“Wake up, wake up, mate. You’ve got to get out of my bed. Wake up!”, I said to the young bloke taking up more than his fair share of my bed in the middle of last night. Unfortunately, it’s not as sordid as it might sound. He was a young Australian bloke who had arrived at the hostel in the middle of the evening and had decided “the made-up bed” was obviously the one intended for him. It’s kinda ironic, don’t you think, throwing a young man OUT of my bed?
When I woke this morning and saw him in the clear light of day, and noticed he had red hair, I had to stop myself from calling him Goldilocks. “Guess who’s been sleeping in my bed”, I thought to myself when he apologised. “No worries mate”, I told him, adding “you looked pretty fucked”. While the rest of the room looked horrified at what I said, being an Australian he just smiled, knowing I meant no offence.
I guess it was about two o’clock in the morning when I arrived in. I’d gone to Valentino, the club I briefly visited the night before, remarking positively on my blog about their anti-smoking ventilation system. Unfortunately, last night the system seemed to have broken down, as it was pretty bloody unbearable. And the fact the place was full of Americans, or at least fifty percent. Still, what else would you expect on Madonna’s Fiftieth Birthday? To celebrate there was a 100cr cover-charge ($6-7 Australian) which didn’t seem to buy you much at all, except the opportunity to use the cloak room. I had a drink and a dance, and aside from the ubiquitous smoking, generally had a pretty good time. As with the night before, the bar downstairs played that awful generic dull, souless dance music you can find anywhere. Thank goodness, the upstairs bar played some local Czech hits which I enjoyed immensely, including a local version of “Holding Out For A Hero” and “I Will Survive”. But with all of the tourists around I wondered to myself as one point… “Am I was getting an authentic first-rate Czech experience or a third-rate Western experience?” I’m not sure of the answer. I might have to go back to consider this in greater detail :)
I think the meal I had last night, though, was pretty good, and I think reasonably authentically Czech. It was a roast duck with a potato and onion salad, and it tasted pretty good. From what I can see I was the only English-speaker in the restaurant, so I’m hoping I had a reasonably authentic local experience.
Damo had mentioned to me how many tourists visit Prague, and I guess I hadn’t realised how many until today. There are thousands of them, tens of thousands, probably more. Lots of Americans, lots of Germans and lots of Italians, from what I’ve overheard.
Aside from the first day when I arrived, it’s been our first good day of weather. It’s shorts and t-shirt weather. And so I’ve been wandering around town visiting the places I’d only previously seen in the rain, including the Presidential Palace and gardens of the Czech Senate, both of which I thought were very beautiful.
I also went on a river cruise which was pretty lame. Because the river is regulated with locks and weirs you don’t actually travel that far on a river cruise. And as the commentary consisted of nothing more than phrases like “National University” in Czech, English, German, French and Russian, I don’t think it was all that good value for money. I also worried the bloke running the tour company was an American. As you look around Prague you see American, English, German and Swedish ownership everywhere. As we wandered around the river, and as I reflected on this, I wondered how much the locals have truly benefited from the fall of communism. Aside from political freedom, have they actually made money, or has it all gone elsewhere Anyway, back to the cruise. I don’t think I really saw anything from the river I couldn’t see from the land. I noticed, for example, the son of a young Prague family stopped taking photographs after about fifteen minutes.
On the other hand, I’ve been taking heaps of photographs today, taking advantage of the sunny weather. Of particular interest is one I took of the Charles Bridge. It’s an amazing ancient bridge right in the middle of town which has been turned into something akin to The Rocks of Tower Bridge. As I looked down from Prague Castle I saw just how many tourists were on the bridge. So, of course I crossed it too. It’s touristy and blah. Although it would be great to cross the bridge when it’s not as busy. However, crossing the bridge I overheard a wonderful comment from a Czech bloke who was obviously showing an Australian girl around. “I was always told I should marry an Australian, because the wife’s mother would be on the other side of the world on an island in the middle of the ocean”. Puts it all into some perspective, doesn’t it?