Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pearls in Prague: Part One

My husband has been a commercial airline pilot for 28 years, since just around the time I gave birth to our fourth son in 1988.  For the last 20 of those years, he has been flying internationally--to places like Rome, Moscow, Dublin, Milan, Brussels...there are too many cities to list, and he can't even count the number of times he has been to each of them.

It is typical for the wives of airline pilots to occasionally tag along on their husbands' working trips, leaving their children in the care of loving grandparents (which is what is known as a win-win situation).  It's a great deal, after all: if there are empty seats up in first class or business class, the spouses of employees can fill them; when they arrive at the trip's destination, they can share the free hotel room provided for flight crew members during the one- or two-day layover.  So for the price of a few meals out, they can enjoy exotic (but very short!) vacations that they might otherwise never be able to afford.

I, however, have not been a typical airline pilot's wife.  Not by a long shot.

Although we did take some trips with our kids (to places like Disney, Notre Dame, and even Bermuda, where my husband's brother was stationed in the Navy), we really didn't fly as much as your average airline couple or family. There were a few good reasons for this.  First of all, even with the enviable perk of free flights, hotel costs and meals out for a family of seven adds up quickly.  When our boys were growing up, making sure that we had the funds to keep up with their Catholic school tuitions took priority over traveling.  Secondly, our boys' mom suffered from a severe case of fear of flying (which, coupled with the crippling separation anxiety that would have ensued if she'd flown off and left her babies behind, was downright debilitating).  And to be honest, once our sons all started playing varsity football and lacrosse, they were unwilling to go away during school vacations if it meant they might have to miss a game or two or lose their starting spots on the team, so they were perfectly happy to be homebodies most of the time.

In the spring of 2011, our oldest son and his wife welcomed twin daughters, our first grandchildren; suddenly my fear of flying started to abate a little and I became, in fact, a frequent flyer.  Flying still made me incredibly nervous, but there was no way I wasn't going to do it.  It's amazing what having your kids and grandkids living far from home will do to cure a phobia like that.  The fear of not being able to see them became greater by far than the fear of sitting in a steel tube 30,000 feet above terra firma.

Most of our travels revolved around visiting our beloved progeny; but in December of 2011, just a few months after the youngest of our five boys started his freshman year at Notre Dame and our nest was well and truly empty, I finally accompanied my husband on one of his working trips.  It was a four-day trip to Nice, and it was spectacular.  During the two-day layover, we were able to make a side trip to Monaco, which was a complete thrill for me.  Between 2011 and 2014, I was quite the jet-setter: I went to Nice, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, and also took two trips to San Juan--each time with my hubby at the controls up front.  But for the past two years, our lives have been so hectic and full and over-scheduled that we haven't been able to fly to far-off lands together.

My husband spends most of his energy making sure that I'm happy and doesn't really ask for much; so when he mentioned, this past summer, that he'd like to have me go on a trip with him sometime soon, I knew that I couldn't say no if just the right trip came up.  Well, it did: a four-day trip to a beautiful European destination, with plenty of seats on the flights there and back.  So...

On Monday night, we took off from NYC and flew across the Atlantic.

We flew over Ireland (the magical land I desperately yearn to visit one day, God willing!).
We flew over Germany (hello, my youngest son!).
And finally, after almosst eight hours in the air, we landed in Prague.
While I was watching our progress on the flight tracker (on my personal TV screen up in business class--I know, I'm spoiled), my husband was looking at this sort of thing.
The trip was a lot more work for him than it was for me, as you can imagine.

But after getting a nice long nap in at the layover hotel (along with a workout for him and a bit of blog-writing for me), we showered, dressed, and took a long walk through the city.  We strolled over the famous Charles Bridge.  We ate a lovely meal at a restaurant near the river that was more upscale than either of us needed.  Then we walked back to the hotel.

Prague, I must say, is just beautiful!
Selfie time!
The Charles Bridge in the distance.
My dinner date.

The famous Prague astronomical clock.
Tomorrow, there'll be lots of sight-seeing and lots of picture-taking, so stay tuned for Part Two.


  1. Oh so pleased you managed to do this. Now are you ever likely to come to Australia? Has your husband ever come here?

  2. So happy you got to do this! And yes ... more pictures please! With you and your hubby in them!