We traveled to Prague today. Despite the familiar feeling of homecoming, we could tell we'd been gone for a while.
We set off for town with three clear goals: 1) get tram passes, 2) buy a new wireless router and 3) find a snack, preferably a párek v rohlíku - a Czech-style hot dog, available from many roadside stands around the city. Or so we thought.
Our first stop was our local subway station to get the tram passes. There we found that to get the monthly pass (like $2 more than the 5 day pass!) you need the special tram pass holder booklet thing (name, pic, spot to hold pass card), which of course we have, if we had seen them at any time in the past two years. So we decided to just get new ones, making it 1) get pictures taken for tram passes.
Next we used one-time tickets to get downtown, since we don't know any picture taking booths in our area. The booth we come to takes 80 kc, coins only. We don't have that much change. We resolve to find a walk-in place or booth that takes bills. Also, wireless router and snack.
We walk to nearby O2 store to get router, but find a helpful sign saying it is closed since 2008 and giving directions to the new shop down the street. Oops. We walk to new store and it is closed for reconstruction with addresses for nearby stores. We head for the nearest one, in a new shopping mall we figure has the least likelihood of being closed down.
Along the way we want to stop for a párek, but our trusty hot dog stand is not there either. Snackless we continue into the mall, where we wander until we find an O2 stand that, uh oh, only sells cell phones. They point to the big store on the next floor, where we are grateful to pay entirely too much for the router.
We decided to one-way it over to Národní třída, where they have another good hot dog place and a few photo places. We get our párky but frankly, the rohlíky were overheated (too crusty) and K dropped hers (i.e. mine) on the ground halfway through. While we waited Apo got a sim card for me from a cell phone shop as long as we were nearby (needed a different shop than the router...).
Missions 2) and 3) accomplished (however irritatingly), we devoted ourselves to 1)a). Picture taking. First photo place we know, CLOSED! Second one we remember, CLOSED! Third and fourth ones are open but ask 150 or 160 kc for a picture, which we agree is highway robbery and move on.
Allow me to pause for a moment and rewind a bit. You see, all this time, ever since we first got downtown to the automatic picture taking booth, I have been saying, "Let's just use this one. Let's get some change and use the machine. Do we really need to traipse all over town when we could get some change and use the machine?" Apo, meanwhile, insisted that we need a walk-in place or booth that takes bills.
Allow me to unpause and return to the bit where we've been to four no-go photo places, which were fortunately all in a row on the way from Národní up Václavák. Looking into our change holder after getting us a drink, the Slovak of my dreams spoke up:
"You know, we have more change here than I thought."
"Do not tell me that we've had enough change this whole time and you're just now admitting it."
"I, um, think we might have enough change."
"I have to say, I don't see this ending well for you."
"Hey, look! Another 50 kc! You know, you're such a great wife. You are so special and such a wonderful mother."
"Do you especially appreciate my kind and forgiving heart?"
So with the change we had had all along, we returned to the automat picture booth and got our pictures taken. We then returned to our neighborhood ticket office and got our tram pass booklets made to put our new tram passes in. While standing at the window we overheard in the line behind us, "Where is [other friend]? She must have stepped around the corner to look at the picture taking booth."
At which point our eyes locked, the hair stood up on the backs of our necks and we whispered to each other, "Surely not!!"
We tried our best to shake that off and headed for the tram to go one stop, since we were tired. We sat on tram # 19, which Apo would probably like me to interject has ALWAYS gone straight at the intersection towards our stop, but today, as you have probably guessed from the direction of this sentence, it inexplicably turned at the intersection and went to another stop. We got off and walked home, laughing at the final twist in our unpredictable day. I do have to give this one to the Slovak: the 19 ALWAYS goes our way. Clearly it's had a change of track.
And you know what's funny, after an afternoon like that, I'm still glad to be home. I leaned over to smell the fresh bread while picking up dinner in the corner store (which was still open and sold everything we expected it to) and felt a thrill run through my whole body.