Oct062017

Trip Report Day 1 SJC-LHR-PRG

No American TV channels on my hotel room TV in Prague is quite a relief after weeks of disaster media impacting my psyche at home in California. Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, California and western states fires, Las Vegas shootings and the unrelenting Trump media shitstorm have taken a toll on many of us far removed from the immediate effects of tragedy in various different ways.

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a psychologist on NPR saying perhaps we don’t need to watch 8 hours of disaster TV every day when it is not directly affecting us. I can’t seem to turn it off.

I have been waiting for a change of scene.

British Airways San Jose to Prague $367.25 round trip

In mid-August I purchased a $367 ticket to fly San Jose SJC to Prague, Czech Republic for this October trip getting an even deeper AARP $65 discount on the $430 ticket price.

My cure for post-travel depression is plan another trip. After five weeks in Europe this summer, I really like the idea of getting out of the USA as much as I can.

Prague was not my first destination choice for Europe, but I chose Prague for a variety of reasons, even though I spent a week in Prague in July.

The primary purposes of this trip are two-fold. Firstly, I wanted to redeem an auction certificate I won last year before it expired for two nights in Monaco. Secondly, I wanted to fly four Aegean flight segments in my quest for Aegean Miles+Bonus and Star Alliance Gold elite member status. Even though I could have flown to many other cities in Germany, Poland and Hungary for about the same price, Prague flights worked out best for Nice, France and the Aegean flights itinerary in terms of cost. 

British Airways B787 last row

I selected an aisle seat in the back of the B787 aircraft for the San Jose-London flight, economy row 43, due to the 2-seat arrangement for the windows in the normally 3-3-3 cabin.

BA 787 Row 43 

Perhaps I would have been better off with the inner seat as a solo flyer. I loved this row of the aircraft when flying with my wife. There is lots of floor space to store stuff beside the seat and an empty seat back pocket on 42A and 42K for storage beside 43B and 43J.

Turned out my seatmate had long legs and was a manspreader crowding my space. That situation and the flight attendant carts in the aisle kept me feeling cramped like I was in a middle seat through the flight.

I was tired and only managed two movies during the flight. One night in 2014, in a hotel room in Bergen, Norway, I watched Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip (2010). The show was originally a British TV series edited into a feature film about two friends on a road trip in northern England focused on restaurant reviews for a magazine article.

Two of the film selections on the BA flight were sequels The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain. They are wonderfully comedic fictionalized travelogues.

LHR Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 

At arrival in LHR Terminal 5 I learned my flight to Prague departed out of Terminal 3. That was an unexpected transit factor. Fortunately no passport control in LHR, which can be a long delay. I always plan for at least two to three hours of transit time at LHR and even longer if changing airlines.

Turned out the best part of going to London Heathrow Terminal 3 as an AAvantage Platinum elite/Oneworld Sapphire flyer was the opportunity to try out the new Cathay Pacific Lounge opened last December.

Cathay Pacific LHR Terminal 3

Cathay Pacific LHR Terminal 3 lounge recently opened in December 2016, according to the receptionist. I was greeted warmly. When the receptionist mentioned showers, I signed up.

Soaking in a rain shower hit the spot after a long-haul flight. It was pleasant to briefly have some space and solitude.

LHR CX7   LHR CX3

LHR CX2   LHR CX5

LHR CX6   LHR CX8

Clean and refreshed I hit the lounge for food. They have a dining room menu with Asian items like steamed dumplings and noodles, but I did not have much of an appetite. I settled for hot carrot soup and a glass of Carlsberg before heading to my Prague flight gate.

The CX lounge has a regular bar, a business center in the back and loads of papers and magazines. Probably seating for 100+ in three areas. I did not snap many photos. Suffice to say it is a nice lounge and certainly preferable to the always crowded Terminal 5 British Airways lounges.

Full Moon Fever

Best part of the Prague flight was seeing the full moon rise.

I have been singing a lot of Tom Petty songs to myself this week. I had the good fortune to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in July 1979 play Salinas, California. That was a great year for Monterey music with The Clash and Peter Tosh playing that summer too at the Monterey Fairgrounds.

Prague without pickpockets

I planned to photograph the bus ticket machine at PRG airport where I was pickpocketed last summer. Turned out I arrived at Terminal 1 and it was the bus stop at terminal 2 where the pickpocket slyly snagged my wallet as I was boarding the airport bus with the summer crowds. It seemed like a different style kiosk and pin pad from the one I used last summer.

PRG Bus ticket

Only two other people were about 30 meters from me as I made my 32 CZK ($1.45USD) ticket purchase for the 119 bus to the Metro A station.

My Diners Club card had $1,500 in cash advances taken out of Prague banks before it was canceled last July. The thief used my PIN number, which I assume they saw or photographed as I made my bus ticket purchase. The PIN number usage made the theft more suspicious. I only received the final dispute ruling last week that the charges were dropped from my account.

I paid coins this time around even though I was all alone at the Prague Airport platform.

Prague Bus 119 takes about 10 to 15 minutes to reach Metro A Nadrazi Veleslavin station. No need to check in again at the Metro with a validated 32 CZK bus ticket good for 90 minutes from the time I stamped it on Bus 119.

PRG Bus 119  

PRG metroA

PRG Metro A line

Another 25 minutes and 8 stops on the metro and I exited at Namestie Miru (Peace Square) in the Vinohrady district of Prague.

IMG_7371

Church of St. Ludmila, Namestie Miru, Prague

After a Chinese food restaurant meal for 95CZK and a pint 39CZK ($6 USD), I was ready to explore Vinohrady.

PRG Chinese-1   PRG Chinese 2

I love this area of Prague with its quiet residential streets where locals outnumber tourists. Nearly every residential street seems to have a neighborhood pub, or three, or five. Wine cafes too.

Vinohrady means vineyards. This area of Prague was historically vineyards planted in the 14th century. I read these days it is known as the expat residential district.

More on Vinohrady after I get some daylight photos of the parks and cemetery…and probably a few more pubs.

July 2017 Prague posts:

Prague, Czechia: Pickpocket stole my wallet on Prague Airport Bus

Prague, Czechia: Park Inn Prague hotel review

Prague, Czechia: Best Western Hotel Kinsky Garden Prague truly boutique

Prague, Czechia: Hotel review Clarion Prague City reward stay

Prague, Czechia: Vyšehrad, Prague far from the madding crowd

January 2017 Prague Posts:

Quick takes on Prague

Ten mile walking tour around Prague (part one)

Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (Part Two)

Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (part 3 Old Town)

Park Inn Prague Hotel Review

Hotel U Medvídků Brewery Prague

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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