TRAINS AND TRAMS AND BUSES, OH MY!
We sold our two cars before we left the states to fly to Europe. We knew that we wouldn't be owning a car again for a long time and would be using public transportation from now on. As I anticipated this change, I worried that I wouldn't be able to manage the process especially as a non-speaker of the Czech language.
I am very happy to report that my worries were unfounded as far as transportation is concerned. I now feel confident enough, using the three main modes of public transportation, that I came home from an event last week riding on a bus and the Metro BY MYSELF.
The Metro (or subway train) is exactly like riding on the BART train in the San Francisco area. We used to ride that when we went to visit our son in California. The Metro has three lines-green, yellow, and red that run in different areas of Prague-overlapping in places where a rider can transfer from one line to the next. While we are living in our temporary housing, we will be use the yellow line to get home.
Reading the tram schedule is the challenging part. The first time we boarded a tram to go to their house we found out that we were going the wrong direction. Since the names of the stops are so foreign to us, the only way I knew it was wrong was because my Google Map indicator on my phone showed that we were going away from their house not toward it.
The third means of transportation is the bus. These, of course, go on the same route everyday, but are not limited to the tram lines. They are most often used to go to areas away from the busier city streets, such as to the airport or towns out in the country.
The wonderful thing is that the same pass can be used on all three types of transportation in the city. We signed up and paid for a "Litacka" card which we carry with us at all times. With it, we can hop on any transportation any day of the week. Now we don't have to purchase tickets to ride any longer.
You don't have to swipe the card in a machine while you use the tram, etc, but if you don't have it with you, you could be in real trouble. The city sends out transportation checkers at random who demand to see if your card is valid. If you don't have a valid card, the fine is very high. We were on the Metro a couple days ago when a couple policemen stepped onto the train to check cards. One man showed him a ticket that must have expired. The man kept talking and the policeman kept shaking his head. Of course, we couldn't understand what excuse the man was using. Our stop came up too soon to find out if he got a fine that he had to pay.
The best thing we found to get us around the city is Google Map on our phones. We can type in any address we need to get to and the computer program will tell us exactly how to get there. It tell us which tram or train or bus to use and what time to be at the stop to catch it. It even shows the walking route to go from train to bus, etc. I couldn't manage getting around here without that app, but with my phone and my feet, I'm ready to conquer Prague.