DAY 30, JUNE 16
(CHRIS) We arose at various times, Sam and I last, at the precise moment Matt slammed the door after his bathroom run. That was about 8:30. But the beds were soft and we had slept well. The showers were hot, but the shop's food was too expensive, so we just ate the left-over cookies. We had a bit of a problem with the check out. We were short on shilling, but the sign said they took U.S. traveler's cheques. So Sam tried to pay with one, but the lady said we had to change it at the camp shop. So he went to do that but the lady at the shop said he needed his passport to cash it, but the lady at the office had it. Sam climbed out of this strange Pandora's box by letting me cash in a cheque instead.
We drove into Wien and found great free parking near the cathedral. Jon explained that we would be on time for 11 a.m. Mass here at St. Stephen's. As Sam and I approached the church, we noted how much different it looked from this angle. We were amazed there was a road on this side of it because yesterday it seemed like it was in a pedestrian-only part of town. We were even more amazed at the interior of the church. The plain stain glass windows from yesterday had transformed into awesome window pictures of Our Lady, the saints, and the Mauthausen steps. It turned out we were actually in the Votive Church, not St. Stephen's and that Jon and Matt were playing us (quite well, too) for fools. However, they were fools as to the time of Mass, because there was none as they had said.
After Matt confessed his many sins to a hunchbacked priest, Sam and I combined our historical knowledge to patch together an explanation about Emperor Franz Joseph (his memorial plaque was here) and the Austria-Mexico connection (Emperor Maximillian and the O.L. of Guadeloupe stain window.) Then we feasted in a near-by park on Almdudler, (that weird drink we had at our cook out; Matt asked a passing Austrian cutie what it was and she said, "Like Canada Dry, but better.") bread, cheese, pickles, oranges, and sweet rolls. A very leisurely meal had we. A very nice day it was for once. As the sun shined, we strolled past big, impressive buildings. The parliament building had great winged chariot statues and a huge steeple. The Hapsburg's palace reminded me of the Tuilleries. It had buildings reaching out on both sides like great arms and a garden out front. This garden had tons of roses in a variety of colors. The museum didn't look really interesting, so we kept our money and moved on.
(SAM) So... we walked some more in this beautiful city of Wien. We were on a ritzy street full of clothing stores and "beautiful" people who all drank 7-up. The same as the rest of us. I wanna live forever. FAME! I wanna learn to fly. FLY! As the clouds gathered and darkness overshadowed the land, we found a poste. It started to rain ever so slowly so we started back to the car.
As we were blowing that taco stand, we ran into Leslie Falco in a dry place in a rose garden. No she was no the young sister of the famous Austrian singer, but she was related to Carter. She was from TX and yes, even Waco. Leslie, or "little fruitcake" as Chris likes to call her is an exchange student. She is studying at Granada and has a summer job in Barcelona. We talked about life, the universe, and everything as the rain came down in the rose garden. The damp perfume filled the air as we expressed our hopes, our fears, and our food experiences in various countries. As the rain let up, we exchanges Gruts Gotts and parted.
We are now on the road to Praha (Prague.) At the border between Austria and the Czech Republic, the guards actually looked at our passports. After we stop at this bus stop to deposit some nitrogenious waste, the ever popular but not so famous LOG will be up to date. This is good because my BiC is kaput.
P.S. Matt asked Leslie Falco, "What grade are you in?" "I'm a senior," replied Leslie Falco.
"Really!?!?" Matt sputtered in astonishment.
Historical note: Leslie Falco was cute but looked very young at first glance. This is her --- ) (drawing of Eugen Bohn Bawerk from paper Schilling) (Drawing of Johan Brocker)
(CHRIS) We arrived in Prague about 7:30 p.m. and found a campsite outside the city center about a seven minute drive. But we voted to not set up in case we found a better place later. So we moved on to see the city. We got to the info center one minute before it closed, changed money (25 koruny to the dollar) and got a map. We parked about a three minute walk from the famous Charles Bridge. It was free parking on a road next to the Vltava River. The famous footbridge (although it is big enough for cars) has many religious statues that have turned black with time and age. One statue was of St. John Nepomuk who was martyred by being thrown off this bridge. There were many artisans selling their work on the bridge; all had to have their selling license in view. (maybe Big Brother is still watching; there were T-shirts being sold that said, "KGB is still watching.") There were also some very good musicians on the bridge; one was performing an Indigo Girls song.
The city, whose name translates "Threshold" is nicknamed the "City of 100 Spires." And all around you could see gorgeous steeples and spires. Especially cool was the Cathedral of St. Vitus on the heights and in the fortress part of the city. As we crossed the bridge, the sun was setting behind it. And later that night, as we returned to our car, fireworks went off above it. We browsed a bit at shop windows and restaurant menus. These Czechs, so recently under Soviet rule, are turning into fine capitalists. There were the usual T-shirts and post cards, but alot of nice gifts and nice eateries at low prices.
We picked out a cheap restaurant in Let's Go and walked to it. But it had changed ownership and the prices had gone up. However, it was still in our price range and it was totally first class, four-star type place. Only two or three guys ran the place; It had capacity of 20; there were five other customers there the whole 2 1/2 hours we were there. We spent $50 for all of us. I had clam and seafood soup, salad (romaine lettuce, beans, cabbage), salmon with strawberry sauce, veggies, potatoes, ice cream, cappachino, and two glasses of wine. Jon's highlight was his red cabbage soup. We all stuck with seafood. The meal was great. The atmosphere was majestic. We were content. And all for one low, low price.
We took our content selves back across Charles Bridge, heard some musicians, had a $1 beer (the original Budvar and Pilsner,) and walked to the car. It had a ticket on it and a foot so we couldn't get away. A nearby restaurant waiter called the cops for us and we waited by the car. From the ticket, it looked like it would cost us $100, but the cop was nice and it only cost $24. So we remained content. We went back to that same campsite we had seen earlier and put up the tent as quietly as is possible when Jon Carlson has been drinking. We slept beginning about 1 a.m.