The idea for today was to wake up, rent a bike and cycle along the old Berlin wall, then make the four hour journey to Prague in time to find our apartment, take a stroll and then go to the opera. When we woke, it was raining and as everything we had planned for the day was outdoors, we decided to skip it and spend more time in Prague.We left Berlin at 09:30 and drove through light traffic most of the way. The timings were slightly out, however: we only arrived in Prague around 16:30! So much for a four hour trip!

Anyway, Prague has the strangest road signs, and many many one way streets, so that with a rather sketchy map, it was almost impossible to find the way. Upon arrival at the ‘Our Office’ sign (according to the map) we found that our flat was nowhere near the office, but at least they gave us better directions.

We got to the flat, off-loaded the car and then Martin went to drop the car off at the garage which was a further ten minute tram ride from the accommodation!

While he was away the rest of us showered and prepared for the evening’s opera, Rigoletto. Martin had been away for some time when at 18:10 I received a message from him, saying that the opera started at 19:00, not 20:00 as he originally thought! The problem of just arriving in a new country and being late is manyfold: Firstly, the map doesnt have the opera house on it, so we have to get online to get the address. The street names are really difficult to understand, because we don’t speak the language and they are very different. The map the accommodation gave us was as useful as it had been in finding the accommodation (!) We can’t book a taxi because not only do we not have a number for a taxi service, but we also wouldn’t be able to tell them where we were or where we were going! (There seems to be a very small number of people in the Czech Republic that either speak English, or are willing to admit that they do so!) So the only alternative we had was to set off on foot, which we did. We must have been a sight, two guys suited and booted running up a long hill in the general direction of the opera house, and two girls in heels and fancy dresses and done up hair trundling along behind them with sweat beginning to drip from our foreheads. The guys ran on ahead and Simryn and I received curious and pitying glances, although we did manage to stop traffic by weaving through it to the other side of the road!

We finally arrived at the opera house just after 19:10 quite sure that we were not going to be allowed in to the theatre as not only did we not actually have our tickets and the box office was closed, but we were also late. I think the fact that we arrived first Martin, then Edu and then two bedraggled girls, all out of breath and sweat dripping made the old lady at the door take pity on us and they took us to a semi empty box on the first floor where we had an obstructed view, but a view at least, of the stage.

By the intermission we had regained our breath, cooled our body temperature and calmed our nerves, and were able to move to our booked seats. Martin had really managed to arrange fantastic seats. Centre balcony, second row with a perfect view of the stage. It was stunning!

Rigoletto is a tragic story though, ending in unrequited love, mixed messages, confusion and mistaken identity and eventually murder. It’s a good thing that there was a display board above the stage with English and Czech translations of the Italian performance, otherwise we’d not have known any of that.

Despite the absolutely manic start, the evening turned out really well. The opera was fantastic, the opera house stunning and the slow walk back to the apartment allowed us to actually see some of Prague.

By this point we were obviously starving having had nothing but snacks on route all day, so we stopped at a bar/restaurant near our hotel and had delicious snitchels, potato cakes, goullash and other very Czech food before returning to the hotel for a well deserved sleep.

Categories: Around Europe

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