After Christmas and the New Year celebrations it is all now business as usual, the big tree was unceremoniously taken down in the Old Town square on Friday. It was lowered by a massive red crane and then they set upon it with chainsaws, removing the branches and then cutting the trunk into sections. The festive period is officially over and the the live animals from the nativity scene outside the ‘Infant of Prague’ church have also returned to their more usual home.
I know most people come along with their resolutions for the new year, they usually involve giving up something or doing more of something. In my case, darling husband and I have got a small device that measures the steps you take, the ideal is 10,000 a day to loose weight and keep fit. I really do need to do this, as this morning, I bent down to get a saucepan out of a low cupboard (darling husband has colleagues coming for dinner and I am making Coq au vin) WHEN my trousers split! At the bum area – proof indeed that I need to loose a few kilos.
This weekend we walked miles – just to satisfy the appetite of the measuring device and get up to 10,000. Made worse by middle daughter also getting one and establishing the Noll group to measure, or I think compete, with the rest of us. She woke up on Sunday morning and had already reached 4,000 steps: she had been at a party and danced a lot it would seem, after midnight. This morning being a Monday and having two days of being marched around Prague, I hobbled to the bathroom from bed this morning. My feet feel about 120 years old.
Walking is really the best way to see the city. We went passed the French Embassy where hundreds of candles and sheets of paper with ‘Je suis Charlie” printed on them have been left. Lots of red and white roses were laid against the front wall of the Embassy and many, many pens. I do not know how many French people are in Prague, I do not suppose that many, so it would suggest to me that there was an outpouring of sympathy to the French community here and everywhere. Other stops were more for personal pleasure, the Cacao chocolate cafe, where everything except the darjeeling is chocolate based, well at this point we had reached 7,000 steps and needed sustenance to continue. The cafe has a branch in Ljubljana, so I had sampled their wares with the darlings but darling husband was at work that day and it was his turn to enjoy the indulgent liquid ‘hot’ chocolate. If you have watched the film ‘Chocolate’ with Johnny Depp, based on a book by the same name, set in a small town in France, you will know the look that appeared on darling husband’s face and he sipped the deliciousness. In the film the hot chocolate has apothecary powers and releases all manner of inhibitions. I will say no more!
After all the walking, we needed a good rest and sofa time, we watched a great film called Kolya. It was recommended by a friend as being insightful to life in Czechoslovakia during the Communist era and up to the Velvet Revolution. It did not disappoint and I would recommend it to anyone living here or planning to visit. Life really was very different for our Czech friends. Long queues, suspicions, trying to make a few Krouns for yourself was near impossible. It is a heart warming film about the gentle struggle of the everyday person. I would also like to quickly add that Czechoslovakia ceased to exist in 1993, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia became totally independent countries. Someone should tell that to the crew on my British Airways flight back here, where they used the term Czechoslovakia more than once. There was much head shaking from the passengers and a few tuts, I just felt very embarrassed! I have written to them – will let you know if I hear back.