Budapest, Unknown Soldier and “Rain Outs”….only in Europe.
Wednesday April 3, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
Wednesday April 3, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
Have you ever noticed by mid season on grass soccer fields the area in front of the goal is totally void of grass? In case you haven’t, either by accident or on purpose, noticed that little fact trust me it is. But, the soccer people have a large blind spot and never see it, talk about it or acknowledge it might actually be true. However here in Europe if there is a threat of rain, or if it rained in the last month or might rain in the next month, they get very defensive about the grass on ‘Their’ field. They truly believe that playing that other football on wet grass will destroy the entire field. Over the years I’ve had a number of games canceled and wonder of wonders last weeks game Vs the Raiders was one of those casualties. It’s been unreasonably cold here in central Europe this year and in fact it hasn’t been above freezing 0° more than a handful of days since I arrived in February. Rain has not been the issue, that white stuff has. But the temperature climbed to +1 on Wednesday evening and it sprinkled just enough to cause our soccer friends to once again display paranoia to the extreme.
Actually it was a good break for us. Our quarterback was injured and although he would have tried to play it wouldn’t have done him or us, in the long run, any good. He got another week of rest and that will make us a healthy team heading into the game Vs the Danube Dragons in Vienna this coming Saturday. Because their game Vs Graz, along with the Vikings Vs Ranger game, was canceled and they didn’t play last week, our game will be their first of the season. On the other hand, we’ve had a game to work out the kinks and two weeks to get healthy and prepare for an opponent who hasn’t played a game in nine months. All reasons for us to be optimistic.
The other thing about a weather canceled game is…the home team forfeits the game! Unless teams can agree when to reschedule. But the visiting team has no incentive to reschedule, so many times they don’t. Strange rule! Weather, which the home team has no control over, causes a cancelation and the visitor gets a ‘gift’ win. Next season I want all away games in March and April.
I spent our ‘off’ week traveling a bit. I just needed to get out of Dodge for a few days. So, I traveled down the freeway to Budapest, that’s in Hungary and about a six hour drive. I spent a night in Brataslavia which is in Slovakia which used to be part of Czechoslovakia until the split in 1993. Its just across the border from Vienna but has a totally different feel. The Danube runs through it on the way to Budapest and on through Romania to empty into the Black Sea.
I found a nice small hotel in Pest on the south side of the Danube. Budapest is actually two cities, Buda on one side and Pest on the other. It was close to a large statue of an ‘Unknown’ soldier from WWI.
My two nights in Budapest were spent sipping red wine and watching the thunder and lightning show. Nancy and I had a number of visits there in the past. It’s only a two hour train ride from Vienna. One of the trips was over the fourth of July weekend and the light show in the sky was nearly the same, only this time it wasn’t artificial, but mother nature throwing a fit over something she didn’t like.
The fun part of the trip began when after driving back to Prague I tried to find the budget rent a car office. If you’ve ever driven a car anywhere in Europe you will be able to relate. The car place was located in the main train station which is downtown very near city center. I took the subway there to pick up the car and I’ve been there a number of times, but never by car. I got back to Prague at exactly 2 pm on Tuesday, the exact time I had to turn in the car to avoid being charged another days rent, exited the freeway and then the fun began. Combine one way streets, two way streets, no turn right or left when you want to, tram tracks and trams coming and going, with street lights that make no sense and pedestrians everywhere and zero actual straight from A to B streets and you have confusion to the maximum. Never try to go around the block in Europe, there are none. The result is often ending up in Poland. After about thirty minutes I entered an area that is non vehicle, Wenceslaus Square. I’ve done that before in Europe so it didn’t’ bother me much but when the policeman suddenly showed up at my window I got concerned. I wasn’t the first driver to find the no-drive zone so being the good cop, he directed me to the train station. About half a block later I needed more help. fortunately a very nice taxi driver sitting in his taxi pointed out the way. They both had to be laughing because the station was only about 500 meters away. The good news is, I found it. Wow. Then I tried to find the Budget Rent A Car drop off area. That was another twenty minutes and the entry was not in front of the station but rather off the adjacent freeway, not far from where I got off about 1 ½ hours ago. But the fun wasn’t about to stop. Following the ‘Budget’ signs was easy but the barricade in front of the parking area wasn’t about to move out of my way. Another ten minutes to locate someone to show me how to decipher the code to open the gate and I was home free.
I’ve learned to laugh at all this kind of thing and after I explained the reason I was late to turn in the car the attendant just smiled and said, “Welcome to Insanity”, and didn’t charge me an extra day. Nice people here in Europe!
Fortunately I was still well ahead of our practice time and I was anxious to get back to coaching our team. We’ll journey back down to Vienna on Saturday to play the Danube Dragons, another team coached by an ex-player of mine. Should be more fun. I’ll tell you all about it next week.