Czech Republic

Prague has been described as the favorite European city by most of those I know who have visited. So when a business trip afforded a chance to go there I intended to be thoroughly prepared, even adding an extra weekend so Melanie could join me later.

Washington Dulles Airport (IAD), February 21 – Check-in and security were far less busy than I expected for a Friday afternoon. After boarding KLM 652 to Amsterdam, the Airbus A330 pulled away from the gate on-schedule for its 1800 EST departure. Then a technical problem left the plane sitting on the tarmac for awhile. When that was resolved the takeoff queue had grown longer, but the flight was only 37 minutes behind schedule as the landing gear retracted, we ascended into the dense cloud cover and turned north. Transitioning to a time zone six hours earlier would be easier by sleeping as much as possible on the way over and assuming a regular schedule in the early morning at Amsterdam.  I slept for a little while, waking over Newfoundland to eat, then back to sleep. At midnight EST the lights were turned up in the cabin so the flight attendants could serve breakfast.

Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS), February 22 – Dublin passed below at 0015 (EST), and in spite of the late departure, arrival at Amsterdam was still on schedule, landing at 0125 (EST). I set my watch to Central European Time (CET) – 0725.  I had meant to bring along some Euros from my last trip but had forgotten. So I had to used an ATM to exchange a little cash for coffee and a croissant, while waiting the four hour layover. The City Hopper flight to Prague, KLM 1355, was on an Embraer E190. Once again, the take-off queue was long so the flight was a few minutes late. The weather in Amsterdam was cloudy with light rain, and Prague was supposed to be the same. By the time I arrived at Vaclav Havel Airport (PRG), the cloud cover was breaking up, and the temperature was already in the low 40s (5-7 C), and no snow.

Prague (PRG) – After picking up my baggage, I was surprised to find a driver holding a sign with my name on it. I was transported to the hotel by limo – a Skoda 4 door sedan. After a pleasant half hour drive, I arrive at the Pentehotel, previously described as “Euro-hipster.” The check-in desk was also a full bar and the lobby was more of a common room, with plush leather seating, gas fireplace and a pool table.

Prague, Saturday Evening – John, Steve and I went out to get oriented to the city on the first night. We walked west along Sokolovska street, turning south toward Republic Square (Namesti Republiky), and then west again into Old Town. We went as far as the Charles Bridge, then wandered back through the maze of medieval streets.

Prague, Sunday, February 23 – Steve and I made another trek into old town, to the Charles Bridge, then on the Mala Strana and Prague Castle. We had a late lunch at a Czech pub called the Svejk restaurant – Malostranska pivnice, where the waiter introduced me to Becherovka.

Karlin-Prague, February 24-28 – After seeing a little of the city on the first weekend, it was time to go to work. A typical day was getting up at 0615, breakfast at 7, grab my things and be ready to go by 0830. The walk to the office was less then 10 minutes. We usually left work by 1830. Although Work occupied most of each weekday John, Steve and I still managed to get out for lunch and supper most days.