Prague's a fantastic city: cheap, gothic, exciting and inviting. So far it has won the distinction of being our favourite. In Prague there is no such thing of a road not made of cobble stone or bad tasting beer and everywhere you turn there is a castle to explore. We spent most of our time here walking around the old streets and sinking in the magic and the history of the town.
On our first day here we stopped in at some bar/restaurant for the main purpose of using their washroom but decided to grab a pint at the same time. In Czech Republic there is no need to specify which type of beer you want to order – just ask for a 'pivo’ and you’ve got yourself some of the world’s finest brew no matter the kind they serve you
. So the woman waiting the terasse directs us downstairs to order out beer, which seems sketch but we roll with it. We walk down the cast iron staircase into some medieval-like dungeon (but, you know – the nice kind, not the tortured lost souls kind) and order two pivos from the bar. Two minutes later these are brought to us by a burly Czech man, let’s call him Boris, and Dan pays him with a crisp thousand dollar Czech Crown bill (this is unfortunately not as much money as it sounds). Boris, while friendly enough but without smile, counts the change he hands to Dan slowly as he placed the bill directly in Dan’s hand. He walks away once the money owed was paid out, as would be the normal thing to do, but Dan looks perplexed. `Something doesn`t make sense here – I think I was just ripped off` he whispers to me. Now let it be known that though I can handle Canadian, American, Euros and monopoly money just fine – and assuming I’d have no issue with rupees, zlotys or shekels, I cannot for the life of me figure out Czech Crowns. The conversion is not simple and large numbers intimidate me. So, once again, thank god for dan. But I digress…
Dan thinks he`s been jipped so I convince him to speak to Boris to ask how much the beer was and try to figure it out. The thing about Europe, and places like Czech Republic in particular, is they prey on tourists – especially when it comes to money – and even more so when dealing with large bills of foreign currency
. Dan was on guard about this, and rightfully so. So Dan walks back up to the bar and speaks to Boris. Please note that we are the only people in this medieval establishment besides the staff. Also note that at this point all three of us are watching the transaction between Dan and Boris. Dan, ever the polite Canadian, asks Boris how much the beers were. Boris immediately becomes aggressive and defensive. The two staff members look both semi-amused and scared for Dan. No one can hear the conversation but judging by their gestures Boris is about to punch Dan the fuck out – and Dan seems nervous as all hell. For the third time Boris tries to explain the transaction and Dan asks for a pen and paper to write it all down. Boris is raising his voice `ok, it`s good for you?" he booms. "Um, no, not really”, Dan replies meekly. Finally Dan does understand. Dan screwed up and made a mistake. Boris, though really pissed off, did not physically assault Dan. The rest of the staff remained open mouthed with an expression that read “I cannot believe that American questioned Boris. You do not fuck with Boris”. And everything was well again in the world.
In other news, we ate some absinthe ice cream, visited a castle, watched some Czech hockey, ate an authentic and incredible Czech meal (thnk ridiculous amounts of meet and cabbage) and drank a hell of a lot of amazing beer
Our last day in the city we visited the Jewish quarter which was both informative and interesting, We visited the old Jewish cemetery which dated back to the 14th century and held over 12000 bodies (none of which belonged to the holocaust massacre as the cemetery was no longer used by the 19th century). The stones were all toppled on top of each other in every which direction and it was eerie to see so many head stones in one place. We visited some historical synagogues which held exhibits on Jewish culture, past and present.
Later that night we splurged and went to see a string quintet perform classical classics (ha) in a large hall. Their rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon choked me up, as that song usually does. They played wonderfully and we were not disappointed.
We went back ‘home’ relatively early so that we could get an early start on the next day. It rained all night – which sucks when you’re sleeping in a car, let me tell you. It also doesn’t help that Dan insisted on keeping the windows open a crack, so my face was pelted with rain drops that felt like they were from the needle family, until I managed to wake him to close them
. The next day the rain storm persisted and the weather was cold and wet until late afternoon. This has been our first bad spell of weather so far. France was crazy hot hovering around 30 Celsius while we were there. Belgium was also warm at 25. Holland was a little cooler at 20 and Czech Rep, has been as high as 15 but as low as 0 during nights. Although I usually enjoy the cold and despise the heat – I neglected to bring my snow pants or other winter wear – so I hope the weather starts to ‘global warm’ up, if you know what I mean.