Saturday, August 15, 2009

Been to Prague? Czech

Due to the time constraints of writing a post within the constraints of sitting in a Berlin cafe at 10pm eating dessert this will cover less territory that it otherwise would. Suffice to say, jet lag sucks, drunk Irishmen interrupting your attempts at sleep on a plane suck more and Americans who can't spell rabbi suck even more than that.

Prague was great, if hotter than Singapore (yes, really, Singapore has air conditioning). The hostel we stayed at was really nice, central, and about a vest and an espresso too trendy for me. Still, I'd stay there again. I didn't take a lot of photos of old buildings for much the same reason one wouldn't feel the need to hoard grapes at a vineyard, but rest assured they were there. I did feel a bit sorry for the native Pragueites (Praguians, Praguettes?) because at least one in every four or five people there was a tourist. Cars containing clearly harried businessmen were forced to stop time and again in the middle of the road while gaggles of tourists trailed after their guides treating the city like a theme park.

I have to give a special mention to Isaac, the guide on the free New Europe tour Jonno and I went on. He was a backpacking American Jew who lived in Prague (the Jew bit mattered for the jokes made in the Jewish Quarter), and gave an informative and genuinely funny tour. It was not at all what I expected but quite welcome. I feel that his Kafka jokes may have gone over the head of more than one tour member, but then again it is Kafka. At one point he stole a broom from a passing streetsweeping vehicle. No, it didn't make more sense in context. I don't know what else to add except that if you're in Prague, go on the tour, it's free and totally worth it. The time, I mean. It's clearly worth the money.

I will not recommend, however, either slivovice or the seedy, seedy bar in which we tried it. Imagine you created a plum liquor and then, when nobody was looking, replaced it with nail polish remover. This is slivovice, except without the utility of being able to dissolve nail polish. To be fair, we probably should have been warned by the look on the face of the lady behind the bar and the fact she had to dig all the way to the back of the fridge to find a bottle. If people aren't drinking it in a place like that then rest assured they aren't drinking it anywhere.

The following day we took the train from Prague to Berlin, which for 50 euros was both cheap and quite relaxing. We got to go past some fairly idyllic Czech, and later German countryside, most notable for being genuinely green and containing random monastaries on rocky promintories. Going through towns and cities, on the other hand, gives you an unfair view of a place I think. After all, you only see the houses and industry that people are willing to put next to the railway lines which is obviosuly going to make a place look fairly poor and run down.

Berlin so far has been good, with a lot more bicycles than I would have expected if you'd asked. I will defer further information and comment until I'm finished in Berlin, which will be Sunday.

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