Winding Down

My fifth day in Prague, the longest stay of anywhere I’ve been in the last month. Tomorrow, early, I get my boarding pass at the Vaclav Havel airport, spend a couple of hours at Heathrow, then straight on to Denver. I should have stayed only four days here, and therein lies a story.

The food I’ve had on my adventure has been, let us say, not spectacular. Some has been downright awful, greasy, tasteless, strange. I don’t mind strange; I do mind shelling out big bucks for a Caesar salad that consists of iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato, and a slice of veryveryvery lightly toasted white bread cut into pieces that pretend to be croutons, all of it topped with a whole tablespoon of bottled mystery dressing. The list could go on, but why?

The story of timing and food combine because older taste buds tend to lose their finer perceptions, and anyone over 60 has probably checked the refrigerator for the car keys because the damned things just aren’t anywhere else! A goodly portion of my taste buds ran off with a goodlier portion of my brain cells and they’re somewhere on the planet Melmac creating offspring that won’t ever call or write or even send a Christmas card to dear old Auntie Jan. Which is why I showed up in Prague a day early, hungry and tired after 14 hours on trains and buses, only to find out that I had no room because the hotel was sold out and I wasn’t supposed to be here until Friday. Plan X went into effect, all turned out well, and in twelve hours I’ll be catching a few zzzzz’s somewhere over the Atlantic.

The Prague transit folks, probably realizing that seniors have enough challenges to deal with, allow oldsters of any nation ride any public transportation free. When one gets on a bus or subway just to see what will happen it’s an adventure, which is why our sturdy, if somewhat scattered, heroine finds herself in a cemetery on Tuesday that is so steeped in peace that she decides just to stroll, sit, sketch, write,  and breathe in the eternalness of life and death.

After a couple of hours of quiet, the intrepid traveler then metroes to the Vlatava River, walks over the Charles Bridge, and climbs 6,383 steps (but who’s counting?) to reach the Prague castle and old town square, just to say she did it. And being intrepid, how can she pass up absinth, aka the Green Fairy, the drink of legend and writers?  She buys the smallest bottle, shot size, hurries back to the hotel and breaks the seal. Holy Paint Stripper, Batman! It tastes of licorice and packs a 128-proof punch. No wonder drinkers in the olden days, that is the twentieth century, hallucinated and did really strange things while imbibing.

It’s been a long month, and it’s time to go home, to my own bed, my own kitchen, my own yard, my own peace. No regrets, no fears, no wishing anything had been otherwise. A helluva ride all the way, from the stranded train in Hungary to the straight-down alpen gondola in Bavaria, from the rail strikes in France to the trams that sway and rattle around Prague.

And so the adventure creeps to a close, at least for now.

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