The English weather was is it always seems to be these days - wet and windy.
Here a few photos.
Carol with Gambit walking in a rather boggy heath
There must be millions of photos of scenes like this in Prague
It was a surprise to run into someone I know from Australia at St Clement's Anglican Church in Prague. Toby is part of a youth community which has been to our NSW hermitage for programmes to reflect on community life and spirituality.
The following day, totally without problem, I travelled to London and then to Canterbury. I'm now at the friary and beginning my studies for this term. So far I've been collecting a pile of books to read - and very impressive they look - but haven't opened them yet.
This is not what you want to happen in a foreign city, in the middle of winter, at midnight. Fortunately there was an internet cafe in the station and I was able to check on timetables and see that there was a 5.15 am train I could catch. I wouldn't be able to make my flight from Prague though. I thought of other possibilities such as flying to Prague, but there are no
flights from Katowice to Prague.
Resigned to an overnight wait in the station I was about to make myself relatively comfortable in the only slightly above arctic temperature of the cafe when lots of police appeared. There was a bomb scare and we had to evacuate the building. Two hours of waiting in the plaza in front of the station was a unique experience.
The station plaza in a slightly livelier moment
Finally we were allowed back in. No bomb had been found. After several hours of waiting in the circle of hell which is a railway station cafe in the middle of winter I was able to board the first of the three trains to get me back to Prague.
Again - not an easy procedure. The timetable showed the train as going to Ostrova - where I could connect with my next train. But the information boards showed that it was going only as far as Bohumin. This was a deliberate lie. It really was going to Ostrova - and stopping at every
station on the way - all 26 of them.
The plus side of early morning rail travel is watching the sun rise
Warm and on a comfortable train at last
At Ostrova I was able to make some phone calls to alter my flight reservation without too great a penalty fee - and eventually, two other trains and then a metro and tram ride later I was back at the Capuchin Friary in Prague in time to see the camels arrive.
They were sent by the Spanish Embassy and brought their three riders and gifts to where Joseph, Mary and a real baby were standing waiting in front of the friary walls. (January 5th - the eve of the feast of the Epiphany).
Today (Sunday Jan 6th) it's snowing. I'm waiting here until Monday morning when I can catch my flight to London.
Early morning to the airport by taxi - too early for the bus. Was ripped off by the taxi driver - the fare on the meter came to 31.50. I paid him with four ten euro notes because I only had about 75 cents in coins. He put the notes in with his pile of other notes. And then asked for the 1.50. I showed him my 75 cents. He took it and said thank you - and gave me no change. He
said I had only given him three ten-euro notes - and not four. He pulled out three notes from his pile and said that was what I had given him. It was impossible to prove anything. I guess it's one of their oldest tricks!
Arrived at the airport much earlier than I needed to be. But just as well since there was a problem with my luggage. It was 6 kg overweight. But no problem they said - just carry an extra bag with you as cabin luggage. Frantic rearrangement at the check in counter to remove my shampoo and other items which might be used to make a bomb and transfer them to my main bag. Then - while queuing for security I suddenly realise I'm still carrying in that bag my Swiss army knife. Obviously I am a terrorist! Back to the check in counter. Nothing else is possible but to check in my other bag. It's overweight but they don't charge.
You know you're travelling on Austrian Airlines because they play Strauss waltzes before takeoff.
Arrived in Prague and was met by my Capuchin friend, Serafin, and taken back to the 16th century friary where he lives - just above the old castle.
Have been walking round, sightseeing, fighting off the cold. Mass this morning in the cathedral. And more sightseeing to come this afternoon.
The old castle - the cluster of buildings around the cathedral
By night from across the river
St Vitus Cathedral, Prague
Crucifix on the Charles Bridge
With my friend Br Serafin outside his friary