Now with competitors! 13 December 2004 | week 450
Pictured top: Steve and Mick Posing; staircase; Opera; Grafitti, Mick on the phone, Mick, Steve, Sarah
Scaffolding art; tourists watching the clock; rooftops; gargoyles at the castle; cow parade; cow parade
Steve and Al at Richard's Marquis de Sade bar; Irish pub more popular than the UK one; Grafitti; Charles de Galle bridge; boats on the river; boats on the river
Two Ladas; Lovers
This Prague special is a review of my trip to Prague in July.
I got up at 4am on Monday to walk into town to get the Aircoach. I always book the cheaper early flights, and then I remember that Dublin isnt a 24-hour city! I found a taxi that took me to Suffolk Street so I waited for 20 minutes with some cabin crew girls and some foreigners. I got my flight with the minimal of hassle, except for setting off the metal detector at the airport. My belt always sets it off so I didn't wear my belt but then my Cat boots tripped it! No justice!
I'm on the plane and I smell food. Now having got used to Ryanair, I was frantically going through the in-flight magazine to see how much the breakfast would cost me. Free? Smashing! A hash brown, a rasher, some mashed up tomato, a bread roll, orange juice, cup of tea and a yoghurt was just the ticket to lift my spirits after the early start!
Steve met me in the airport in Prague and brought me back to the hostel he and Mick stayed in the previous night.
We decided to stay in a hostel cos the boys were doing it all the time on their round the would trip and Steve recommended the experience. The hostel we went to was a bit basic to say the least, but we didn't spend a lot of time there so it was cool.
We went up to our triple room and found in it had three beds, three wardrobes, three lockers, two tables (stacked) two chests of drawers, and a pile of other furniture. I think we might have been given the store room, but for 6 euro a night who's complaining?!
After settling in to the room we went off for breakfast to a local restaurant that the owner of the first hostel brought the lads to the previous day.
That day we walked around the city admiring the beautiful architecture, eating and drinking at our leisure, looking at the shops and getting lost in the narrow side streets and alleys. It's a fantastic looking city, the people are very friendly, there was no hassle on the streets, and everything is excellent value for money! We had a few beers in town that night and I took an early night after my 4am start!
On Tuesday we went to a mini opera show. There was a man on saxophone, a woman playing piano, and an opera singer. She did some popular songs like "Don't cry for me Argentina." It was pretty good but I have to admit to nodding off a few times. Luckily Steve woke me up in time for the highlights, such as Rhapsody in Blue, Memory and I Could Have Danced All Night.
We read in an old guidebook that a certain building housed the graphic arts museum. So the boys being architects and me being a graphic designer, we enthusiastically headed in. It was only when we paid in did we realise that it was now the museum of Landscape art. Oh man the boredom. And the guys had paid so they wanted to look at all the works and get their money's worth! I hate landscape painting! Some of the modern ones were pretty cool though.
Later that day we headed into a pub that the old hostel owner recommended to the boys. It was a working man's pub, the kind of utility drinking pubs you'd see around Summerhill. We went in and ordered drinks, and much to our surprise, they were brought out by a topless bar girl. Now this wasn't a topless bar or had any ads or the like to suggest that they had this inside. It was really like she just felt like being topless. The men weren't too bothered about her presence. It was really weird. She was about 28 and average good looking, so she wouldnt have been any kind of glamour model! Mick said "Is she naked?" to which I replied "Topless." "Fair enough!" replied a confused Mick.
That pub closed at 9.45 for some reason, so we went from pub to pub, sampling the night life and drinking away. Then we went down to the Ungelt Jazz Club and met two gangs of Irish girls. Mick got chatting to some mental people from up North, while me and Steve started chatting to some Limerick girls. That was fun and we had a good laugh listening to Jazz and exchanging travelling stories. Needless to say I hadn't much to contribute to that! When that was over we all went to an Irish pub on the main square and stayed there 'til closing time.
Steve and Micks friend Sarah from college arrived from Dublin on Wednesday so we went down to the station to pick her up. We wandered around looking at the buildings again while everyone caught up. The lads hadn't seen Sarah for months so there was lots to talk about. The guys were getting weary telling the same stories over and over and I think they enjoyed listening to stories about normal stuff back home.
We went into one bar that had a special before 6pm: Pints of Staropramen were just 30 cents! You would have a whole night out for less than the price of a pint back home. Now that was definitely the cheapest we saw, but we didn't find any place selling beers for more than 1 euro. The food was about a third the price it would be in Dublin, and it was very tasty.
That night we went to the biggest club in central Europe. It was scary on the way in, it was a big security operation with turnstiles and big bouncers. Signs around said no guns, no syringes, no grenades. That's right! The atmosphere inside was pretty cool though, those crazy Europeans and their mad fashion sense. It was hilarious. This club had three floors: R&B on the ground, 90's dance and techno on the 1st and 80's cheesy singles on the 2nd. We spent most of the time in the 80's cos Mick hates Techno and Steve and I hate R&B. We did get a dance to Mr. Vain though, which was very nostalgic! In the 80's room it was tunes like the Ghostbusters theme tune, 99 red balloons and the likes. It was pretty cool. Damn those youngsters though, they could drink me under the table. I was wrecked and they were all up dancing! The 80's room looked like a dilapidated underground tube station from The Matrix: broken tiles, cement floor, cages on the lights. There were some great views of the city that you'd rarely see that in a Dublin club!
Prague Castle drew us up the hill on Thursday. We approached it by taking in the beautiful Castle Gardens, which gave amazing views of the city. While paying for the gardens, I noticed that everyone had been getting agitated that we didn't give them the correct change for everything! It's crazy, why would they care? And why don't they have loads of change! And how can you have the right change all the time when you get notes out of the bank? There's only so much change to go around, when its gone you have to use notes again. I noticed this with the European staff in the SmartForce canteen, they always asked for the right change. We nearly always had it then but nodoby ever uses it in Ireland! Imagine how much longer it would take to get served in Whelans, Sosume or The Market Bar if the barman told people how much it was, and waited for them to count it out. No way!
Once we got to the castle we visited this fabulous Gothic Cathedral. It was really beautiful, and the stained glass was fantastic. We spent a long time wandering around, eating ice cream, checking out girls. The women there were gorgeous! Food and beers ensued as usual to take us into the night.
Sarah left us on Friday.What do guys do when the girls are gone? Go shopping of course! It seems that all the shops are either tacky tourist shops or very expensive designer shops. I might have been in the wrong part of town, mind you! We were fairly hungover and had our breakfast at four with a pint of delicious local beer to wash it down. That evening I rang Richard and he told me to visit the bar he used to run, the Marquis De Sade. But we didn't go out that night cos of the sore heads and just had some dinner and went home.
On Satuurday we decided after a bit of wandering about that we would go to the Marquis De Sade. After eating pizza from a very weird streetside pizza vendor, we had a few pints in the pub. The lads were sentimental about it being the last night on their round the world trip. I think they were sad it was all over but glad to be returning to familiar surroundings and proper spuds and cabbage. We were about to go into a cheesy pub next door but when we saw there was nobody inside but a girl dancing on a table in the window we decided to give it a miss!
The lads were gone when I woke up on Sunday. I did a bit of sightseeing and decided to take a boat trip up the river. I tried to listen to the recorded commentaty in three languages but it was too quiet and I kept forgetting to listen out for the English, so I entertained myself by taking videos and photographs. That was an enjoyable hour. I had lunch off the main square in the outdoor section of a very nice restaurant.
I wasn't feeling the best that night so I stayed in and went to bed early after taking some notes for the write up.
Nearly missed the plane with all the transport issues. Steve told me what underground station to go to and what train to get, so I followed his instructions very well, even giving myself ten minutes extra. But the train came and then I had to transfer to a bus. But I was waiting for the bus for about half and hour, rapidly losing my patience with evey passing minute! Eventually the bus came and I just managed to run up to the gate before it closed. So it's back to rainy old Dubin after a fantastic week in Prague. Go see it!
Future episodes: Lots of new photos. Hope you enjoyed this action packed waltzer.net! Come back in a month or so and read more ramblings and see more photos!
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Waltzer is a graphic designer who lives and works in Dublin. He likes photography, the web, music, people, design and retro yokes.
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