(trying to plow through these summer adventure posts so that I can move onto the present day Shumway life, which is passing me by way too quickly and totally undocumented. I have to say, I am really enjoying reliving this adventure through photographs, life has been so busy since I took these pictures that I downloaded them and haven’t even had time to look at them ever. I’m so thankful for cameras that leave out all the craziness of the moment and leave us with such beautiful visual reminders of things we have experienced.)
Because we did this trip totally low budget, we ended up going through Prague in route to Vienna where we were going to stay with Jeff’s sister and family. I know that sounds funny, but it ended up being much cheaper to fly to Prague and take the train than it was to fly directly into Vienna. It did mean an epic day alone traveling with the kids, navigating them through lots of logistical hurdles, but I thought it would probably be worth it. Give us all another city to feel a little connected with, enable us to see some old beautiful stuff.
When I booked this trip back in March this day was the one I was most worried about, so I woke up a little stressed. I had to load up all the kids by 5am in Amy’s car to head to the airport. They were awesome and we made good time, but that Stanstead airport was crazy. I was thinking I was taking my kids into a small, quiet airport, but instead it was 6am madness. People everywhere, pushing to get into security lines like cattle pushing through a gate. It took us way longer than expected to get through that craziness and then they stopped me for the contact solution that I had forgotten to pour out of my lens case! We were flying super low budget Ryan Air who claim to close their boarding gate 30 min before the flight takes off. The nice lady who was bomb testing my contact lens case looked up my flight and told me that it was in “final call” mode. So, pushing Peter in the stroller and towing 3 kids with rolly bags behind me I rushed through what felt like the biggest mess of duty free shops I’ve ever encountered. I winding road that felt like it was a mile long lined with cigarettes and perfume. Those kids running behind me were so incredibly gritty, running despite the fact that they were parched and stressed and gasping for breath. I ran yelling “Make way! We’re missing our flight!” Luckily we made it, the last ones on the flight. But I think I pretty much scared my kids for life with that little episode. The brain holds on to those things and even though we have before and since made it very calmly and successfully to probably a hundred flights, this is the one they are going to remember. Ug. I was so full of love for them as they followed me onto the plane. Especially for little Em whose cheeks were bright pink and face was tangled in knots of worry.
It took us most of the flight to come down from that stressed out place. I kept reassuring the kids that it wouldn’t have been the end of the world had we missed that flight….just some extra money and some waiting around (which actually kind of did feel like the end of the world to me at the time since we were feeling pretty constrained on both time and money).
With that kind of start to do the day we navigated our way through the city of Prague with a little more stress than we might have otherwise. Everyone was just kind of tightly wound.
But that city was worth the hassle. It is a magical place and somehow we lucked out with a pretty magical day. The light was so incredible with storm clouds and rain bursts passing through as we walked through the town square and over the bridges.
This big beautiful clock was so fun to watch, so aesthetically pleasing and old and interesting. The town square was full of people and music and life. Every one running for cover each time a spurt of rain came. We wondered and found some little trinkets and some delicious cinnamon bread that they roll around a stick and cook over coals. We were a little obsessed with that cultural food. Wish I had a picture of it. We went in search of the best pastry we could find. I learned from my brother-in-law Rob that the best thing to do in a new big old city with tired and a wound up kids is to conduct a search for the very best chocolate croissant. I think we found it. The bridges were packed with tourist and puppeteers and magical light and views of turrets and steeples and castles. This place had such and old feel.^^Love this sort of real life picture. The day was far from perfect. But still so worth it.The kids were a little stressed about getting back to the train station after such a close call that morning so this is as close as we got to Prague castle. I had to fight against my natural instincts and remind myself that more than seeing the castle these kids needed to feel some security about what was happening next, so we made our way back. One day I guess. Sorry about all these photos, but I couldn’t stop trying to capture that light and those buildings and those faces. Here’s poor Peter falling apart again. Except, look at that tired mom face. That’s the face of a mom trying to push through, to use her grit to make things all add up, make it worth the hassle, make the memory something positive.
Wish I had more pictures of the train station and where we left our bags and the place we sat for a few hours waiting for our train, decompressing. It took my stomach the full four hour train ride to untangle itself from all the knots tied up by the craziness of the day. I think I cried when I tumbled off the train with all those kids and stuff and found my sister in law Mary Ann right there waiting for me.
Boy, that was a crazy day. But really, I’m so glad we made that happen. I think it’s a memory that my kids won’t ever forget. Sure, it was stressful, but I think they’re going to log it in their bank of life experiences where they persevered, where they pushed through and did something hard and were rewarded by getting to connect with one of the worlds most amazing old cities. And eat lots of pastries.