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The Flood

June 4, 2013

I slept late on Monday morning. Really late. I had promised Mark that I’d go to a meeting with him in the morning and he should just call me with the details and then all of a sudden it was almost noon and I was just rolling out of bed. (For the record, I was forgiven – Mark said “yeah –  I knew you’d need sleep, even if you didn’t know it, so I didn’t bother to call.”

After indulging in the hotel breakfast, which was beyond extensive, I headed out to see as much of Prague as I could. I really ended up just retracing my footsteps from the day before a bit, but walked a bit slower and looked at more. I love the street art in Prague – it’s a mix of very old sculpture alongside more modern takes including a spectacular and surreal tribute to Kafka.

kafka

In Old Town Sq. I walked through the street vendors with ham on spits over wood fires and a spinning donut-looking pastry that I will have to try before I leave.  I meandered my way to the landmark Charles Bridge, but it was closed for pedestrians so I wondered to the other side of the river on the next bridge over. Then crossed back again, to head back towards the hotel for a 4:30 meeting. (After stopping for an unfortunate attempt at a Czech lunch).

The work team gathered we discussed the impending flood which, despite the near constant rain, I hadn’t really grasped was an issue. The work schedules sorted, and a meeting up time for dinner set, I headed back out to explore this storm situation. Not before stopping in the lobby to take advantage of the hotel’s goldfish loan. I goldfish would be brought to my room to keep me company during my stay. I named mine Gustav.

Once I was looking for it, signs of the flood were everywhere. The  Charles Bridge was closed because of the high waters. Folks were stacking sandbags in front of windows, barrier gates were being erected along the shores of the river (which also hosted slews of reporters), the subways were closed, and police were everywhere.

cop

 

flooded apts

 

sand bagsreporterJPG

I was clearly on a vacation earlier, seeing all that through vacation-colored glasses.

I met my colleague Janet in the hotel lobby and we headed out to find a place for dinner. As we wondered we had that inevitable moment on any trip of chatting with strangers on the street and discovering they’re actually neighbors back home (in this case, Janet’s neighbors). We swelled on an Italian/French place, and, with our late arrival Murry, had yet another spectacular dinner. The fine dining in Prague is light and well-prepared with small-sized meals and not a dumpling in sight. (not to self, must have dumplings before I leave).

Walking home through the cobble stone streets in twilight, it almost felt like Disney Prague. The streets were empty, and clean. the pastel buildings aglow, it felt as though this couldn’t possibly be a real place.

This morning, I joined the orchestra at Smetana Hall for their first rehearsal, a perfect jewel box of a theater. From there, back to the hotel for a little work and another trip to the Square. This time for a tour of the Town Hall. It was jammed with tourists for this first time since I’d arrived (also the sun was out for the first time). Its sort of comforting that no matter where one is in the world, there is a square in town where the tourists and buskers gather. The buskers drawing a crowd were performing some mediocre music, but nearby was a jazz group playing Wonderful World – my favorite, favorite song – with the lyrics in Czech. A happy thing.

I had a moment as we looked at the Apostle sculptures on the historic Astronomical Clock. I tripped. Grabbing on to an iron gate to hold me, I discovered that was not bolted to the floor and gate and I hurled towards the sculpture. Fortunately the German tourist next to me caught hold before I destroyed a landmark. So that’s covered. I have now had my fall in Prague.

Another beautiful night, another great dinner. I have to stop eating. But I’m not going to.

Tomorrow time speeds up. It’s all work from here on out.

 

 

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