Some big square surrounded by churches, Prague (Praha), 8:58
I didn’t sleep very well on the sleeper train last night for some reason. I maybe got 4 or 5 hours in. I woke up before the train got here a few times and looked outside and it was sunny but way too early. Like a good Polish train, it arrived in Prague about 40 minutes late, not that it matters.
I’ve been walking really slowly for a while, just taking in this old city. There are a billion old churches here. Like 12th century stuff. I just walked past the place where Franz Kafka’s dad had a haberdashery. There’s a Dali exhibit over there. Tomorrow, there’s a concert of Bartok and Dvorak (that would rule pretty hard). I’m a little sad that I’ll have to leave in 12 hours for another sleeper train to Vienna (Wien). But I need to go to Naples (Napoli) and swim in the Mediterranean Sea, and there are several cities in between and after that I’d like to see. But sitting on this bench by this huge bronze sculpture in the shadow of an 800+ year old church is not so bad. If I walk a couple blocks that way I even found someone who doesn’t know how to secure their wireless connection. Free Internet!
Side note, I now have four currencies in my bag: Pounds, Euros, Zlotys, and whatever the Czechs call theirs (Kc). I cashed in 20€ ($30) for about 490 Czech things. A big ass sandwich cost me 35 Kc (roughly $2.15). I don’t know if I can spend all of this, maybe I’ll have to get a fancy dinner or go to a concert.
A giant and desolate park on a hill, Prague, 10:31
I walked until I found the canal or river or whatever. Then, I walked across a bridge. Then I saw a weird thing on a hill with some steps leading up to it(it’s a metronome! For the whole city! AWESOME!!). (By the way, I haven’t found or purchased a map yet. Adventure!) So what did I do? I climbed the stairs, of course! It was only a million or so, it wasn’t so bad. I happened upon a pretty thrashed little plaza of concrete and marble. It appears that the city built this and then abandoned it to the skateboarders. The skaters have since used their skills to build a skateboard playground. They tore up some marble steps and used the blocks to build ledges. There’s graffiti and garbage everywhere. I must admit, I kind of like it. I particularly liked the wire with tons of shoes thrown over it. I hung out and watched a kid practice his nose manuals for a while. On the other side of this is a huge, green park. It has birds I’ve never seen before, FRUIT TREES, and barely any people. I’m now resting on a park bench under the shade of a deciduous tree I don’t know, basking in the cool breeze. I forgot my sunscreen in my locked up backpack.
And, I found a way to spend my Kc. There’s an organ/violin concert at a church right by Kafka’s house. As much as I hate to support churches, they are playing a Dvorak song. I’m going to walk back and get a ticket in a little bit. It’s kind of pricy, but hopefully worth it.
Back in the big square, Praha, 12:55
I’ll admit it, I got a little lost on the way back here. It’s not like the streets are straight or anything. But I did get back here and I did get tickets for that organ/violin concert, so that’s cool. 350 Kc is about $25ish, depending on the exchange rate. I almost went and got tickets for the entirety of Vivaldi’s “Seasons” instead, but I wanted to hear the organ and violin rock the Dvorak, this being his home country and all.
I also ate more pizza. I wanted to hold out until Italy for even pseudo Italian food, but I couldn’t do it. I should have. I walked across some famous old bridge where Catholics were rubbing up on some metal sculptures, sharing germs with each other. Cooties altars. I’ve seen a lot of old stuff. I think I’ll go see how much the Dali exhibit is. If it’s 50 Kc, I’m in.
Pasáž Myslbek (some mall), Prague, 14:30
Note to travelers: if you need a free bathroom, try the mall. Bonus: air conditioning. Also, the Dali exhibit is 150 Kc.
Down by the river/canal, Prague, 15:44
The metronome has stopped. I’m tired of walking. I had some ice cream and bought a 1.5 liter bottle of water instead of my two 0.5 liter bottles. It’ll be harder to refill, but whatever. It also turned out to be mineral water. I guess I’m becoming more European by the moment, because I don’t mind too much.
I think Praha is the most multicultural city I’ve visited so far. There are people here from everywhere, it seems. A French guy asked me if he could park there… we decided not. An American lady asked me where a hostel was, I told her I hadn’t seen one but walking that direction might work out well for her. I’ve heard Czech and Chinese and Japanese and Italian and Spanish and English and other languages I didn’t even recognize. I’ve seen Jews and Xtians and Muslims. Even if all of them are tourists, this is a lot of different kinds of people. Seemingly not as many Africans, though. I wonder why.
Anyways, I’m down by the canal, hiding from the sun, wondering what I should do with my 31 Kc in coins. Seriously. They don’t even have “cents” so to speak. The smallest bill is a 50. I have a 20 Kc coin in my pocket. I’ll probably just add the coins to the pocket in my bag with the Polish money in it. Put it in my scrapbook. Ha!
Sleeper train #2 of the trip, on the way to Wien (Vienna), 22:03
This train is a definite upgrade from the last one. The bed is more comfortable, that’s for sure. I’m rooming with two brothers from brazil this time instead of a couple from Switzerland, two girls from Sweden and a girl from maybe the U.S., I didn’t talk to her for obvious reasons. There are all kinds of fancy buttons and stuff in this sleeper room. I can press a button to turn on a blue light (night light), for example. There’s one that has an alarm clock ringing and the word “stop” under it, that I assume will ring to wake me for my stop? The ticket guy said he’d give back my ticket 30 minutes before my stop, so I assume that will do it. I sort of want to try the shower. I’m going to do one more sleeper train, so I might just go stinky until I get to Venice and get a hostel there. Adventure!
So, my concert this afternoon was pretty magical. The Handel pieces were a little boring, the Bach organ piece was okay but too flat in the middle, and then… the Dvorak piece. Romance for organ and violin, it’s called. I prefer to call it amazing. Hearing it played in St. Nicholas’ church in the center of the capital of Dvorak’s homeland was something super awesome. I wish I had more knowledge of classical music, but I can’t really sing along so I tend not to listen to it. But it was magical today. Then, they played some thing I didn’t like, a Suk piece which I had high hopes for, given his time period, but it let me down, and a Liszt piece. The Liszt piece was basically just loud. It had some moments, but nothing like that Dvorak piece. Daaaaaaang!
The concert lasted an hour, but I didn’t want to spend any more money so I just walked around. I ended up in a different park above the city as the sun set. I ate my dinner and realized that parks at sunset are no place for clinically depressed single dudes, so I walked around some more. The city started clearing out of regular tourists and filling up with people who looked like they were going to Vegas as the light got dimmer. Seriously, I saw three bachelor parties as I walked around, waiting for my train. This brings to mind a story I didn’t tell you earlier!
I was walking down a random street with a church on it and a guy was pacing me for a bit. This was weird, but I kept my hand on all the important stuff just in case he was a pickpocketer or something (trust no one). He does the standard Europe greeting: So where are you from?
The U.S., how about you? (marginally creepy handshake)
Italy. I can change some money for you real cheap…
No thanks, buddy, I don’t need any. (me clapping him on the shoulder)
… 80 per dollar…
(Me walking off, checking that nothing is missing).
Well that’s about all from Prague. I’m hoping this cabin gets about 40 degrees Celsius colder, because I’m melting in here. I also hope Wien has ice cream, because I’ve eaten ice cream in five different countries on this trip and France is winning. Okay, I’m out.