Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ancient City Of Prague: Part 11 - 14

I really don't know where to begin with Prague. I've been sitting here in the sexy candle light in this Roman café thinking about how I'm going to introduce the Golden City to you. I guess the way I feel about Prague is the same way that my friend Chris (the British writer) does, because he shares 'a complicated relationship) with the city. No matter how many guidebooks or maps you study, nothing will ever prepare you for Praha. Which, by the way, is the Czech way of saying Prague, and about the only Czech word I know. The creative side of my brain works about five times better than the logical side, which makes picking up languages quite simple for me. English is my first language, and therefore, I know more English words than I do French. But Magda and I decided to see what I knew more of - German, or Italian.
Of course I should know more Italian - after all, I've been living in Italy for four months! And when have I ever been influenced by the German language? Hardly ever, except for learning depressing words like 'blitzkreig' (lightning war), 'füher' (leader), and
'wassenkind' (orphan) throughout my high school years of studying European history. And I did study German as my third language at French school, but I didn't learn much considering I was invisible to the teacher. We decided to be organized about this in discovering the amount of my vocabulary, and I actually documented each German and Italian word I know. I know a surprisingly and impressive amount of 74 German words and 77 Italian words. The German comes in a little too close for comfort, and I don't mean that as an insult to the language.
But Czech? Ha! I don't think I could ever learn it. I'm sure if I tried really hard and practiced
Hostel Elf!
for years and was paid an immense amount of money to do it, then it would be possible. But the Czech Republic is, by far, the most foreign place I have ever visited compared to my native Canada. Although Mexico is pretty foreign too... But still. It all has to do with history, and the fact that the Czech Republic is a former communist country. Its still recovering from the damage that was done in the previous centuries, and from what I can tell, it still has a long way to go.
Day 11 - Saturday, December 31st:
I wish that I could begin by saying something cheerful about Prague like how beautiful it is, but I can't, because that isn't the image I got when I first arrived there. As we drove through the borderline, we could tell that we really weren't in Kansas anymore. There were lots of hitchhikers and houses that looked like they were about to fall apart with the next gust of wind that came in that direction. I have to say that I'm glad I came for three days and not a lifetime. I don't think that I could ever live there.
Being here makes me so thankful that I grew up in beautiful safe Canada, where the worst thing that happens to a typical household would be a family of raccoons who decide to tear through the garbage in the middle of the night. According to a lot of travel websites,
The Dancing House
the Czech Republic is becoming more 'Westernized' and less 'Eastern'. And Prague is, in general, a safe city. Unfortunately, my friend Magda and I weren't able to see this safe side because on our first day there, we took the tram to our host's house (but wait - I'll get to him later). The tram in front of us stopped, and therefore, ours did as well. The driver said something in Czech and everyone on the bus seemed to be quite upset.
Because my Czech vocabulary is weaker than Stephen Harper's passion for improving the environment, we didn't understand what the driver said, and asked another passenger what happened. It turns out that there was a knife fight on the tram in front of us, causing me to doubt every single person who claimed that Prague is a safe city. Before we knew it, seven cop cars and an ambulance showed up, and within about 20 minutes, we were back on the tracks and headed towards our host's house.
Now allow me to introduce you to Petr. Petr is the 25 year old who owns a crumbling little apartment in Prague who we found on the internet. We did something called Couch Surfing, which is exactly how it sounds. What you do is create a profile on www.couchsurfing.com and ask people if you can sleep on their couch for free for however many nights you can agree on. Is it safe? Sometimes. Are their weirdos on the site? Definitely. Did I have a good experience Couch Surfing? Yes, I did! And I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to spend money on a hostel or hotel in a foreign city. But I felt a lot safer doing this with someone I knew, and am not sure if I could ever Couch Surf by myself. It really is a small world after all, because Petr spent a semester on exchange studying engineering at the
sUniversity of Waterloo, which is only a few hours away from my hometown.
We spent some time talking about Canada, and he began an argument as to which country produced the better beer: Canada, or the Czech Republic. I personally don't really care, and he seemed overly passionate about Czech beer, so I just gave up and let him win. It didn't take us long to discover that Petr was a little bit socially awkward. He offered us some Christmas cookies, but when he dumped them out of the tin and onto the plate, he kept touching and stroking the cookies which made both Magda and I lose our appetites. But still, it was a nice gesture. Then he invited us to a club with him, but we politely declined. We knew from his Couch Surfing profile that he enjoyed going to festivals. Now, when I think of a festival, I think of families and friends going to a gathering where they sell different kinds of foods. There is folk music playing and maybe even some games and prizes, but apparently, that is not what European festivals are like. Magda described European festivals as, "a bunch of weirdos doing drugs and listening to metal music and sleeping with whoever is next to you". So we went along with our own plans.
But before we went out, Petr has his cute little lesbian pixie-headed friend over who was telling us about her date with a girl. I myself am 100% into men, but also 100% supportive of
Prague Castle
the LGBT community. I have several friends who are, and it doesn't make me love them any less. In fact, I think every girl should have at least one sassy gay friend. But Petr's friend was just newly coming out of the closet and said that, "Every girl should date another girl at least once in her life." We drank some really disgusting almond liquor that was way too sweet and eventually headed out downtown.
We went to the Old Town while the most fantastic fireworks display lit up the sky behind Prague's most famous castle, and drank a box of wine that only cost us 1 Euro. So you can probably imagine how it tasted. Then we went to an Irish Pub and listened to this live musician who was really great. I met this hot Polish guy, but I got a really weird vibe from him. There was something in my gut telling me to get away from him despite his sexy smile. I thought back to the Taylor Swift lyrics, "And I look back in regret how I ignored when they said run as fast as you can." He asked for my age and I told him I'm 18. He didn't believe me, and insisted I show him my
Good looking male foreigners = BAD NEWS
ID. I was hesitant but pulled out my licence, and he jokingly took it and tried to put it in his wallet. Not cute, Poland. Hand it back over and get out of my life. He gave it back, and that was the end of that. When I came back to Rome and told all my friends about this, they thought I was crazy and behaving in a way that can only be described as "paranoid." Paranoid I may be of good looking foreigners who try to steal my ID, but at least I still have all my limbs and haven't updated my current employment to "forced prostitute whose money goes to her Polish pimp."
Later on that night we ended up meeting some pretty cute Irish guys who were here to celebrate New Year's as well. I welcomed 2012 by dancing in this busy little Irish Pub with some good looking guys with hot Irish accents, and I wouldn't have spent it any other way. On our way home, Magda and I got lost, which was not my idea of fun. Then again, I don't know any young, foreign female who would enjoy getting lost at 4 am in an Eastern European country... But we eventually made it back to Petr's alive. Right before we fell asleep on our pull out bed in the living room, Magda said, "I can't believe we're sleeping in a foreigner's bed." I fell asleep to the sound of my own laughter.
Day 12 - Sunday, January 1st:
We 'czeched' (so clever) into Hostel Elf, and its definitely a fun place to be. Everything is
decorated in red, orange and yellow. Theres a fridge stocked full of cold beer and free coffee and tea is served 24/7. Everyone is smoking weed in the common room and I met this pack of muscular Russian guys. The three of them have their own bedroom (wink, wink) and invited me to hangout with them in there. One of the things I promised myself I would do this year is have more adventure and be spontaneous, but did this really include having a foursome? I'm not sure if that's what they were proposing. Probably not. But I didn't go back to their room, because I didn't really want to find out. I was really confused about what to do - these guys were intimidating! But ugh... SO HOT. And RUSSIAN! That would be a new nationality to add to my international make out list. But these guys never smiled and were serious looking. It scared me, and also kind of turned me on, if that makes any sense at all. I couldn't decide what was bigger - their muscles, or their pupils from smoking so much weed, so I made up an excuse and went back to my room to hangout with my 10 other roommates. Yes - there
John Lennon Wall
were 11 of us in total there. Me, the Canadian, Magda, the Austrian, 2 annoying Swedish guys, 1 sweet timid Japanese girl, 2 Australian students, 1 American guy who slept the whole time, 1 hilarious Italian, 1 professional bartender from Mexico, and 1 South-Korean-born-but-immigrated-to-New-Zealand-at-age-11-but-currently-working-and-living-in-Hungary girl. We all shared stories about our homelands and travels and drank free tea. The Korean (or New Zealander) girl and I had a lot in common, and the Italian guy, Giuseppe, was absolutely hilarious. Seriously. I giggle every time I think of him. He's from a city just south of Naples and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard before in my entire life. After a while, we all noticed this huge plate of lettuce. I can't call it a salad, because it
wasn't. It was as though someone had taken two giant bags of lettuce and just dumped them onto the plate. Well, it turned out to be Giuseppe's dinner - who else?! I told him if he was a real Italian, he would have it with olive oil, and OH - he pulled some right out of his backpack. Of course. I asked the Swedish guys if they could describe Sweden for me, and they said it was 'boring and expensive'. The guy from Mexico is a professional bartender, and is actually in Europe because he's competing in several bartending competitions. I told him my family owns a villa in Cancun, and he asked if I've ever been to Playa del Carmen. Yes, I have, and its amazing. Well, small world again - he bartended there! I told him that maybe we met before, and that he probably served one of my family members alcohol before.
Today we did all the touristy things in Prague, and I really do love this city. However, I don't like the food, but I knew it would be difficult for a vegetarian like myself. All they eat in Prague is meat, and when I say that I'm a vegetarian, they look at me like I just landed from Mars. So I've been eating salad the whole time, and even then, I still have to make sure they don't put meat in it. Sigh. Almost no one speaks English, despite the fact that its the capital city, so its also difficult to communicate with people. But nonetheless, I am so happy to be here, and I love this city. One of my favourite things about visiting Prague was the hostel, which feels a bit like a summer camp because
we're all strangers and sleeping in bunk beds. Meeting all these interesting people is one of the best parts about my trip here.
Day 13 - Monday, January 2nd:
It was our last day in Prague and we hungout with our friends in the hostel for the last time and lazily walked over the Charles Bridge. We saw the John Lennon Wall which was really inspiring and beautiful. We ate lunch at this cute little baguette shop and I had the most delicious sandwich of my life. It sas called Svycarska and had emmenthal, brie, blue cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, walnuts, and roasted onions. Magda and I both thought it was kind of funny that our best meal in Prague was... a sandwich. We took the metro back to Petr's house after to say thanks and get our car, and then drove back to Salzburg. I've never done so much travelling in so little time.
Day 14 - Tuesday, January 3rd:
Today we slept in which was heavenly. We just spent the day walking through Magda's neighborhood and took a really nice drive through the mountains. For dinner we ate vegetables (Magda's favourite, of course) and these delicious Austrian dumplings. We watched a movie, and then I had to shove all my crumpled clothes and souvenirs into my teensy tiny little black suitcase. Tomorrow I go back to Rome, beautiful sweet Rome, where I plan on talking on the phone with my mom while eating pizza from Forno's.

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