Vinnie and I left home 17 days ago. We’ve been to three countries and four cities in that time. We’ve taken four flights. We’ve booked good rooms and one bad room. We’ve been on tours, swarmed amazing places with the rest of the tourist crowd and gotten muddy out on a trail. We slept in our tent in the Scottish Highlands because I really wanted to and 35F is really not all that cold. We’ve travelled by plane, bus, taxi, Uber, underground and by foot. We managed to get through all of those transfers and places without much in the way of unexpected events.
Today, things went sideways. Although, not in a way that any real damage was done (gratitude for that). It just meant that we had to be flexible, amenable, willing to change. Two of the places on our list – places that Vinnie really wanted to see – dropped of the list. Two countries: Romania and Austria. And Hungary was in jeopardy. We realized last night that we weren’t going to get to Romania – it’s a long, long drive to Sibiu (8 hours and 1000 kilometers one way) for a short visit, so it got waitlisted (another reason to return to Europe!).
We planned to head out to Budapest today, with a side trip on the way to Kutna Hora to see the Church of Bones and a short visit to Cesky Krumlov (both in Czech Republic). So, this morning we packed up our things, sad to be leaving Prague and our awesome room and folks at Hostel Downtown. We hopped on the Metro (super easy to use), then caught a bus to the airport car rental to pick up our auto for the last seven days of our trip.
Car hire in Czech is not the same as in the UK and Ireland, and – short story – no car hire for us. We sat in the cold plastic chairs feeling a bit of free fall: first we gave up Romania, now our side trips in Czech, Hungary and Austria were simply not going to happen as planned. We wondered if they’d happen.
We decided to retreat to Hostel Downtown to regroup (location is everything). Vinnie was messaging the awesome receptionist (we’ve got Czech friends on Facebook now!) before we even left the airport. We were back on the bus, then back on the metro, then back in a room at the hostel all within an hour and half since we left. Smiling faces greeted us when we returned. We were smiling too – we love these people and this place.
Within an hour of being back at the hostel, we had a train booked for a two-night trip to Budapest, a plan to join the hostel’s guided trip to Kutna Hora next Friday (yay!) and we’re going to see our guide’s band play tomorrrow night. Tomorrow we’ll see some of the sights in Prague that we missed and we have an open day on Sunday for whatever might develop.
Before we left the US I wondered (okay, I worried about) how we’d handle it when things didn’t go as planned. Today, we did just fine. We were so glad to have this great place and helpful folks to come back to. And when we lined things up so quickly and easily, it felt like this is probably the better option anyway. All is well for us, because we’ve done some wonderful things on this journey: we’ve made friends here in Prague, we’ve got to get to the know the place and we’ve smiled through the twists and turns. That’s a pretty picture of success.