February 9, 2006

Prague, Thoughts

Filed under: Travels, Prague — Alex Ravenel @ 11:51 am

Just like in the Berlin post, I couldn’t fit everything in the narrative, so here are a few final random thoughts about Prague.

  • Prague is probably the sketchiest city I’ve ever been to. Walking around at night, an endless stream of guys would walk up to you offering to whisk you away to a cabaret, or bar “just” 15km away–I’m not kidding. Like I’m going to get into a car with a random Eastern European and let him drive me somewhere 15km away. It was incredible. You could see them, stretching the streets like a net, and despite turning the first one down, it didn’t stop the next 10 from accosting you. I even reverted to speaking German to throw them off when they came at me in English–it didn’t work, they kept spouting their, probably prescripted, lines in English.
  • It was cold. I’ve been in Germany, and I thought that was cold, but it now feels downright balmy compared to Prague. The highest temperature we saw was below 20 degrees fahrenheit, and it was frequently below that. I wore two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a thick wool sweater, two coats, two pairs of gloves, a hat, and the hood to my jacket, and it was still cold.
  • Prague is being steadily Westernized. This is to be expected. But just from the tales and photos I’ve seen from Byron Baldwin, I can tell that it’s changed. Prices are still quite cheap–$1 beers, $5 large meals–if you get off the tourist drag, but I get the feeling that even that’s disappearing; once the Euro comes into circulation there in a couple of years, I fear that’ll be the end of an affordable Prague–it’ll be just as bad as Paris or Rome. But I managed to make it through very comfortably on $40 a day, including hostel, and we were eating and drinking well. Not bad.
  • The hostel we stayed in, The Boathouse, was awesome. Probably the best hostel I’ve stayed in yet. The owners were unbelievably friendly, they would cook excellent breakfasts or dinners for a swansong, and the location, while out of the way, would be amazing in the summer, when you could sit on the deck and watch the river flow by, or even take a boat out.
  • It’s a strange feeling dealing in currencies that trade at such a high number to the dollar. The Czech Koruna is about 24 to one US dollar. It’s a funny feeling walking around with 1000 Koruna notes in your pocket, a bill which is really only worth about $40.
  • We saw the coolest graffiti on a tram overpass. “Stop crying and record a mix tape.” Classic.
  • My German was surprisingly helpful there. I didn’t expect many people to speak German, but being able to speak it certainly helped me on several occasions

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