Practically Cousins in Praha

Trip Start Dec 08, 2010
Trip End Dec 24, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Friday, July 13, 2012

Thursday, Day 1. After a breakfast of Nutella on a baguette, Jenna and I headed into the city to explore. As a blow-by-blow of my time in Prague would take ages to write out, here are a few points!

Trams/metro: I got a 24-hour pass for 110 Kc (about $6) for the use of all public transport in Prague. This was a very good purchase, as I hopped on & off constantly throughout the day & night! The ticket machines only take coins, though, so I had to break my 200 at a shop. Bought a bottle of water for 15 kc ($1.50) but the woman at the desk was NOT thrilled. Sorry, but until your ATMs give out smaller bills than 500s and you re-locate to a non-tourist-jammed area, you should probably stock up on change! The metro is your standard underground subway system, but with less signage, absolutely nothing in English, and a confusing letter/color system distinguishing exits & transfers.  Luckily I had my amazing tour guide/semi-local, Jenna, with me! Trams reminded me of the ones in Antwerp, Belgium but wider and a bit cleaner. Trams also take breaks randomly along the line, even if people are on them. Quite annoying when you're just sitting—walking is probably faster most of the time!

Old buildings: Prague is incredibly beautiful. Countless pastel buildings with intricate ornamentation around the windows, doors, eves, etc. Massive doors with carved handles, statues looking down on passersby, and floral hanging baskets draped from balconies—I could never take enough pictures! I can see why the city was spared a lot of destruction during the wars--- it really is a fairytale city. Old town square, the astronomical clock (saw the trumpet player come out at noon), Charles Bridge (amazing views of the city), Prague Castle… all absolutely fabulous.

Street food: Hot cinnamon-roll rings (will look up what they’re called), fried cheese on a bun (think mozzarella stick in a patty form) – so yummy but inspired a run on the second day!

Weather: Apparently I brought it from London with me…. Apparently the temperature dropped 15 degrees while I was there from what it had been to a chilly 65 with rain and wind.  When it cleared up it could be incredibly warm, though, so I was constantly taking off & putting on my hooded shrug. I really hope Italy is warm—I only have one warm set of clothes!

Czech culture: I need to learn more about the traditions & beliefs associated with the Czech people. Puppets, art, and absinthe shops seem to be common.

Nightlife: I’m spoiled in London… not a fan of Prague clubs. It could be that I was very tired and not in the same mental state as others in the club, but there was literally NO door policy at this place. Guys had to pay a little, but no dress code or standards for apparel, behavior or intoxication, apparently. Absolutely shocking what some women were wearing and the "gansta with sunglasses" look seemed acceptable on men. Also, SMOKING is allowed in the club—I remember this briefly still being ok when I started college, but seriously, catch up Prague… not cool. I felt sick after about an hour.  The low-class, brazen self-prostitution of women in the club also took me aback. To borrow Jenna’s words, I wanted to make sure they were ok and didn’t need help getting somewhere safe. Very wild women, unflatteringly dressed and (hopefully?) not aware of how incredibly trashy they looked dancing and offering things to anyone whose eyes strayed. I had no desire to dance or interact with anybody— apparently Rihanna filmed a music video in this club, but that novelty wore thin pretty quickly! A nice British chap bought me a drink, though—grew up down the road from my apartment in Kingston—so random!

Traces of communism: The Soviet radio tower with black babies crawling up the side is very weird-looking and freaky. I need to research it a bit more, but I believe it has something to do with communist oppression and how they treated the Czech people.  The city itself seems trapped in time and years behind the U.S. in infrastructure and culture. Other than a few obviously wealthy individuals, men and women seemed to be dressed like it’s 1995. Seeing Starbucks in Prague seems very, very out of place.Other notes: Bought a camera, as my old one was on its last life and the price was right.

Radio tower: 

Friday. Day 2. 
Woke up very late, as we had gone to bed around 4:30 am (hello sunrise and chirping birds!). Went for a "run" while waiting for everyone to wake up. However, as I somehow got eaten alive by mosquitoes the first night, I became so itchy immediately and couldn’t really run. I got my heart-rate up at a slow jog and then did a powerwalk/jog combination for about 30 minutes. Found a pharmacy and bought some After-Bite—very grateful for the English-speaking pharmacist and her understanding of my issue! Going to be applying that liberally throughout the next few days- incredibly uncomfortable having bites on my knees and ankles =/ Hopefully getting Czech bug-bite drugs means it will work on Czech bugs! So far it seems that I am VERY allergic to their bites =( 

For the afternoon, Jenna & I decided to check out the KGB museum, a small personal collection on display in the touristy Prague 1 area. I’ve always been fascinated with spies and the website promised some communist & Prague history. It was a bit costly for such a small museum (180 kc), but the oddity of it all was worth it in the end! A strange Russian man who clearly has some connection with the organization he’s showing off gave the tour. It started with him handing me a small machine gun, putting a KGB officer cap on my head, and grabbing my camera for a picture. The whole thing was pretty kooky but I wasn’t about to cross this guy! The museum contains a lot of uniforms, weapons, communication devices (phones, radios, etc.), spy gear, and pictures. There is also an exhibit on the labor camps and Lenin’s “death mask” —very creepy. Vladamir Putin’s picture is on the wall too. I might be interested in spies, but I would never, ever want to be on the wrong side of an operation and I am very glad I was born in America . Even though this guy painted a very proud, nationalist picture of the Soviet Union, I could never imagine living under that kind of oppression and secrecy.

Jenna took me to the bus station and waited with me until I boarded & departed. Seriously, it’s like we’re actually cousins who have always known each other—had an amazing time and enjoyed the company of an incredibly grounded, funny, kind individual! I really hope we keep in touch and cross paths again sometime. Thanks for everything Jenna!!

Passing through farm fields beside the highway, 3 more hours til Vienna…
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