Europe 2008


130th INTA Annual Meeting, Berlin

Patty's involvement with the International Trademark Association ("INTA") has us traveling to Europe in May 2008 for her to participate in meetings in Berlin during the INTA Annual Meeting.  She is a member of the committee that is drafting the model legislation for the European Union on trademarks and anti-counterfeiting and they are meeting in conjunction with INTA's Annual Meeting.  We are taking the opportunity to visit a couple of other places we have not been to, as well, so are flying into Copenhagen on May 10, flying to Berlin on May 17, taking the train to Prague on May 21, and flying home on May 24.

May 11, 2008  Copenhagen:  Jessie dropped us off at the Bradley Terminal at LAX about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for our 7:00 p.m.Air India Plane flight on Air India.  We did not have seat assignments, so we wanted to be there plenty early to try to get decent seats.  We had nightmares about being in separate rows, each in the middle of a five across middle section, sandwiched between sweaty Indians who had not bathed in a couple of weeks.  We found the Air India counter and there were only a few people in line, so we got through the line very quickly (like in ten minutes).  It turned out that the plane was not very full, so they were able to give us a window and an isle seat, and said that there would likely not be anyone in the middle seat.  We got our bags tagged and took them off to the X-Ray and bid them a fond farewell.

After a leisurely dinner at the Daily Grill, made more leisurely by the fact that the waitress neglected to put my sandwich order in when she put Patty's salad order in, and did not catch it until we questioned the matter after Patty had about finished her salad.  At least the food was good and we had the time.  We made it through security, found the gate and hung out.  They made us go through a second security check, including baggage X-Ray and metal detector wanding before letting us on the plane.  It was a tired looking 747, with a fresh exterior paint job.  Once we got on, it became apparent that it was a fairly recent acquisition from Malaysian Airlines, and the cabin was really tired; stained upholstery, dangling fixtures and sagging footrests.  The good news was that the plane was only about 30% full and we had lots of room. 

When the cabin doors failed to close at the appointed time, it became apparent that something was going on that was delaying ourEmpty Plane departure, and although the crew was nice, they were non-communicative.   People started going forward to see what was going on, and we met everyone else in our section; a couple of American/Indians making the long trek home to Delhi, a German guy who found the Air India ticket cheaper than changing his Lufthansa ticket when his trip home got delayed and other nice people.  Word started filtering back that some business class passengers had discovered their seats would not recline and were demanding repair or refund right now.  The drama went on, with various people taking written reports, the captain hanging out, etc.  I went up and stood around first class for a while, while crew looked agonized and passengers were giving them a hard time.  A couple of us passengers suggested that we form a "committee" and go forward to "discuss" the matter with the recalcitrant passenger, but our help was politely refused.

After almost two hours, the situation finally stabilized, and we were able to pull away from the gate.  Since we had an hour to make our connection in Frankfurt, that was not a good sign, but we hoped that they could make up some time in the air.  The plane, regardless of the ratty cabin, seemed to fly well and we started winging our way east.  The in-seat TV's showed that they had about a dozen movies, television shows, etc., but as soon as you started to try to watch something, it went black.  Turns out that the whole entertainment system on the plane did not work.  We had dinner and I watched 75% of a Netflix movie on my laptop, until the battery went dead.

We contorted ourselves and actually slept a good share of the night; waking when whatever a body part was jammed against someSleeping on Plane hard object screamed in pain, requiring a recontortion.   At 3:00 a.m. or so, both Patty and I went back to the bathroom, only to come back and find a middle age Indian woman sound asleep stretched out across our seats!  We managed to wake her up and move her along.

At Frankfurt, we had not made up any time, and our flight to Copenhagen was about to leave, so we quickly got off the airplane and missed seeing the waiting German Police take the recalcitrant business class passenger into custody (which they were waiting to do at the gate).  Just off the plane, the gate agent met us and told us that we had been re-booked on a SAS flight leaving in an hour, but we should hurry.  It turns out that we had to clear German immigration and Customs (easy) and go back through security and then go to another terminal, so we got to the SAS flight just as it was boarding.  They checked our baggage claim tags and scanned them into their system, and we got on the airplane.  Patty's seat mate was a Danish girl, with her 1 year old little boy, who was coming home for a visit from her home in Tokyo, where she lives with her Australian husband.  She was very nice and told us how to get cash, buy a train ticket, where to get off the train for our hotel and told us that we could walk to the hotel from the train station.  She was going to ride with us, but, no surprise, our bags had not made it and we had to stay and fill out claim forms.

We bungled our way through to the correct track and even managed to get off at the right station.  With directions from a guy buyingNyhavn Canal a hot dog at a street stand, we got walking in the right direction.  Copenhagen is beautiful.  It was a warm evening and even though it was after 8:00 p.m., the sun was still up, the streets crowded, and everyone was trying to enjoy a beautiful, warm, early spring day and evening.  After buying our own hot dog at a stand, we re-confirmed our directions, which took us down a long pedestrian-only street to a large square at the end of a canal with lots of boats tied up to the sides, lined on one side with open air restaurants.  Our hotel (thank you again Rick Steves) was across the canal from the restaurant row.  It is a nice, clean, modern hotel and the location is great.  After checking in, we went back out and got some ice cream from a shop and walked around enjoying the ambiance.  People were in no hurry to go to bed and lots of young people hanging out on the canal bank, drinking beer from the store and eating pizza, and the outdoor cafe tables were packed even though it was 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.  People were having candle light dinners in the cockpits of their yachts and everyone was enjoying the late light and warm weather.Swan on Canal


May 12, 2008  Copenhagen:  The sun was up at about 5:00 a.m. and we were  awake.  The room was comfortable and we were tired, so we slept reasonably well.  I went downstairs about 6:00 a.m. and found that our bags had arrived from the airport overnight.  It actually worked out well for us as we did not have to cart our bags on the train, nor walk with them the mile or so from the train station to the hotel.  Breakfast was already out so I was able to bring the bags, some bread and coffee back to the room.  Life is good. 

The plan today is to try to take a walking tour and perhaps a boat canal tour to orient ourselves to the city before we start touring castles or going to Tivoli Gardens.

The Rick Steves' Guidebook highly suggested a walking tour of the city conducted by an American who dresses in period costume and does English narrated tours.  We checked out his web site and it said that he starts his daily tours in mid-May and to just meet at the tourist information center near the train station and Tivoli Gardens at 10:00 a.m.  We got our act together and left the hotel for the half hour walk about 9:00 a.m.  When we got there, they had flyers for him, but said it was not available yet.  I guess it was not mid-May enough.Frank in front of City Hall

Looking at the flyers, we saw "Bike Tours by Mike" and that the tour left at 10:00 a.m., just behind the train station, just a couple of blocks away.  We hustled over there and found Mike, with his florescent green jacket and corresponding bike.  We introduced ourselves, and he said, "Just one problem."  Turns out that Monday is "Whit Monday," a holiday of unknown reason (rumored to be about the Christian Pentecost, or some such thing) and the bike rental shop was closed and he had forgotten to pick up a key so we could get a bike.  He said if we came the next day, we could go for free.  That is the plan.

We then decided to go to Tivoli Gardens, since it was a nice day.  It opened at 11:00 a.m., so we killed a little time and then went and got into a long line.  We had by then figured out it was a public holiday (all of the stores, offices, banks, schools, etc. closed) so the line was long with kids and families.  We then decided to scrub the third planned activity of the morning, and try Tivoli another day with fewer people.

Looking at the city map, we saw a self-guided walking tour, which went by an art museum that Mike recommended, so we started the walking tour that went in the same general direction as our hotel.  It was fun and took us past various churches and the university district and through a beautiful park, filled with sunbathers.  When we got to the National Art Museum, it was closed on Mondays.Park with Sunbathers

We continued the walk and got to the old harbor entrance fortifications, where tour busses stop, cruise ships gather, and the famous "Little Mermaid" statue lives.  After purchasing a street vendor hot dog, walking over to the statue and taking the obligatory pictures, we walked back toward our hotel, through the palace grounds, where the Queen, her married son (the heir apparent), his Australian wife and their son live.  We toured another grand church and walked back to the hotel, getting there, foot sore, at about 2:30 p.m.

We went up to the room and chilled, watching the Giro grand tour bike race from Italy live.   Yesterday's stage was on the island of Sicily and the scenery was beautiful.  Unfortunately, the small winding roads have caused havoc in the peloton, and quite a number of riders have crashed out already, including Dave Zabriski of Salt Lake City.

After resting, we decided to look for a dinner place.  Dining in Copenhagen is very expensive and we have only eaten from street vendors and the hotel breakfast so far, so we walked back to the Tivoli Gardens area to eat at a brew pub recommended in the guidebook.  Good food and beer.  Patty had a steak and I had baby back ribs.  The tab came to about $110 U.S., and looks like it might be on the lower end of dinner prices in the city.Little Mermaid

We then walked back to the hotel, taking a little different route.  The weather, which has been gloriously, unseasonably warm, turned in late afternoon with clouds and wind, so we had put on jackets before our walk to dinner.  The weather is supposed to be good all week and we hope for more of the sun.  Tomorrow we will again try to do the bike tour.

A word about bikes.  Copenhagen has 1.5 million people and 3 million bikes.  They are everywhere and everyone rides them; young, old and in between.  There is also a reported 80,000 bike thefts a year.  The bikes are therefore not nice, but mostly upright, coaster brake, tired machines that can easily be replaced if lost or stolen.  There are bike paths on the side of all of the streets and since the city is flat, it does not take much of a bike to get around.  The city has a fleet of city bikes that you pick up if you find one at the public racks by putting a 20 Kroner coin in the lock to unlock it, which you get back when you lock the bike up at another city rack.  They are not very nice, but are pretty scarce; at least on a holiday weekend.Copenhagen City Bike



May 13, 2008  Copenhagen:  It looks like another nice day.  Maybe we will get to go on a bike tour today.

Well, not so fast.  After breakfast, all ready for the bike tour, I checked with the front desk to make sure we were good for a few more days, only to find out that we had to check out by 11:00 a.m.  We had only reserved two nights and they had filled up and needed our room.  The desk clerk gave us a couple of references in the neighborhood, so we scrapped the bike tour for the morning and set out on a hotel search.

The first one we checked, the Hotel Maritime, an old seaman's home, was nice, but Patty wanted to check out the "Best Western" across the street.  We walked over there and it was much fancier, but almost twice the price.  Back to the Hotel Maritime.  We got a nice room on the 4th floor, overlooking a courtyard, with more room than our old hotel.  It is only three blocks away.

Having missed the bike tour again, we walked back to the Tivoli Gardens and got there just before it opened at 11:00 a.m.Tivoli Gardens  Think Disneyland at about 10% of the size.  The Gardens were built in the 1800's just outside of the city walls and while there are still lots of lakes and flowers, various rides have been added.  Most of the rides are for little kids, but they have three or four real stomach churners.  There are also about 30 restaurants and three concert venues.  We wandered around and then had lunch at a "Smorgasbord" restaurant.   Smorgasbord here means open faced sandwiches.  Ingredients (pickled herring, chicken salad, fried fish, roast pork) and you assemble them on a plate with a slice of dark rye bread underneath.  It was good and I am glad I tried this Danish traditional dish once.  About 1:00 p.m. a large group of elderly people started tottering into the restaurant and flooding the areas around us.  It looked like a cruise ship tour, but with the whole cruise ship, except they were dressed nicer and did not have adhesive numbers stuck to them. We asked our waiter and he told us that twice a year, they have a "pensioner's" day when they get in free, have a variety show and have discounts on food.

After lunch we walked around some more and paid a ride ticket to go into the aquarium.  It is a 100 foot long salt water aquarium, with lots of tropical fish, including rays, reef sharks and eels.  It was relaxing and nice to do after lunch.

After the aquarium, we left and went a block away to the National Museum, located in an old palace, where we saw not only Danish history exhibits, but Roman, Egyptian and Mesopotamian loot was on display.Armor on Horseback  Looking at all of the exhibits in an old palace I was reminded that as unfair and unequal as the world may be today, it used to be a lot worse.  Denmark officially ended Catholicism in about 1600, switching to Lutheranism.   One exhibit pointed out that the big change was when the tithe on the peasants by the church went 33% to the local church, 33% to the priest, and the Cardinal's 33% went to the king.  Kings liked rejecting Catholicism.

After the museum we walked through more old palace complexes.  Every hundred years or so, some king would decide to ditch the old palace and build a new one, so the city is rife with them.  Most are still in use by the government in some form or another and they all have grand churches attached to them, so there is a lot of public use of the facilities.

About 4:00 p.m., we came back to the new hotel and crashed for a couple of hours.  Jet lag is a drag.  About 6:00 p.m., we dragged ourselves out and went out to find a light dinner.  Unfortunately, the dinner restaurants tend to serve heavy, complex meals that cost a lot of money.  There are a few take-out places for Chinese, pizza and other types of packaged food, but not a lot of mid-range eateries like we are used to having. 

Down near the canal, we found a place with big salads and a seafood soup with bread.  The service was good, the food excellent, but the price was still about $80 for a salad, a bowl of soup, a Coke and a glass of wine.

It was cooler today and the temperature was in the 50's as we walked around for dinner.  Good thing we brought a lot of warm clothes.  At the sidewalk cafes, people still sit outside, but everywhere has blankets that you can bundle up in sitting outside.  Luckily, we got to eat inside.

May 14, 2008  Copenhagen:   We got the best night's sleep so far on the trip; and woke up feeling pretty good.  The new hotel has a slightly better breakfast, and after helping ourselves, we took the walk back to the train station and met Mike for our bike tour.  We rented the bikes, very upright, with three speed rear hubs and coaster brakes, and met the other couple who had showed up for the tour.  Mike had promised a free tour on Monday when we had shown up and he did not have the key to the bike rental and we could not go.  He was good to his word and refused money today.

Bike Rental Our tour companions were a couple of Americans, he from California and Chicago and she from Louisiana and Chicago, who now have lived in Saudi Arabia for the last 8 years while he works for Armco, the Saudi oil company.  They were very fit and good riders as well as being nice people.  They get to travel a lot (helps to keep them sane living where they do) and had just come from Berlin, which they liked a lot.

We started our three hour tour by riding through the three districts outside of the old walls, wandering between busy streets, back alleys and dirt paths on old city ramparts.

We wound around the outside of the old central city, and came back near the harbor to within a hundred meters of the little mermaid, however skipping it, as Mike was not too interested in showing us the tacky tourist things.  We got to the Queen's palace just in time for the noon changing of the guard and on Wednesday they have a band playing.

After wandering around the new and old palaces for a while, and learning about how Denmark has the oldest reigning monarchy, and hearing about Christopher IV, the greatest of them all, we crossed the bridge to the island of Christhavn.  It is a primarily residential island that is just across the channel from the old city.  We rode on the old breastworks, down through little streets, and then up onto a tree lined path along more ramparts.  From there we came to a lake, stopping on a bridge, where Mike introduced us to Christiana, the hippy commune that in the 70's took over an abandoned military base and has held it, without paying taxes or rent for the last 35 years.  It is a pretty controversial place, and with a new conservative government in Denmark, may be near the end of its run.  It is ramshackle and rough, with the buildings painted (or not) with odd colors and with various rusting art and junk all over.

We rode around for a while, and then continued on to the new Opera house (nicknamed "the toaster") which was donated to the city by the Maersk family, of shipping fame, whose headquarters is just across the channel from the opera house.  It sits on what was an abandoned shipyard.  Mike left us in front of the opera house, and we rode back across the bridge, back to the hotel and stopped at a store on the corner and got bread, fruit and drinks.  We then rode back to the Nyhavn canal and found a bench in the sun.  We bought a couple of sausages from a street vendor and made our own sandwiches with the fresh bread; ate sausage sandwiches and fruit.

After the late lunch, we went back to the hotel and took a nap.  Patty wanted to return the bikes tonight (we had them for 24 hours), so we took off at 5:35 to beat the 6:00 p.m. closing time.  Just by the Tivoli gardens, two blocks from the bike rental place, Patty tried a quick stop at a changing light, locked up the front brake and knocked herself down, losing her shoe and getting some nice raspberries on  her left knee and foot.  I had already crossed the intersection, having maneuvered through right turning cars, and saw that Patty was still on the far side of the street.  I stopped to wait for her, but missed the fall.

She bravely rode on and we dropped the bikes off at 5:50 p.m.  She was able to walk O.K., so we walked back down the pedestrian shopping street and stopped at several shops, including the big Royal Copenhagen china shop, where we marveled at how much a dinner plate could cost.

Royal Conpenhagen Shop Dinner SandwichesWe spotted a bakery just off the main walking street and walked over to check it out.  They had great looking sandwiches so we each bought one, a cookie, and drinks and ate at a stand-up bar looking out on the street with its people watching entertainment.  We then walked back to the hotel and caught up on e-mail and talking to Jessie on Skype.

We planned on watching the last episode of Survivor on the internet, but found it blocked to computers outside of the USA.  I guess they want to save their syndication rights. 

Tomorrow we plan on taking the train to the: Viking Ship Museum


May 15, 2008  Copenhagen:  We got going early with breakfast at the hotel and our customary walk to the train station (which seems to be the start of every day; we certainly know the way, and several variations, by now). King's Tomb We went to the ticket counter to get a round trip ticket to Roskilde, and found the best deal to be a 24-hour train pass.  We bought a couple of those and went downstairs and got on the train.  The train is modern, comfortable and quiet.  Roskilde is about a half hour train ride west of Copenhagen, at the south end of a shallow fjord that comes down from the North Sea.  We met a retired American couple from Seattle on the train platform who were going to the Roskilde Cathedral.  I have probably seen enough European cathedrals for my life, but we went with them anyway because it was supposed to be a good one (and right on the way to the museum).  We had to pay an entry fee, but it turned out to be worth it, as the Cathedral is pretty much the burial crypt for a thousand years of Danish royalty.  It is chock full (except for the center section, kept open for sitting and services) of sarcophaguses from fairly plain wooden boxes to really over the top marble-carved monuments.

After wandering around the very well kept up place and all of the naves which have been added to contain more dead, we walked down the hill through a beautiful park to the harbor and the Viking museum.  The fjord, though wide, is very shallow and has only three natural navigable channels.  The local residents had sunk five old Viking ships (full of rocks) in the most direct channel, to block it from invaders.  About 30 years ago, the ships were retrieved and have been pieced back together in the museum.  They were old when sunk, but can be dated from the wood, including where the wood was grown (even where repair planks were different from the original construction.)  The construction details have been figured out, and the museum has building shops and working reconstructions of all of the ships, that actually sail the bay everyday with school kids and others.  They make the hemp rope, weave the sails and otherwise build the entire ships right there.  There are lots of working exhibits with wood splitting, rope making and other techniques on display and for hands-on experience.  There were lots of school groups there while we were there, and it is a great interactive experience.

After touring the museum and seeing the interactive displays and the actual reconstructed ships, we walked down to the harbor to see the modern boats in the marina.  It was nice to be out of the City and on a beautiful bay on a sunny day. 

Trading and War Ships  Museum ShipViking Ships      Roskilde Harbor

After walking around the museum, we decided to use our train pass to the fullest, so we took the train back into Copenhagen, switched trains, and took a 45 minute train north to a little town with a big castle called Fredricksborg.   It was about a 20 minute walk from the train station and is set on a lake with spectacular gardens surrounding the back side of the castle.  We got there about 4:00 p.m., an hour before closing, which gave us just enough time to see the displays and wander around the three floors open to the public.  The castle was built in the early 1600's and is very lavish, with tapestries, murals, ornate carved ceilings and woodwork.

The bulk of the castle is used as an art museum, with the favorite subject being royal portraiture, but the third floor has some contemporary art as well.  The best parts were the chapel and the great hall, which was lavish to the extreme, like the hall of mirrors at Versailles.  The great hall was interesting in that the paintings were not of religious figures, but were of trade and industry.  Christian IV, the builder of this castle and most of the major palaces and buildings in Copenhagen, was apparently very aware of the commerce side of the world, and therefore was able to amass the wealth to build what he did.  Apparently, he did it not only by taxing his own people, but taking advantage of Denmark's strategic location at the entrance to the Baltic to intercept and tax all ship traffic coming in and out of the Baltic -- apparently a fairly successful strategy.

After we were escorted out to the museum by the door-locking security guards, we went into town and found a family cantina and pasta place and had great pasta and pizza for about the cost of a bowl of soup in Copenhagen.  About 7:00 p.m. we walked back to the train station and caught a train back into Copenhagen.  We managed to find a bus that took us most of the way back to our hotel, and were happy to get back and rest our feet.

Fredericksborg Castle   Train Interior   Castle Looking out

May 16, 2008  Copenhagen:  Today, we slept in a little and got a later breakfast, leaving the hotel about 9:30 a.m. or so. Rosenborg Castle Today we caught up on some local museums that we had not yet seen.  First, we walked to the "Rosenborg Slot" or King Christian IV's summer palace in the city.  It has been a museum since the 1800's and the basement houses the crown jewels of Denmark.  This was built by the same guy who built the Fredriksborg Castle we visited yesterday, but he wanted gardens and the main castle in Copenhagen did not have room with the necessary moat and all, so he built the King's Gardens, now a large public park, and built Rosenberg at the edge of the garden.  The castle was built over several stages and now has three stories, including a large hall on the third floor that takes up the entire floor.

It has some interesting rooms, including a bathroom off of the King's bedroom with a toilet that is really just an indoor outhouse with no plumbing.  There was a ladder coming up under the toilet seat, so I guess some poor guy had the job of going down occasionally and cleaning it out.  Who needs running water when you have unlimited servants.  Another room had mirrors on all of the walls and ceilings, including a dining table size mirror on the floor, which gave an interesting effect when you looked down on it, reflecting the ceiling and the floor around the mirror so it looked like a hole in the floor with continuing floors dropping down to infinity.  They did not really explain the room.

The king was big into ornate clocks and celestial models and both this and the other castle had several models where all of the planets circled the sun (following Copernicus' idea) and ran mechanically with gears.

The King's bedroom had the clothes that he had been wearing in a battle with Sweden when he took a lance to his eye.  The guard explained that at the time, the King was expected to lead the charge into battle.  If only we still had that tradition!!  Anyway, the clothes still had the blood down the shirt front and on the coat.  I guess the King saved them and put them on display to prove his valor.Art Museum

The royal jewels are in the basement, guarded by massive doors and soldiers with M-16's and fixed bayonets.  It is quite an impressive collection of jeweled scepters, necklaces, medals and crowns.  There are sapphires and rubies as big as small chicken eggs and one green jewel the size of your fist.  It occurred to me that while this stuff has incredible value, in another sense it has no value at all.  It, because of historical and cultural significance, cannot be sold or even moved.  It also costs a lot to just keep it and guard it.  It would cost a lot to replace, but has no economic value to Denmark.  Like the castles, I think the Monarchy has just given it all to the State and let them foot the bill to keep it up.  Apparently, the Royal family in Denmark has no great private wealth (unlike the British Royal Family) and are living at the taxpayer's expense.  Expensive pets.

We next walked across the street to the Museum of Art.  It is a grand collection of modern, historical and classic art, arranged in some pretty unusual displays with modern art in some galleries along side classic paintings.  They also have a lot of sculpture that is quite spectacular.  Unlike Italian art, the Danish art, even classical stuff, has a lot of non-religious themes, including a lot of just ordinary ditch diggers, foundries and other common scenes.   There are a lot of portraits of rich old dead people, but a lot of other good stuff as well.

After wandering around the museum, we went looking for lunch.  The King's Gardens park had filled up with people taking Friday afternoon off from work and taking in the sun on another beautiful warm sunny afternoon.  The girls just stripped down to their underwear and stretched out on the grass.  Girls on GrassPatty tried to take the picture to the right surreptitiously without looking by putting the camera over my shoulder.

After the walk through the park, we went to a Thai take-out place that had a couple of little tables and dined on Thai food.  It was kind of a nice change.

We then went back to the hotel, watched the last hour of today's Giro d'Italia stage, and then I had to participate in a conference call that we had been trying to set up since last week.  We installed Skype, the internet-based telephone service on the computer and set up an account before we left.  It costs about two cents a minute and works great.  We have been using it to check voice mail, call Jessie to check on finals and the dog, and I used it for the conference call this afternoon.  Since we had people in California, on the East Coast, and me in Europe, we set it up for 8:00 a.m. PST, making it 11:00 a.m. on the East Coast and 5:00 p.m. my time.  It worked out great.

Well tonight is our last night in Copenhagen, a great and very livable city.  While we have been spoiled by unseasonably warm and sunny weather, we have really enjoyed the city and the surroundings.  It is outrageously expensive, but by being careful, and not insisting on eating every meal in a restaurant, we have made it work and have had a wonderful week here.  We did splurge our last night in town.  On the corner of the street our hotel is on, there is an Argentinean restaurant that has its basement kitchen windows open to the street so when you walk by you can watch them preparing the food.  They use a lot a great looking fresh ingredients and the food looked great, so I talked Patty into going there for dinner.  It turned out to be a really spectacular meal, with only four "fixed course" menus that you could choose from (or you could order any item a-la-carte from any of the menus.)  We both had steak and I had a full three course meal with pastry turnovers to start and a citrus over custard desert.  With a couple of glasses of wine, the tab was about $200, but the food was really special.

May 17, 2008  Copenhagen/Berlin:  Saturday was our last day in Copenhagen and we had to catch an 8:30 p.m. flight to Berlin.Frank by Human Column  We slept in and made it down to breakfast about 9:45 a.m. to beat the 10:00 a.m. closing time.  After breakfast, we walked two long blocks down the sea channel to the castle that is the oldest in the city.  It has burned down numerous times and was last rebuilt in the late 1800's, so it is not the oldest from a construction point of view.  Today it houses the Danish Parliament and the Prime Minister's offices, so it is kept in very good condition.  Several tours a day go through the "royal reception rooms" where the Queen accepts ambassador's credentials and state functions are held.  One room has a dining table that probably sits a hundred people; clearly the largest I have ever seen.  It is interesting that while they have state dinners here, they have no cooking facilities and have to bring in the food from local restaurants (Chinese take-out?).

After the tour, we spent 45 minutes talking to the tour guide about US politics.  They are very interested in what is going on in the US, given our impact on the rest of the world.  I got to tell her about Barack Obama's background, being the son of a Kenyan exchange student, etc.  (We have also noticed that every bookstore has his biography "Dreams of My Father" in Danish in the window.)  They all mention that the prime minister is a good friend of George Bush, and we cringe.

After the tour and the political discussion, we wandered around the shopping areas and pedestrian streets.  Being a nice Saturday afternoon, the streets were packed with shoppers, street musicians and people just being out.  There is no law against drinking beer on the street, parks, and squares, and apparently no custom of waiting until after noon to start drinking.  They drink a lot of beer and keep their Carlsberg brewery cranking.Copenhagen Street Scene

We found a Volcom retailer and went in and talked to him.  He was Danish, but had lived in Costa Mesa for three years and operates the store with a girl who was raised in Anaheim.  We had a nice talk with him.  At noon, we went back to our favorite sandwich shop and split a sandwich and some cookies.  After wandering around some more, we went back to the hotel and rested in the lobby for a while, before getting our luggage (which was stored in the open in the breakfast room along with everyone else's; apparently not too much of a theft problem).  The subway has recently been lengthened to go to the airport, and a station was about two blocks from the hotel.  We walked over there, got the subway, and it took about a half hour to get to the airport in a clean, quiet and comfortable train.  We were early, so we found a restaurant right across from the EasyJet counter in the foreign airline wing of the place.  SAS generally owns the place and has the vast majority of the three terminals.  Just one terminal seems to get all of the non-Scandinavian carriers.  The restaurant was good and we had some great salads made fresh by the girl behind the counter.

EasyJet is interesting.   They only have four flights a day out of Copenhagen and the counter opens about an hour and a half prior to the flight, with a couple of people checking everyone in.  There is no assigned seating, and you have to pay extra for first priority seating.  It also costs extra to check a bag.  The drinks and snacks on the airplane are extra.  The ground service is just adequate, but the prices are really dirt cheap.  The flight was about 30 Euro each, with another 20 Euro to check a couple of bags.  We carried on the smallest to save the extra charge for checking it.  The airplane was about 80% full, so Patty and I got seats together and there was plenty of overhead space for the bags.  The airplane was newer, in good condition and the flight crew had a sense of humor and got it off the ground quickly.  The flight was about 45 minutes and was pleasant.  I would definitely use them again.EasyJet in Berlin   The only issue is the ground service; in Copenhagen they would not assign a gate until the last minute and in Berlin, we had to get off of the airplane in the rain by walking down stairs, even though a jet way was available.

We got into Berlin about 10:00 p.m., quickly retrieved our bags and walked out to find a taxi.  Since both Denmark and Germany are in the EU, there is no customs or immigration.  We elected to use a taxi and pay the $50 fare, because it was late, we did not know the train system, it was raining, and Volcom was paying for this part of the trip.

Our hotel is the Ku' Damm 101 Hotel and is very modern, nice and comfortable.  It is a definite step up from our Copenhagen hotels.  It is close to the convention center where Patty has her meetings and is off of a tree lined boulevard in a nice residential area.  The S-Bahn local train station is a block and a half away and the conventions center two stations away.  We were very happy to have a very nice bed.

May 18, 2008  Berlin: Hotel Ku Damm Bed We had taken our dress clothes out of the garment bag last night for the first time on the trip, and they survived without too many wrinkles; nothing that a little hanging in the bathroom during a steamy shower did not take care of.   They brought up an ironing board and an iron, but we did not need them.  We got up early (about 6:00 a.m.-still not a problem given the time change) and showered and got ready.  Patty had to put a suit on, but I got to wear a T-shirt and long pants, just because it was overcast and in the high 50's.  The breakfast here is not included and costs 14€, or about $21.00.  I think we will skip that one.

We went down to the reception desk and they sold Patty a one-use train ticket so she could get to the INTA registration where she was going to get a pass.  We walked up the street to the train station and waited about 5 minutes for the train.  I saw Patty off, and went back to the hotel.  The wireless internet connection is very weak, and the wired connection did not work.  They came up and tried to get the wired connection to work, but they did not know any more about it than I did, so we are living with the weak wireless connection.

About 9:30 a.m., I went across the street and had a latte and a pastry for 3.5 € and then walked down the Kurfurstendamm boulevard.  It has wide sidewalks, enough for sidewalk cafes, and a wide tree lined median.  It has retail on the ground floor and residential units above, up to about 5 floors.  The buildings were probably built before elevators and 5 floors is probably about the limit to climb stairs.  I walked for about a mile east, in the direction of downtown, and the shops got progressively more high end until it kind of looked like Rodeo Drive.  Near an old church ruin preservation and the zoo, I stopped and got lunch and bought a 72 hour transport pass at a bigger station with a manned ticket sales counter.  The pass cost 22.5 € so I have to use it 10 times to break even.Berlin Wall

We forget that most of Europe has fairly strict laws about retail store opening hours and most are closed on Sunday and holidays.  Today, being Sunday, all of the regular retail stores were closed, but the train station and zoo were open.  I got tired of walking, so got on the "S-bahn" or surface train (as opposed to the "U-bahn" which is the subway, or underground train) and rode further east.  Not too far away, I could see the Reichstag, or old German Parliament building, so I got off and walked over that way.  It is right near the Brandenburg Gate, a picture of which is at the top of this chapter.   There are various monuments, but placards tell the tortured history of the buildings and monuments, most of which have been destroyed at least once and rebuilt and replaced.  An example is the statute of four horses and carriage on top of the Brandenburg Gate.  It was placed there in the 1800's, looted by Napoleon as an act of national humiliation, returned, blown to hell in World War II, replaced after the war and used as a red flag holder by the Soviets during their occupation; and now replaced in a less militant form.Melissa and Guide

Downtown Berlin is almost too much of a reminder of  mankind's brutality to mankind.  The whole area was almost totally destroyed by the Allies carpet bombing in World War II.  The Russians came in and sought to take revenge on the brutality of the Germans during their invasion of Russia.  They killed the men, raped the women and stole everything that could move; and continued their brutal occupation for 40 years.  The Nazi's had of course, tried to exterminate the European Jews, the Roma (or Gypsies), homosexuals and intellectuals.  I read a book about the fall of Berlin during World War II and walking the streets and remembering what had happened in those streets, alleys and buildings was very sobering.  The Jewish reminders to the Holocaust, including one right in the Brandenburg Gate, push it in your face.  Down the boulevard there is an old Roman Temple looking building that contains a statue of a mother holding her dead son, and the Roma were holding a memorial ceremony there as I walked by in remembrance of their Holocaust (one without its own well honed publicity machine).  The only good sign was that the kids and young people in costume looked like they were having more of a good time and were posing for pictures in their costumes and letting the old people look bleak on their own.  Perhaps the next generations can try to move beyond the almost unimaginable brutality of the past (50 million people were killed in World War II, the vast majority being civilian non-combatants).Latham Party

I walked past the British and American Embassies, both with the streets closed permanently in front and German police posted outside.  The British set-up is fairly tasteful, but the American Embassy looks like it is expecting an imminent attack, with huge concrete bollards, permanent checkpoints on the street and high pointed iron fences.  I commented to the police on guard that we Americans must be universally loved.  They laughed.

I took the S-bahn back to the hotel and met Patty there.  Patty had a successful day of meetings with various people and came back to the hotel loaded with loot handed out by various vendors at the convention exhibition hall, including a nifty little portable Blackberry charger powered by a AA battery.  We had a little while to watch the daily stage of the Giro and dress for dinner.  Patty had been invited to dinner with Susan Natland, a partner with the Knobbe law firm at home in Newport Beach.  Susan has a friend who lives in Berlin, who recommended a Japanese restaurant called Kuchi, a few train stops from the hotel.  We met Susan and another Knobbe partner (Stacie Halpern) there and had lots of great sushi.  We got back to the hotel and went to bed.

May 19, 2008  Berlin:  Patty was off to her meetings and greetings.  INTA conventions are a lot about "international speed dating for lawyers" where people set up appointments at half hour intervals to meet people that they deal with in other countries all the time, primarily by e-mail, to see their faces, exchange little gifts (if Asian), business cards, and smiles and small talk.  The big law firms and service providers (name and trademark search companies) have big events where they invite the well connected and those with big intellectual property budgets.  The less well-heeled, set up private breakfasts (two or three), coffees, lunches, drinks, dinners and more late night drinks to woo those who spend the money.  Since Patty is one who spends the money, she always has numerous offers and she gets to pick and choose so we spend a lot of time with people we like and those who she already works with.Patty and Ken McKay

I met Maureen, our office manager's daughter for a bike tour.  Maureen, when she found out that both Melissa and I would be here with our respective spouses, and mostly sightseeing while the more formal and less social meetings were going on, suggested we get together.  Melissa suggested the bike tour and I thought it was a great idea.  We met at the television tower (during the divided Germany period, the west put up a radio tower that could been seen all over Berlin, so the Communists put up a television tower, made of concrete of course, with a giant disco ball on top, that could also be seen from all over the city).

Their were about 26 people there for the tour, so they split us up into two groups.  Our tour guide was a girl from Colorado, and I think all of the tour participants in our group were Americans as well.  We wound around the city center, seeing all of the old historical buildings.  The city was about 95% flattened thanks to our tax dollars at work between 1943 and 1945, and the re-build is spotty and continuing.  We saw Checkpoint Charlie, an old section of the Berlin Wall (now being protected from tourists tearing down what little is left) the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.  The Dali Lama is in town and spoke to the assembled multitudes of "free Tibet" activists at the Brandenburg Gate.  One of the papers had a headline, "Dali Lama Rock Star" the next morning.  We were around but did not see him.  He was staying at the Aldon, the same Berlin hotel that Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window from. It is the poshest hotel in town.  Someone pointed out that while perhaps he had taken a vow of poverty, he was not prohibited from hanging around people who had not taken such a vow.Kiwis

We stopped at the "Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe" and the guide pointed out that it is pretty controversial in that it ignores the fact that the Nazi's also killed Roma, Poles, homosexuals, and many others that they found undesirable and now those groups are pushing for memorials as well; not to mention the 25 million Russians who also died in World War II.  Berlin has a fairly uncomfortable relationship with its own history.  The bunker where Hitler held out and finally killed himself has been filled with mud and a parking lot constructed over it with some non-descript apartment buildings surrounding it.  It would be a fascinating historical site, like the Churchill War Rooms in London but the Berliners are too uncomfortable with the legacy of Hitler to recognize that it is a spot that does have great historical significance and probably should be preserved.  There is still too much attempting to color history with a lens that distorts the past and places value judgments on that history, rather than allowing the viewer to find their own interpretation to historical events.  It all is a little too propagandized. 

We rode through the forest that is in the middle of town and stopped at a beer garden for lunch.  After beer, a pork chop and salad, it was back on the bikes and back to the television tower.  I bade farewell to Melissa at the end of the tour.  The guide complemented us for staying close and riding well.  We pointed out that we had both been trained to stay in line by the same person, Melissa's mother and my office manager.Potsdam

Patty and I met back at the hotel and got dressed for the Latham event at an event room located right between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, on the building roof with a view out all sides and a rooftop garden.  It was nice to see old friends, eat great food and drink good wine.  We hung out until about 10:00 p.m. and closed the party down.  We made our way back to the hotel and went right to sleep.

May 20, 2008  Berlin:  We had to get going early because Patty had arranged an 8:30 a.m. breakfast with Ken McKay, a Canadian lawyer she works with.  He came to our hotel and we went across the street to a bakery we have been eating breakfast at.  After a nice visit, Patty went off to her committee meeting, drafting model anti-counterfeiting legislation for the EU, and I took the train to Potsdam, about a half hour west.  Potsdam is where the Allies met after the end of World War II to carve up Europe into spheres of influence that created the "Iron Curtain."  Leaving West Berlin, where our hotel is, and going back into country that was deep into East Germany for 40 years, the difference is still dramatic.  The area is not nearly as developed, the grey concrete apartment blocks sprout up and the historical areas are just clawing back from being ruins.  It is obvious that 40 years of stunted economic development and a lack of public money to preserve and develop more than the basic infrastructure have taken their toll.  This is not the Germany that we have seen before and is definitely on the ragged side.  Even the people look worse; more ragged, less healthy, more obese.  The change is like going from a first world country into a third world country on a 30 minute train ride.
Bike Rental
I wanted to come out and see the forest and the lakes around Potsdam, because that area is where the Berliners come for outdoor recreation.  At the Potsdam train station, I rented a bike from a guy with an operation set up in a couple of shipping containers with a picnic table and an umbrella.  The bike was a heavy beast with a coaster brake, but was otherwise mechanically sound and reliable.  He gave me a map with a bike ride lined out on it.  I basically followed the route, which went through downtown, out to Sanssouci, Fredrick II's palace and gardens, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, back along the lake and back to the train station.  When I got out there, due to road repair, unmarked trails, a too large scale map and poor road signage, I did a rough approximation of the ride.

The ride was interesting, but Sanssouci, while it was probably a grand place at one time, the gardens are overgrown, the buildings either dilapidated or under massive repair.  Probably I am a little tired of palaces at this point and this was just another one, not even in good repair.  The problem with these things is that while they are amazing, they are a huge burden, and tourism can only do so much to keep up the massive grounds and crumbling palaces, none of which have much more than historical relevance.  The gardens make nice parks, but they were designed to be very labor intensive, so it takes a lot of (now much more expensive) labor to keep them up.Potsdam Lake

After riding around Sanssouci, I worked my way through the town, having totally lost the route on my map by then, to a lake front park.  It too was overgrown and spotted with crumbling ruins.  The paths were not marked and I ended up in several dead ends and had to carry the bike up an old crumbling staircase at one point.  The beast certainly was not light.

Around the lake, the weather was sunny and warm and the nude sunbathers were stretched out on the grass.  Not as exciting as it seems.  Most were older than me and were predominately male.  After the park, I followed the Havel river back into town and found the train station, not without a couple of wrong turns and a few backtracks.  Since a large part of the route was on dirt paths through the parks, and had no signage or other markings, it was easy to take a wrong track.

After returning the bike, I bought some train station fast food, kind of a pizza in slipcover, and got back on the train.  After a half hour and one train change, I was back in the hotel.  I changed clothes and took the train and subway to meet Patty downtown.  After we talked with the Electric Visual attorneys from New York, who needed to meet Patty as she was their new boss, now that Volcom has acquired Electric, we went off to the Greenburg Taurig party in a rooftop location in the Radisson hotel next to the Berlin Dom, or biggest cathedral.  We ate their food, drank their booze and hung out for a few hours.  We met a really nice family from Wellington, New Zealand, and hung out with them for a long time.  The father is a trademark attorney in Wellington and both of his daughters now live in London, the younger practicing law with a London firm, who were co-sponsoring the party, and the older who works for a train company based in London.  She is not a lawyer, but had come over just because Mom, Dad and Sister were in town.  We talked politics, history and life philosophies.  It is really fun to fill them in on what is going on in American politics right now (and they already know a lot and are very interested) and hear their perspectives.

After the Greenburg party, we jumped in a cab with a bunch of other people (including Paul McGrady) and went across town to the Thompson and Thompson party, a little gathering with about 3,500 guests.  They had rented a convention hall and had bands, food, free flowing booze, spread across the whole place.  After hanging out there for a while (running into Ian Coates and Michael Adams), drinking some more, we caught a cab back to the hotel.  The cab line was wild.  There had to be a hundred cabs, coming in three abreast, and filling up with people.  There were also four shuttle bus lines, with shuttle busses to various areas of the city.  Moving that number of people in and out is quite a task, but the Germans were up to it.

May 21, 2008, Berlin/Prague:  Today, we have to pack up and make a 12:46 p.m. train to Prague from the main Berlin train station.  Since we have gone through there about 4 times a day every day, we should not have a hard time finding it.Berlin Train Station

We got our bags packed up, left the hotel, pulled them up the street a couple of blocks and got onto the train.  One station north, we changed to the cross-town train and 5 stations later we were in the Berlin Haupbahnhof, or main train station.  It is very nice, with two floors of mall between the local trains and the long distance trains.  We found our track and time, and then found a grocery store with a deli and bought sandwiches for lunch on the train. 

The train came on time and we got on with a lot of other people.  The seats were in compartments with 6 seats, three facing three, in each compartment.  A lot of them were reserved, but we found two seats in a compartment with only the window seats reserved.  We got our seats, put our luggage in the overhead, and relaxed.  We had a young woman working on her computer and an older businessman in a suit in our compartment.  A little later, a middle aged woman got on and took the other window seat.  The train went through beautiful farm country with lots of rolling fields and little villages.  After a couple of hours, we arrived in Dresden, and the two older people got off, and a 30 something woman got on and took one of the window seats. 

The train left Dresden and went through a long mountain canyon, with lots of outdoor oriented activities such as fishing, whitewater rafting, camping and cycling.  It was really pretty and looked like a great recreation area.  We got to talking with the woman that got on in Dresden.  She was from Vienna, lived with her British husband a couple of hours north of London, and worked selling hospital respiratory ventilation equipment.  She had an 18 month old little boy, and when she had to travel, she left her baby with her mother in Vienna and flew home on weekends.  Her husband is a consultant and travels too, so it worked out for them.  Her favorite restaurant was in Prague, where she fell in love with her husband.  She told us all about it.  It was fun talking with her and learning about issues relating to women in business in Europe.  She had been trained as a lawyer and practiced law in Salzburg before meeting her husband, giving up the law, and moving to England. Frank on Train

We got off the train, and after some confusion in a dirty, crowded, dilapidated train station north of the city center, found the subway and with only one transfer, found the station near our hotel.  It was raining lightly as we got off, and we were able to find the route a few blocks to the hotel, (Hotel Pav) with a map in hand.  We were happy to get in and get dry and warm.  It is a very nice, modern hotel, in a couple of very old buildings.

After getting settled, we wandered out of the hotel, and found a very nice Thai restaurant a couple blocks from the hotel.  It was not run by Thai people, had no portrait of the King of Thailand on the wall, but ended up being very good food.  We finished dinner and went back to the hotel and to bed.

May 22, 2004, Prague:   We slept in a little and made breakfast about 9:30 a.m., ahead of the 10:00 a.m. cutoff time.  The breakfast, included with the room, was good and the breakfast room was full of people.  It looks like tourists sleep in a little later than  business people.  We had a good breakfast and then went back to the room to get ready for the day.  Patty still has to bandage her wounds from the bike crash, and her foot and ankle is still swollen on the top and side.  She has one pair of shoes she can wear that do not hurt too much.Astronomical Clock

We went out and Prague is amazing.  It has never been flattened by a war and has a thousand years of elaborate palaces, churches and buildings.  It was the capital of the Hapsburg empire for a long time and the buildings show it.  Take the Disneyland castle, duplicate it about 10,000 times, put them side-by-side and stick a Notre Dame cathedral in every couple of blocks, and you would have an approximation of Prague.  Everywhere you go, everywhere you turn, there is an amazing building, church, statue, or fountain.  The town also feels like Disneyland because the tourists are shoulder to shoulder everywhere.  The town is packed with them.  There is not room for tour buses, so walking tours are the big deal and everywhere you go, there are tour guides with umbrellas and flags stuck in the air, leading small crowds around.

We walked north from our hotel, which is on the border of new town and old town (but both over 1000 years old) to the main square in Old Town.  The most famous site is the astronomical clock on the city hall tower, which was designed to show the time in three different time keeping systems, including one that started the day at sundown and adjusted the hours for the amount of daylight each day of the year.  While it has needed occasional repair, it still works.  The town fathers liked it so much, they put the eyes of the maker out with a hot poker so he could not make one for any other city.  That is gratitude for you; sort of a hedge fund or Mitt Romney approach to the value of workers.

After the square, we wandered past whole streets that alternated between jewelry stores and fine glass shops.  You have to wonder how they all stay in business.  We made our way, mostly just following the crowds (a little like Venice) through a maze of little winding streets to the Charles Bridge, the oldest standing bridge in Europe, which crosses the river.  It is lined with statues and vendors; crowded with people as it is a pedestrian only street.  The bridge has great views of the castle complex across the river on top of a hill over the river.  We checked out the restaurant suggested to us by the lady on the train, but while the pictures of Hillary Clinton, Arnold Swartzneger, Alberto Tomba and various other celebrities who have eaten there, were fun to look at, and it looked very nice, the prices were out of our comfort zone, so we walked on.Castle from Charles Bridge

The castle complex, the largest such complex in Europe, was the seat of power for the Hapsburg empire for centuries and today houses the offices of the President of the Czech Republic.  We climbed the 1000 steps up to the walls and started to wander around.  About half way through, we saw that we needed a ticket to go onto the "Golden Lane," a street of artisan shops that was build as housing for guards into the castle ramparts.  We bought our ticket and found out that we later needed it to go into the Royal Palace and the St. Vitus Cathedral.  We toured the Golden Lane and the Royal Palace and then walked outside of the castle grounds for lunch.  We went into a little pub looking place and immediately got the tourist treatment, where the waiter did not understand English to answer any questions, but had plenty of English to push what he wanted to sell.  We had a mediocre and overpriced lunch and left kicking ourselves for not being more careful where we went into.

We walked down the hill, saving the Cathedral for tomorrow, and walked through "Little Town," the part of town on the west side of the river, and crossed the bridge up the river from the Charles Bridge.  We walked past the National Theater and then back to the hotel.  We have been trying to hook up for dinner with a friend of Patty's who is the trademark administrator for Billabong in Australia, who is coming into Prague from Berlin today.   No luck yet as the Blackberry service has been a little erratic here in Prague.  We may have to go to dinner alone.Canal and Street

Having heard nothing from the Billabong person, we went to dinner at a restaurant across from the hotel, after taking a walk up to a busy street to get more cash.  It was a nice restaurant, with lace tablecloths and a nice mix of locals and tourists.  Our waitress spoke limited English and the menu was in four languages, one of which was English.  Patty got a chicken breast with cheese on spinach and I got a roast pig leg.  The leg was actually served on a large serving board, with a spit fastened to it, with the roast leg on the spit.  The plate was also on the board, along with dishes of horseradish, mustard, onions and peppers, and catsup.  We both got great salads and the bill was about 10% more than our miserable lunch.  There was live music, with a guy singing mostly sixty's rock and roll, with an occasional country song thrown in.  He sang with a strong Czech accent and occasionally butchered the English  lyrics.  Some songs he sang in Czech and then the chorus in English.  It was fun.  The restaurant bills are pretty funny.  The charge for everything -- there was about a $3 charge for the live music; if you eat bread from the bread basket, you are charged by the piece, and service is included as an extra line item.  All said and done though, we had a great meal for about $40.Pork Roast

After dinner we walked down to the river for the nighttime views of the castle which is lit up beautifully and visible down and across the river.  Lots of people were strolling the river walk and trying to get their digital cameras to capture the nighttime scene.  A light rain started so we headed back to the hotel.

May 23, 2008, Prague:   The morning dawned cool and cloudy, and the weather report was for rain showers.  We dressed warmly, and after breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to walk back up to the castle to see the parts we had not seen yesterday.  It was about a half hour walk and we got there about 10:00 a.m. and the line to get into the cathedral was half way around the building and not moving.  It was starting to rain, so we decided that one more cathedral interior was not worth standing in line in the rain, so we used the unused portion of our ticket to view the St. George church, the oldest church on the castle grounds.  It was apparently unused, the frescos had all faded away, and the only interesting things were the diagram of the crypts that they had unearthed from under the floor, covering about the whole church, and the ritualistic display of some important saintly guy's bones stacked around his grinning skull, displayed behind glass in a shrine.Line at Cathedral

Since it was starting to rain, we scrubbed the trip up the funicular, and decided to go back to Old Town and wander around some more.  We got down from the castle hill, across the Charles Bridge and turned left to walk through the Jewish Quarter, or the northern most section of the Old Town.  We stopped at a coffee shop and each got a latte to sit out the rain and warm up.

After warming up and watching other people deal with the rain, we went back out and wandered around some more, finding he local "Gucci Gulch" with the Gucci, Cartier, and other high end shops.  It was fun to window shop and just wander around.  We got off the normal tourist route and into a section of the town to the east that was less touristy, and stopped at a vegetarian bakery and had a cheese turnover and a cabbage and cheese turnover and some cookies for lunch.  Ironically, the whole lunch cost less than a bottle of water that I bought at the museum shop at the castle.  Oh, the lunch also included a bottle of water.
Patty at Coffe Shop
We wandered around a little more, and after studying our map, and getting some unsolicited friendly advice, we found familiar territory and made it back to the hotel.  It is easy to get lost because the streets do not go very long, typically dead ending into another street or curving around.  Everyone walks around with a map in their hand finding their way.  We got back to the hotel just in time to avoid a hard rain shower and in time to watch most of today's stage of the Giro d'Italia. 

We have to make transportation arrangements to get to the airport tomorrow morning.  We can take a Metro and then a bus, but since we need to be there by 8:00 a.m.  I checked with the hotel desk and they have a car that will take us for 600 Cz, or about $37.50, so we booked that to avoid the hassle and uncertainty.

We are flying from Prague to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, and then on to LAX on Air India, getting into LAX about 4:30 p.m.


  Patty on Bike Tour