Thursday, May 31, 2012

Finishing the week with a few bruises...

Remember that time when I saved Maxwell's life on the bobsled?  No?  I haven't told you that story?!?  Well, you'll have to wait because it happened on our last day in Prague.  If you are reading this blog and haven't read the first two, go back!  I am writing these in order of events, but blogspot posts the most recent one first.  This is the third and final Prague blog.


When we began this adventure abroad, I told David that I wanted to see some historical sites while we were in Europe, like perhaps places that were ruined by war or a concentration camp or something.  I always hated history, but I love seeing places in order to learn about the past.  David set up a tour for us to go on to Terezin, Czech Republic.  Terezin is a walled city, with a fortress that has held many uses since its construction.  It was first a military fortress, then a prison camp, and during WWII, a concentration camp and prison.  The city and prison were not a death camp, although many people did die there due to the horrible living conditions and overpopulation.  The kids enjoyed the bus ride to the town and were really good once again throughout the tour.  It felt very strange to be walking through this place that has such a horrible history.  It is a town where people live and are trying to thrive, but it has a sense of despair and quiet that just can't be erased.  The prison is now a tourist attraction, which is so hard to wrap your head around.  There are lines of restrooms with really nice facilities, and a restaurant/cafe WITHIN the prison, where all of these people were held as POWs and died horrible deaths.  I was glad to have experienced it, but I hated it at the same time.  

After arriving back in Old Town Prague, we stopped at a mall to walk around and look at the different shops.  In the square there was a dance competition going on with all these little girls, from about 5-10.  It was a fun little pit stop to watch them dance and people watch in the square (and I picked up my souvenir egg).  Even in the middle of all the other tourists, there were all these locals celebrating, drinking, and having a good time watching their kids.  It was cool!


It was raining when we woke up on Thursday and the forecast called for it all day, so after breakfast David took the kids swimming at the hotel, and I went to the hotel next door for a massage.  It was wonderful, as always.  I feel the same way about massages as David does about pizza:  even if it isn't great, it's still good!! We decided to take advantage of the rainy day and headed back to the mall that we found the day before.  We had lunch in the food court, at a place called The California Cafe that had dishes named after cities in CA, but were Czech meals like fried cheese steak and wiener schnitzel.  Weird.  Then we found an indoor play place and let the kids roam for a bit.  Maxwell and David really liked the ball guns.  I love my husband, but he is a dip.  It's all fun and games until your toddler (and his mother) get a ball launched right at his face.  He had a quick recovery, and was able to be the big man and a good big brother when Darian got trapped at the top of the play area and he helped lead her down the slide to the bottom.  

The week was beginning to take its toll, so we went back to the hotel to take a nap.  We had big plans for a late night, so I wanted to have the kids at their best.  Daddy went out to pick up an easy Chinese food dinner that we ate in the hotel room before out big night.  We were testing the kids:  we took them to the theatre, for a show that didn't even start until 8pm!  I gotta say, we got some dirty looks from the people around us, who were probably thinking, "Oh, great. Toddlers.  Our night was just ruined."  But as always, the kids were FANTASTIC! It helped that the show was amazing.  :o)  We went to see Afrikania, a black light theatre production.  It was all music and dance, where the dancers had these amazing costumes in front of black backgrounds that just glowed when the black lights came on.  It was mesmerizing and the kids both loved it!  Darian really like the first dancers, the butterflies, and Maxwell liked the zebras.  
After the show we walked to the Charles Bridge to see the city at night.  It was a long day with a lot of walking again, so I have to admit I was a bit crabby.  I was kicking myself for not bringing the Ergo to Prague, and wishing that we could have brought the stroller.  But the city was ablaze at night and it was well worth the midnight stroll.


Our last full day in Prague, David had quite the experience planned for us.  After breakfast we took the metro to a different mall, where there was a dinosaur park on the roof!  It was a very cool exhibit, with realistic looking dinosaurs who moved and had sound effects. It was very "Jurassic Park," and even the font for the signs was like the film.  Maxwell (who loves dinosaurs) was a bit freaked out by the two huge T Rex's at the entrance who were moving and roaring at him, but he warmed up and was eventually running up and down the pavement to look at all of the dinos.  The tickets to the park included a 3-D movie back inside the mall, that was in Czech and was actually quite gruesome.  Maxwell didn't like that at all (oh, my timid little man) and Darian, as always, was up for anything.

After lunch at the mall and a bit of shopping to find a birthday present for Aunt Nicole (my new tradition.  Her Christmas present was from Spain, bday from Prague. (o: ), we went back to the metro to travel to our last big adventure.  And let me tell you, David saved the best for last.

Remember that time I almost died?

Yep.  BOBSLEDS.  We walked for about a mile to get to the park and restaurant.  David said that Maxwell and I should go first, so I went for it.  The track is about 1km or a little over half a mile.  I was nervous but excited!  There wasn't anyone else at the park right then, so there was no one ahead of me in line.  I asked the man who was "directing traffic"  how to stop the sled, and he said (in broken English), "Stop.  Down."  Easy enough, right?

Maxwell was sitting in between my legs and we were both holding the brake.  There was absolutely no support on the sled, either for my back or legs.  I figured it would be best to start off slow before I learned how to manoeuvre the thing, so I pressed the brake flush to the floor of the sled.  We started going down, and I couldn't believe how fun it was...or how fast!  This is at full break?!?  NO WAY!  When we started going towards a turn in the track, I realized that I would have to lean my body  against the curve in order to stay upright.  It was the scariest thing I have even done in my life.  I was sitting in this thing that felt like it was flying, and I had my baby boy on my lap without a helmet.  We did a couple more turns like that, and on the fourth one I couldn't hold my body up enough to keep us up.  My feet and legs couldn't hold on and the flailed a bit, and my right shoulder hit the wall of the track.  I was digging my heels into the track best I could without cutting my feet off, and my right arm/shoulder kept riding the rail.  I seriously thought we were going to fall off.  I was able to almost slow to a stop, and we came to another turn, where there was a sign with a picture that said (in English, thank goodness!) "Break!  Stop!"  and it showed pulling the brake TOWARDS you.  Oh my goodness I am a dip.  I was so pissed at the guy that said break down!!!  I pulled it up and we stopped and I was able to reposition us on the sled in order to get back down.  The rest of the ride was uneventful, and when we started getting brought back up the hill, we were all smiles.  David didn't even know that we had almost crashed!    Maxwell didn't have a scratch on him, and he was totally fine. Nothing like knowing that your kid feels totally secure and safe in your arms!!
"I. AM. SPEED!!!"

When I was showing David what happened, we realized that there was a burn mark on my jacket, and my arm was all red and starting to bruise.  One small bruise, one huge victory for Super Mom!!  I saved my kid, and he went right back down the hill with David a few minutes later, yelling, "I AM SPEED!"  (Cars/Lightning McQueen reference)


We didn't have much time before the ride to the airport, so we didn't plan anything for Saturday.  We had a nice last buffet breakfast at the hotel, and then David kept the kids occupied with the blocks and games in the lobby while I went upstairs to pack.  It was really easy to get through the Prague airport.  We were about ready to go to the gate when we realized that we had never been through security.  But wait...we had been through the duty free shops, and had lunch at a cafe.  How can they not have security?!?  Turns out they had two small lines right at the gate.  We went through, and then were ushered to a bus that took us to the plane.  We had priority boarding since we had the kids, but it wasn't really a luxury on that flight, because there were two full buses of families!  It was the most chaotic flight I have ever been on in my life!  The kids were loud, crying, screaming, one point someone threw a stuffed animal at my head.  It was quite an eye opening experience that really made David and I look at our kids in wonder at not only how well behaved they were on that flight, but how well the behaved all week.  They really are awesome.  I love that we have a routine when we are at home, but I am so glad that they are easy going enough to be cool with it when we aren't.  We only had naptime once or twice all week, they were late to bed at night, we were either doing tons of walking or they were strapped into the stroller for hours and hours...our kids are just amazing.  

When we got back to the airport, we didn't have the best time getting the car back from "Stress Free Parking" company.  It took an hour and a half, and had we not valeted but parked on our own, we would have been home in that time.  A strongly worded letter later, David got a partial refund, and all in all, regardless of the yuck of that moment, our week in Prague was one of the best weeks of my life.  We explored, experienced new foods and culture, spent real, quality time with each other and made amazing memories.  No words can describe how lucky we are to be living abroad and have the chance to take these amazing trips.  Like I said in my first post, I am still on a Prague High!!

To see the full album of this part of our trip, go here.
With a smile on my face, because this is one trip I will NEVER forget!!
This was on Sunday night, about 48 hours later.  I really should have taken a picture of what it looked like on Tuesday.  Believe me, it got WAY worse!!

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