Prague

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Prague is a picturesque city. If I had to describe it to you in one sentence, that is how I would do it.
Castles, medieval architecture, narrow cobbled streets, and an art vendor every two steps gives one the sense that on the one hand this city is tourist paradise, and on the other hand, it is tourist hell.
We stepped off the train with every other tourist in the world, only to run into a Czech gentleman named Lou. Lou spoke perfect English and exuded a confident but tired air, as if he had once done well for himself in the Czech mafia but now was just looking to make an honest buck. He told us he had accommodation for 20 Euro, which is more than we were looking to spend, but it was in Wenzeslaus Square, which is the center of town, and we would have our own room. We said hell yes and followed him there.
On the way, Lou was a fount of knowledge. "The pickpockets here are very good, so be careful of the drug addicts and foreigners. Don't change money at the money changing stations, they are a rip-off. They take a huge commission, and some have even been known to give you Bulgarian money, which looks the same but it is useless." He showed us to our room, down a dark hallway, and told us, "I have been told this looks like the Shining. We used to have a great light bulb factory not far from here, but it closed down. Now we import all our bulbs from Poland, and they are such shit, they still haven't figured out how to make a bulb that lasts more than a month. Here's your key, if you need anything you come and find me. I have a date tonight with my girlfriend and I'll be back on this floor come midnight. You know the best thing about getting old?" Lou looked to be about sixty. "Twenty year-old girlfriends. Are you looking to get girls?" Jon and I looked at each other. "Be careful out there. Remember, Czech girls are easy, but they are not stupid."
The morning began bright and early with a great breakfast and my first American coffee since I began this journey, a tasty, refillable, bottomless treat at an expat hangout called Bohemian Bagel. Jon already knew the city, having studied here for a few weeks a couple years ago, so afterward we trekked up the hill to see Prague Castle.
Prague castle had an old feudal look to it, and was a veritable city within a castle. Inside I saw Franz Kafka's house, which brings the number of houses of great authors I have seen up to three: Voltaire in Geneva, Dante in Florence, and now Kafka in Prague. Not bad.
Come nighttime, Jon and I were dead on our feet. Oktoberfest, despite being a day away, was still asserting itself in very worn-out ways. We took a bunch of night shots of the Charles Bridge, grabbed a McFlurry at the local McDonalds, listened to a 1920s jazz band perform on the Charles Bridge, and passed out for a night of 9 glorious hours of sleep.
Next stop: Bratislava, where beer is, according to our guidebook, cheaper than water.
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