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Friday, July 27, 2007

A second simple twist of fate...

I had mentioned the other day how I met Hack and his wife while out looking at hotels for a future family visit. That happened on Tuesday. On Wednesday I continued the task that I had abandoned to help Hack find the Grand Hotel Bohemia.

I had stopped in Old Town to find two hotels that were on my short list based on a review of hotels on the internet. I found both (one I liked and one I didn't) and then proceeded to the last visit to a place called the Castle Steps, which are apartments near Prague castle that are much larger than hotel rooms of comparable price. I was going to see one of their apartments to see if it it was nice enough for the money.

To get the office of the Castle Steps I had to walk from Old Town square two blocks to the metro station at Staromestska and take the subway one stop to Malestranska. From there I had to take a short tram ride to Malestranska Namesti and then walk three blocks to the office. Piece of cake.

I got to the tram stop quickly enough but I was distracted thinking about some things at work and when the first tram came I got on without thinking to look at what number it was. That was a rookie expat mistake that I shouldn't be making anymore. Of course, of the six tram lines that stop there, four go to the right to Malestranska Namesti and only two go to the left back to Old Town. Of course, Murphy's Law being in full force and effect, the tram took me back from where I had come.

Twenty minutes after getting on the subway at Staromestska I was back in exactly the same place. I pondered for a moment how this experience was very much like the recurring dream I have had for decades where I keep looking for something but can't find it - a car in a parking ramp, or a hotel room in a big hotel. I decided I was indeed awake, just not very attentive. I caught another subway back to Malestranska and this time was sure I got on an appropriate tram to take me to Malestranska Namesti. The tram ride is only a few minutes and I was soon walking up the hill to the office of the Castle Steps.

Here is Malostranska Namesti

Why have I gone through this seemingly shaggy dog story? Half way on my walk to the Castle Steps I noticed two girls each pulling large wheeled suitcases and carrying another large bag. They looked completely lost so I walked up and said "English?" since my help would be very limited if they were Russian or Finnish. One answered with relief in a thick Australian accent "Yes", and then followed that with "Do you know the where Castle Steps is?". I expected the Twilight Zone music - do doo do doo - to start playing.

My guess is that if I had not wandered by at that precise moment they could have stood on that spot for hours before finding someone who both 1) spoke English, and 2) knew where the office of the Castle Steps was. The vast majority of tourists don't speak English. I speak English but I only knew where they were going because of looking for a hotel for family. If I had run into them a few days earlier I wouldn't have been any help to them at all. And when you realize that the only reason I was there on that exact spot at that exact time was because I had originally taken the wrong tram. Otherwise I would have been there twenty minutes sooner and missed them.

I'd like to think that my presence at that moment prevented them from wandering, lost and disoriented, into the street and being hit by a tour bus. It's impossible to know what would have happened, big or little, if we were to have done something different. But I felt very satisfied to have helped them, even if this time there was no free beer.

1 comment:

george said...

the story you are about to hear is true............