But the internet is a wonderful thing, and I came across a website for a "penzion". There are different kinds of penzions in Czech, they can be compared to boarding houses, guest houses, or hostels. This one actually had a website at http://www.penzionsedlec.cz/en_penz.html and an English version at that! So Maria, our couchsurfing host in Prague called them for us to find out if they had a room available for a couple of nights. She arranged a private room for two, but with shared bathroom facilities. Cost was 200 korunas ($10) per person per night. Good deal!
So we got everything packed up and said thanks and goodbye to Maria. Forgot to get a picture of her! Maria was an interesting girl, born in Siberia but has lived in Prague area for twelve years. Fluent in Russian, Czech, and English, and pretty good in a few other languages as well. She works as a translator. Very smart girl! Thanks for having us Maria, we will try and practice our Czech language more!
Kevin, ready to hit the road. In front of Maria's apartment block.
We walked to the bus stop and waited about 10 minutes for the bus. Only had to mention the word "metro" to the driver, who then charged us 24 korunas ($1.20) each for the bus ride to the subway (underground) station. Then had to pay another 24 korunas ($1.20) each for the metro ride. Transferred to another line and arrived directly at the train station. Very efficient system!
We had checked the internet in advance, and knew that a train was leaving at 14:05 to Kutna Hora. That gave us about an hour and a half to wait. We first went and bought our ticket. The girl at the ticket counter spoke a little English, so that was handy. It would be the last time we heard English that day unless it was between each other. We splurged and decided to buy a first class ticket. "What??" you say, that's not like us? Nope, but we wanted to check it out. Train travel is pretty inexpensive in Czech Republic. The first class ticket was 152 korunas ($7.60) each for the one way trip from Prague to Kutna Hora. It's a 73 km (45 mile) journey, scheduled to take 52 minutes. The second class tickets are about $2.00 cheaper.
There is a really good bookstore in the Prague train station and we had decided we wanted to buy an English - Czech phrase book. Found one there for 199 korunas ($9.75) and bought it. Strange deal, but you got a free hat with every book purchase!
Kevin, with his free hat! Too funny.
Bought a few items for lunch in a little market store. It's cheaper that way, and easy for Ruth do find gluten free items. So, for example, yesterday we sat outside the train station and ate our rice cakes with sliced cheese and deli meat and some dried apricots and later we had an apple and some peanuts. Total cost of lunch, less than $4 for the two of us.
Then we went and waited for the train.
Ruth, waiting for the train.
Our train was about 7 cars long, and only the first car was "first class". The vast majority of people pay for second class, even though the price is not a lot different. Our car was broken into sections, with each section containing six seats. We sat with a younger girl (maybe 15?) and we were the only ones in our cabin. She didn't speak any English, and of course our Czech is limited to about five words!
The train left right on time, and we arrived at Kutna Hora without any problem. Our penzion was only 150 metres from the train station so had no problem finding the place. We were greeted by a nice older lady who also spoke no English. So we had a lot of fun getting checked in! We figured out that she wanted our passports for check in, and that was fine. Then, she wanted our birthdates and couldn't figure out which date in the passport that was. Then, she asked for 880 korunas instead of the 800 we thought we were supposed to be paying. Eventually, we got her to figure out that the charge for two nights was in fact 800 korunas ($40.00) for the two of us to stay for two nights. She was talking the whole time...no idea what she was saying. But it was all done with smiles and hand gestures.
This is definitely an older building and a little more run down than what it shows in the pictures on their website. Funny though, it has a fairly new elevator, and it's all glass and see through. Very strange. There is the ground floor, and two floors above. Our room was on the middle floor, and she insisted that we take the elevator, even though the one flight of stairs was right beside the elevator. She gets us on the elevator, but she stays outside. As the elevator starts to move, we see her take off running up the stairs. It was hilarious. Then the doors open, and she's standing there waiting for us.
I think what happened is that they spent a lot of money installing this elevator, and then nobody uses it because it's actually faster to take the stairs. So when she sees an opportunity to use it, she wants it used. Okay. Hilarious.
Our little room is decent though, and is good value for the money. And, they have wireless internet!
It started raining though, and so we sat and waited it out. It was around 5:30pm when we decided to go for a walk. And we needed to figure out something for dinner. The penzion does have kitchen facilities for guests. We are staying on the outskirts of town and it's about a 3 km walk to the central area.
We just happened to wander by the famous "bone church" which is one of the reasons we are here.
We will be visiting this church today. Stay tuned for tomorrow's update, because this is some weird stuff!
Found our way to a large grocery store. Kutna Hora is a town of about 21,000 so it does have good services. This was a fairly new Kaufland grocery store, and probably the biggest we've seen here yet. Got inside and couldn't get out. Literally! We thought we could carry everything, but soon found we needed a carry basket. Went back to get one and the exit thingy was locked. There was a girl there who said a whole bunch of stuff when I tried to go through it, even though based on the arrow, I thought it was an exit. She pointed that I had to go around to the cashier side. Okay. But got around there and the lanes are only wide enough for the people and their carts and there was no way to get through. Then, I was going to have to get out the phrase book because I couldn't remember how to say "excuse me", and didn't want to just push my way through. Eventually got through, but then, it turns out there are no carry baskets anyhow, and I had to figure out what coin to use to unlock a full size cart. Too funny being in a strange country and trying to figure out how to do things. We realize now just how much Spanish we have acquired because we would have no problem doing any of this if we were in a Spanish speaking country.
Bought a bunch of items. Including a couple of different beers at $0.55 for a half litre can (these would cost $2.00 each in Canada) and a litre of wine for $1. Yes, $1 a litre for wine.
Bought half a BBQ chicken and some frozen veggies for dinner. Cooked them up in the communal kitchen and had dinner in our room. Strangely enough there doesn't seem to be many people around. We think this place is mostly used by transient Czech workers who stay fairly long term. Haven't seen anybody who looks like a tourist yet, but I'm sure we'll see tourists when we're out and about today because many take day trips here from Prague.
Do I want a beer? Yes please!
Our room has three single beds, a table and three chairs, a fridge, and a sink. Each bed comes with a towel, and a candy! Not bad for $20 a night!
Now, the sun is shining and we're off to see the sights!