Extract: 2 unsuspecting tourists +1 ...

Trip Start Jul 27, 2000
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3
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Trip End Aug 17, 2000


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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Thursday, August 3, 2000

Extract:

2 unsuspecting tourists
+1 marrionnette show
+8 Roman scrolls with pornographic magazine clip outs

= 1 weird night out

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Preface:

We are now in Budapest. Our stay here so far has been pretty slick but we are both exausted from staying in a cramped, loud and hot student accomidation... I'll try keep my eyes opened until I finish this entry :)

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-- Overnight to Prague

Although we had no reservations for the overnight couchette to Prague from Frankfurt, we decided to try our luck and see if there was room for 2 more bleary eyed travellers on the train to Prague from Frankfurt. After my high speed jaunt down the autobahn ( from the last entry ), we luckly found out that we could squat in on 2 extra beds in an available couchette...

The cramped spaces of a six person couchette and the loud train noises made it nearly impossible to sleep but we were so excited at the idea of being on our way to Prague that we couldn't sleep anyways, so with toughts of Prague on our mind and ridiculously content grins on our faces we watch the passing lights and trains as our own train chugged it's way through the German-Czech border...

-- Prague Day 1

Although expensive at 90$ US a night, it was a nice surprise to see the posh accomidations in downtown Prague which we managed to get a reservation for. The lofty cottage like rooms and make shift double bed was a welcome retreat after a night of practicly no sleep.

To quickly get ourselves aquainted with the city we headed straight for the first tour bus in sight. The tour, which was great for orientation, was fairly mind numbing. The tour was conducted by a 20ish young chech man who's lack of enthusiasm would put that professor in "Ferris Buller's Day Off" to shame ( You know the one who would call out questions and say "Anyone?... Anyone?... Anyone?... Anyone?... Anyone?... " Anyways... he was dull :) ) ... To top it off, it rained furiously during the walking part of the tour...

Half asleep and drenched we napped and slummed the rest of the day.

-- Prague Day 2

Prague is jammed packed with sites. The streets and houses are enough by themselves to use up all of your film not to mention the castles, squares and bridges. The attached photos will give you an idea of what I mean but I only uploaded a few... The only bad part about it being so nice, is that it's beauty is not a well kept secret... it's pratically impossible to find a square inch of soil in prague without a bushy tailed tourist clicking a camera...

I'll go over some of the sights that we feasted our eyes on but there are just too many too cover in one entry...

- The Astronomical Clock

Every hour, everyone gathers around the clock...

On the hour, 2 little blue windows open and little figures move and rotate to a ring bell, it's slightly amuzing the first time, but the clock itself it something that just needs to be seen ( See Photo )

It's said that after the genius who built this grand clock finished the construction, his king burned his eyes out with hot pokers so that he couldn't reproduce it for anyone else. The Master clocksmith, then blinded, found his way up the clock and broke the gears in retalliation, it apparently took them 80 years to fix the clock again.

... now that's gratitude!

I uploaded an MPG of the clock when it chimes, so you can see for yourself...

- The Castle

The Prague Castle is magnificantly perched on a hill next to the city. A walk, which is not for the faint of heart, up the hill to the castle is well worth it. The Gothic and Romanesque buildings are quite nice and, if you can bear being seen with a big blue telephone'like device succled to your ear while you strut through the castle, you can get yourself an audio tour to get all the goods on who killed who in which room and all the juicy bits you would miss without it. We coughed up the 10 bucks and let our little blue guide phoe takes around he castle.

The castle had some great cathedrals which I couldn't help but to unload my full arsenal of diskettes on by taking pictures of just about everything, I uploaded a few.

- The Jewish Getto

Although not cheap we headed to the graveyard and museum in the Jewish Getto. The cemetary was my favorite. Although that may sound a little eery, looking at the pictures you'll see why. The cemetary is straight out of sleepy hollow with it's beautifully inscripted head stones leaning over on each other.

As we walked down the cobble stone streets of the getto, a great little street market surrounded us. Apparently, fosilized, 500 million year old, stalagmites ae excavated all over the czech republic and an archeoligist had a booth setup in the market to sell his finds. After some intensely gratifying bargaining we managed to scoop up some of the nice ( and cheap :) ) ones...

- The Marrionnettes

2 unsuspecting tourists
+1 marrionnette show
+8 Roman scrolls with pornographic magazine clip outs

= 1 weird night out

Mozart's Don Gionvani played first in Prague centuries ago and to this day you can see the opera in about 10 or so theaters here... you can also see the marionette version, something Prague is famous for apparently. Having never seen a puppet show we decided to catch the 8pm show that night.

With my camera ready, the curtain came up... it took about 30 minutes before I noticed that something was a little off... I think it was when the roman scrolls with pornography ( see picture, it's kind of had to describe :) ) clip outs were strewn across the stage that we figured out that this wasn't a 100% re-enactement of the original. Seeing as he Opera was in italian we had no idea what was being said by the puppets but a one scene had the main puppet violently bashing his head up agaisn't a stone wall. Not quite sure how it all fitted in together the plot weakened a little after that...

Although mildly amusing, we quietly tip toed to the door at the intermission, got a bottle of wine and headed back to our quiet little room...

-- Shopping Day

Over the last 2 days a fully itemized mental inventory of all of the goodies we wanted to buy before leaving was building up and it was time to shop! The highlight of our discustingly ravenous shopping spree was my purchase of a certain, one Don Quejote. A 3 foot high marrionette who is currently enjoying a leasurly flight on the Budapest Postal Air service, one way, to Ottawa... or so they say...

-- Food and Drink

Meat, meat and of course meat. The Czech meal of choice ( for me atleast :) ) was the goulash. Our hotel sat ontop of one of the finest authentic cezch restaurants in Prague, the U Medvicu. The goulash, which is a mix of shopped beef with a mystery sauce which has a consistancy which leaves alot to the imagination, is yummy!

The local Budvar, which is also called Budweiser was our best pick for beer. Budvar has been in litigation with the American Budweiser for years about the name. Although there may be some uncertainty of who owns the name, it's pretty clear which one tastes best. The U Medvicu bar was fully kitted out with all of the Budvar merchandise ( Hats, mugs shirts ) but my favorite was a picture of God bursting through a big old cloud overlooking a small czech village with a tall glass of Budvar in hand, now THAT'S religion! :)

-- The reservations

It was time to get our act together. Decisions needed to be made, trains needed to be booked, phones system needed to be mastered and hotels were in desperate need of reservations if we were to succesful navigate the rest of Eastern Europe without some kind of catastrophy.

...
...
...

So, there we sat in our room later that evening after a fine bottle of Czech wine, 13 Canada Direct calls to Poland and Hungary and 6 bags of mixed nuts by the light of an emergency candle from my first aid kit...

"Ahhh, all done" we both sigh...

It was decided, Krakow (Poland) then Hungary then Austria. Lines were already creased into the map were our next week would take us and all the reservations were done...

We were able to enjoy the next day with the calm glow that comes from a properly planed trip. With a clever smirk on our faces we sat in our chairs on the main square in Prague with a beer in hand waiting for our midnight train to Krakow...

-- "Wait a minute, this seems a little odd..."

"VISA REQUIREMENTS: Citizens of USA, Luxember, France, Germany and Spain do not require visa's" reads the new Eastern Europe Lonely Planet guide we had purchased hours before.

"Huh, thats odd... what about Canada?" I say to Julie now still calm...
"No that can't be, why should we need Visas if americans are allowed in?"

I franticly flip through the pages to the other countries to see if Canada was implied when the US was mentioned for Visa requirements...

"Hungary? Nope we're ok there..."

Flip, flip, flip...

"Austria? Nope ok there too..."

Flip, flip, flip...

"Damn!" ...

It wasn't implied...

With jaws hanging low, eyes wide opened as if we'd seen a ghost, the kind Tousist Office agent explained to us that it took 2 days to get a Visa for Canadian Citizens to Poland.

With just a few hours before our train to Poland we had to make some quick decisions...

After the inital shock and realization that if we hadn't found this out before we had left for Poland we would have been ripped from our cozy little sleepers at 3AM and held at a polish visa office for 2 days, we flipped through he Eastern Europe guide to quickly establish a new plan of attack...

"Straight to Austria, maybe?"
"How about Turkey? No that's too far..."
"Hummm... Straight to Budapest then..."

Some tough decisions were made, and Poland, sadly, was the sacrificial lamb... we had decided to head for Budapest, Hungary.

The next few hours we fairly solem and quiet but as it finally soaked in, with heads hung low and feet dragging, we made our way to our overnight train to Budapest.

Looking back, that clever, unplanned for, decision made on the plan ride over to go to Poland wasn't all that clever after all :(

-- "This doesn't taste like toffee!"

It was our first sleeper that we had ever taken on a train. A sleeper is a like couchette ( A 6 person sleeping cabin ) but with only 2 beds. It was a nice surprise to see the posh little cabin waiting for us, we really didn't know what to expect. The cabin had ample room to move and free bottled water, something pretty rare in Europe. Like kids with a new toy, we quickly examined every square inch of our newly found oasis. Water, mirror, extra pillow and a 2, eraser sized wrapped goodies... one pink and one white.

"Look Julie, we even get some candies with our room" I say with geniune warm hearted appreciation of the hospitaility we had been given.

...

Now, most test the water before diving into the pool but for reason, I decided to jump right in without any concern of how bitterly cold that water might be... and let me say... it was freezing!

...

Without hesitating, I cracked open our bed time treat and took a big, mouth filling, gut wrenching bite into our bed time ... SOAP.

3 glasses of complimentary water and 10 thorough toothbrushing's later, I was able to swallow again without gagging...

--

And here we are... in Budapest... We leave for Austria tomorrow so I'll have an entry on Budapest soon were I'll tell you all about our naked and lubricated adventures in the Roman Thermal Baths... till then...

Ciao!
Luc and Julie...
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