If asked, I would advise to take any extension tours before the cruise. The service and accommodations on the ship were so amazing that our trip to Prague is a bit of a let down. While there are Viking representatives in the hotel lobby, it's not at all the same as the reception desk or concierge on the ship.
When we booked the extension, we were told the drive was 3 1/2 hours when in reality it was 7 1/2. That's a significant difference. I expected there would be points of interest along the way such as a break in a coffee shop and lunch at an authentic restaurant... included in our excursion price. No. We stopped at truck stops and we paid. I'll mention that in my evaluation. If I had known the full details, I would have booked the stay in Budapest but even so, we're enjoying our time here in Prague.
On the flight over and during the first week of the cruise, I finished the scarf for my friend Claire - except for casting off - because I didn't pack a large needle. I'll do that when I get home. On the trip to Prague, I knit on a rectangular blue scarf. The yarn is a cashmere silk blend that I've double stranded. Even so, it's a skinny yarn and small needles so that it'll take more time. I'm also using a moss stitch which - with the way I knit - takes longer. Even so, I'm about half way through and have just started the second ball of yarn. I have six. Apparently, I'll be making several blue scarves.
Another point of evaluation will be the hotel. There is a pool, a roof top garden, and high speed internet but these are only available to executive guests. That makes me feel second class. I would think that Viking would be a large enough company to qualify for this service but no. To use the slower than a turtle moving backwards internet, you have to go to the lobby otherwise it's thirty Euros a day and more for high speed internet. Starbucks is just down the street and the internet is free. It works for me - a bit of the familiar. Howard and I came here in the morning together and in the afternoon I came to journal while he had a nap. We're doing that again today.
Just down the street from the hotel is a lingerie shop. Perfect Silhouette means the same thing everywhere. I want to visit this afternoon and see if the lingerie is different from what we have at home.
On the way to old town, we passed through a market square. The woman at left above is writing free form on aprons, pillows, bibs, and such. She uses a Bernina like I do. Everyone was very impressed with her ability - me too - even though I can embroider free form. She must have extensive experience to accurately space the letters. There was a lot of interest in her work from those walking buy. That's one thing I'm looking forward to when I move - being more visible.
The woman at right is making glass beads. Her booth is just behind her and there was a selection of necklaces, bracelets, and rings. It was suggested that we don't buy from the street vendors. I'm not sure if that included this market as it seemed like more of a farmer's market but since we're only using our debit card, we didn't even consider it. I did buy an amber necklace at one of the shops. When I get home, I'll take pictures of the jewelry I bought on my dress form so it'll show up better.
Also in the market was a blacksmith and beside him was a set of armour for taking pictures. Iron objects would have been far too heavy to bring home especially as my suitcase is near to the maximum weight already. Anything I buy now has to go in my carry on.
The shop keepers in Prague are far more aggressive than anywhere else and it's easy to see signs that business is not as brisk as they might hope. The necklace I bought was 60% off if you paid by cash and when I said I had no cash and went to walk away, they quickly said I could have the same price with a debit card. It worked for me but I hate to see someone struggling. It's hard in so many ways. Been there, done that.
The streets in old town are very narrow with the shops close together and there were a LOT of people. In the main square is was difficult to pass through. This was the only place along this trip where someone tried to pick pocket us. Howard was looking for something in his bag and felt a hand quickly slip in and out of his back pocket. Since neither of us is carrying things in our pockets this was okay but an interesting experience.
Europe is doing a far better job of environmentalism than Canada is. Almost all facilities have lights on timers that turn off quickly and with one exception, all of our water or pop has been in glass bottles. The toilets are also set to conserve water and there are hand dryers and dispensers that limit the use of paper.
Most of the washrooms have an attendant and you pay to use them. It's a small fee but I think this is a fabulous idea. Not only does it keep the washroom clean and safe but it pays for the operational costs. There is one restaurant about forty-five minutes from my home that received a lot of negative press for charging for bathroom use and yet many people were stopping there, using the facilities, and moving on without buying anything. Since they were on a septic tank, it was expensive to keep cleaning out and costing them money.
Right down from Starbucks is a small fabric and sewing machine store with embroidery supplies. They had a reasonable amount of stock and Burda magazines and patterns but nothing that I couldn't live without.
My favourite shop yesterday was a textile gallery next to our hotel. The owner sold the work of artists from all around the world and it was beautifully displayed. I was particularly interested in the textile wall art. When I asked her how often she sold a piece, she said rarely and yet they were a reasonable size and well priced. That was good information especially as the owner of the antique store told us that he would be able to sell a 350 year old, $500,000 US, roughly 8' x 12' painting of cherubs and angels in about two months. Apparently being an abstract alternative artist is hard here too.
Most of the pieces in the shop were dolls. They were absolutely gorgeous and very well done down to the smallest of details. There were also some books available on doll making - both in English and Chzech. I've tried doll making and it's not for me. I think you have to really love what you're doing to make it through the journey from thought to product.
All along the way I've been looking at jewelry and thinking how could I do that in fabric. The piece above is bobbin lace made from metal thread. I was so captured by how beautiful it was that I forgot to look at the price but I definitely have ideas on how to create something similar with thread lace. YES YES.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - inspiration and connection