It is 10:30 p.m. here in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and it is now really hitting me that we are in Europe. You really do not get that experience when you are trying to run through airports to get to flights.
Take this morning, for example, our flight from Chicago to London got in a little late. While 30 minutes is not a significant amount of time, it becomes that when you are in a 50-row plane and you are trying to get to a connecting flight that you now have suddenly less than an hour to get to. There was not much of a shock due to the time change, while flights are certainly not ideal sleeping conditions, our flight times helped make the transition much easier. Then when you are in a rush to get to your next flight, you are not really paying attention to what else is going on around you. There is one goal, make your next flight on time (a goal barely attained by the Iowa State volleyball team today. It was looking like half of our group would get stuck behind, but they rallied late and made it before the plane left).
It was when we landed in Prague that it started to become more apparent that we are in a completely different place. You see multiple languages on boards and advertisements inside the airport, apart from just your English instructions. The first language for public address announcements is now Czech, with English coming in second. You look at the flight board, and you no longer see flights to Atlanta or Dallas-Fort Worth, but to Split, Croatia and Warsaw, Poland.
Then you leave the airport, usually the one safe haven for people who have very little knowledge of the foreign languages, and the further you pull away the fewer English signs you see. For me, this sparked my curiosity about what is all out there to see and I actively wanted to look out the windows of our bus and see everything.
While Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic, it is a very English-friendly city. Lots of people have very good grasps of both languages. When we were eating dinner at Coloseum Pizza, the waiters who helped us were both outstanding with both their Czech and their English.
After we ate dinner the rains, which started practically the second we landed in Prague, finally subsided and we were able to take a walking tour of the Charles Bridge. Located over the Vitava River, the stone bridge is over 600 years old and features many beautiful religious statues that have stood the test of time.
The views from the bridge were beautiful.
Tomorrow brings more sightseeing, but also volleyball. The team will start out with a tour of the Prague Castle in the morning. Iowa State will play its first match of the trip against the club team PVK Olympa Praha. PVK has been runners-up in their domestic league for the last three seasons. However, due to the 2015 European Volleyball Championship qualifying that is going on right now. We really don’t know how much this will effect PVK, but our sources have said that it will.