05.10.2008 - 09.10.2008 14 °C
On the morning of the 5th we leave for Prague. I booked Ruaridh and myself a hostel that seemed nice called the Czech Inn, and we are pretty excited about getting a glimpse of eastern Europe. The lesson for today: pay the extra 8 euro, reserve a seat. We ended up spending the last 4 hours of our train ride standing next to the doors, or trying to sit on our bags. Unpleasant! But soon after we arrive, we find our hostel and think we are mistaken- from the outside it looks like a hotel. We go in to the lobby area and pay 12 euro per night for a dorm room. Next to the lobby is the hostel bar, which will be the starting point for many interesting nights. The guys at reception are really nice, and recommend an Italian place for us to go get dinner. After settling in to our dorm room, we meet Anthony and Colin, a couple of our roommates who we end up hanging out with most nights- really nice guys. We drop off our stuff and head down the street for dinner- the food was excellent, and we talk about how long it's been since we've allowed ourselves a real dinner. Our bill came out to 577 Kn- about 30 dollars. Another big reason to go to Prague- it's affordable. Something I will miss sorely, as we are now on a train to Interlaken, Switzerland. After dinner we head down to the bar and meet some cool people, but ultimately decide to stay in - it's been a long day.
Monday morning, we decide to take a tram ride through Prague and up to the castle. It's really magnificent, as is the Cathedral nearby. We spend most of the day walking around and admiring the centuries-old architecture from a city that has been lucky enough to avoid bombs. We make our way down to the bridge next to Charles Bridge, and see the brightly colored t-shirts of all the tourists snapping pictures of the statues. The bridge, I think, is much prettier from afar, especially since we aren't being herded like sheep. We end up back at our hostel pretty early, and meet a few people at the bar. The beer served at the bar is Urquell's, similar to Guiness in Dublin- it's pretty much the only thing you can get. They also have the local Budvar in 4 variations, which is stronger than normal beer (we find that our pretty quickly.) I ended up talking to two other guys, Keith and Kindler, who end up being pretty cool (originally from jersey, of course.) One day I plan on being as travelled as they are, maybe even live and work somewhere for a year like Keith did in South Africa. Anyway, us, them, Anthony, Colin, Sarah and two Swiss girls our age decide to go out to the famous 5-story club at Charles Bridge, called Karlovy Iazne. It was a blast- it's been so long since I've been out dancing. We spent a lot of time on the retro floor, playing songs like Come On Eileen and songs from "Grease." It was already late, so when it started dying down we went to another place called Bombay. Long story short, we had to leave, and the group of us wandered around a dark, empty Prague, talking and laughing, before going back to the hostel.
The next day we get a pretty late start, but go to see the Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock, and more wandering. We go back to hang out with the friends we've made over our first couple days, and after a 3-hour long legendary game of Quarters, which ended up involving half the bar and breaking 3 glasses, I decide to skip the clubbing and go to bed "early" around 12:30AM.
Wednesday is our last day in Prague, and we take care of some practicalities and enjoy the company of our dormies, including a girl from South Korea named Nel who just moved in. After sewing up a few holes in my jeans, we head into what I suppose is the commercial hub of Prague, just after the Old Town Square. I get a new pair of jeans since all the thread in the world won't hold mine together for much longer. We get some excellent, cheap Czech food (despite the location)- cabbage soup in a bread bowl and some sausage-y stuff. Note: If you are a vegetarian, good luck in the Czech Republic. And Germany. So it's our last night, and we return to the hostel to hang out with our friends before we all depart in the morning. Keith, Kindler and Eric missed their flight, so they are back to party with us as well. A new group of girls from Nevada showed up, they were kind of annoying, but came out with us for the first part of the night. Before leaving the hostel around 12, we all had a glass of absinthe (the proper way) and then hit the road for a long night ahead. Long story short (and sparing the parents reading my blog) we had a lot of fun, went to a lot of clubs, and got in around 6. Needless to say, the group of us in 201- me, Ruaridh, Anthony, Colin, and Nel, all slept in past check-out, and missed our first train. We eventually drag ourselves to the station- the guys are also headed to Berlin. The train ride through the Czech Republic was not what I expected- some was stereotypical Eastern Europe, gray, dilapidated and graffitied, but some looked like it belonged in a story book- one city we passed, Usti, had these beautiful, ancient looking houses atop rolling red hills over a river. After a few hours, we arrive in Berlin and say our good-byes to the guys and exchange information. We are actually staying in Potsdam with (drum roll) a friend of Ruaridh's dad- after this, we are on our own until my family in Lisbon.