Ahoy!: how Czech people and pirates alike say bye

Trip Start Sep 27, 2005
Trip End Oct 26, 2005

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Monday, October 24, 2005

I just flew in from Milan ... and boy, are my arms tired!
Not only is that not funny, it was unfortunately not true either.
The 23rd (it doesn't get assigned a day of the week because it really could have been any day and it would have been all the same) was, other than arriving at and leaving Europe, my most intense travel day. Starting at 6AM from Milan, I then successively hit Verona (said wassup to Romeo), Innsbruck, Munich (there's my train station again!), and then ended up in Prague round about 11PM. Not much interesting to report beyond the toilets on the train, rather than sit atop some sort of receptacle canteen, are little more than seats above a hole leading through the train directly onto the tracks. Eeewwww ...
Why Prague? Well my good friend Alex is studying there for the semester, and meet we did when I got in that night. She's there studying Jewish stuff (those of you who know her are no doubt shocked) and has a sweet little place with a few other girls from her program.
First order of business was to find some of this Czech beer that I had heard was so legendary. As we got ready to go out, I consulted my guidebook about how to communicate in the Czech Republic, learning that everyone speaks Czech, some English, and most Russian, though the Russian is not always appreciated. Go figure.
Related tip for you: when you go into a bar to order your first drink in a foreign country, don't do it in the language of their former military occupiers. Even if you're smiling.
Though yes, everyone in the place did stop and look at me, and yes I thought one of dudes might try to start a fight, the only thing that erupted was a good time. Largely, I believe, because I picked good songs on the jukebox. Mr. Angrypants ended up being a really cool firefighter named Vaslav (as is half the male population of the place) and we had a hilarious English/Russian/Czech/Spanish time. I'm not sure how the Spanish snuck in there but it somehow filled the gaps where the other languages failed to find common ground.
The next day, after her midterm, Alex took me around the Jewish quarter, which was lovely, up to Prague's mini-version of the Eiffel Tower, and to the greatest raspberry cheesecake I've ever had in my life. Oh and more Czech beer, I think we made it to seven different kinds during my 2 days there.
The last day, however, proved to be one of the coolest of my trip. There is a town called Kutná Hora about an hour outside of Prague where there are a lot of beautiful things but the only place everyone really wants to see is the church made of human bones. Yessir, 40,000 folks contributed in the most intimate way that I can think of to the construction of this place. Not a whole lot I can do to describe it better than the pictures and videos that are posted can.
On the way back I wrote Czech jokes.
OK, so what is called when the government does a census? A Czech list.
What would you call a customer of a trampoline store? A bounced Czech.
OK, how about if I meet my wife there? Czech mate.
After almost getting charged 500 Koruna for having the wrong subway ticket (thank you Alex for saving me there!), we cruised by Prague Castle and, my personal favorite, the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments (now with over 60 unique displays of ways to make you feel oww-ey). Perhaps it was a fitting end to my adventure (because of its scratch-your-head wow-ness rather than my trip being actual torture).
I then said my farewell to Alex and Prague and boarded the overnight back to where it all began: Munich train station. A hop, skip, and 11-hour flight later, I was back in sunny Los Angeles.
What did we learn this month? Well, for starters, I kept a running list of adjectives that I felt described my trek at different given moments: exciting, nerve-wracking, fun, absurd, surprising, challenging, redeeming, wacky, lonely, educational, reflective, satisfying, social, and ending at randomly awesome and unforgettable. I definitely remember the people I met and experiences we shared much more than the places I saw; I reaffirmed that, while more of a headache at times, having the most poorly planned trip ever offers its own rewards; I got my first taste of it and am eager for much more; I listened, learned, and laughed which in my book are about the 3 of the most important things you can do that start with the letter L. I loved this time too.
Thank you for reading.

Moral of the story: What do you call it when we take Dracula to Prague and take him through the process of becoming a citizen? Czech-ing a Count.
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