Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taipei to Prague

10/15/13 Prague

It was a 13 hour flight to Vienna International Airport. I'd never flown with China Airlines before, and while I can't say much for the service, I will say that they had the nicest personal entertainment screens I've ever used. (I've only ever sat economy, so there really isn't a high standard.) VIE isn't as big or glamorous as LAX or TPE or Singapore, but it has a grocery store, and that already makes it more functional for passengers than any of glitz filled airports mentioned above. I bought myself some sausage, a wedge of cheese, and an orange drink of some kind for my first meal in Europe.

Made it to the town of Telc in the Czech Republic(we'll be coming back to Vienna in a few days to enjoy that city) with a short stop at what seemed to be a Dragons and Castles themed truck stop along the way(the less said about that the better, was kinda ridiculous) Czech doesn't use Euros, so I changed out 50Euros to Czech Krona. It was about 1000hrs local when we arrived, too early for most of the shops to be open in the town square. Said square had its main entrance blocked off by a film crew, so we had to make detour through a park and come through a side entrance. (Not a bad thing.)  What were they filming? Dunno, but it had armored soldiers, mounted men with spears, and a horse drawn carriage, so must have been something historically before firearms.

I took some pictures, explored a bit of the town, and had lunch accompanied by Czech beer, another first, but not the last first for the day.

Back on the bus after lunch, destined to Prague. A very architecturally impressive city, having not been touched by war in centuries. Buildings that did not survive elsewhere are in fine form here. Most that I've seen have been Baroque styles, though there are many others. Lots of palaces and bridges and such to admire, something on every street. It was already early evening when we arrived, and only had time for a short boat tour before dark. The tour served beer and snacks, so all was not lost. Said tour basically took place around the Charles Bridge and was very enjoyable. (The boat's launch was actually under the bridge itself.)

Dinner was Chinese food. Not too bad, but will hope for something more local tomorrow when I explore the city.

10/14/2013 Taipei

Went for a long walk with my Uncle, Aunt, and some of their friends yesterday evening. The entire experienced served well to underscore a conclusion I came to long ago: Taiwan is a far superior place in convenience, transportation, leisure, safety, and  cost, when compared to LA, or really, any other city in a the US, and my parents should retire here.

We took the MRT to Guandu Station, a 20 minute trip that cost about a buck. A comparable car ride would have taken twice as long, then another 20 minutes to find parking, and would have cost enough in gas to make the trip unreasonable for less than a full car. We walked along the banks of the Keelong River, on a well maintained walkway/bike trail, which consisted of a mixture of wood and asphalt sections. The entire thing was supported along the top of the river levies. Hundreds, if not thousands, were out taking in the scenery: mangroves, rice paddies, other agricultural fields, the occasional coffee shop, it was all very calming and probably perfect for most people trying to find some relaxation on a Sunday evening.

The entire trail took about 3 hrs and was probably 5-6 miles in length, considering the hour long coffee break we took at the midpoint. We ended up at Shiling Station, not to far from the night market, well after dark. It was a good way to spend an evening.

I hop on a plane for Vienna tonight. Tomorrow, I set foot on a new continent.

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