||VANCOUVER COURIER, APRIL 27TH, 2005
HEADING FOR THE UK?….WHY NOT TRY A SIDE TRIP TO PARIS, MADRID MAJORCA OR MAYBE PRAGUE?
So it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Britain. Father will roll out the welcome mat for sure. Dutiful brother and sister will dragoon reluctant offspring to a family lunch in my honour. I am the oldest, the firstborn, and expect a certain amount of reverence a selfish bang for my buck you might say. Hey, I’ve come a long way.Of course I love it, but sometimes a twinge of jealousy creeps in when I try to round up the gang. “Sorry old chap We’d love to see you, but we’re off to Rome Got tickets to Jose Carreras and Ryan Air is doing a special for ten quid ($25) Couldn’t turn it down Catch you next time OK?
Good grief when I left for Canada in 1965, Joe Average was hard pressed to fund a bus trip to the beaches of Bognor Regis. Now they’re all dotting around Europe like a bunch of lunatic lottery winners. “Fancy a spot of snowboarding in Switzerland this weekend?” “Ski suit still at the cleaners from Christmas in Courcheval eh?” “No sweat We’ll catch the blossoms in Budapest or a brew or two in Belfast.”
So why not me? Can I steal a few days without being choked in a swirling fog of guilt?
I hit the Internet. www.easyjet.com Mmmm………..Paris? Madrid? Majorca? All for less than a weekend in Whiterock. I’ve always wanted to “do” Prague. Everyone I know has “done” Prague including the Landlord of my father’s favourite village pub. “Flew the wife there for dinner on her birthday Sure cheaper than anything round here even including the airfare” he confided on my last visit.
Suddenly, my printer is spewing out confirmation numbers. I have just booked two return seats from London to Prague for a total of 100 UK Pounds around $250. Phew! That was easy.
Better get a room organized while I’m still hot. www.accommodation-prague.net I need four nights in the historic district. Something comfortable for her and affordable for me! Ah-ha! - Seasonal specials Gotta like that. Moments later I have a reservation at The Hotel Anna. A hundred bucks a night including breakfast.
For $32 I eliminate the nightmare of Prague taxi-drivers, confirmed as the world’s most devious by no less a personage than The Mayor himself! (He recently dressed as an Italian tourist in oversized shades and spent the day being ripped off by cabbies in his own city). “Your driver will be holding a sign at the airport” stated the email unequivocally. “You will pay at the hotel.”
Prague deserves its title as the most visited city in Europe. It also deserves its UNESCO designation. Exploring the narrow baroque alleys and cobbled squares is like being transplanted into a perfect fairy castle.
And the music? Symphony, Opera, Rock, Flamenco, seep into the sunset from churches, theatres, restaurants, clubs and pubs. An organ grinder, ignoring the bitter cold, churns out “golden oldies” along the Gothic, 650 year-old, Charles Bridge.
Best of all - In the capital of the world’s #1 beer drinking nation, boasting an annual consumption of 156 litres per head, the suds are naturally superb.
Next year we’ll hop a jet to Tuscany, Rouen or maybe even Vienna, for the same price as a slap up dinner in London.
IF YOU DECIDE TO BREAK LOOSE!
Try these websites for bargain flights and European getaways. Check the weather before you set off with a beach towel. Prague was a nippy minus 15 Celsius and snowing when we landed in January!