Dear Prague: It’s Not You, It’s Me

We dipped into the Czech Republic to spend a day or two in Prague.

It was a weird weekend.

First, on the way there we narrowly missed what would have been a terrible crash with a crazy-driving, exhaust-belching Czech truck. Both vehicles pulled simultaneously into the same roundabout lane. I saw the truck first, screamed and braced for impact. Mark swerved to the right, missing the truck by inches, while all our groceries and dishware flew out of the cupboards and slammed onto the floor. The noise was deafening and confusing. I thought we’d actually crashed. Rocking violently, the camper veered out of the roundabout and stopped just short of an eight-foot embankment.

I was almost sick to my stomach. Scout, who’d been in the loft looking out the window at the time, later told us she was so close to the truck driver she could see his pupils like a scene out of Moby Dick.

Czech Republic-1; Team Ramblecrunch-0.

Then, once we arrived, Mark realized he’d accidentally left the kid’s passport in a copy machine back at a shopping mall back in Meissen (Germany) 180 kilometers away. Seriously? I was almost sick to my stomach (again). Should we drive all the way back to get it? That’s a long drive in our lumbering camper. Should we see Prague and then go back to Meissen? No, we had to secure the passport immediately.

Czech Republic-2; Team Ramblecrunch-0

The most sensible plan seemed to be for Mark catch a train back to Dresden, hop on another to Meissen, and then (fingers crossed) retrieve the passport. While he was gone Scout and I would stay at the campground catching up on homeschooly stuff. She and I could have gone into the city by ourselves, but I just didn’t want to go alone and without her passport.

While poor Mark was gone the next day, Scout and I had a pretty good time at the campground.

After getting the schoolwork out of the way, Scout drew my portrait:

Not a bad likeness…

Then we played with food. Scout had liked some German Knödel (dumplings) she’d had at a restaurant (about the only food she liked in Germany), so I’d bought a box of the mix thinking it might make convenient camper food. This seemed like a good time to try it out.

Hmmm. Tasted okay but not great.

Never mind. We took the remaining batter, essentially just mashed potatoes, and made pancakes that we covered with butter and cinnamon sugar. Sadly, this was my idea. On a brighter note, I think Scout and I might have invented a whole new junk food concept.

Mashed-potato pancakes with butter and cinnamon sugar

Smashed into pancakes, fried in butter and covered with cinnamon sugar. Much better.

At one point an announcement in Czech blared over the camp’s tinny 1950s loudspeakers. I couldn’t understand a word, but the jarring message sounded frantic and repetitive, like maybe some army was invading and we were being ordered to evacuate. Scout was concerned. But when I went over to the front desk to ask about it, I found the front-desk guy hanging out on restaurant patio drinking a beer, which I figured he wouldn’t be doing if an invasion were actually underway.

Mark stumbled home around 9 or 10 that night, exhausted but successful. A good soul had turned in the passport (not surprising in Germany), and the gal at the mall office was waiting for a frantic parent to show up and claim it.

We capped off the night at the camp restaurant with Czech beer, slabs of pork, and bacon-fat dumplings.

We spent the next day in Prague, but most of my photos are crap (pollution haze in sky, high-contrast shadows, lots of tourist butts), so let’s just skip that part.

Long story short: We didn’t get going until after 11, so by the time we got into the city, it was packed with tourists. Prague may be the “golden city of spires” and have a thousand years of architectural splendors, blah, blah, blah, but the Disneyland atmosphere in the old town was overwhelming. Or perhaps underwhelming, depending on how you look at it. Scout and Mark had the same response. Neither the food (lots of pork and dumplings) nor the language appealed. Getting there late in the day didn’t help, nor did the quick visit, but still, the city just didn’t grab any of us the way I expected. Sorry, Prague.

Czech Republic-3; Team Ramblecrunch-0

Glad we saw the city though. Travel is always great, even when it’s not.

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