a little newspaper hut next to the tram line, so I guessed that was where she meant so we headed off dragging our cases behind us.
“This isn’t the way that I would have come if I was following those instructions” chirped up Karen.
“But I can’t see any other way” I said, only half convinced.
The newsagents was one of those tiny huts crammed full of papers, sweets and Lottery Tickets. One person could just squeeze in at a time. Unfortunately for me it was already occupied…by a Great Dane (the dog variety…not Thor). It was stood on its back legs with its front ones on the counter (if it had been the other way around I would have been worried if I was the shop keeper). With this being my first time in the country I was not sure what the etiquette was about dogs in shops. Do you tell them “down boy” or are they covered by European Human Rights Law (Subsection canines)? I decided the safest thing to do was to wait for him to be served. I pondered what he might have been buying when the shop keeper threw him some chews and the dog got down and ran off to find his owner who was walking a few feet ahead.
I purchased sufficient tickets for myself, Karen and our respective luggage. The e-mail continued:
“You will cross the tram way and take tram number 14.”
“Does Tram 14 run from this stop?” I asked the shop keeper for verification.
“No. 200 meters down on left”
“She never mentioned that” I thought as we dragged our cases along the pavement. A little voice chimed from behind me “This isn’t exactly, “through the park to the tram stop” is it?”.
“No, but I can’t see any other way” I said, now only a quarter convinced.
I was so unconvinced that I asked the concierge of a hotel we walked past, who had no idea (so much for 5 Star Hotels). Eventually we saw a number 14 and where it stopped. We headed over there and continued to read the e-mail.
“for to be sure you go good direction -next station should be Vodickova.”
Yeah, we obviously want to go in the good direction. To go in the bad direction would be, well, bad. But which was the “good” direction? She hadn’t told us.
We eventually worked out what the good direction was, Vodickova wasn’t actually the next stop, but she was close so we could live with that. The e-mail continued:
“With tram 14 you continue to tram station Jiraskovo namesti.In this tram station you will get out from the tram.Its 5th tram station and you will see that you are there as you will see Vltava river.”
It wasn’t the 5th station but we did at least get off at the right stop by the river. The final line of the e-mail read:
“From this tram station you will get to my apartment by walk- see the 2nd map.Its realy on the corner.”
Now for some reason the maps hasn’t made it in the e-mail to the Czech Republic, so we had no idea which way to turn. There was only one thing to do. Bite the bullet and turn data on the phone. A quick look at Google maps confirmed we were only about 100 metres from the end of the street. Within a couple of minutes we were there. On one corner was a Chinese Supermarket and a Czech design shop on the other.
“It must be the other end of the street” I proclaimed (Karen had given up chipping in and had taken to just rolling her eyes).
At the other end of the street was a mini-mart on one corner and some apartments on the other. Hurrah! Alas my joy was short lived when I realised that the name we wanted wasn’t on the list of door bells. We roamed around about looking at various street corners until eventually I gave up and looked at the address. “Hold on, it’s number 5”. We quickly found it, 3 buildings from one end of the street and 3 buildings from the other end. So pretty much as central in the street as you could want.
We rang the doorbell. We had been told that the owner’s mother would let us in, which she did. “Would you like a hand with your cases?”. At this point I was carrying both cases as trains and trams had proven that Karen+Case+Steps=Fail. I would never try and guess the age of the owner’s mother, but let’s just say I get the impression she remembered life under the communist regime as a child, so really shouldn’t be carrying foreigners’ cases up steps. “No, I’ll be fine” I said, my arms having not really recovered from lifting the cases up and down in the sleeping carriage. “Ok” she said, and led on.
What she hadn’t mentioned were the 77 steps we had to climb to get to the apartment. When she was showing us around my main concern wasn’t about the gas hob, the hot water and the keys but whether the apartment came with it’s own defibrillator as I thought I was going to need one. Anyway, the apartment is great and the steps are getting me fitter. The cakes however are not.