Sometimes Google Maps is not our friend. Today, for example, we plunked in the name of the Prague central train station expecting a 15 minute walk from our hotel. For whatever reason, Google Maps insisted we take the Metro and refused to provide us with walking directions. Now, I realize this is a 1st world concern but when you’re trying to catch a train at a particular time, this sort of uncooperation can be unnerving. We decided to placate Google Maps, took the Metro and arrived just in time to board our train for Vienna.
We reserved our seats, which were facing another pair of seats with a table between us. First, we met a lovely mother and daughter from the Czech Republic who were off to a national recitation competition. Caroline will compete with other national winners with her short story from Jonathan Livingston Seagull. She and her mother are talented artists — she paints on clothing with acrylics, sketches and plays no less than 5 musical instruments. Her mom says she gets her inspiration from Caroline and has also begun to sketch and paint — we saw photos of both their work, so I asked if Caroline would make a sketch for me and she graciously agreed. What a gift!
We reached their stop, said our good-byes and off they went. I hope they will visit Canada someday and come to stay with us.
Not long after, a young, newly married couple slipped into the seats across from us and explained that they had reserved seats in 1st class, however, their seats were taken and they had been waiting for 2 hours in the restaurant car for the situation to be resolved. The resolution was seating in 2nd class with us and what a good thing! At least for us.
The groom, we learned, was from Oman and his bride lives in United Arab Emirates. She wore the customary head-covering and discreetly shared with me photos of her stunning wedding dress, the elaborate decorations of the “ladies’ party” and the intricate and delicate henna work on her hands and arms. I felt I had met a Prince and Princess, and yet, they were without pretension — open and accepting, offering the generous hospitality we have come to appreciate from our Arab friends.
We talked about our countries and customs, of travel and family life, and hopes and dreams for the future. It was heartening to hear of her love for education; she holds a masters degree and he is on his way to acquiring one as well.
We arrived in Vienna, wished them well with a small gift I had packed for just such an occasion, and stepped into the sweltering heat of the cultural centre of Austria. Later, we plan to meet Brendan for dinner, but meanwhile will attempt to keep cool in these 30+ degree temperatures. Another gift of a day!