I made it!
We are in Prague after a nonstop, walk-’em-til-they-drop day. We flew all day yesterday, connected in Frankfurt and arrived in Prague around 11:00am local time. So many students didn’t/couldn’t sleep on the plane* and they were hurting by the end of the day today.
*Shout out to Lufthansa Airlines who, in addition to the free wine, offered complimentary after-meal Baileys or Cognac that really helped seal the deal for me to sleep.
My group is 6 great girls plus me, so we are The 7 Dwarfs. (Before you ask, I’m Doc.) I have never before had to be worried or anxious about holding 6 people’s passports. It’s nerve wracking enough to keep track of my own; however, on occasion when I need to get them all out at the same time to distribute, I do feel kind of like a CIA spy… Two students in my group have never been on a plane before, and two never out of the country so it is pretty amazing to think about what they’re getting to experience.
We arrived in Prague and hit the ground running. We met our tour guide, Nadia, around noon, who will be with us for our whole tour. She took us to our hotel so we could check in and drop off luggage before hitting the sights. We pulled up to what she called “typical communist architecture.”
We then proceeded to wait as the receptionist called up the students in pairs and collected their passports in exchange for the room keys. For 40 students, this. took. forever. The best surprise of the trip yet was that there are four female chaperones on the trip, but one paid extra for her own room for the whole time. This means there will always be another extra room for one of us, while the other two share so we get to rotate through having our own room. Prague is my city to have the single bedroom! While I feel like tonight I am so tired I could have slept on top of the bar in the restaurant, it was still a very welcome surprise.
Freshened up and back on the bus, Nadia pointed out that while in our stay, we might have more slow experiences that like. In America are used to customer service and big smiles, but she explained that many people in Prague, and other places in Europe, don’t have a money/consumer/customer service mentality because of their communist history.
The bus drove us into downtown and dropped us off in “Old Town.” The architecture is amazing. It looks like out of picture books and fairy tales.
She guided us along the streets, coming into a famous square where we were told we had an hour for lunch. The students went off in their groups, and Nadia told the chaperones to go two streets off the square for a better priced and paced lunch. Not bad for about 350 koruna or $12 USD, including my first beer of the trip!
After meeting back up again, the real walking began. Traveling with a group of 40 tweens is interesting, just logistically, in a city. It’s hard to even get close enough to hear what Nadia is saying about the buildings we’re standing in front of, so I tried to save some notes and looked up more information later. We wandered through Old Town, weaving and roaming, seeing amazing architecture, markets and vendors. We walked across Charles Bridge, and heard the story about how one of the beautiful Baroque statues lining the bridge was actually to honor a priest that the queen confessed about her affair to. The King got wind of the confession, demanded to know the name of the man and, when the priest refused, threwthe priest off the bridge! I’m not too sure on the lesson here. I’m taking suggestions.
We walked a total of around 6 miles, in a big loop back to the bus. One of my favorite stops along the way were the sculptures by David Cerny. He makes political sculptures, like this one called “Piss” that shows two politicians urinating on an outline of the Czech Republic (I found out later you can text a message to a number written on the sign and they will “write out” the message with their.. stream.)
and the other one entitled “Babies”, showing naked babies crawling around with what look like PC tower for heads, making social commentary on how, in the internet age, kids can think they know everything, and grow up too fast.
We looped back to the bus by 5:45pm and the kids were basically dead. We headed back to the hotel for dinner, and some of them hadn’t even finished the freaking delicious gelato before they were asking to be excused for bed! I just finished my room checks, so chaperone duties are done for the day. Looking forward to another full day tomorrow!