Day Four Sept 21
I wake up a little under the weather. The person in the room next to me smokes. I have a headache. No rest for the weary, I have tickets to purchase. I head downstairs for breakfast. There is a note. The former Chicagoan (Lizzie*) invited me to dinner last night with her daughter and fiancé at an ex-pat bar/pub in Wenclesas Square. Oh well, maybe another time.
I go in the gothic cellar for the buffet. Lizzie is there. I apologize for missing the dinner invite. She has a runny nose and blames the excessive smoking. Good. Otherwise, it would mean that the two glasses of wine took a toll on me. She has canceled her trip to Cesky (southern bohemia) because there is a Czech artist she wants to book for an art exhibit in Dallas. That will require a couple days visit and she wants to be running nose free and in wow mood. I mention my pursuit of tickets at the Rudolfinum and Estates Theatre. She said if I stopped by the National Theatre to pick up a schedule. She wants to see Swan Lake.
I head back to the room to call the airlines about my luggage. “Ah yes Miss. We delivered to hotel but you were not registered.” Turns out they delivered to the wrong hotel. “Okay Miss we deliver this evening.” I call the hotel reception and ask if she could please call and reconfirm the address with the airlines. My Czech is non-existent (outside of dobry den). I’m sure I’ve butchered the pronunciation of the address. Now I know my luggage is actually in the same location that I’m in, I venture out to get concert tickets and early shopping.
First stop, the Estates Theatre where Mozart is revered. I’m ten minutes early before the box opens. An employee sees me. “Miss, are you a student?” No. “Well you look very young like a student. Tell the woman at the booth and you will receive discount.” I smile and say thank you but I’m in no mood for flirtation. I have a mild headache and congestion. I purchase one ticket for Mozartissimo at 5pm (an hour long best of Mozart presentation).
I amble along Celetna street for souvenir prices. Inside the vendor assures me “special price just for you.” Men know how to layer it on in all languages no matter where you go in the world. Okay Ronda, don’t give the Chg get out of my face look. Smile and see how low the prices will go. Low but I’m not one to impulse shop. I must price other areas to get the best bargain. I promise him I’ll return later. I go back near St James to the fur shop from yesterday. Fur boots, but not in my size – story of my life.
Off for the prize of the day – tickets at the Rudolfinum for the Prague Autumn Music Fest. I meander through the tourist crowd gathered at Old Town Sq waiting for tour guides. Suckers – I get to bet you to sales because I know my way around. Feeling bold and on a mission I find my way to the Rudolfinum. Magnificent and beautiful. I can’t wait. “Sorry Miss sold out.” Maybe she doesn’t understand English. I want tickets to the Debussy concert performed by the National Orchestra of France. “Sorry sold out how about another concert.” I’m in pout mood. This was to be the highlight of my trip. High brow concert, sophisticated dinner and a carriage ride after. The Rudolfinum has formal attire requested. No, I don’t want another concert I want mine. Okay Ronda, no fits (fits are for dogs). Dismayed, I inquire about the Monday concert. “Sorry Miss sold out. Wait, there is space at the 4pm concert.” That’s not what I want (pout pout pout). Okay, I’ll take it. Since it’s just me, I’m able to get orchestra seating at balcony price. That should make me happy because I’m cheap and that’s a deal. But it’s not the Debussy concert. I walk away with my ticket like a kid finding out there is no Santa. How do I drown my sorrows?! I shop.
Although Czech garnet is plentiful, there is a monopoly. Lizzie had mentioned antique stores are better. Unfortunately, my high brow tastes don’t match my pocket book but maybe I’ll find a bargain. A 24kt gold bangle with a center garnet. “Miss you have good taste. It is early 1800s and only 10,000crowns.” It’s a definite bargain by US standards but $600 – not cheap enough. I try another piece – 18 kt gold earrings circa 1920s. Again, my “good” taste scares my pocket. Off to the tourist jewelers. Jackpot! Garnet earrings a little more than I wanted to pay but a bargain overall. I see a ring. Beautiful. But no, I can’t spend more money so I head for the door. “Miss for you I give a $40 discount and no VAT.” Stop, turnaround, another purchase. Feeling a little better with purchase in hand, I walk back to the hotel feeling sick still and hurt over the Rudolfinum.
I arrive at the hotel and decide tomorrow I must go to the spa at Karlovy Vary (famed spa town). I make my way to the room and notice my window opens. A view that is unbelievable. I go on the terrace and climb the roof for pictures. Now I can rest before Mozart. I needed the nap and wake up feeling better but still a little groggy. I dress to impress for Mozart, less my Paul Green boots since my luggage hasn’t arrived. My newly purchased garnet earrings and ring compliment my attire. Mirror check – lipstick please. I exit the hotel and head towards Estates Theatre looking chic and stylish.
Everyone is dressed for the concert. I notice Ms Chic and GI husband got a booth. Why didn’t I get a booth? It was only a couple bucks more. Why? Because I wanted premium seating at the Rudolfinum. Stop pouting. The theatre is beautiful. The concert begins and I’m thrilled. There is a slight chill and I drape the pashmina gently over my shoulders. Ah, this is the life. Mozart. The concert was wonderful but I realize I haven’t eaten since breakfast. Ms Chic, GI and I head out for shopping. They fly to Madrid tomorrow. I must depart because I’m famished. I give a business card (was that smart – he’s working for the Bush Administration).
I’m off to Ambiente Ristorante. It was the best Italian I’ve had. Walk off the pounds. Found an amber shop special discount – come back later. Sit for a spot of latte. Walk more. Bohemia crystal is more expensive than the garnets. I spy stemware in silver. I beckon a vendor. “Miss you have exquisite taste. This is stemware in platinum.” Alrighty, let’s go cheaper. Is this in white gold or silver? Yes but not that cheap. I hear her speak in Czech. She asks if my skirt is embroidered with gold thread. NO, ( I wish). Let me try out the amber bracelet. Only 15,000 crown – $900 for a one of a kind amber silver bracelet. Gorgeous, yes. Not my budget. Off I go. No clubbing tonight. I’m tired and must prepare for Karlovy tomorrow. Tomorrow night I’ll shake my groove thing with the populace.
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.