Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Once upon a time...

Twenty seven years ago – goodness me has it been that long? – an incredibly naive young Australian girl bought the cheapest airline ticket she could find to Europe.  Like most fairytale heroines this young lass didn't look too closely at the details: not how long the flight took, nor how many stops there were on route, not even the location of her very cheap hotel room. So when she finally stepped onto the tarmac at Prague airport after thirty six hours of travelling she was shocked to see snow on the ground, large men wearing Cossack hats walking towards her and not a word of English to be heard, or read, in the airport arrival hall. Luckily, she found a 'knight in shining armour' – well not quite, but she did find the information desk where one person could translate the address of her hotel into Czech and so being naive, and very foolish, she jumped into a taxi with the first man who offered to drive her to the hotel.

BUT, oh dear, she took one look at the very cheap hotel and spoke to her taxi driver.
"This is the boon-docks. I really don't know where the city of Prague is from here, and that hotel looks like a cell block. I can't stay there. Please take me to a hotel in the centre of the city."
No response from the taxi driver so she spoke a little louder.
"Ahh like I said, that hotel looks too small, and it's too far away, and too dirty! It definitely isn't 'just right'. Please take me to another hotel."
Still no response from the rather impatient looking taxi driver holding his hand out for Czech krona.
"Okay, just take me to the Intercontinental Hotel!"
Finally he understood those magic words "Hotel Intercontinental".

There, the slightly less rich young lass found a room that wasn't too small, a bed that wasn't too big and a hotel that was just right.  So she happily went to sleep and stayed at the Prague Intercontinental hotel for her first two nights in Europe. But it didn't quite end happily ever after just yet...

Twenty seven years later, that not so young and hopefully not so foolish Australian lass returned to the fairytale city of Prague with her real-life prince charming who had to work at the Intercontinental hotel for a couple of days. Stefano was not at all surprised to hear that his wife, who he knows is descended from Hughenden royalty, had previously stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel. What he didn't know was that throughout their three day visit he would be the audience for her endless reminiscing about what Prague was really like in those bleak days before the Velvet Revolution
"Prague castle is just as beautiful Stefano, but you know, when I was here last time I'm pretty sure there weren't any other tourists."
"It's wonderful to see St Vitus cathedral. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that last time you couldn't go inside because there weren't any tourists in Prague."
 "Last time it was a bit easier to see the figures move in the astronomical clock. You know, there wasn't really anyone watching so you could get closer."
"I don't remember any stalls on the Charles bridge...but I do remember the food. It doesn't seem to have changed much. Still lots of soup, cabbage and goulash."
"I can't believe the beautiful shops in Prague...
and cafes and gardens. There's so much colour in Prague now..."

There was just one thing that the no longer so young Australian lass could reminisce about - Czech beer. Stefano's verdict was delicious and he quietly drifted away enjoying the views of this fairytale city in silence.
Ciao, fino alla prossima settimana.


  1. Ciao, mia amica. Prague appare una bella cita. Vero?

  2. So Stefano has morphed into Prince Charming now - after only one weekend in Prague.
    Will someone take me there?

    1. Thanks Gerard, I'm sure Annie would love the walks. Who knows what might be possible...