Posted by: Chelsea Novak | December 8, 2002

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday was one of those sweet days. Unlike our usual habit of sleeping in until the cat is smacking us in the head for his breakfast, we got up at a respectable hour and trotted off to do some Christmas shopping. At the new shopping-uber-wonder-mecca-mall Letnany we toured around, had some sushi and some thai food and I got to experience the sinus clearing bliss of a glob wasabi in the middle of a piece of nigiri.

We were finished shopping and restocking our food supplies in time to come home before the sun set, and which was remarkable as we were actually able to see the sun. It being Sunday today, the sun is out in its usual splendor with a bright blue sky behind it.

After a quick dinner and a couple games of Text Twist. we set out to see some of holiday Prague at night. We bundled up pretty well, not Canada well, but well enough. I made the fatal error of wearing jeans, the crappiest insulators in history, and hot wearing thermal underwear. Not that I thought that a temperature of minus 2 actually warranted thermal underwear, but I should have known better. I’m Canadian after all.

Anywho, we decided that it was time for me to confront one of my fears and inner shames. It was time, after many years of avoiding it, to go ice skating. About 10 minutes walk from our place, the mobile operator <a Oskar has erected a decent sized skating rink in the middle of the Ovocny Trh (Fruit market). It’s a pretty impressive set-up. Skating on the rink is free, and skate rentals are free if you’re an Oskar customer (which neither of us are) or 20 Kc (One Dollar CAD) if you’re not. All the proceeds from the stake rentals go to the Drop of Hope foundation (Kapka nadeje) for kids with cancer.

The rink is surrounded Christmas trees and stands selling coffee, tea, svarane vino (mulled wine), sausages and bramboracky (Potato pancakes). There’s a sound system for the rink, which should be playing music from a local radio station, but last night was serenading us with choral versions of 80s semi-goth hits. You really haven’t lived until you’ve been skating to a mens choir singing Blasphemous Rumours or Blue Monday.

Anyway, given the location and price of this rink, it was pretty popular last night. We ended up waiting in line to get on for about an hour (which was when I began to rue my choice of pants) and downing a couple of mulled wines to keep warm. The staff at the rink are incredibly nice and accommodating, which helped quell some of my fears. Sadly, for the last 15 minutes of our wait, I was shaking. Partly form the cold, partly from the fear of painful death via ice skate. I could see and hear the whoosh sounds that the skilled ice skaters made as the turned corners and unwittingly scared the crap out of the timid learners making their way around the rink. M assured me that they weren’t the ones that were going to cause me trouble. It was the fellow green skaters who lacked the skill to control themselves as they went careening into a flock of toddlers.

So, I swallowed my fear and went for it. I tried to remember everything my mother and sister (who was a damn good figure skater in her youth) had told me about skating. When I got out there, I was more afraid of the crowds of people, than I was of falling. In fact, I impressed myself. I was going at a moderate speed, but I turning corners, kind of stopping when I wanted to, and, when I went into the middle of the rink, was able to do a couple of turns. Granted these are turns that any 4 year old in a skating class could do, but I still felt proud.

I had a great time. I only skated for about 20-25 minutes as my ankles reminded me that I am NOT a skater and threatened to give out on me. My ankles and I have since had a talk about giving up when I’m having fun and how I really don’t accept any part of my body being “weak.” Even my crunchy sounding knee knows that it at least has to feign strength when the show has started.

The rink will be open until January 6th, so hopefully M and I can get out there again (with warmer pants and have some more winter fun. M and I are even considering going skating on Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto over the holidays. It’s amazing how Christmas-y you can feel without snow. Of course, I’m sure when I arrive in Canada in 11 days, I get more snow than I’ll know what to do with.



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