Saturday, June 27, 2015

Prague: A Journey Begins

    Because I am very likely insane, I signed up for a marathon (my 2nd) in Prague. I trained throughout the cold, damp winter to be ready for my race in spring. I had heard nothing but positive things about Prague so I was excited to see for myself. In order to take advantage of the sparschiene fahrkarte (or "savings/discount train tickets") we had to take a very early train from Innsbruck to Linz, Austria then catch a connecting train into the Czech Republic to get to Prague.We had a two hour layover in Linz which afforded us the chance to walk the dog, get some food, and go shopping for snacks to bring on the train (very important).
    While preparing to board the train, I noticed two extremely intoxicated young Austrian guys that were having a lot of difficulty walking and/or talking. One almost fell between the train and the platform, it was a pretty pathetic exhibition of alcohol tolerance. As they zig-zagged their way down the stairs I hoped they were on their way home for some water and a nap, for their own sakes. Unfortunately, a few minutes later they made their way back on the train with more beer and less functionality. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised when a few minutes after departure I heard tell-tale heaving sounds coming from a compartment near us.

    Even with the soundtrack of the barely functionals playing nearby, our trip to Prague was fairly unremarkable until we got into the Czech Republic. Once we crossed the boarder, our new conductor checked our tickets again and told us, in somewhat broken German, that our dog needed to be put in her travel bag. While this was barely worth remembering, the commotion caused when he checked the compartment of the drunk guys near us was remarkable. There was yelling. There was confusion. And then, when we made our next stop (3ish stops from the Austrian border), there were two drunken guys making a hasty, sloppy escape, beers in hand, from the train and the yelling conductor. At the next stop our train experienced a small delay as a cleaning crew was dispatched to their compartment. We spent a lot of time after that thinking about those two young men. How they made it home. If they could speak Czech. How they were feeling when at some point they dried out enough to sober up. Very thought-provoking stuff.

Not too long after that, we reached Prague and found our way to our hotel. We forgot that we had booked rooms which required us to use a communal bathroom. While this wasn't much of an issue for us, it turned out to be less of an issue for Dr Husband as the men's communal bathroom and showers were across the hall from us as opposed to the women's facilities which were located a floor below. We did not have a sink in our room so I ended up trekking up and  down the stairs fairly often which turned out to be a little difficult after running 26.2 miles (but I will make another post about that). After settling in for a few minutes we decided to explore some of the city and get some dinner.
    We took the metro two stops to the Museum section of town and had dinner at Restaurant Sherwood which was very nice and allowed us to bring our dog inside. (Note: Most/all restaurants  allow dogs in the EU, but we are painfully American and still like to ask at nicer places. This usually comprises of us pointing at Hundie, raising our eyebrows in a questioning manner, and saying "Ok?") For the week prior to my race I had been abstaining from alcohol for performance reasons, but I decided to have one Czech beer with dinner to see for myself if all the fuss about Czech beer was true.

It is true. And it is super cheap. And I ended up having 1.5 more (Dr Husband was kind enough to help me). As an appetizer we shared some spicy sausages in a nice dark sauce with grilled bread. For dinner I had beef cheeks with mashed potatoes ( so good), and Dr Husband had an assorted meat platter (also very good). Because of the good prices and favorable exchange rate, our bill was extremely affordable (like 36€), and we were American full.
    We waddled around a little bit more but ultimately decided to make it an early night since we had gotten up so early, and I had to pick up my race packet at the race expo the next day.     
Part 2: The Race Expo and Beyond