What do you mean, no! YOU HAVE TO! Its one of my favorite cities!" After hearing that about 20 times we were like... okay!... we're going! I think our Aussie friend Nicole put it perfectly, "It's what I expected Paris to look like." Its a beautiful city with big old buildings and pretty spires everywhere, complete with a river coursing through it
. Hard to beat. Paris has similar architecture, but not nearly as much. And it costs a bit more. So, if anyone ever asks me, "Paris or Prague?" The answer is definitely Prague. =) However, Paris does have snails... but Prague has the REAL absinthe.
Our first day we arrived in the afternoon after taking a train and then a bus, which we barely just managed to squeeze onto. We had no way of purchasing reservations for the bus ahead of time. So we just had to chance that we would be able to buy the seats in the 30min interval we had after arriving at the train station, finding the bus station, and then finding the bus. Somehow.. it all worked out. There were only a few empty seats, and we were both allowed on.
We spent the evening just wandering around the Old Town of Prague. Like I said before, it's beautiful. It really is how I pictured Paris to be. It also has an old clock tower, like the Glockenspiel in Munich. lol, except its even worse. The Glockenspiel was voted the #2 most overrated tourist attraction in Europe... well the clock tower in Prague is #1. And there was still that same silly crowd of tourists videotaping the whole damned thing. What in the hell is wrong with these people. Why would you ever be so bored out of your mind at home that you would rewatch such an anticlimactic moment of your life? lol.
This is where fate sets in. lol, I love that about these travels. One thing leads to another, and suddenly you have an amazing night that you never planned or expected with people you had no reason to meet (and never will again), and all because I had to pee. Public toilets aren't so big in Europe..
. and if you do find them, they cost money. We couldn't even find a pay toilet anywhere near where we were in the Old Town, so our option was... pay for something in a bar and use the toilet there... or take the tram all the way back to the hostel, which probably meant our night was over (it costs money to use the tram, and it's a good half hour journey when you count in the time spent waiting for the tram plus riding it). Obviously, the bar was the more attractive option, but we went for the hostel instead. I dunno why really. Just did. So I peed back at the hostel and it was wonderful. ...Now what the hell do we do...? There's a bar in the basement downstairs, so we were like hell... we got a lil extra money for the day, might as well drink it away. We got a couple half pints and immediately met a group of people from several countries, all just sitting in a big circle talking. No one knew more than one other person in the circle, so we all just talked and talked about our travels (an easy yet always interesting topic). A couple of the guys mentioned they were probably headed to an absinthe bar later. That caught mine and Chris' attention. We had hoped to run into one in France, but it just never happened. I knew they had them in Amsterdam, but apparently they do in the Czech Republic. And ever since watching Moulin Rouge, lol, I've just been curious about trying it. After more conversation it was decided the entire circle of people, all of whom just met, were goin to find this absinthe bar. We were already tipsy from the beers we were drinking in the bar... and around 11pm I found myself carried along with the crowd back to the Old Town to find the green fairy.
This bar was pretty neat. It was the real deal, which was what I wanted. So absinthe can only be found in varying strengths in different countries. Back home, its completely devoid of wormwood..
. the hallucinogenic ingredient (its illegal). In Europe, you can find it in different strengths depending on whats legal in that country... Chris and I think the waitress had said it was only legal in Switzlerand, France, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (I could be wrong), and only the Czech Republic has it in 100mg/ml. The 10mg/ml is not hallucinogenic.... the 35mg/ml MIGHT be... and the 100mg/ml apparently is. There's no way we could afford the 100mg/ml... lol, it was something like 1000 koruna, which is $60, for one drink/shot. It also comes with varying degrees of alcohol, which doesn't have any effect on whether or not you hallucinate. You just need greater than 50% to be able to do the "fire absinthe". Chris and I stuck with a brand called Absinthe Reality (oooh, oxymorons), and did it "fire". So.. now there are two ways to do it- "water" and "fire". We think water is the traditional way its done in the rest of Europe. In both ways, the absinthe is in a glass... there's a spoon over the glass with a sugar cube over it... and then water is dripped onto the sugar cube so that it melts into the glass. With the "water" version, more water is added after and it becomes the kinda drink you sip and enjoy. In the "fire" version, the sugar (which has been dipped in the absinthe so it has the alcohol on it) is lit on fire, and you get to watch everything burn. Oooooooh.... fiiiiiiiire. =) The waitress mixes the sugar in and out of the glass with the fire for a minute or so. Very freakin neato to watch
. Then she mixes the sugar in the absinthe and hands you the overly sized shot. You get a spoon full of moist sugar as your chaser. I tried absinthe mixed with a bunch of stuff back in Slovenia- it tastes like crap. I am NOT a fan of black licorice. Neither is Chris. Ya know what? the shot was pretty good! It tastes like black licorice, but I just felt this burning warmness in my throat and chest as it went down. It was so nice and fun to watch the fire, Chris and I both did a second shot of the same stuff. Did we hallucinate? lol, nope, not at all. But being drunk from absinthe WAS different than being normal drunk. It was a much more lucid kind of drunk.... I knew I wasn't sober, but I wasn't impaired in the same way. I guess its hard to explain. Just different. =) I'd definitely be curious to try the really potent stuff someday.... SOMEday when I can afford it... if I'm ever in a situation where it's legally available again. Seriously, Americans outlaw the silliest things.
We were out really late that night... and by late, I mean late by American standards. lol, 2am. Most partiers in Europe don't wander home until ATLEAST 6am. We slept in and enjoyed the best breakfast hostel we've had so far. It wasn't free, but it was cheap! And we got to have pancakes and omlettes, along with all the typical fare. Mmmmm.
We had planned on doing one of the free walking tours this afternoon, but when we got there, they were cancelling them all. There was a marathon going on that day... right through all the great tourist sites. So it was impossible for the tour to run. =( So that ruined that plan. We ended up wandering up to the castle, looked at the church and checked out the castle museum up there. It was already late in the day since we had slept in, so there wasn't much time to do much else. We also walked up to a monk monastery on the hill next to the castle- they brew their own beer there! But there turned out to not be much up there! Just a bunch of restaraunts we couldn't afford. Our last ditch effort was to stop at a beer garden on the way back to our hostel. We figured we might be able to find some cheap food there, as well as have great views of the city. Its on a huge green hill up a million steps overlooking the city and the river. Not only was the beer a mere 33 koruna each (not even $2 for a half liter), but there was a lady BBQing up huge sausages with a couple slices of bread and mustard for only 50 koruna each. We ate like kings. With an amazing view. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
Tomorrow we have to get up at the crazy ridiculous time of 4:50am. Sigh. Isn't this supposed to be vacation? We have a 12.5 hour train ride to Amsterdam, but.. thankfully.. it's the second to the last really long train ride we will have to endure this trip (the last one is when we head up to Stirling from Bath). I feel like these train rides make riding on a plane for just as long a complete luxury... at least on a plane you get your own TV with several movies at your disposal. Needless to say, Chris and I are trucking along through our books. He's already in the middle of the 3rd Robert Jordan book, and I'm halfway through the first again (look out Sean!). =)
So, as mentioned before, Prague was not on our original route. We planned to probably go up to Berlin and then Copenhagen before heading over to Amsterdam. But we realized Copenhagen was going to be expensive- all the hostels were already out of our budget range. And we still had Amsterdam and London, equally expensive cities to visit. And Berlin... we just weren't too excited about. The Wall sounds cool, but other than that... its a party city. And since we're nearing the end of our trip, we're really watching our budget now. lol. Anyway, throughout our travels we have run into several people telling us, "Have you gone to Prague...?... Well... are you going to...?