Flash Fiction — Appeared in Clevermag (http://www.clevermag.com)
It always happens, and never fails. I’m not superstitious, but what can you say when you book a hotel on Friday 13.
We decided to take a jaunt over to Prague and Czech it out. My wife, Wren, booked the trip on a tour bus. If one hasn’t seen Prague, put it on your Czech list.
I didn’t want to go blind not knowing what to expect in the former Communist nation. So, we decided to Czech it out first with a tour. Don’t take a bus tour. They have a habit of screwing up. We never seem to learn that lesson. Go with someone who knows the ins and outs, so you don’t get Czech Mated.
The hotel we stayed at had Five-Czechs—beautiful. They had all the amenities fit for a Czech board—sauna, swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi, and masseur, plus three posh restaurants: Asian, Western, and European. I spent my time at the restaurants. Wren likes pampering and soaking in a frothy Jacuzzi soup.
To one side of the posh restaurant housed a casino. Casinos are everywhere in the Czech Republic; I’m sure to Czech your money out.
Wren booked the tour with an upgrade to the hotel accommodations. That’s how we got the Five-Czech hotel.
It all started at five in the morning. All tours start at five. We got down to the pickup point at four-fifty and waited. After half an hour waiting for the shuttle, we called the bus company. They said the shuttle came at ten after, and didn’t see us, and left. They sent a shuttle at six. After the apologies and sorry they didn’t explain were to go and who was to pick us up, they drove us to the main tour bus.
If I had driven to Prague, it would have taken less than four hours. The bus tour took seven. On the way, we passed Plzen. It would have been my choice to stop off at the home of the famous Pilsner beer—Pilsner Urquell. But, the driver pushed his own brew.
It all started the week before after Wren had a toe operation. She said she didn’t want to sit at home while it healed. She wanted it to heal in comfort at a posh hotel and be chauffeured around in a city tram. I said okay as long as we get to sample the Czech beer. Pilsner Urquell is all over the place. You get the idea that it is the only beer in the Czech Republic—much like Guinness is in Ireland.
The first place we stopped was the Strahov Monastery restaurant in Prague. Everybody was tired and looked as if they preferred a nap than to drink and eat. The restaurant served Pilsner Urquell. Afterward, I walked and Wren hobbled around the monastery; I noticed a brewery inside one of the buildings. Everyone inside was happy and drinking the monk’s blessed brew.
I said, “We ate at the wrong place.”
She said, “Beer is beer, what difference does it make?”
The day was beautiful. The sun was shinning with beams of pleasant warm rays filling the air, and the smell of spring was everywhere. Not a cloud in the sky. The rest of the week looked happy and promising.
Next, we hoofed it around Prague, down one street to the next—lots to see. It was never bombed during WW2, so everything is as it was since the ninetieth century—Biedermeier and Art Nouveau architecture everywhere—much like Paris. They even have an area called Paris because of the French style buildings. Prague also has an old Jewish ghetto—a must see. There is too much to see in one weekend—museums, castles, churches, concerts abound everywhere. I wanted to see Yo Yo Ma. He was in town, but he wasn’t on our Czech list.
While I hoofed and Wren hobbled around Prague, Wren didn’t notice her toe. It didn’t start giving her problems until we returned to the bus and went to our hotel. The hotel didn’t have us listed, although the bus company said we were on the list. After an hour of calling the bus company and haggling over who was at fault, we finally got a room. The hotel apologized for the misunderstanding and gave us an executive suite on the 22nd floor. What a view—180º panorama from hill to shinning horizon. It’s a must see Czech out.
Wren wanted to take a nap and Czech out her toe before going on the Vltava River (Moldau) evening dinner, boat cruise. She slept, and we missed the river cruise. It was too much for one day. Afterward, we heard the food wasn’t all that good. Our meal at the hotel restaurants was more than expected. We ate grilled sea bass and I drank Pilsner Urquell. Wren had red wine.
Early rise to eat breakfast, I looked out across Prague to see the beautiful city below. It was raining Czechs and Mates. The next two days was nothing but downpour, cold winds, and feeling like January—no snow though.
I went down to Czech out breakfast: three kinds of yogurts, three kinds of Muesli, four kinds of fruit, three kinds of egg dishes, plus sweet rolls, cheeses and cold-cuts—the whole watering schmazolla.
Back to the room to get ready for the day, Wren said, “And we came to see wet on wet, and cold on cold.”
I said, “I came to Czech out the beer.”
We went around Prague for the next seven hours. The city has a bus line called “Hop On-Hop Off.” Otherwise, we would have stayed in our room and looked out the big picture window, and Czech out Prague in the rain. We saw what we didn’t see the day before—the cathedral, the castle, and more Pilsner Urquell.
On the way home, it rained all the way. We’re going back to have a good time, but without the bus.