Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting here

I just woke up from an 18-hour sleep/napfest. And I really feel like I could sleep for several more hours. Let me tell you all about getting here. It was kind of nuts.

The story begins at my house, 8:00 am Tuesday morning. I had an hour and a half of sleep and I wasn't done packing. This part of the story can be shortened by simply saying "hair on fire, panties up my butt" because I should have packed sooner. At least I can admit my mistakes?

We left for Dallas at 10:30ish. Everything was fine until Mom and I realized that neither of us had directions to the airport. That was all fine though, we stopped at a gas station, but then there was a freaking enormous traffic jam on the one road that leads to the airport! But Mom OFFROADED and saved the day. I kid you not. Offroaded. My mom.

At the airport, I checked in with two carry-ons and a wheely bag to check. In other words, probably too much stuff. But I don't think I'll regret much of it. We found out that my flight was delayed, and then we found out that the only restaurant outside of security was one in the hotel at the airport. It was expensive and I felt bad, but I did have some delicious sushi.

My flight left at 6:20 headed for London. I was seated in an exit row, which I thought would be great because of more leg room, but actually kind of sucks because you have to put all your stuff away and people with their crying babies like to come stand in the open area in front of you. To my right was a cowboy, whom I naturally assumed was American, until he ordered a drink. A British cowboy? I had no idea such things existed. And this dude was serious - boots, tight jeans, not one, but two cowboy hats! On my left was another British man who drank 3 gin and tonics and passed out for the rest of the flight.

Let's talk about why British airlines are better than American.
1. The flight attendants are unfailingly pleasant, and they are all either British women or Indian men. The pilots also are great. Something about being told, "Cheerio, love" when you leave the plane is just wonderful.

2. You get whatever the heck you want to drink without paying for it (as evidenced by the 3 gin and tonics man). And everyone gets wine! with their complementary 3-course meal.

3. You get served "tea" in the final hours of your flight, which is another meal. It's so wonderful. I didn't get any meals when I flew American the last time I came to Prague.

Okay, back to my story. I couldn't sleep on the flight for some reason, even though I drank some wine in the hopes that it would make me sleepy. So when I got to Heathrow, I found the first available couch and curled up with my head on my backpack and my arm wrapped around my purse. Defensive mode. Heathrow is a wonderful airport, with the aforementioned couches and really great food and shopping places. It's also insanely busy. Every time I woke up from my nap, someone new would be staring at me. They were either waiting for me to get up so they could take the couch or I was snoring or drooling or something.

I flew into Prague at about 6 pm. I collected my stuff and went to the transportation information place. I was starting to get a little freaked out about making my way across the city, so when a guy tried to talk to me I kind of blew him off. But then I realized that he wasn't a crazy bum or taxi driver, but a really nice older man offering me a 24-hour bus ticket that he wasn't going to use! It was really a Godsend, because I had 21 crowns left over from the last time I was here (which is about 1 dollar) and I would've had to wait until 7 for the Travelex to open again so I could change money. I went out and caught bus 119, which pulled up exactly as I walked out of the airport. Then we rode all the way across town to the metro station, and I caught the tram from the Devchka station to Jiriho z Podebrad stop. When I got off, I was kind of freaking out. The directions that my couchsurfing friend gave me were to go through the park, left of the church. I was directly in front of a park, but across the street was what looked like a massive church. So after much deliberation, I went through the park, up a hill, lugging my huge bag and heavy backpack. I'm sweating even though it's 30 degrees and I'm sure I look absolutely nuts. When I got to the top of the hill, I decided this couldn't be right, so I turned around and went through the "park" to the left of the church. This direction mix-up was really no fault of my friend's, because really, how do you tell someone where to go when there are 8 different streets around this church and I have no idea which was is north?

I eventually realized that this huge church might be in one of my guidebooks with a map, so I whipped out my Time-out Prague and found it - Church of the Sacred Heart, in Zizkov. The map helped a lot, but only so much as I couldn't figure out how to call the guy I was staying with. The numbers are listed like this: +420453288912. I just dialed the number, and got some crazy Czech message telling me that the number didn't exist. But I found this nice older man with two tiny dogs (one of whom I'm pretty sure was named Sammy), who didn't speak much English, and he pointed me in the direction of the street I wanted and let me use his phone! I thanked him profusely, in Czech and English, and finally found Andrew's apartment. I could have cried with relief.

Andrew explained to me how to dial the plus sign - apparently, holding down zero turns into a plus sign. I had looked all over my phone too, to try to find this plus sign nonsense; I guess I just missed it. He took me to an ATM and I got 4000 crowns (200 dollars), which he told me would probably last me about a month. We went to a pub and I had some fried cheese and two beers which cost me all of about 7 dollars. Food and drinks are freaking cheap! Hooray!

And then we came back to his apartment and I promptly passed out for 18 hours. You have to remember that I hadn't really had any good sleep (except for the London nap) for about 48 hours. And I actually wouldn't mind another 18 hour sleep right now.


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  2. RIGGLES these adventures of yours seem so familiar to me. I am crazy jealous. And your mom is awesome but we knew that already. And that previous comment was me logged into another email--I wish it had been someone actually named Wallace.

  3. Awesome! I miss you so much. I keep glaring at people and no one gets the joke. :-( lol but life is crazy as ever so don't worry, I'm not stewing over here. I Hope you're having the time of your life! How's the APT?!

  4. I'm just picturing you trudging up a hill lugging that enormous rolling bag and your backpack and your "purse" trying to find anything faintly familiar to the directions! Aww, my baby!