Trip of a Lifetime – Prague and the Czech Republic
Ahhh Prague – How I remember thee in 1999! It really was an awesome 5 days, even if I can’t remember all of it or even half of it! I took an overnight train from Amsterdam to Dresden. I was very happy that I paid an extra 40 bucks or so to upgrade to a sleeper. I think there were four beds in the cabin, but I was the only one in it which was needless to say brilliant.
Less brilliant were the two American girls who got on the train in Amsterdam and were kicked out of a cabin because they hadn’t paid the sleeper-supplement on top of their Eurail Pass. Not only that, but there question to the conductor of ‘does this train stop in Hamburg’ did not receive the answer they were after. Perhaps they should have asked the question of someone before the train had left, next stop not until 3am or something!
Still, I’m sure they managed somehow. Eurail passes were (and probably still are) flexible that if you leave after 7pm in the evening on a night train you only have to cross off the next day on your pass. Well, the conductors did with a sort of hole-punch back in 1999. I’m sure the technology has been somewhat upgraded since then!
Dresden was a mess when I arrived. I’ve heard today it’s a great, cool city to explore but back in 1999 it seemed like half of it had been knocked down and rebuilding was only just beginning. An hour there and I transferred to the train for Prague (again I needed to pay a small supplement because my pass was not good for the Czech Republic) and a couple of hours later, around lunch time, I had arrived in sunny, hot Prague.
Finding a place to stay was somewhat tricky, but I ended up following an Aussie girl and American guy to a hostel which was pretty awesome. Well, it was ‘rustic’ shall we say. It was like a holiday camp place from the 80s, with the décor to match and the musty smell as well! It was very brown I remember – bed covers, carpet etc. And we were the only three staying there. There’s almost no chance the place is still operating, but it was so quiet and peaceful it was almost like having your own room. No idea of the name – in fact I don’t think I did when we stayed.
We were a little from the centre of town, however the trams are fantastic in Prague and can get you most places. Also, I had a friend to meet up with in Prague, Mike from the USA who I had met in Bruges, and he had regaled me with tales of a night club (name since passed from my memory) which played retro hits (80s mostly) and finished the night with ‘The Final Countdown’. Well, that would be my final evening in Prague.
Before that though, my newer friends and I hung out and were a team for four and a bit days in the Czech capital. We saw the central square and the astronomical clock which it’s famous for, as well as a number of amazing gothic churches. The Vltava River runs through Prague, and a walk along it or across it is a must in the city. I can’t really tell you that much – I think we went out a bit drinking and the like.
We took a bus one day to Karlovy Vary, an hour or two from Prague. This quiet, picturesque town had a bunch of spas and is a great little getaway from Prague. I had a massage there and we had lunch there too. We were there on a weekday because it was pretty quiet and sleepy place.
The final night was a big night. Mike had invited my new friends and I to the club, but I also joined him for a bit of an expat party beforehand. This was my first, and thus far only, experience with Absinth. These spirits, famed from the region, are often very high in alcohol content. I was told that what I was drinking was 90%. That’s pretty much the maximum it gets. Well, it was first lit on fire. After that I’m not sure, but I had a double shot, and to be honest (such a lightweight) I couldn’t handle it at all! My throat was burning and then… well…
The night club was awesome. It was a fantastic evening and a great way to end the best part of a week in Prague. We all danced and drank our way until about 5am I think. And somehow navigated our way back to the hostel. The next day the sun came up and I was on my way back to Munich. From there it was a short journey by plane across Western Europe and the channel to the United Kingdom and London. Oh, but that will be for the next time!