Eurotrip 2009 – Prague


The first city on the tour – Prague, Czech Republic. We flew straight from Ottawa to Frankfurt, Germany, where I had slight trouble with the security officer. Their metal detectors are VERY sensitive and the studs in my jeans set it off. He didn’t speak English, I don’t speak German and he was getting increasingly frustrated. Finally, an English speaking officer rushed in to save me from a surely impending cavity search and we sorted out the miscommunication.

From there, it was straight to Prague. Sharing a van taxi from the airport with a few other people we were able to enjoy a lovely scenic tour of Prague, as we were dropped off last at our hotel where we met up with dad, and two of my aunts. Pops was already there, attending a dermatology conference. Rushing to our rooms to catch a little shut-eye and rest our feet, my bros jumped onto the full-size beds and I, well I was just a tad big for what was left for me…

Yeah seriously, I kid you not! I’m the biggest 23 month old baby Europe has ever witnessed. That dealt with (yes I did get upgraded to something more accommodating) we hit the streets to sightsee. Woot! Prague is very pretty in my opinion. Everything is old and grand and quaint with beautiful masonry and cobblestone roads. The real shocker was the fact that the city was so immaculately clean! Not a single sign of garbage on the streets (North Americans, take note!) and public washrooms were spotless like a bathroom in your house! As a tantalizing preview to my picture gallery, behold the town hall lit up at night.

Starving at this point, we found this place that mom had read about in a magazine, La Casa Argentina, and sat down for one of the best steak dinners I have ever had in this lavished restaurant. Each room had a different theme and we were seated in the ocean room. I didn’t get a snapshot of the room but I did manage to get the front bar (priorities). Throughout the meal I noticed something very unfamiliar to my north american upbringing. I mentioned they are cleanliness-obsessed; one of the staff members ran into the bathroom every 10 minutes with a mop to make sure it was still clean.

The rest of the stay in Prague was a jumble of sightseeing and shopping. Let me tell you, the Crown is worthless. If I remember correctly, 15 Crowns isĀ  equivalent to $1 American dollar, but the prices are inflated appropriately. The first few receipts we saw where very shocking when groceries tallied in the hundreds. Oh yes, we had to buy water too – the tap water is apparently not safe to drink there. Another cultural difference, they really like fizzy water in Europe. I don’t know about you but I’m really not a fan and I quickly learned that you had to look for neperliva bottles (the regular water) or you got pwnd with perliva (fizzy) water.

One of the touristic highlights is the Charles Bridge, a bustling social scene of tourists flocking to see the religious statues and the Prague Castle on the other side, musicians playing to earn some change, artisans selling their wares, and even a guy playing with his cock…

There we also few beggars on the bridge too. Begging is, from what I saw, done humbly in Prague; they knelt with their heads touching the ground,
and their hats in front of them so that they do not see who was coming nor how much was gifted, and they certainly didn’t harass and heckle the passersby.
One of the highlights on the bridge was this plaque depicting a biblical scene that had local folklore attached – touching it supposedly brings good luck.

Another hotspot is the town square, featuring a beautifully crafted clock that shows the faces of the saints on the hour. We also saw some pretty sweet old cars.

The third big thing we did was visit the Prague castle, apparently a big deal although communication barrier made it difficult to learn much. The castle is well situated at the top of a hill; we had a good hike getting up there but it was worth it, from the incredible view of the city to the front gates oozing with majesty.

Another thing I noticed while walking around town is that concerts are very common, as if a way of life. There were several all over town each night, and unlike concerts in Ottawa where you pay big bucks for a seat at the NAC, most were inexpensive and being held in smaller rooms. Actually, my aunt and I went to see one, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. And my gosh, the lead violinist’s bow was a blur. Could that lady ever play.

All in all, I enjoyed Prague. It’s a pity that the language being so different to english hampered communication and learning about the place but I enjoyed the unusual cleanliness and the beautiful “antique” buildings. Added bonus, the women were fairly attractive in my opinion. Mom wanted to really get a feel for the country so we spent a day in a real “hick town” called Ceske Budejovice before continuing our journey abroad. More on this in the next post.