The smells of Europe
Before I delve into the smells of Europe, let me describe our last day in Prague. As our train was not leaving until around 6:30 p.m. (or 18:30 in Europe-speak, in which I am now fluent), we had asked about leaving our bags at the apartment until later in the afternoon and were told this was fine. In the meantime, however, a last-minute reservation came in, and we had to have everything out by 11:00 a.m. This put a slight kink in things. We loaded ourselves up like pack mules and headed across Old Town Square where Jim had earlier seen some taxis. We are pretty sure this guy gave us the “Americans” rate as it was about 3 times what the driver who brought us from the train station to the apartment had charged. Unfortunately, this didn’t dawn on me until he’d driven away. Perhaps that was my karmic payback for all the toilet paper I’d used to blow my nose while in Prague. Every time I used a public or restaurant bathroom, I pocketed a healthy supply.
We found the luggage lockers in the train station and stashed our bags so we could enjoy the rest of the day. The train station happened to be very close to Wenceslas Square, so we walked in that direction. Once we reached the plaza, we could see that something was going on as there was a large crowd. As we approached, we saw that everyone had a bicycle with them. We stood listening to an announcer (who was speaking in Czech), and then everyone lifted their bicycle into the air! I wondered whether they were trying to set a world record or something, but it turned out that they were just expressing their solidarity during a national bicycle appreciation day.
There were all kinds of bikes represented at this rally… bicycles with car steering wheels, bicycles with boomboxes, bicycles with vegetable carts, electric bicycles, folding bicycles… you name it!
We then had our last meal in Prague at a place right in Old Town Square. It was one of my best and healthiest meals there – a lovely piece of salmon over a nice salad. Then we shared a sampling of ice cream. Wow! This ice cream was flavorful. The strawberry had bits of strawberry, the chocolate was like chocolate syrup when it melted… good stuff!
We decided to walk toward the river, and on our way, we passed an unusual art exhibit.
Then we came upon the Charles Bridge. What’s funny is that we almost walked over the Charles Bridge earlier in the week (which I wanted to), but Jim’s iPhone told him that it was the wrong bridge, so we didn’t. See what I mean about traveling with technology??? Unfortunately, today is Saturday, and the bridge was simply mobbed with people, so we decided not to attempt to go over it. However, there was several “sailors” selling boat rides, so we opted for that. It was a short ride, but we saw some lovely views. Excuse the reflections in the photos… the boat was small and enclosed with windows.
Now on to the smells…
The overwhelming smell in London, especially when walking through any park, is dog urine. Dogs have apparently become so popular there that there has been a consensus to consider the smell of dog urine a new part of your acceptable everyday olfactory experiences. I mean, I’m guessing people wouldn’t put up with the smell of human urine, but they have clearly made a decision that dog urine is completely fine. I found the same thing in some areas of Zurich.
The second smell is related to the first smell, and that is sewage and/or trash. People are really living in close quarters here, and all that poop and trash has to go somewhere. Sometimes it wafted out of a street drain or from an alley.
The third smell is cigarette smoke. Europeans still love their cancer sticks. Fortunately, in every place but Prague, smoking was not permitted in restaurants or bars. I guess they have not caught up with that trend yet. Regardless, there are a lot of folks smoking here, and I was commenting to Jim last night about how Parisians must not even be able to taste the food there. (Perhaps why I thought some of it was so bad last time I was there.) With those cigarettes numbing their taste buds, it must just be one bland, tasteless meal after another for them. What a shame!