We left Prague at 9:33 this morning headed for Linz, Austria where we were to change trains for Salzburg. According to our plan, we would arrive in Salzburg around 2:30 p.m. Plenty of time to get in a little sightseeing.
That plan ran amok a little over an hour outside of Prague when a tree limb got personal with the engine car.
We were a couple of cars behind the engine and I heard the impact, but thought we had just brushed a tree on the side of the train. No such luck.
We stopped and waited…and waited…and waited…
until we were finally told to exit the train and board s small local train. That took us to the next town where we waited some more. Eventually, a bus came to take us to Tabor — only there were more of us than bus! John and I caught a local bus (paid a dollar each to ride it) to go to the Tabor train station where they put us on another little local train for more than an hour — packed in like sardines standing at attention.
We arrived in Ceske Budejovice and went straight to the ticket office along with everyone else since we were not going to make our connection in Linz. We extended our ticket and faced a two-plus hour layover.
Eating sounded good since lunchtime had come and gone, so we headed out into the rain towing our luggage. Whiskey bars proliferated most of the block and we ducked inside one to attempt to get some directions. The dive was called “Speedy Gonzales” and a handful of male patrons, all under 30, sat at the bar looking like a group of paramilitary skinheads.
I stood in the bar guarding our luggage while my husband hunted for food in the rain. That was when I noticed the big snake in a glass case embedded in the wall right beside a giant poster of the hyper, little Mexican mouse for whom the bar was named.
Ask yourself. What are the odds? Yours truly in a skinhead bar named after an American cartoon character in the middle of the Czech Republic with a nice-sized snake lounging under a heat lamp in a glass case.
I was contemplating the odds when one of the young men approached. His English was only slightly better than my Czech — which is non-existent. He offered to show me where a restaurant was, but I declined. He asked if the man I was with was my husband. I said yes. He asked if I wanted to sit down. I looked at him and at the snake and declined. He asked me if I spoke German. “Je parle francaise un peu and English.” He sighed…searched for the words and finally said “Close the door,” at which point I realized I was standing in an open doorway leading down a few stairs to the cold, rain-drenched street. More importantly, I realized he was trying to be helpful and wasn’t going to mug me. The Mohawk and camo had led me to misjudge him — I think.
I’ll never know for sure because John, having successfully located food, arrived back right when I was closing the door. We bid the patrons of Speedy Gonzales adios and traipsed to a food court in a mini-mall down the street. When we went back to the station, we were greeted by the giant departure board telling us that our train was going to be 10 minutes late…then 25 minutes late…then 30 minutes late.
Patience IS a virtue.
When the train finally arrived, we boarded and headed for Linz along with our newfound traveling companion, Guy, who hails from Denver but has lived in Prague for several years teaching bio chemistry. Guy was trying to get to St. Anton to go skiing. He didn’t make it. By the time we got to Linz, there were no more trains to St. Anton. Guy stayed in Linz to try again tomorrow while we kept on trucking — or train-ing as the case may be.
John and I pulled into Salzburg around 9 p.m. — happy to have our Czech odyssey come to a close.
Note to self: in the future avoid bars with skinheads and snakes.