MY IVF JOURNEY IN PRAGUE
Ah…. in Prague at last! I’ve added a few pictures of the scenery, but my photographic skills cannot do justice to this charming, gorgeous city. Every block is unique, the architecture is extraordinary. I’m happiest skipping the tourist sites and just walking, wandering down the next alley that makes me curious. One spot I had to revisit…. There is a little footbridge over a canal, and there are hundreds of locks stuck to the rails. On our first visit we were fortunate to run across this while a Spanish tour guide was explaining. I had just enough Spanish to find out that it’s like carving initials in a tree; lovers lock their lock to the bridge, and throw the key in the canal, to seal their affection. (I suppose they could get bolt cutters but that’s besides the point….) My husband bought a lock in Zlin, scratched our initials in the bottom, and on our last day here we ceremoniously stuck it on the bridge. Today I found our lock! It’s jammed on there and twisted around but I felt the scratches in the bottom and managed to turn it enough to see. It was nice to find our little memento…..
If you are travelling to Brno or Zlin for treatment, you can skip Prague altogether…. but it would be such a shame to not take at least a few days to explore this city. You can find all the information on the sites in any travel guide. My thought for this blog however was to share some basic travel information to make this journey feel less daunting for any un-seasoned travelers who are bit intimidated by travelling for treatment.
I will spare the details of an awful airline experience here. Let these few tips suffice…… Try to get a direct flight into Prague. Do your transferring in your home country if possible, or a European airport with which you are familiar. My first time here, directly to Prague from JFK in NY, was smooth and hassle free. This trip was not. In particular…..if you must transfer through Frankfurt airport from outside the Eurozone, allow yourself at least, at the VERY least, 2 whole hours. It takes more than an hour to accomodate delays, customs, misinformation, luggage transfer and a total maze of an airport. Also, empty your water bottle before you leave the plane. They made me stand there and drink the whole 20 oz of water I had left. Would not allow me to dump it or throw it out. This is just before running, and I mean running, to catch my plane, with stomach sloshing. And do remember you are on high doses of estrogen, which can make even minor inconveniences seem monumental….. Ah well, I’m here, my luggage caught up 8 hours later and I have clean underwear, so I’m happy now.
In the tourist areas of Prague everyone speaks English. Menus are in English, and there are English translations at every tourist site. Even service personnel and cashiers in the small shops have enough English vocabulary to do their jobs, and they will be able to communicate with you effectively. The public transportation is clean, cheap and safe. The only confusion I’ve had is finding metro stations…. sometimes they look like a store or are otherwise well-disguised! I included a photo of the Malostranska station so you can see what I mean. You can buy a transport ticket for one day, good for tram, metro and bus, at any shop where you’d buy a newspaper or a soft drink. At the airport or information centers, you can buy tickets that are good for several days. Just punch it the first time you jump on the tram and then you’re good to go in case you get checked. I’ve never been checked on the tram but I have on the metro.
Our hotel is in the Mala Strana area. I’ve stayed here both times, and it feels like home. Our hotel is just 3 tram stops, walking distance, from the Charles Bridge. Yet the hotels are a bit cheaper than places closer to or on the other side of the bridge, and there is a sense of a neighborhood, not just tourists.
Chivalry is alive and well in CZ. My mother does not particularly appreciate it. She looks great for mid-60s, but she has finally stopped coloring her hair, and let it go natural – white. Apparently that’s enough to qualify as ‘elderly’ - every time she gets on a tram a young man stands up to give her a seat, ha! She graciously takes the seat, but I bet the first thing she does when she gets home is dye her hair again! I’ve heard people say they’ve encountered a lot of rudeness in Prague, but I have not had that experience at all. I have found the Czech people to be incredibly helpful and polite at all turns.
Onto my cycle news….. They retrieved 9 mature eggs from my donor, 8 fertilized. As of today 2 have expired, but the other 6 are plugging along nicely! I do not know what time my appointment will be, the doctors will judge how the embies are doing before they schedule it….. So glad to have Prague as a distraction as I await my final embie report tomorrow and my transfer on Friday!!