Sunday, May 20, 2018

Elegant Elbe: In Transit (5/18-20/2018)

A new adventure: we were going on yet another Viking River Cruise, but this time with friends Beth and Peter P. With this trip, we will have covered all the rivers in Germany on which Viking cruises. Because the beginning and end of the Elegant Elbe cruise are in large cities, we decided to arrive a few days earlier, and leave a few days later, to give us plenty of time to explore.

Friday, May 18, 2018
We received an email informing us that the Elbe River was experiencing low water levels, and it was possible we would not be able to sail. Uh, oh! Of course, we would follow the basic itinerary, just not by boat.

Saturday, May 19, 2018
We drove our car down to the Avalon Rapid station. (Brynne would walk down to retrieve the car after her work.) We took the Rapid Blue Line train to the 55th Street station, and had to transfer to a bus, due to track work being done at the next station. We were dropped off at Terminal Tower, to take the Red Line train to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
It took us more than an hour to go through security. We started in the TSA Pre-check line, but upon reaching the TSA officer, our boarding passes (printed at home) would not scan. The officer told us to go to regular security, or get new boarding passes. We were closer to regular security, and waited in line there. As we neared the TSA officers, their scanners looked no different than the ones at the Pre-check. You guessed it; the boarding passes did not scan here either. So back to the ticket counter to wait in another line to get new boarding passes, and finally through the Pre-check security line.
Our 14:48 Delta flight was delayed. By the time we arrived at JFK, we only had a three-hour layover, instead of five hours!
We departed at 21:28 for Prague in the Czech Republic.

Sunday, May 20, 2018
Arrived a bit early in Prague at 11:30. Picked up Czech korunas at an ATM and stopped at Tourist Information to pick up our Prague Cards. Using the Prague Card, we took the Airport Express bus to the main train station.
Prague Main Train Station/Praha Hlavní nádraží (1901-1909 designed
by Josef Fanta in Art Nouveau style, extended during communist period)
We did not realize the bus dropped us off on an upper level, and we could not initially find the statue of Woodrow Wilson. We had to enter the station and go down two levels to exit.
Main Train Station interior with coats of arms of all
the destination cities of the time
Original dome and stained glass
See the carved women's faces representing Prague as the "Mother of Cities"
(statues and reliefs created by the sculptor Ladislav Šaloun)
Statue of Woodrow Wilson (original 1928, taken down
by Nazis in 1941, replaced in 2012), who supported an
independent Czechoslovakia after World War I;
the station was named for him from 1919-1938
Now we could see Wilson, but could no longer see the front of the station!
We walked from the train station to the left along Washingtonova, passing a scaffold-covered State Opera/Státní opera. It was sunny and hot as we turned right into Wenceslas Square/Václavské náměstí to find our Art Nouveau Hotel Meran.
Hotel Meran (1895-1906, by the Hajek family)
During Nazi occupation in World War II, the Germans took over the hotel, but it was returned to the family after the war. In 1954 the hotel was nationalized and merged with the hotel next door. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the hotel was again returned to the family, but had to be substantially restored.
Our hotel room
Kent at the hotel entrance
Wenceslas Square/Václavské náměstí; view north
Wenceslas Square/Václavské náměstí; view south toward
the National Museum/Národní muzeum, which is under restoration
Peter and Beth arrived in Prague late, and Air France left their luggage in Paris. They were able to get to their hotel quickly, and walked over to our hotel to meet us.
We ended up walking back to their hotel, but continued to a recommended restaurant for lunch. We sat outside at the Potrefená Husa, which literally means something like "shot or wounded goose," but is a phrase related to the UK "if the cap fits...," and the US "if the shoe fits, wear it." Either way, it is a strange name for a restaurant chain.
Potrefená Husa restaurant
Guláš/Goulash with potato pancakes
Svíčková (marinated beef sirloin in a purée of vegetables and cream,
served with bread dumplings and cranberry sauce)
Next: Prague I.

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