Oh great - beer capital of the world?

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This is a quote from an earlier entry of this blog:

"...I head to Prague for some relaxation which may well prove to be a life saver...".

Bullshit. Relaxation? Bullshit. Break? Bullshit. And it's not my fault. Truly. The realisation that Prague was not going to be the relaxation haven that I had hoped hit me quite early on. After seeking out my hostel, I went in search of a quiet beer to accompany my reading. On ordering, the bartender said - 15 krona please. Doing the mental arithmetic, and then acting in pure shock, I blurted out, almost pleading with him not to be so ridiculous "but that's less than a dollar".
Bartender: "What?"
Me: "You're killing me." Head slumps. Me. Killing me.The arrival of State prosecutor Shane Master Shane Murphy (for the Respondent your Honour) did not help the cause - far too fresh-eyed and eager to party, clearly not having endured a previous month of death like the world cup road trip of the devil of the death from hell. Having said this, much fun was had experiencing the Prague nightlife. It's a funny town - the nightlife that is. The legendary absinthe and cheap, quality beer are sufficient to cause trouble; the ridiculous amount of red light establishments bring in the english stag parties; the lenient laws bring in the 15 year olds. And then there are groups of old dudes that just get blind all day long. Both in the moment and in reflection, there is a lingering feeling of discomfort about the Prague nightlife that I can't quite identify - not quite dodginess or seadiness - but at least something leading to a slight sense of unease. Still, despite this - much fun indeed. We also found the coolest little pub in the history of Prague, frequented nearly every day. Open top roof bar on the corner of a park - lazy chairs, cheap beer. wicked. brilliant.

My general feeling about the Prague nightlife may just be an extension of my feelings of Prague as a whole. Trying to summarise feelings that you aren't quite certain bout is difficult. Let's start with the expected - Prague - undeniably beautiful. The sun setting over Charles Bridge, the castle in the distance standing grand, is nothing short of magic. Undeniably. As you watch the Vltava flow from the south, you can almost hear Smetan's Die Moldau reaching its climax as it heads to St John's. And you can forgive the crowds, and I mean fucking crowds, of tourists for gazing upward at the transylvanic spires above old town square in the prague night because they are truly magnificent. But away from these tourist zones, which are really quite confined, a different Prague emerges - seemingly troubled, angry, poor; the prevelance of drugs significant. In the end, there were certain roads that we couldn't stand to walk down - just so uncomfortable and depressing. The city, and probably the country, is quite manifestly still recovering from the communist year, the effect of these years much more evident that I thought it would be. And Prague must be one of the most unfriendly places that I have ever been. Ever...

Most people are bothered by the tourists. Me? Not so much, especially being one of them, and having had the expectation that they would be here in droves. Tourists are one thing. Americans, of course, are another. Now, I've been pretty good so far with my portrayal of American tourists, but one interaction in Prague still just makes me laugh. As we walk into the post office, there's this dude, slumped over a package, concern and confusion evident on his face. As we sat down across from him, with a tone of pure helplessness and, of course, an American accent, he said "Man - I don't know what I'm doing." The conversation proceeded like this:
Us: Um - what don't you know how to do?
Him: "I don't know what to do on this package."
Us: "You want to send the package?"
Him: "Yeah - I don't know what to do".
Us: "Mate - you write the address on the front."
Him: "Here?"
Us: "Yeah. Where is says 'adressee'.
Him: "Yeah cool. So you guys gonna get shitty tonight?"
Us: "Uh - what?"
Him: "Get shitty. Y'know - shitty."
Us: "Huh? What?"
Him: Man - I got so shitty last night..."
Etc etc. Fucking funny. Idiot. Apparently he was sending a bottle of absinthe home to himself. To get shitty.

In the end, I don't really know what we did in Prague. Frankly, we didn't see a lot. THe Lorento? Didn't see it. Jewish cemetery? Synagogue? Um... missed them. National Gallery? We were going to but... Museum of Sex Instruments? Conscious pass. Anything Kafka, Dvorak or Smetana related? Not so much. Us? Average... On days of action, which alternated with days of inaction, we did get to a few sights, the most disappointing, and almost the hardest work, being the mini-eiffel tower replica on Petrina Hill. On other days, there was recovery and chill time, the best of these spent lying and sleeping in a park on an island in the middle of the Vltava. Might I saw - the lushest grass ever seen on this earth. The finest sleeping park i have come across in a long while. Brilliant.

So, to summarise - Prague? Beautiful. But just as much as its beauty, its slightly depressing and certainly unfriendly atmosphere will linger in my mind. I can safely say that I harbour no burning ambition to return in the near future.

And so to the Top 5. Well, a new country, a new music top 5 right? Um... no. See, although technically the Czech Republic is a different country to Germany, I thought I should recognise it as a new member of the EU and consider, for the purposes of the Top 5 of the Devil of the Death Rules 2006, all EU countries together. So, instead, I forward the Top 5 achievements of my time in Prague:

5. Climbing St Vitus Cathedrale in 40 degrees with about a million other tourists. One route for up and down. Narrow, spiral staircase. Average...

4. Finding a great variety of instant noodles at the supermarket. Insert 'Living the dream air punch of the devil of the death from hell.'

3. Going for a whole day - Tuesday - in Prague without being offered Marijuana.

2. DOminating 15 year olds at 5 a side soccer.

1. Struggling to eat 1/2 of a 1.4kg roast pork shank. Dominated.

Croatia next. Zagreb it up...
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david on

Great city. I found lots of info on Prague in this blog

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