Thursday, March 31, 2011


Two nights ago we stopped in Poland, in a spa town called Kudowa-Zdrój. Our tourist-class hotel, the Sans Souci, proved to be a very pleasant two-star place with cute small rooms in a classic building and pleasant environment. Now we are staying at a less-impressive place in Prague, with bigger rooms but little else to recommend it. It's clean and efficient, but has no soul.

Notwithstanding the hotel, we’ve both fallen in love with Prague. I can’t describe it as well as any number of professional travel writers, but I would like to comment on the pleasures of seeing Prague with grade-school students. I’m pretty sure these students are special, but they’re amazingly good travel companions. They arrive on schedule, clean up their messes, complain very little, appreciate the beautiful things they see, carry on conversations with adults, and generally amaze me. That’s not to say that the trip has been completely free of problems, but the only problems we’ve had would be typical of almost any large bus trip. I’m particularly glad to be traveling with a group that shows up on time, because that mitigates a whole lot of other problems.
Yesterday we took a guided walking tour of the city. The guide wore a microphone and transmitter, and the rest of us wore headsets connected to little radio receivers. We also wore yellow neckerchiefs. The combination made the walking tour really easy. We could wander about and take pictures while the guide talked, and we still heard the guide. And if we wandered a bit too far, we just had to look for a few yellow neckerchiefs in order to rejoin the nucleus of our group. I’m not sure how easy it would be to get a bunch of adults to wear anything matching, but it really simplifies a large guided tour. [Maybe our daughter should propose bright feather boas for her charges on Harvard Art Museum trips. Just a thought.]

The school group heads towards Minsk tomorrow, and Alla and I will be on our own until we get onto the train in three days. We’re looking forward to going inside some of the museums and perhaps hearing an opera or concert. We really don’t have enough time, so we’re already talking about a next trip. Prague is a really great city.

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