Stafka! Stafka! Stafka!
Trip Start Jun 08, 2008
24Trip End Jul 09, 2008
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We woke up on time and even had a lovely breakfast in the basement of our pension; it was the first time I had eaten eggs in nearly two weeks. As we were leaving Pension City with our packs on our backs, Thomas warned us that there would be a nationwide transit strike that afternoon for one hour but that our train to Brno should not be affected. That's the funny thing about the word "should," it never really works out in your favor...
After walking the mile or two to the train station I bought the tickets with surprisingly very little difficulty. While I was waiting for the train my stomach began churning and I figured I would use the station bathroom since the train bathrooms tend to be a little bit... frightening. I walk into the restroom but get yelled at by a woman in a little office located inside the restroom area. I try to explain to her in my best attempt at Czech that I need to use the toilet, to which she responds to by showing me a piece of paper with price listings. Apparently there are varying charges according to what you want to do in the restroom. Taking a piss? 5 Krowns. Taking a dump? 15 Krowns. Wonderful.
After trying to decipher the paper and my stomach getting increasingly angry with me I decide to just give her the highest listed price so I could get on with it. She then asked me if I would like paper, well of course I would; I am using the toilet after all. She proceeded to slowly hand me one square of toilet paper. Thanks a lot; that came in real handy.
After that ordeal I assumed my troubles for the day were over, and I could kick back and sleep for the six hour train ride. Nope.
About three hours into our train ride I was in a deep slumber when the train came to a screeching halt which jarred me from my sleep. From my groggy eyes I could see we were in some village and a lot of people were filing off the train, I just assumed this was their stop and I went back to sleep. I was again woken from my nap by a rampaging Czech woman who was screaming through the train cars and then smashed through to the door to my compartment. She started to yell at me one single word over and over again, "Stafka! Stafka! Stafka!" I thought that she was saying this was our stop, so I showed her my ticket and said, "No! Brno! Brno!" This only further enraged the woman and she proceeded to forcefully push me out of the car while dragging my bag behind her, all the while I am trying to tell her that I want to go to Brno not Stafka.
I was eventually thrown out of the train onto the tracks, along with Johnny and our backpacks. When I looked around I saw that I was in a dusty little village called Veseli nad Luznici, along with all the other passengers of our train. That's when it dawned on me that the strike was taking place at this moment and that Stafka was not the city but the Czech word for strike. We found a seat under an awning of the village train station and began to play cards until our train began to run again. Around a half hour into the strike our train left back towards Plzen and we were effectively left stranded in Veseli nad Luznici.
We waited, and then waited some more. We befriended a group of high school students from Plzen who were also left stranged and Johnny wowed them and their teachers with magic tricks. When Johnny refused the teacher's offer of a swig out of his flask the students were no longer so happy with him, and we were now left friendless and stranded in Veseli nad Luznici. When the strike was over there was still no train for us to take to Brno, so we waited some more. It was not until the sun was beginning to set three hours later that a train finally came chugging along the tracks to take us to Brno.
I began to realize that transportation was half the experience when traveling through Eastern Europe.