Monday, August 20, 2012

Prague and Scotchguard


I'm back from our European vacation and I have pictures. Who doesn't love looking through someone else's vacation photos?

We went to Prague, Czech Republic and Scotchguard (err, Stuttgart), Germany. [Sarah - that nickname totally made me laugh and it's what I think every time I see the word now!] It was beautiful, wonderful, fun, and all other positive adjectives all rolled into one. But, who wants to hear someone say how amazing, perfect, dreamy, etc someone else's vacation was? You'd rather hear about the things that didn't go quite as planned as a little vindication for your not being able to fit in my suitcase, right? So I'll share some stories that will let you know that wasn't always as perfect as it may look in photos...


So, John (my husband), Matt (one of our bestest friends) and I were leaving Tuesday at 5pm for our overnight flight to Munich, and then on to Prague. I had read that cabs can be a little sketchy in Prague, so I had arranged a car from our hotel in Prague to pick us up at the airport at noon. I was sent a confirmation email of the transfer and was told the driver would be holding a sign with my name on it and the hotel's logo on it*** and he'd wait for an hour for us. Perfect. I couldn't wait to see my name on one of those signs!

On Tuesday afternoon while still at work, I received an email from the hotel that the driver waited for us for an hour and we never showed, so I'd get charged the $30 for the transfer. What!? Silly people! I set the transfer up for tomorrow, not today! So I opened the confirmation email, and right there it said "Tuesday, August 7, 2012". Whoops. I guess since our flight left on Tuesday I mistakenly set up our transfer for Tuesday even though we didn't get there until Wednesday. Thankfully I got the email before I had left already so I was able to reschedule the transfer for the next day. I had wasted $30 before we ever got out of the U.S.

***So, we landed and found the man with the sign with my name on it and it was just a white piece of paper with our last name written on it in black marker - sort of homeless man style, only it wasn't written on cardboard. I was so excited to see my name that we shook hands with the man and followed him out to the hotel shuttle. Only, when we got to the "shuttle" in the parking lot, it was a regular Mercedes with no mention of the hotel anywhere on it. Not what I was expecting, but whatever. They must do things differently here. So we all get in and off we go. 10 minutes later, it dawns on me that his little sign did not have the hotel logo on it as I was promised, the car had no mention of the hotel on it, and we may have just been kidnapped and he's taking us somewhere to hold us hostage. But not to worry (because I did enough of that for all of us in my head), he did end up dropping us off at our hotel and all was well, but for a minute there I thought we were going to be broadcast on the next episode of Dateline: Kidnapped Abroad.


The only "plan" I made for the entire trip was later Wednesday afternoon and it was a 3 hour Segway tour of Prague. (Thanks to Erica's suggestion of a bike tour which inspired this! Glad I ended up choosing a Segway over a bike because Prague may be the 2nd hilliest city ever, next to San Francisco.) John was very anti-tour, but I tried to tell him that it may seem nice to see cities on your own, but when you walk up to the old building/bridge/clock/whatever and it looks cool but you know nothing about it, it sort of doesn't have the same affect. So, doing this tour was fast, we'd learn something about all of the old stuff we'll see, and it was private! So no giant group of amateur Segwayers trying to make our way through a crowded city. A win/win/win, and he finally agreed.

None of us had ever Segwayed before, but they give you a quick little demonstration before you set out on our tour which involved a little trip up the sidewalk and back. She assured us that we'd have it down pat within 10 minutes. Matt went up and back. John went up and back. And then I went up and back. And then she made me go again. Why me!? I'm super athletic/coordinated/not-clumsy! Doesn't she see this!? [Sarcasm font]


Anyways, we set off on our 10 kilometer tour of the city and none of us had any issues Segwaying at all. Except for that time where we were going down a very steep path and I couldn't slow down and almost ran over the instructor. And then the fact that I was required to be right behind the instructor at all times so she could save me from death by Segway if needed. And the fact that my Segway kept losing it's center of gravity and wanted to tip me backwards over and over. (This one was actually due to the cobblestones, not my fault!) It was almost like an iRobot moment. I swear my Segway had it out for me.

(But I don't want people to get the wrong idea, it really was the best part of my whole trip. It really wasn't that difficult and I'm alive to tell the tale. And if I can do it, honestly, ANYONE can. Do it! It's fun!)


The next day we did some sightseeing on our own, and then we had to catch a train to Scotchguard later that evening at 6pm. We spent the afternoon trying several Czech beers thanks to a recommendation of our Segway tour guide and were definitely ready to eat dinner on the train when we got there. It was a 12 hour train ride, after all. We were dreaming of sitting on the restaurant car having dinner, and then heading to the bar car to sample some more beers. 


So we check into our tiny little private room which consisted of three bunk beds (one of them flipped up for a row of 3 seats) and a bathroom so tiny that the shower head doubled as the sink faucet and waited for dinner time. Our first class reservation included champagne and orange juice for mimosas so we made those for the first part of our journey. John then went to go ask our car's captain (captain? conductor? I'm not sure what his train title is...) where we could get some dinner and/or more drinks and much to our surprise, there was no dinner car! Or bar car! We were essentially going to starve/dehydrate until breakfast. He DID offer some snacks for sale though. So, our dream dinner on the train turned into Mimosas, Snickers bars and bags of chips in our room. 


On Saturday we had some errands to run. We had our friend's wedding to attend that evening, and the wedding shuttle was picking us up at our hotel at 1:45 p.m. Both John and Matt forgot to pack undershirts and were wearing white button-up shirts to the wedding, and I wanted to find a shawl or cardigan to wear over my sleeveless dress, since it had been a little chilly in the evenings and the only jacket I brought was a white sweatshirt jacket. I don't think that would look right with my smurfy, one-shouldered dress. 

We head over to the airport which was the closest place for shopping near our hotel. To make a long story short, none of us found anything that would work. My arms were going to have to be bare, and Matt and John's chests would have to be too, underneath their shirt of course. Otherwise that might have been a little Chippendale-ish.

Since we wasted so much time running our errands which resulted in absolutely nothing, we had to rush to get ready when we got back to the hotel. I immediately start trying to find an easy updo on Pinterest because I'd seen them on there a million times before. I find one that I am SURE I can do. I try and try. I never get past the ponytail part. Either my hair is too short, or has too many layers, or I'm just hair challenged. (Likely the latter.) But I end up with my hair down and we rush out of the hotel to make it to the shuttle on time.

It's not bad, but just once I want to be one of those girls that can have pretty updoed hair at a wedding that I did myself!

We have to go to another hotel to pick up the rest of the wedding guests on the shuttle. On the way there I realize I forgot something very, very important while struggling with my hair for so long. Deodorant. Deodorant!? I will not be able to dance or move or even lift my arms the entire evening! Not that I haven't perfected the keep-your-arms-down-maneuver before.

But I realize we have to stop at another hotel before we get there. And all hotels have stuff like that at the front desk for their guests. Sure, we aren't a guest there, but they won't know! So I send John in because I'm too ashamed to do it myself. He comes back with deodorant in hand. Thank goodness. I didn't want to be more awkwardly shy all evening than I normally am. Deodorant saved the evening!

Although deodorant couldn't save my heels from falling in those cracks one million times!

During the wedding reception, we were seated at a table with mostly Americans, and two German friends of the bride that we'd met a couple of times. They spoke good English thankfully, as I do not speak good, err, any German. We were chatting it up and our server must have assumed I was German too. At one point, she had a tray with a giant beer on it and asked me a question in German. I didn't understand her so she realized I spoke English, and started to lean down to ask me the same question in English. As she did, the beer spilt all over me, my dress, my chair, and something I had hanging on the corner of my chair - my camera!! She was so so apologetic, and felt awful so I didn't want to make her feel bad at all. It was just an accident. BUT! My camera!! 

John and I dried it off as much as we could. It was covered in beer. (as was I, but at the moment I was more concerned with my camera) We let it sit for a while and then took a test picture. It worked. Whew. I would hate to have to figure out the conversion of Euros to dollars for them to pay for my camera! It's dangerous to do the conversions. The best method is always to just close your eyes and hand over your credit card. 

Blurriness is not due to camera malfunctioning, just operator error. 
We flew back home on Monday. It's different flying home because it's not overnight - it's just like a really long day instead. So, in our eightish hour flight I watched 3 movies (although I had to fast forward the end of the last one to finish it in time) listened to two full albums, and took an hourish nap. And then our layover was in Newark so as we landed we all got to see the NYC skyline, Statue of Liberty, Hudson river, and the Meadowlands stadium for the first time. We were super excited as none of us had been to NYC before. 

John complained about the girliness of our combined carry-on bag about one trillion times. Seriously.

We begin a very bumpy descent. Darn turbulence. We start to make our landing, and it does seem like it's taking a bit long for the wheels to actually hit the ground. But they finally do. Whew. Another safe landing......but, no, wait. We speed up again. Speed, speed, speed, with jet engines engine-ing again. And we take back off, slowly, very slowly. It doesn't feel like we are pulling back enough and I picture a giant wall at the end of the runway that we are nearing towards. No, it makes absolutely no sense to build a wall at the end of a runway and no, I've never seen a runway with a wall, but in my head this was what I was picturing and I was sure we weren't going to be high up off the ground enough to make it over said wall. Looking out the window at NYC is no longer enticing and I keep repeating "I don't like this, I don't like this, I don't like this." Turns out I act like a five year old when faced with near-death scenarios.

We eventually get all the way back up in the air. The captain comes on and says "As you noticed, we've been rerouted. We'll be landing again soon. Thank you for your patience." WHAT?! No explanation for what we just experienced? It was probably good to NOT know as we still had to land once again, but I will forever be curious if they overshot the runway and ran out of time, or if they were trying to avoid a giant brick wall, or what. Since I'm here to tell the tale, you know that we did safely land after a 30 minute circle around the airport. It was scary though! Scary I tell you!


So see, it wasn't perfect! Doesn't that make you feel better that you missed out on such beautiful weather, beautiful sights, and an incredibly good time at our incredibly good friend's wedding?


Jessica said...

This was way more fun to read than most vacation recaps!

MillerMama said...

I feel so honored as to have officially renamed your European vacation destination. And I have also always wanted to do fancy things with my hair. You will note, if you stalk me on FB as I expect and demand you do, that my hair looks one of two ways - straight and down or curly and down. The end.

Diana said...

I laughed the entire time. Glad y'all returned safely and unharmed.

Kristen said...

OMG....that was hilarious!!!
You have such a great memory too! I can never remember all the crazy stuff.

Erica said...

Glad it was so fun!