Party Time in Prague.

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
Trip End Jun 13, 2004

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004

This weekend in Prague seemed to be all about parties, festivals and events, but then it is that kind of city. I feel quite fortunate that I have arrived in Prague in time for the 1st May. When I set out in March I had no idea where I would be for the big day.

First up was Friday night. When I went into town in the early evening there was a stage up in Wencelas Square, at the opposite end to the museum. A good sized crowd applauded a folk singer who was entertaining them as I passed. Round the corner the street was lined with 26 stalls, one for each member of the EU and the countries who would be members within a few hours and one for the EU itself. they were like small fair stalls, each with the EU and national flag and crowds wandered among them collecting freebies and information. The litter bins around were full of the leaflets!!

As evening wore on I decide to check out a few pubs, had to be done. I started in an Irish pub, Rocky O,Reillys. It's like the superpubs in Dublin. I have to say I didn't particularly like it, but in a gang I'm sure its a good spot. I drank up quite quickly. Next up was Molly Malones a little out from the centre. It was much better, a little quiet, but very friendly and laid back. I stayed for a few pints and got chatting to a young guy from Hastings who used to work here and was back for a weekend. He was very keen to know what I got from cycling, why I do it etc, the kind of questions I should probably asked myself!! Then we both ended up chatting to a retired Czech electrician who looked a bit like "Grandad". aAt one point he talked for 10 minutes about the use of the articles, a, the and no article in English and how hard that was to learn. Typical, deep, meaningful, drink inspired conversations. The barman, a friendly Dub, also had some useful tips on where to find decent places in Prague.

I tried La Casa Blu, a Spanish pub round the corner for one before going back into the centre for midnight. La Casa Blu was really lively, a good spot if you're in Prague. A large crowd was heading in the direction of the river so I just followed them. I ended up on Cechuv Most, one of the bridges in the city. Just before midnight the lights along the river were turned off, gasps from the crowd and minutes later cheers as the fireworks display started. It was well choreographed and although there was no music I sensed that the crowd were treating it like a musical piece. Cheers and applause rippled along the river banks at the end of each movement/piece.

A lone voice in the crowd kept shouting "Suomi', a drunk ice hockey fan? During the height of the display one of the Vlata's resident swans flew low over our heads, obviously terrified by the light and noise. It really looked like it was part of the show and drew laughter and a special round of applause from those on the bridge. The show lasted about 25 minutes. Think of the Halloween fireworks in Derry but maybe 3 times the intensity.

So now I'm back in the EU and all I did was stand on a bridge. The crowd left the bridge with a great buzz of excitement. There were many, many locals and lots of tourists. the Czechs may not be entirely sure about joining the EU, but they certainly enjoyed the fireworks that marked their entry.

On Saturday there were more events around the town, the main one being a united islands of Prague festival. Each of the little islands on the river was given over to a different genre of music, folk, jazz, rock, etc for the weekend. I saw the crowds but never actually made it in to the stages.

In the afternoon I walked around the castle grounds and out into the square in front. There is no denying it, Prague is a beautiful city. The Prague Castle orchestra was performing dramatic folk songs in the square. They were excellent so I listened a while. The singer/flute player was very dynamic, sending the songs into the crowd with broad sweeps of his arm. The bass player bobbed his head hypnotically with his eyes closed, and the accordion player looked like he wanted to dance. They were joined a bit later y a woman in traditional dress who sang and danced a little. I would have bought the CD only its even more to carry.

Looking down towards the river I noticed hat one of the bridges seemed to be moving. There can't be that many people?? But sure enough after climbing down to the famous Charles Bridge it was indeed bunged with tourists. It must be in danger of falling into the river under the weight of all those feet. Artists, photographers and portrait painters line the bridge, but it was hard to get a look at their work. At the far end of the bridge people queued to touch a piece of bronze work, I have no idea why, most of them probably didn't either. A Prague Blarney stone!! There is a lovely little church at the end of the bridge and inside it was calm and peaceful. Many of the churches sell tickets for organ recitals and I considered going to one. (I never did though).

I wanted to go out on the town that night, maybe even see if I could get tickets for an ice hockey game, but I went to bed early. The days of long cycles and last nights drink caught up with me. OK, I faded!!

So after a good nights sleep I was full of beans on Sunday. The highlight of the day was celebrating Sparta Pragues 3-1 win over FC Tescoma Zlin. They had a really dodgy start to the game and were not in it for the first ten minutes. However they scored a goal against the run of play and never looked back. Before the game their mascot, obviously Sparta himself paraded around the ground throwing scarves into the crowd. I was surprised how small the crowd was, no more than 4,000 or so. They were very vociferous though after Sparta's goal.

There was a mad dive for the trams afterwards so I let them get on with it and waited till the second one arrived. I went into town again and explored the bars around the Old Square.

Both Monday and Tuesday nights turned into parties at the hostel. Most of the gang who arrived on Friday stayed around till Wednesday,and as everyone got to know each other so the parties lasted longer. Tuesday was a really good night. Australia, USa, Ireland, France, Argentina, England, were all represented. When the dinner time supplies of beer ran out, groups were sent out in search of more. When that ran out, Zak (US) produced dark rum (much nicer than the Captain Kid some of us actually drank in Peru) and Sylve (France) produced Romanian spirit given to her by friends when she worked there. More weird and wonderful conversations were had and at least a couple of people stayed up to dawn. No I wasn't one of them, believe it or not!!
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