Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Viva la Praha

So now I know why that sleeper train was so cheap. Possibly the bumpiest and loudest train journey I've been on. On the plus side, I got a free 10 hour massage out of it as the train flew through the Czech countryside all night.
Wenceslas Square at 9am. Sorted.
And in we got at 7:30am, which is not a time I'm a particular fan of. But it did mean that I'd dropped my bag off and was in Wenceslas Square for 8:30am. And I was already sharing it with about 5 tour groups. And they all had earpieces on, while their guide had a microphone. Seriously, buy yourself a map and an audiobook.
Tour groups: GET OUT OF MY WAY
They were everywhere in Prague though! Crowded the place out, which is the thing I hate about mass tourism. This is why I just wander round a bit, and that's what I did, working out my own route around the Old Town and the Old Jewish Quarter. I even stopped off in a traditional Czech kitchen - good, filling, cheap food and probably the best beer in the world. Take that Carlsberg, Gambrinus is in town. And I think I paid about 80p for half a litre of it. Win.
Old Square: yes, I do tourist traps too
And then I saw a Segway place which offered a "free test drive". So I talked my way into getting that with no intention of hiring, rode it for a bit, nearly fell off - and then had to talk my way out of not hiring it. It seems that "I'll come back later when I've had a better look round" is a good option. One day I'll actually be able to afford it.
Brehova's Witnesses?
The place is beautiful - great architecture. They used to know how to build stuff that looks nice - what happened? Who decided that giant concrete blocks were a good idea?

I then joined the tourist trail again and crossed the Charles Bridge. Thought I probably should. My Lonely Planet said that "strolling across the 14th-century Charles Bridge is everybody's favourite Prague activity". Well, maybe at 3am, when there's noone else there. But at 2pm, there were a few too many people strolling across it. And apparently it's acceptable to just stop in the middle of it, take a photo and have a chat. That turns a stroll into an angry wander, especially when it's an entire tour group that does it. They seem to have no concept of other people. Flown in, taken on to a bus to all the sights, get some photos, get told some stuff that doesn't matter/they won't remember/they aren't listening to, flown out. That's not travelling in my book.

OK, I'll stop ranting about them one day.

So having got across the bridge, I set about avoiding the castle steps and finding another way up. And so I went down an alleyway and found some narrow streets leading up the hill. There was noone there. And the beer was cheaper than on the tourist path. And I needed a beer after that.
I'm far too proud of myself. And I still need a shave.
Bought some absinthe too. When in Rome...


So by 4pm I'd pretty much done Prague, however stupid a statement that probably is. I could have wandered for another day, but I tried that in Krakow and there's a limit to how much you can do before your feet start crying and you get a bit bored.

Jumped on a tram, checked into the hostel for the night, went down to the bar and had a few beers. Met a few guys who were travelling and had some good banter down in the cellar. One guy, an American called Max, was cycling round Europe. The next day he was off to Vienna (2 days away) as it was, in his words, a "short trip". I like that it's not just me who's a bit mental. Also, there are Australians everywhere at the moment. Fairly sure I've seen more of them than Brits.
This is a tram. Just in case you don't know what a tram looks like. Newspapers do this minus the sarky caption.
So yes, this travelling thing is intense, but so worth it.

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