Praha haha

Trip Start May 27, 2010
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28
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Trip End Aug 31, 2011


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Hlavní Mesto Praha,
Monday, November 29, 2010

This week started frustratingly and it was soon obvious that I needed a holiday before the impending bad weather set in and my London commuter glare became even more foul.  A further lesson in commuter etiquette can be found herein, for I am taking it upon myself to educate the wider world about the do's and dont's of the happy little Underground land. 
 
I will now make a list of all the offensive things that happened to me in a 24 hour period of commuting.  I will also make some notes on how these situations can be avoided and provide helpful hints so that anyone reading this rant can benefit from my knowledge. 
 
Monday, 17:48hrs  A sniffing lady sat next to me on the train
 
Now, while coughs and colds are an occupational hazard at this time of year (in countries experiencing cooler climates anyway), it does not excuse people from irritating the rest of the train by incessantly sniffing and defiantly refusing to blow their noses.  At 17:48 on Monday night I was travelling home.  I was lucky enough to get a seat.  I was also lucky enough to have had my iPod on the USB charger at work all day so I had plenty of battery-life to power my iPod for the journey home.  One would think that having your iPod turned up to a reasonably fierce level while listening to the raging melodies of a band like Tool would be enough to drown out the sound of your neighbour's sniffing.  Not this woman.  She was out of control.  I considered offering her a tissue from my handy little pack of Kleenex that I keep in my bag for times when I might happen to have a sniffle.  But I couldn't decide if that would be more offensive than helpful.  I reached into my bag and directed my hand towards the tissues, but the directions I'd given my hand were wrong and instead it landed on the volume button on the side of my iPod.  Yep, was thinking about breaking the second public transport commandment: though shalt not play iPod music too loud.  I decided not to be a sinner and released the iPod from my sweaty grip, instead opting for the "just put up with and try to ignore it" option.  Thankfully that woman left the train minutes later when we arrived at her stop.  The person who took her place was perhaps worse.
 
Monday, 17:56hrs  A chip eating girl sat next to me on the train
 
At first I thought how delightful, the girl next to me is doing the same Sudoku puzzle that I am.  Let's have a competition and see who solves the puzzle first.  I was doomed to lose this race, however, when the seemingly pleasant girl reached into her handbag and unleashed her weapon: a packet of chips.  At this point I was outraged and almost let out an "you can't be serious!", John McEnroe style, but I composed myself, took a deep breath and tried to meditate on the Sudoku before me and the soothing sounds of Eminem, who had now shuffled into my ears.  Just when I thought the girl had taken the packet of chips out of her bag so as to avoid them being squashed, she opened them.  Not only was the rustling sound annoying, I could hear her crunching on them despite the high decibel profanities being screamed into my ears.  It sounds all well and good to eat on the tube.  But it's not.  Not when you're eating those ridiculously loud rice crackers or pork crackling or whatever exotic chips this girl was eating.  It's just not.  It should be forbidden to eat anything loud, smelly, slippery or at all.  It's not fair on the rest of the commuters, and prevents easily irritated people like me from concentrating on their Sudoku.  I kid you not - every single day without fail I complete the Sudoku (the easy one on the back page), but on Monday night it just wasn't happening.  I blame you, chip cruncher. 
 
Tuesday, 08:33hrs  I was pushed in the back by Plunger Girl
 
Sounds innocent enough, right?  Not so.  I got on the bus headed for the train station and all was good as I took my seat next to a young girl who had on her lap a plastic bag containing household items such as a coffee plunger and what looked like a roasting dish.  She looked domestic and therefore harmless enough to sit next to...until the bus came to a stop and the majority of people on board stood up to get off.  Now, when it comes to getting on or off trains or buses, you can go one of two ways: you can push your way through the mob, or you can sit back, exercise patience, wait until there's space, and then take your turn to walk off.  On this occasion I decided to let the cattle in front of me leave the bus first, as I wasn't in a terrible hurry and could afford to wait.  It became obvious that Plunger Girl was in more of a hurry than me, when her dangerously-shaped carry bag wedged itself into the crook of my back and caused me considerable pain until I was able to turn around comfortably and give her the evils she deserved.  Lesson three: don't plunge your plunger into someone else's back.
 
Tuesday, 09:12hrs, 09:14hrs, 09:15hrs  I was cut off while walking to work
 
Why is it so hard for people to walk in a straight line?  I don't get it.  It's really not a difficult exercise.  Three times in five minutes I was cut off by people zig-zagging their way to work.  I've worked out a way to combat this and make sure people walking behind me don't call me a zig-zagger: I pay attention.  It's as simple as that.  Oh, and the slightly obsessive compulsive habit I have of walking on the cracks in the pavement which thus allows me to walk in a straight line.  One instance saw me being herded in a direction I did not want to go, because the guy walking on the outside of me assumed I must've been going the same way as him.  I wanted to prove a point to this dude and make sure he was aware that he was about to step on my toes and cut me off, so I kept walking and deliberately ran into him, causing him to stop and look at me and send a half-hearted apology my way. 
 
Tuesday, 09:16hrs  Witness truck vs pedestrian
 
A pedestrian, obviously in such a hurry that he just couldn't wait for the truck to pass, instead choosing to dart in front of it, being missed by a fraction of an inch.  D*ckhead.  Just don't do it. 
 
Tuesday, 09:16:32hrs  Witness bike vs pedestrian
 
A pedestrian, oblivious to the world around her as she sauntered across the road at a very leisurely pace, while a cyclist with right of way comes along making some strange noise to indicate that she should get off the effing road.  D*ckhead.  Just don't do it. 
 
After all of this mayhem and observation of the general public's lack of commuter etiquette, I was exhausted when I reached my desk and told the girls not to talk to me for a few minutes while I calmed down.  It really is the small things.  But lots of small things = one big thing.  One big thing that serves as a constant reminder that I'm living in one of the biggest cities in the world, with people scurrying around to fulfil their own agendas and showing little regard for humble others going about their business and trying not to get trampled along the way.  People are so stupid that they even need to put signs in the tube directing people to stand on the right-hand side of the escalators and to keep to the right when navigating the corridors.  If everyone would just be a little more observant, open their eyes, pay attention and generally show a bit more consideration, then the world would be such a better place, and I wouldn't have to waste valuable blog space whinging about it all the time. 
 
I turned my mind to the reasons I might've been so frustrated and easily irritated by the daily commute this week.  And I think it was because I was anticipating the fun that lay ahead.  The coming weekend I would make the pilgrimage to Prague for the Christmas markets with Philo.  We hadn't flown together before, and both being nervous flyers I was concerned about the added anxiety I might be taking on board.  We had to make an emergency dash to the local Westfield to stock up on winter gear, in light of the plummeting temperatures and imminent snowfall, and a new camera, in light of the one I broke last week (and still have no recollection of).  On the way to Heathrow we dropped Leticia at Bobby's for him to take care of, trusting that he would keep her well fed and let her out for some exercise to work off the calories from time to time.  The flight to Prague was pleasant and we made it safely with no more than a couple of sweaty palms.  That was the last time any perspiration was seen though, because that night it snowed in Prague, and we froze our bloody tits off. 

Saturday started with some essential purchases - boots, beanies and gloves.  The weather did lots to improve my photography, however, but Prague being so picturesque already didn't make it hard to get a good shot.  We wandered through the Christmas markets and partook in all things Czech, including their mulled wine, crepes and some sauerkraut potato dish for breakfast.  A stroll over Charles Bridge saw us among the other lovely tourists, whose scurrying, zig-zagging and stopping-dead-in-their-tracks style of walking provided yet another source of bemusement and left me with loads of photos with complete strangers in them.  Nonetheless, it was a lovely day to wander through the snowy streets and take it all in.  

We decided that on Sunday we would head up to the castle, so we stopped our sightseeing and concentrated our efforts on finding out about a pub crawl that Gemma had told us about.  None of the information offices could help us (or didn't want to help us?), so we crashed a pub crawl that we discovered on our own and stalked them around the streets so as to avoid the equivalent 10 charge.  The crawl took us to a bagel house where everyone was asked to pay their 10, and where our cover was almost blown when the tour leader answered when I asked where the toilets were.  There were no drinks to be had at the bagel house, and we "studied the menu" very carefully while looking out the corners of our eyes to figure out what was going on with the tour.  And then the target moved.  We made some vocal "actually I don't feel like bagels anymore" comments and got our things together and returned to stealth mode, walking down the street keeping ample distance so as not to be detected by the paid-up pub crawlers.  The mission was aborted however, when the group turned a corner and came to a stop, forcing us to overtake them and pretend to continue past them and over the road.  It was at this point that we decided we had probably been spotted and the group leader was trying to shake us off.  Either that or the tour was destined to be shit.  So we disappeared into the dark street ahead, and ended up at a traditional boozer where we had some of the best food we'd had in a while.  This was to be followed by a lengthy stint at a cocktail bar around the corner, where we tried all sorts of concoctions and left a little bit wobbly.  

On Sunday we made the mission up to the castle where my lack of fitness was on display for all to see.  After about ten steps and 10m on a mildly ascending track I was spent, having to stop on the side for a breather, Phil shaking his head at how unfit I was.  It was embarrassing.  But I plugged on, making it to the top of the hill and thankful that there was a viewing point at which I could take photos and get my breath back.  As it turned out, it was lucky I'd stopped when I did, because the church in the castle was breathtaking enough and I was sure I would die if I lost any more of the air that hadn't yet been expelled from my body.  We tried a couple of pubs in the afternoon and ended up back in the Old Town Square for some dinner and a couple of drinks, before retiring at the hotel for our last night in Prague. 

The snow hadn't eased and, in fact, had gotten worse overnight, so we were a bit unsure as to whether we would make it home ok.  But everything ran smoothly, and the trains and buses got us to the airport in good time, and we arrived at our terminal to see the whole airport covered in a thick layer of white snow.  I wasn't confident that our plane would take off with icy wings, but the robot-arm of the de-icer made its way over and cleared the ice from the plane so that we could take off on schedule.  After Phil assured me that the airports put anti-freeze on the runways so that we wouldn't slide off the end, the plane took off, and we made it home in one piece. 

Prague, never fails to disappoint.  It's an absolutely stunning city, and this trip is another tick off my bucket list. 
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Comments

gemma on

heidi, you should be on that show grumpy old women! 'easily irritated' puts it mildly! ha ha. i had to stop reading at tuesday, your grumpiness was rubbling off!

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