Gordon and Pat (dad and stepmom) braved the travel itinerary from hell, consisting of 3 or 4 connections to meet us in Vienna. While Vienna is beautiful and has some of the most impressive architecture in Europe, the weather really affected our ability to explore it properly. It gave us the chance to check out some classic Vienna cafes in our attempts to avoid the rain. We were lucky that our last day was beautiful and we enjoyed walking to the outdoor market, Naschmarkt, where we had lunch and to some of Vienna's beautiful parks.
The real adventure began as many an adventure has in my lifetime: with my dad behind the wheel of a car--in this case our rental car. The plan seemed easy enough, we would drive from Vienna to Prague and possibly stop at a small town along the way. However, driving in a new country is more challenging than you might guess. Road symbols, exit and entry ramps, and availability of gas stations are no longer familiarly predictable. Not to mention the road signs are in a foreign language! Coupled with a GPS and a father who had differing opinions on the best route to take, our first few hours were stressful. I was taken back to meandering road trips from childhood,and I think Jed was taken back to various moments in our trip when I was similarly stubborn about navigating. At one point, the GPS was seriously confused and took us down what appeared to be a farmers driveway in the middle of nowhere. The Czech farmer and his sheep were as confused as us. We continued this way and that and concluded the must be no major roads in rural Czech Republic.
After the fall of communism in Prague, the newly elected president Vaclav Havel invited the Rolling Stones to give a huge celebratory concert. After a long night of carousing and hard drinking with Havel, Mick Jagger asked why the beautiful castle, symbol of Prague, was not lit up at night. Havel responded that as a new democracy, they hardly had money or time to do such frivolous things. To that, ole Mick left £100,000 and his best lighting crew to the president, to work on illuminating the castle. (Note: I did not fact check this because I like the story too much and am afraid of Wikipedia dashing my romanticized rock n roll version from Givi).