I woke up bright and early, unintentionally. For some reason my phone’s clock changed. I got up at 7:00, showered, dressed, and woke Matt at 8:00. I started to get a little nervous when, at 8:40 my parents weren’t awake. Matt got up and ready and he asked me what time we were heading out for the day. I told him that I wanted to leave around 9 and he said that we had over an hour… I looked at my clock. It showed 20 till 9:00. He looked at his and it said 20 till 8:00. I checked a few more clocks and sure enough… mine was an hour ahead! So, the Hamricks got an early start on the day. To minimize the amount of time 4 boys were moving around the apartment so early in the day, Matt and I headed out to the closest Starbucks to get our morning coffee. We met my parents there later and we started off on our adventure.
We meandered along the twisted streets looking inside many souvenir shops. We had told each boy they could have 200 Kč and two of them had items in mind: Bailey wanted a ring and Hayden wanted a hat. We made it with time to spare at the Starbucks under “the clock” and made last minute trips to the bathroom.
Papa got Parker out to stretch his legs a bit and Parker LOVED chasing pigeons. (Later, the species gets us back by pooping on Bailey’s head. And shirt. And arm.)
Our tour guide’s name was Kathryn and she was from Australia. She told us her story: At a party in Dublin she met a Czech man, and married him. They have lived in the Prague for the past 4 years and have no plans to ever leave. Something special about Kathryn is that she told stories in a way that made my boys LISTEN. She was very animated and the boys would later remind us of some of the things she said. They told us it was the best tour they had ever gone on. To prove to you how much THEY enjoyed the tour I’ll share this one little story. Before the tour I had set up a little game for them. Since we really needed them to be quiet and not pester each other while the guide was speaking, I had them searching for things: orange shoes; dogs NOT on a leash; Hard Rock t-shirt; professional or college baseball cap; headless statues; etc. As they found one, they could come to me, point it out, and I’d give them a 10 Euro cent. At the end of the tour I was going to swap them out for whole Euros, which they could spend. I had to put a cap at 2 Euros or I’d be broke by the end of the tour. During the finale, Kathryn really had the boys intrigued. As she concluded and the guests started pulling out their tips, all three of my boys gave them some or all of their hard-earned money. I assured them that they didn’t have to do this but they all wanted to give her something. Sweet.)
The business model of this company is fantastic. The tour is free. After the three hours you pay the tour guide what you feel the tour was worth. This makes the guide work hard at pleasing the guests in order to make anything. Their hopes are that if you enjoy the free tour you will sign up for a paid-tour at a later date. We choose to see the castle the following day on our own since I wasn’t sure the boys would be so well behaved on tours, two days in a row. However, I’m sure we would have greatly benefited from paying for one of the tour guides to take us around. If I were to do it over again, I would give it a try. I’m sure there are some neat stories they share about the buildings we saw.
While still on the tour with Kathryn we walked through Wenceslas Square. I happened to spot a conveniently-located vendor selling donut things. Let me try to explain this to you. Over a bed of hot coals a wooden stick rotated and on this wooden stick was bread dough that had been dipped in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. The smell of this bread baking was irresistible. We HAD to have one of these so I stayed behind and purchased one (or two). I wish I had purchased 10. They were SO good and we vowed to return before the end of the trip. (I had to do a google search for the word… I was guessing Tryndl. Not bad. It was Trdelnik. See?!? I wasn’t too far off.)
During our free tour we stopped at a concert hall called the Rudolfinum and Kathryn said that if one was going to take in a concert that THIS was the perfect place to do so. There was a sign outside that advertised a concert that night, 7:00 p.m. playing very recognizable music. I grabbed a brochure in case my parents wanted to check it out. They decided that while in Prague, they may as well get the full experience. While hitting up the Wenceslas Square again for another one of those twisty-bread-cinnamon-sugary things, Dad was able to FINALLY find the trinket he wanted to get for mom: a crystal bowl of grapes to place in her kitchen windowsill.
We asked Kathryn about a good restaurant to eat in, one that served traditional Czech food. We even went as far as to ask what meal was most claimed by Czechs as “their meal.” (You know… like steak and potatoes are to Americans; Lasagna is to Italians; and Schnitzel is to Germans.) She gave me the Czech name for it and assured me that, at u Parlamentu the text would be in both Czech and English. The description to look for was beef in cream sauce. Now THAT sounded good! We looked for quite a while for this restaurant specifically because we wanted to eat Czech food but also because my Mom’s big wish was to sit outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather, watching people as they went by. When we finally found the restaurant (I was poorly navigating) all the outside seats were taken. We headed back to the Old Town Square and found a couple of restaurants with lots of outside seating. I found one that served schnitzel for the boys and the rest of the adults ordered gyros.
We had already told the boys that they had 200 Kč to spend, which was about $10. Nana and Papa had ALSO told them they each had 200 Kč to spend. Bailey knew immediately that he wanted to buy a ring. They’ve all been on this pirate kick lately and need jewels for their costumes. In the end, all three boys bought a ring, Carson and Bailey each bought crossbows, and Hayden had his heart set on a hat he had seen the previous day. It was just across the Charles Bridge so we headed back that direction.
When we reached the store, Nana and Papa bought Hayden’s prized possession for him and they headed back toward the concert hall and the Hamricks headed back toward the room. At around this time the poor pigeons that Parker had chased got together to plan their revenge. Just a few blocks before we reached the Rudolph apartment they attacked. Well, one did. He pooped on Bailey’s head, shirt and arm. I thought he was going to be sick for a minute but Matt came to the rescue with a baby wipe. The day was saved and we made it back without any serious meltdowns.
Hungry, we stopped at the pizzeria at the corner of our apartment complex and I believe it was the best pizza we’ve had in Europe so far. The mushrooms were worth fighting over! That evening we were home early enough to let the boys play for a while with their new crossbows and get some wiggles out after having to be so perfectly well behaved all day.
Mom and Dad were still at the concert when we put the boys down and Parker did have a bit of a harder time going to sleep. I was very thankful he had his own room and that we weren’t in a hotel room, forced to keep him completely quiet. (We were nice enough to our own stairwell neighbors to place him in the room not attached to them. He was in a room that is separated from the next building by a brick wall.) Mom and Dad ate at a very nice French restaurant, sans children. It was a nice evening, from what they said.