Berty zepravy, takove jake jsou (Accept the information at face value)
Ruzne Airport, Prague
Gate 32, Flight OK050
Prague to JFK
Settling into my seat, I check my notepad, a 4x5 paperback notebook that I picked up in a corner store, my first day in Prague, in which I've written down everything I've done, or needed to do over the past ten days. On the page headed Sobota (Saturday) Listopad (November) 10, I'd written "CSA Airlines, Praha to JFK, 1:30PM."
is typical. For some reason I always miscalculate departure times.
Just ask my daughter Lydia. London to JFK, San Juan
to JFK, Paris to JFK. JFK to Chicago. The list goes on. Luckily,
I'd given Steve a copy of my itinerary last night, for safe keeping
and true to his word, he came to pick me up 20 minutes before the time we actually needed to leave for the
airport. That gave
us time to drive past Fred&Ginger, Frank Gehry's signature
building on the banks of the Vltava River just south of the new,
Stare Mesto, part of the old, Nove Mesto, section of Prague.
pulled Steve's Skoda four-door wagon into the first available parking spot
and I jumped out and ran across Rasinovo street to get a good prospect
on the building. The sun was streaming in from behind, which put
the structure into an interesting silhouette, the sun shining through the
glass crown on Fred's head. Snip, snap. A few quick grab shots of the
river, swans, the tram and some of the 11th century buildings
fantastic modernist construction, then we were back on the main street
headed north to the airport. Cruising past Karluv most (Charles
drove across Manusev most, one of the main bridges, and climbed a hill
which is surmounted by Prazsky hrad (Prague Castle) and I made some pictures
out the window. Turning around, I was able to get good pictures of Prasna
vez Mihulka (the Powder Tower), Petrinska rozhledna (Petrin Tower), Staromestska
mostecka vez (the Old Town Bridge Tower), Chram Matky Bozi vez, (the
towers of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn), Novomestska radnice
tower of New Town Hall), and finally Katdrala sv. Vita, Vaclava a
Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral) off in the distance.
it was a whirlwind tour, but fortunately, I did see everything with
enough time to spare and arrived at the airport thirty minutes early.
Hardly like the Albany Airport, where I arrived two-hours and forty minutes
early because when I called to ask, they told me I needed to be there
three hours before departure to insure that I cleared all of the necessary
requirements for international travel in these times of heightened 9/11 security.
got me there early and then it took just eleven minutes to check in, so
I had a few hours to kill. Luckily, Sharon was working in the airport gallery,
so I hung out and helped her proof-read the text for her upcoming
exhibition of wacko collections that people in the Capital District, many
of them artist friends, have assembled over the years:
toy trucks, weather vanes, old trains, doll clothes, wooden dinosaurs,
etc. Everything representing one or another obsession on the part of
Prvni dousek povzbudichut na celou lahev.(A first sip whets the appetite for the whole bottle)
"Excuse me, I think that is my seat."
I am shaken from my reverie by a petite woman in her mid forties, with close cropped hair. I've got my stuff all over her seat, next to me.
I reply, "I'll move this right away."
problem," she says.
I take my drink from her tray table, grab my stuff and she sits
down next to me.
certainly a beautiful day out today," I tell her.
"Yes it is, and it's been beautiful the entire ten days I've been in Prague," she says. "Except for yesterday and the night before, when it was rather cold. In fact," she continues, "yesterday I saw snow."
"Yes," she says, "not a lot, but definitely snow, on the ground, near my brother's house where I was visiting, on the outskirts of Prague."
"I saw snow myself yesterday and I really froze my butt," I reply.
"I was on the top of the Prague TV Tower, the tallest structure in the city, on a hill in the Jarlslov district."
I know it," she say, "but what were you doing there, having
"Nei," I answer, "I wasn't inside the observatory, I was outside, on the roof, taking photographs."
"You're a photographer?"
"Right, that's why I was in Prague, to do some photography. Anyhow, I'm out on the roof on a small platform which has a one foot high perimeter wall around it, leaning over the edge, trying to get the best birds-eye-views of the city, and trying not to loose my balance, when my foot slipped and I found myself sliding on some snow."
"That sounds dangerous," she says.
"I suppose, but sometimes you've have to go to the edge for your art."
"You're an artist?"
"Of a sort," I tell her. "I do photography, installations of pictures and other objects, make constructions, and try to put as much of it as possible on my website."
"The web is great, isn't it?" she says.
"For me, sure."
"No, really," she says, "I got my tickets for Prague using the web. Jan, my ex-husband, got me the tickets by using an on-line auction. You go there, pick your destination, and then make an offer on the tickets. Just for fun I offered $50 for Prague, but of course it was rejected, so I just kept upping my bid by $100, until finally, for $450, I got the tickets. Of course you don't know until you confirm your bid, which airline you'll be flying. As you can see, I got Czech Airlines, but they're good. Well, they're better now, than they were ten years ago, the last time I flew home."
Musel Jsem pres vedcit tatu, aby souhlasil vice za vzdelani. (I had to twist my dad's arm to get him to agree to pay for more education.)
"You're from Prague?" I ask.
"Yes, I was born here, in Liben, across the river from Holesevice. I left Prague in the 70's with my husband, now my ex-husband, to get away from the repressive government of those days. We moved to Texas and then to Chicago, which has a large Czech population, I lived on Kedzie and Cermak."
"I know the area," I tell her.
"I went to art school in Chicago, in the 70's. The American Academy of Art, downtown, beneath the "EL"."
"You mean that beautiful elevated subway. It looks alot like the trams of Prague except the tracks are way up above the street," she says.
"How did you end up in Chicago?"
"I was raised in Kenosha, in Wisconsin, north of Chicago, and when I graduated high school, I chose to move to Chicago."
"I've been to Kenosha," she says.
Excerpted from the book: NUDNY NOVINY by Jan Galligan, 2002.
Third in the series: GALLIGANSTRAVAILS, a guide for the common traveler
Volume One: PARIS, Chronique Enneuysis, 1995 (click to view)
Volume Two: MADRID, Chronica Aburrida, 2000 (click to view)