I set out from the Old Prague Hostel for the Botanical Gardens. Ha! You can start shaking your head right now! Yesterday a vendor at a craft fair (landscape architect turned nature-jewelry artist) turned me onto the blooming rhododendrons. I was tiring of the concrete and needed nature. She circled the site on the tourist map. Easy --- right?
Forget the train or metro with the confusing payment system – I decided to walk it. On the way I magically found an enormous shopping complex. Yes! I needed straps for the sunglasses and was actually mourning the lack of WalMart when I found the optical store. Then following Google Maps navigation for the Botanical Gardens I headed North East instead of the South West I had predicted. No problem. In front of me was a pharmacy. Voila! Source of melatonin – helpful in a noisy hostel. Then – yes! A bookstore! Maybe a cheap notebook? Nope, but I met an American woman on a similar journey who have me great tips for being a “travel hacker.” And a hug of encouragement.
I followed the stupid phone navigation again before I realized it wanted me to cross the river. AARGH!!!
Turns out there are two Botanical Gardens and I was the stupid one! The one it was taking me to was impossibly far away so I wandered instead by the river, eating the cherries and cucumbers bought at a Farmers Market. A very friendly 17 year old Andy with his lunging “dominant not aggressive Corgi, Katie” told me of singing opera in Fairbanks, Alaska in high school. He insisted he was too shy to sing for me. But here he is singing the Czech National Anthem. You go, Andy!
Oh well, no hope of getting to the Gardens after a taxi refused me so I walked by the river that I had never intended to go near. And … why not? Take the one hour cruise. Listen to polkas by the accordion player and strike up a conversation with a couple and their daughter from Cesky Krumlov. They told me of the lovely medieval UNESCO site and Ahh… The solution for getting out of Prague congestion appeared.
At this point I had glass straps, melatonin, no note-book, a national anthem and a next destination .. but still no flowers! I needed flowers! Spotting green on the map across the river, I crossed that persistent river and found peace. Yes.. a park. And I lay down in bliss amidst clover and daisies. The photographer of this picture sprinkled me in yellow.
It’s amazing what you can find when you get lost...
Wandering the park I found a tightrope practice area, a passing beer cycle and .. voila! The Hanavsky Pavillion Restaurant. In some park on the other side of the river I’m eating duck and crepes.
And just in case you are wondering what Kathy does when she really gets lost, here is the ending of the story.
By now I had absolutely no faith in the phone navigation and tried to follow my nose to the Charles Bridge to get back over the river. The nose was wrong. I ended up in a residential area with no one in sight. Hungry, tired and despairing, I perked up as a car pulled up and a Chinese-food delivery man popped out. My savior?
Well, I never would have advised my daughter to approach him. Pants unzipped, waist-band nearly falling down, punk sticker on car, a few tattoos…and no English. But what the heck? He signaled for me to get in the car and drove me to my side of the Bridge. I told Michael that he was my angel by flapping my arms. I think he thought I was demonstrating a chicken but nonetheless he refused payment and smiled for the camera.
Angels everywhere… You never know.