I see my noble cuz Stephen from California roughly every three years, thanks in no small part to Mr G Lucas of Marin County and his ever-declining Star Wars franchise. Oh, George, where did it all go wrong?
Anyhoo, it had been three years since the last meetup and no plans had been formulated for 2008. What to do? Stephen suggested Europe, since he was planning a cruise around France, Iberia, and the Med in the late summer. Sounded good, all that was needed was a specific city and a date.
Trouble brewed when I saw his itinerary. We couldn't rendezvous at the start of the trip in Amsterdam because I'd be unable to get time off work -- a colleague would be on his honeymoon at the time and the department was short-staffed. And the end date in Prague clashed with a big business meeting (Saturday 13th September) and my Dad's 70th birthday (Sunday 14th).
Things didn't look good until Stephen suggested combining the holiday with Dad's present, i.e. bring him along for the ride. Dad is Stephen's uncle, so it'd be a family reunion for them as well. Flights, insurance, and accommodation were sorted quickly thanks to this new-fangled t'interweb, and next thing I knew we were on an EasyJet flight to the Czech Republic. Skvělá věc!
Had a great time. Lots of walking on day one to take in the tourist staples (Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral, ye olde Stare Mesto, etc). Dined on dumplings and pork knuckles in the evening too, to immerse ourselves in the culture a little deeper. Day two took us south by train to Karlstejn Castle, before we returned in the evening to the capital city, Wenceslas Square, and a dead horse suspended from the ceiling of a shopping mall.
And day three... well, day three deserves its own blog post, frankly. In retrospect I'm not convinced it was the very best place to take someone for their 70th birthday, but it was quite an experience for the rest of us.