Czeching out Bohemia

After a rather substantial commute from Nesodden to Gardermoen and a tidy two hour hop on the wonderfully wifi equipped Norwegian Air, I found myself in Prague. The bus from the airport to the metro was that delightful sort of crammed that just makes a backpack seem like the greatest of sins, though the folks around me took no less space with their luggage, somehow they felt justified in throwing a little side-eye at the rogue backpacker. I retaliated by sitting stubbornly in my seat (backpack on) and staring out the window. Which is how I managed to spot the large prominent sign for “Canadian Medical Clinic” somewhere in the outskirts of the city. Apparently our doctors get around? Either way, welcome to Prague.

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PRAGUE

Once off the bus, it was into the deliciously decrepit old subway which came complete with frighteningly fast escalators, like you almost had to break into a jog to get onto them without having your feet swept right out from underneath you! And then I was there in Jiřího z Poděbrad before a gigantic modernist looking church with lots of glass and a massive clock where I found my host waiting in the sun on the church steps.

I had met Charley, the American, in Wrocław where he’d made the foolish mistake of telling me that he was living in Prague, so obviously where one has a fellow traveler, one has a couch and conversation.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the new town and then the old town before turning to the shady riverside and eventually stopping into a vegetarian Indian buffet for sustenance enough to carry on. Prague is a beautiful city but it is absolutely crammed with tourists, especially of the British extraction. So, amongst the almost musical, rhythmically Italian-esque slavic speech of the locals, you can also catch trailing hints of everywhere from Surrey to Glasgow.

Once fed we headed out to find coffee for the poor woeful caffeine mad me and soon were in a pavilion in a (possibly faux) vineyard on a hillside in a park somewhere nearer ex-pat-ville. The coffee was mediocre but the view was divine and, on account of the park which unfolded below the grape vines, there was plenty of pleasing people (and dog) watching to be done. I can’t honestly say I know how long we sat there intermittently chatting and watching the world go by, but eventually our oasis was undermined by the arrival of a wee American lass of the most foul personality and her parents. Loud enough for us to hear, she ranted about how she hates American accents abroad (don’t we all) because you just know they’re dumb. Now, I am also not a fan of hearing American accents abroad but I generally have the decency to avoid insulting the owners of those accents within earshot! She proceeded to discuss us as if we couldn’t understand or hear before proceeding to spend the rest of the conversation proving just what an unpleasant creature she was by a constant stream of cruel comments and ill temper no matter the topic her parents introduced. When we finally got out bill and escaped, I was incredibly tempted to drop by her table and inform her that foul creatures like herself were the very reason that none of us like to be associated with out delightful North American accents in Europe. I resisted.

On the way back to the flat, we picked up a litre of burčák which is the Czech name for that divine nectar that is nearly wine but not quite. I had it rather many years ago in South Africa and it was the only state of wine that I enjoyed. This was equally if not more delicious, possibly by virtue of the fact that I have since come to enjoy actual wine as well. After a bit more drinking and conversation, I headed out on the hunt for dance. There was meant to be an open air party and I expected the sort of open air parties I’ve enjoyed all along this journey, namely one on an actual outdoor dance floor with lights and official sanction. I was not quite prepared for the random cluster of humanity that assembled itself (an hour after the event was meant to start) with a boom box and very little else on the uneven paving stones of a darkened park. As they were dancing Cuban and my knees were not especially enthused about the prospect of concrete levels of hardness and friction, I elected not to partake and simply lingered around the edges watching the dancers and reading for long enough to justify the walk down. I very much wished I’d stopped to join the two young dancers I’d seen doing some form of swing in the last light of the sun on the church steps near Charley’s flat, but by the time I returned from my salsa adventure they were gone.

My first full day in the Czech Republic began with a latte composed of entirely average coffee and the most delicious milk I’ve had since Finland. It was sweet and rich and heavenly and we are just not going to consider the fat content. My latte was paired with a poppyseed laden biscuit acquired from the market just next to the church which hawked everything from beer and vegetables to pastry and fish.

With just enough energy from sugar and caffeine, I strolled lazily though a sunny and comparatively quiet old town. I drifted through the square and over the famous Karlov Bridge (it might be a UNESCO world heritage site?) towards the palace. Of course this journey through old town would not have been complete if I hadn’t submitted to the siren song of the local traditional pastry. Imagine a light yeasted dough, nearly challah like, wrapped around a metal spit and roasted over hot coals a la bannock. Then take that crispy yet still soft on the inside little bit of heaven and roll it in sugar with just a tiny touch of cinnamon. That is trdnelik. Yes, there are too many consonants all together at the start of that word but it is tasty enough that I am inclined to forgive them.

I may have been a bit over stimulated and over-sugared but it was a fair enough state to carry me through a peaceful wander over the elevated palace gardens (with amazing views) before I braved the busy, noisy interior of the palace complex which was full of tourists, elegant churches, and ticket booths where one could purchase the privilege of queueing to enter any number of palace buildings, churches, and/or museums. I was entirely too buzzed up and hot to handle queueing so I made the sensible decision to do the outdoor tour through before heading back off across the river to find myself a library or two.

While crossing the bridge I was rather effectively trapped behind a family of four with two delightful little children who got rather less adorable and more irritating as the walk continued. Initially their regular pauses to shout “ahoy!” (it’s like Czech Aloha) off the sides of the bridge were rather sweet but about the 50th shrill little “AHOY!” and I was about ready to lose my mind. Fortunately once the sidewalk widened I was able to sneak by and away to the peace and quiet of the city library.

The city library was a nice enough space with some beautiful little second floor courtyards garbed in vines and benches but the classification system was sufficiently incomprehensible to me to suggest that I ought to stick to places like Ireland, the UK, and Norway which use sensible things like Dewey. After the city library had been thoroughly surveyed, I set off to the national library where I met the usual incredulity of the security and librarians who couldn’t quite believe that a tourist would want to enter their research library. But when the reader’s ticket is less than 50 cents, you can’t really say no.

It was a large institutional feeling place with card catalogues absolutely everywhere. The card catalogues attested to a substantial German language collection but as most everything was held in specific reading rooms or closed collections I was unable to get a real sense of the full collection. The periodicals reading room was deliciously dated in the sense that I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t fallen through a rift in time back to the soviet era while the main reading room was a fantastic baroque space guarded by an elaborately latched door and surveyed serenely by a massive old cockle stove. At each end of the large arching hall were impressive wall paintings and a good 80% of the study tables were occupied by people of every age and description. Along the walls I found a wild mix of English and Czech materials sorted by the same insensible (to me) system of classification. Growing wary of the librarians’ watchful eyes, I showed myself out and headed to my third and final library of the day.

The Clementium dates back to the original arrival of the Jesuit order in Prague in 1556 and can only be visited as a part of a tour so I swallowed my anti-tourist sentiments and joined the next tour to see the famously old baroque library and all it’s attendant rooms. We began in the mirrored chapel which used visual illusions to emphasize infinity in various religious contexts and which contained an organ on which Mozart himself one plucked away at music. Our tour guide was a lovely girl with an absolutely indecipherable accent. When she began to speak I thought she was Australian but slowly other features revealed themselves in certain lilts of Scot influence tangled around midland UK phrases and a bit of local colour that really matched nothing else I’d ever heard before. It took a great deal of restraint not to spend the entire tour quizzing her on her English study and baiting her into saying characteristic words that would allow me to better ascertain her accent. I must occasionally remind myself not to be evil with my linguistics know-how.

After the mirrored chapel we visited the library itself which was unfortunately half empty on account of a wonderful new project by the EU which is attempting to digitize all manner of cultural artefacts and which has therefore relocated half the collection to German to be scanned. Curiously, despite the age of the collection, all of the books in the Clementium are printed (not written) and for each non-Czech book that was acquired, a Czech language version was also produced. In a way the space was very reminiscent of the Long Room at Trinity, and as was the case at Trinity, all I wanted was to get closer to all those wonderfully varied books, get high on their accumulations of “history” and leaf slowly through the beautiful old pages. Obviously, such adventures are not open to random tourists and so we were soon shuffled off up a few more steps to the top of the observatory tower where we found meteorological and astrological instruments and excellent views of the city.

Having geeked out about as much as was reasonable, I set off for Cafe Louvre which is rather more famous for the people that once hung out there than for anything they do now. I have now walked the same floors as Kafka and Einstein and to be honest, the best bit was still the poppyseed and plum strudel.

Heading back across the old town in search of more history, I accidentally observed the hourly dance of the astronomical clock. It’s really not that impressive from the outside. I’m sure the mechanics within are fascinating but from the outside all you see are two little doors open and a few little men rotate around within the clock. I sensed that I was not the only member of the crowd somewhat baffled by the simple little display.

And then I was off to the Jewish Cemetery which much to my chagrin was inaccessible unless you paid some rather exorbitant fee to see the entire Jewish town. I’m sure it’s a fascinating adventure but I just wanted to see the cemetery so I skirted around it and headed off to the islands for a rest in the shade. I began seated on the steps near the water watching fishes and children drawn by the allure of the fishes to the water’s edge. It was not long however, before the sun grew entirely too hot and so I headed for the shade where I spent a happy half hour sleeping on the grass. It doesn’t make you a hobo when everyone else is doing it too!

Somewhat refreshed, I headed back to the flat where I was met with more wonderful tax chaos from the Canadian government. Some hours of stress later, I found myself a bowl of pho and a packet of biscuits which I devoured waiting for phone calls in the church park. Eventually I got the call and finished my food and headed off to dance. It could have been a very good dance night if I was rather more fond of cuban. The venue was nice, there were lots of dancers, and the floor was decent, but I really can only dance in circles so long before I get very tetchy about the lack of lines.

KUTNÁ HORA

The following morning I was up early and off to the train station to head out to Kutná Hora, home of 10 centuries of architecture. The railway station in Prague is a lovely arching yellow thing with stained glass windows and various crests painted on the walls. It’s very pretty but seems remarkably unlike an active train station, until you find the escalator that leads down to the basement where the real station lies all bustling and full of people rushing to ticket booths and trains.

Having acquired my ticket, I had about 30 minutes before my train left so I headed back up into the retro version of the place to breakfast on apple cake and panone.

Fed and having played the whole wait-for-a-platform, run-to-the-platform game, I found myself on a train with actual compartments! I’d never been in an actual train compartment before so I was happy as a clam and well able to look past all the dirt and age of the train—unlike the Russian-Italian couple I was sharing the compartment with who were absolutely agog at the general decrepitude of the thing.

About an hour later, we were in Kutná Hora and I was off to find the Bone Church. To be honest, it felt a little unreal. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea of all those bleached bones in all those strange constellations actually being human beings at some point. The level of detail and intricacy is also absolutely stunning. Overtime you look, you see another layer of complexity and another shade of artistic expression. The chapel above was quite plain but just across the road stood another church which was large, arching, airy and all painted yellow inside. It was also quite expensive to enter so I elected not to, but it’s presence assured me that along side such strange little enclosures as the ossuary, there were also standard degrees of loveliness in the local churches.

Walking into the town proper I was, for the first time in mainland Europe, whistled at from a passing car. I nearly jumped out of my skin with the shock, but I shall take it as a compliment and move on.

As the road began to be lined by houses rather than service stations, I passed through an interesting section of Communist modernism all blocky and concrete before drifting into a pretty little hillside old town of winding lanes and lovely valley views. Sadly most of the beautiful old churches were expensive to enter and under restoration so I only ended up entering one which was large, dark, and rather like most of the other churches I’ve seen recently.

Somewhere between the heat, the views, and the churches, I ended up sitting in a hillside vineyard overlooking the valley sipping a glass of the sweetest, most perfect white wine I’ve had in ages for less than €2. If that isn’t heaven, I don’t know what is.

I spent the rest of the early afternoon wandering around looking at the old stone fountain, stone houses, a plague monument, and various other pretty old things until hunger reared its ugly head so I found a pub with food and shady outdoor seating to serve me beer and rich traditional Czech food. I ended up with 0.3L of beer for about €0.80 and a giant plate of goulash and “bread dumplings”. It was tasty and filling and the dumplings were so nostalgic! I was immediately reminded of knödel with plum sauce at Martina’s growing up and so I sat in the shade on a hot day in the Czech Republic getting slowly soused over memories of Austrian food in small town Northern Canada.

Delightfully this particular bar also had bright purple toilet seats. Less delightfully the bathroom cubicles had no locks but I suppose one cannot ask for much from a pub called “Mexicana” somewhere in the middle of the Czech Republic. It’s worth noting that I only noticed the name of the place when they brought me the bill.

Woozy and full of food, I set off to find a coffee to reinvigorate me for the rest of the day. I stumbled across a charming little place called “Blues Cafe” which featured a full wall of vinyl and CDs, two rooms furnished with vintage chairs and singer sewing machine tables, and staffed by a deliciously mismatched middle aged couple. The relatively tall slim woman wore a red and white polka dotted dress with a cropped white leather jacket, leather gladiator sandals, burgundy cat’s eye glasses, and a fantastic vintage-y bob. The man sported a beer belly, knee length denim shorts, an generic red t-shirt, plastic slides, and a long grey rat-tail. The coffee was a bit burnt but the wonderful 70s music and the charm of the place were more than adequate to counteract the substandard brew.

I read for a while and then headed back to the train station where I caught a hot stuffy train back to Prague. The compartment was full and then windows did little to air the place out but I managed to sleep a bit before I found myself back in Prague. As I was leaving the station, I spotted a bus on a coffee break nearby. Inside the bus I saw a man and a woman both in work uniforms. She was sitting and he was standing behind her, braiding her hair. Yup, braiding and chatting, it was really quite charming. And then I spent the rest of the evening alternating between managing delightful technicalities of adulthood and rewarding myself for dealing with said technicalities by eating cookies in the park.

ČESKY RÁJ

Having done just about as much adult-ing as I could manage, the next morning I set out for the delightful disconnection of Český ráj, a.k.a. Bohemian Paradise. I fuelled up on apple cake and poppyseed cake, bought a bag of snacks for the journey, and then set off to the station again. While waiting for the train I spotted a terribly interesting character who looked like a young fur trapper cum hippie backpacker and who appeared to speak Czech. He sat in the seats just behind and to the left of me while I was soon joined by a very tall, slender Czech man in a medical mask seated in the seat across from mine. It was a most curious carriage of people.

We spent two hours rattling through small rural stations with battered buildings, low platforms, and all manner of people crossing the rails. And each one was carefully guarded by a vigilant station master standing stoically beside the rails.

When I arrived in Turnov, I left the station and headed for the park. Soon I was in Český Ráj hiking amongst forests and fields towards Hrubá Skála. As I walked through an odd mix of wooden sculptures, natural rock formations, and clusters of holiday houses, I foraged plums, apples, and blackberries to save my snacks for less bountiful regions. I soon came upon a natural rock lookout tower with a winding steel spiral staircase which lead me up to the first of many lovely views. Soon I was well into the rock town proper where I walked along the ridges of valleys filled with tall stately towers of sandstone. It was strangely reminiscent of all the beautiful places in Western China that I so regret having failed to visit and it was utterly surreal. As I strolled along I spotted rock climbers slowly scaling the pillars of rock, cyclists all dolled up in a full face of makeup, and every type of family and hiker group imaginable.

I arrived to my accommodation shortly before the official check in time and the reception staff were only too happy to hand over my key but as I arrived at my room, I found it full of cleaning staff and so decided to shuffle off to the castle cafe to give them time to finish up. Yes, I was staying in a castle. Now I was in the hostel side of the castle so it was just in the gatehouse not the castle proper, but I take what I can get. Either way, I was soon on the terrace of the cafe overlooking a beautiful valley and facing down the reality that in this part of the Czech Republic there is very VERY little English but rather a lot of German. These are moments when I wish that I’d been more diligent in my language study. So there were a few fun communication issues but in only a little more time than expected I was seated with a cup of Algerian coffee (I think there was booze, I don’t know for sure, but it tasted like) and a slice of Medovnik which can best be described as walnutty heaven in the form of a very thinly layered torte. It was a most excellent afternoon repàs if not perhaps the healthiest.

Shortly thereafter, I had settled into my room and was back out on my adventure through the park. I climbed another natural lookout tower to see more views of towers and valleys before setting off into the valley bottom to explore the rock town from the ground up. I scrabbled up a few formations, enjoyed the peace of the quiet forest, and stumble across an interesting constellation of lake plus giant bouncy pad plus outdoor pool. I guess it was a recreation centre of some sort? Soon after I was back amongst the rocks and I was climbing. I saw an interesting formation and there was only a little bit of a hill between me and it… Sometime later, after a battle of loose soil, a thick carpet of leaves, and stubbornness such as only idiots like yours truly possess, I found myself at the mouth of a cave only about a metre below the ridgeline where I had earlier stood at a lookout point enjoying the view deep into the valley. In the interests of not scaring the bejeezus out of the people above, I decided to head back down. Down was definitely more challenging than up and to add insult to injury, when I reached the bottom, I was met by a very stern sign advising against climbing the rocks or leaving the path. Too little, too late.

I stopped for a drink at one of the natural springs where I found fast flowing, cold delicious water to rehydrate after my exciting exertions uphill. Soon after the spring I was back at the bottom of Waldstein Castle which I had elected not to visit earlier in the day on account of entry fees. I still did not pay an entry fee or enter the castle but I circumnavigated its base and saw every angle of elevation and fortification. And then it was time to head back to the castle which held my bed and the most likely location of my finding dinner. Being as directionally gifted as I tend to be, I managed to overshoot the turn-off. No worries, thought I, here is a decent path which should cut right across where I need to be. Alas my GPS does not show elevation and soon I was on a cliff overlooking a cemetery with no access to where I wanted to be. So it was down another hillside carpeted thickly with fallen leaves. There was a good bit of slipping and sliding but in due course I was back on the road and subsequently returned to the castle.

I plopped myself down on the terrace again with an eye to dinner. I was however soon distracted by the last light of the sun creeping through the valleys and lighting each one consecutively with the richest, most unreal golden light that I have ever seen. It looked like CGI, it was insane and oh so beautiful! It also kept me well and truly distracted for the entire wait between my ordering and the giant plate of dumpling, meat and sauce arriving under my nose. The meat was tender and topped with cranberry sauce and whipped cream (yes, whipped cream) and it lay atop a puddle of sauce which tasted at least a little of sweet potato. Sharing the plate with the meat were two giant wedges of dumpling which strongly resembled pull-apart bread insofar as they were composed of a great many tiny dumplings all glommed together into one giant sliceable dumpling. It was ridiculously tasty. Sadly the dessert (apple strudel) was fairly mediocre, but by the time that arrived, the sun and set and I was content to scarf it down and head back to my room to rest.

My second day in Bohemian Paradise began at 7am when a 5 minute long peal of church bells supplanted any need for alarm. Fortunately I’d been planning to head out early so there was no harm in waking to church bells about 30min before my alarm was set to go off. I checked out of the hostel and set out into the woods in the general direction of Jičín at the opposite end of the park. In the early morning the park was filled with little frog jumping everywhere and within 15 minutes of walking, I’d startled a beautiful little fox who proceeded to bound up the embankment with at least a few backward glances in my direction. Soon the forest gave way to lakes which were absurdly full of enthusiastically jumping fish and which were flanked by more striking rock formations. Somewhere in my distracted staring at lakes I did end up on the bicycle route rather than the hiking route but I’m no stranger to walking along roadsides where I don’t belong so I wasn’t terribly fussed as I strolled through the ever hotter sunshine towards one of the most iconic symbols of Český Ráj: Trotsky Castle.

The castle is composed of two towers each on a tall stone pillar and a small ruined castle space between the two which actually housed the humans when the castle was inhabited. There was a small entry fee but it was entirely worth it for the commanding views of the entire area which the towers afforded. I climbed both, spent some time staring out over the farmlands and villages and then swiftly slipped away just as the place was beginning to get busy. I had ambitions of breakfast at the little restaurant I’d seen at the halfway point of my climb to the castle but alas it was not to be. I arrived to the window and asked hopefully “English?” but was met with “Deutsch?” *shrug*. So I thought, no, I can do this. I can do Deutsch. All I want is to ask for breakfast so I composed myself and blurted out: “Ich möchte frokost.” It took us about 2 minutes to sort out why he didn’t understand what I believed to be a perfectly sensible German sentence. It was only when I said in English “y’know, breakfast” that he bounced back “Ohhhh frühstück” and I realized my error. It’s a special day when you find yourself speaking a hideous half-German half-Norwegian pidgin to a German speaking Czech in the very middle of Bohemia. Multilingualism only counts when used intentionally and there was still no breakfast to be had.

At the hotel restaurant below, I had slightly better luck with my failed-German but was informed that the kitchen wouldn’t be open for another hour so it was overpriced, mediocre coffee and almonds from my purse before I hit the trail once more.

As I wandered down through the fields, I was fortunate to find plum trees and blackberry bushes on all sides which soon provided sufficient breakfast to keep me trucking through forest and farmland to cottage country. Cottage country soon gave way to more green lakes which looked very nearly like meadows for the density of tiny green plants which floated upon their surfaces.

Beyond the lakes I found another rock town where I was obliged to pay to enter. As my map offered no alternative route however, I did not complain and was soon delighted by the route which wended through a hot, sunny landscape of prehistoric forms and narrow pathways between massive heaps of sandstone. It was quite grand despite the increasing density of tourists.

Leaving the rock town I was back in hot sunny farmland with Jičín in my sights. I could see it down in the lowlands with three ultralites lazily circling above, but the heat was too much, so as I reached the outlying town of Holin, I settled myself on a shady bench to rest and take preventative action against sunstroke. As I was sitting an adorable elderly couple walked by and bid me good-day in Czech. By some miracle I managed to respond with enough fluency to preclude either disappointed or confused stares. One small linguistic victory.

When I eventually decided it was time to get myself to Jičín and the promises of an actual meal, I soon found myself strolling past what appeared to be some sort of children’s festival which if I were to toss aside all political correctness I might have called Indian Days. There were teepees, games, races, a myriad of “Indian” costumes which almost certainly came from a halloween store and a woman on the loud speaker enthusiastically whooping away as no civilized white Canadian would ever dare do. I guess they’ve enough distance her not to care about the political, social, and ethnic complexities of cowboys and indians.

As I finally reached Jičín, I was met by a lovely little restaurant with dancing devils painted on the side where I found myself seated before a pint of dark beer with a massive (and very bitter head) and a plate of roast duck, red cabbage, and two types of dumplings all dripping with flavourful sauce. I could barely move by the time I’d finished.

Upon reaching the city centre, I was sufficiently refreshed to think that ice-cream was a good idea. I marched up to the shop, ordered a large lemon ice-cream in halting Czech and within two minutes of leaving the shop was holding an empty cone glaring fiercely at the old man who dared to chuckle at my sad plight. Having had only two licks of lovely luscious lemon sorbet I was now scooping the rest up off the sidewalk to deposit in a bin. To add insult to injury, that action left me with disgusting sticky hands which were terribly attractive the hoard of wasps nearby. I am grateful for the density of fountains in old European cities.

It was then time to figure out how to get myself back from Prague. I had naively assumed that it would be a piece of cake to get a train but the train station was decrepit and relatively unstaffed and it appeared that I might spend the entire night trying to bounce between rail lines back to the capital so I headed to the bus station to pour over schedules. Somewhere around the 20 minute mark of trying to understand a mixture of charts, tables, and Czech I realized that there was a giant LED board behind me listing all the day’s departures. I shall blame my sun addled brain.

Once I’d sorted out how to get back I headed to the Aldi nearby to acquire water and a lemon buttermilk ice-cream cone which was much less troublesome than my earlier attempt at sorbet. Waiting on the bench with my snacks, I eavesdropped on a middled aged couple speaking English. They had an adorable dog and lots of luggage and near as I can figure it she was local, he was American, and they may or may not have just had an orthodox Jewish marriage in her hometown. Alas the busses seemed to be troubling them but I decided not to enter into a marital disagreement and so sat idly by pretending that English wasn’t my first language. Sometimes it’s just better for everyone.

When we finally got on the bus we found ourselves in a sweltering tin can with no zircon and a driver very fond of his smoke breaks. Nonetheless, we motored along as quickly as was expected and had no issues of our own though we were all (the entire bus load) amused by a van driver with absolutely no concept of how to navigate a roundabout. It could have been dangerous, but as it wasn’t it was sort of a hilarious comment on the incompetence of so many of our wonderful species.

And then I was back in Prague at the far end of the metro with exactly the right amount of change to buy a ticket from the godforsaken ticket machines which only accept exact change. I thanked my luck stars as I dropped the last coin from my wallet in and heard the ticket print.

Once back at the flat, I sorted out a few more technicalities, tidied away my things and Charley and I headed out for a last adventure in Prague before I left for Germany. We began at a local pub where my sense of whimsy got the better of me and I ordered a beer float. I expected a rootbeer float but with regular beer. What I got was a martini glass with a single spherical scoop of ice-cream swimming in about a shot of dark beer. It was curious to be sure. After that we stopped by a convenience store to pick up another drink (I got elderflower cider which was divine) before heading to the river. The river bank in Prague is kind of magical by night. There’s so little light pollution you can see the stars, but you can also see movies projected on screens across the river, lit up “Botels” (hotels on boats, yes it’s lame), tastefully illuminated bridges and churches, and all manner of local and tourist partiers. There are grill boats and party boats, and lots of happy drunken people even at 10pm.

After the river we headed up to a park on a hill where I got a watermelon and lemon cider and we sat in the grass staring out over the night time city and chatting until the drinks were done and tummies were rumbling. Our last stop of the night was at an all night burrito place called Burrito Loco where we acquired caloric, if not nutrient value before heading home to bed.

My final morning in Prague was a slow roll into the day with a bit of a headache (which we will not call a hang-over). We had tea and chatted a bit before I left to grab a baguette, a coffee, and a bus to Berlin. And just like that I was back in the land of the euro and gone from the magically cheap realms of Baltic-Polish-Czech land.

Czeching out,
The Canadian

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