Woke up to the sounds of rain and snoring. Another traveler had joined our room overnight.
Always bring earplugs and eye shades if you’re staying in a hostel. Someone will always, always, snore in your room and it will be way louder than you thought humanly possible.
These plugs also come in very handy at other times so be sure to either buy good ones or a lot of the disposable kinds and leave in your bag. Sometimes the front desk will have plugs so check there.
It was also my experience that my bed was directly in view of a window, and most hostels won’t spring for any type of shade, so unless you want to wake up at the literal crack of dawn, you’ll need eye shades. These will also aid with the inevitable occasion when your roommate comes in very late night and flips on the lights to see.
People are just pretty rude most of the time especially given the incredibly long travel times and early arrivals for budget travel.
Still raining after a shower so I researched a free walking tour of the city. It didn’t start for a few more hours so what to do?
I was on vacation and had spied a beer I’d heard about for a long time, but had never seen for sale in the US.
Duffman haha! It wasn’t bad, made by a Dutch company if I recall correctly. It was nice, light lager.
After the beer, I felt it time to finally try the conical cinnamon roll pastry I’d seen people carrying since I arrived to town.
Skalický trdelník was the local name for this pastry. Dough is wrapped around a metal rod, cooked over coals, and finished with a cinnamon/crushed walnut mixture. You could also add ice cream, but it seemed pretty indulgent already.
It was good, tasted like a cinnamon roll. I unraveled it as I walked over to the stature in city centre to meet my free walking tour.
Red umbrellas are the thing to look for walking tours and then you’ll be directed to another person who takes your info down and give you a number.
Due to groups being over 100, they break them up into 2 groups of 50.
My group was led by a guy born in Prague who was a history major with a psychology minor so he encouraged us to ask him quite literally anything about this city or emotional crisis we may experience due to what we were seeing.
We began with the very dark history in the Jewish Quarter as most cities isolated or segregated Jews from the other parts of town for centuries.
This made things a bit easier in the 1940’s sadly.
Remember, Europe was at one time ruled by the Catholic church who wasn’t a huge fan of any non-Catholics.
We saw a very old synagogue then a few blocks over was a very tall Jewish cemetery.
The cemetery was centuries old and since it was the only place to be buried if you were Jewish, they had to stack graves on top of each other, creating a noticeable hill.
We then located an eerie statue dedicated to the Franz Kafka who was born and resided in the city until his death.
Oddly enough, he wasn’t published during his lifetime and as such directed his friend to burn his writings upon his death. Lucky for us all, his friend read everything and decided not to publish them.
There are 2 Kafka statues in the city and we were at the one of a man in a top hat sitting on a creature’s shoulder, but it didn’t have a head, hands or feet.
A short distance away we encountered the Old New Synagogue, which is the oldest active synagogue in use, dating back to the 12th century!
The legend is that a golem resides in the attic and strangely, almost as if it were planned, the stairs no longer go all the way to the top.
We soon took a break at a bar and encouraged to eat and have a pint.
I was safe from the rain due to umbrellas. Over my beer, I overheard a guy being hired as a tour guide. Mainly his job was to encourage people to join this boat tour as his salary was totally based on the number of people he got on board.
His 2nd most important job was to be on time and stay sober.
Our tour ended at the State Opera house that was still in operation since the 1880’s.
Despite the sprinkling rain, I spied a familiar sight coming my way: the Texas flag!
They walked too fast for me to find how what they were protesting, but it was a nice reminder of the homeland.
Deciding I was hungry, I popped into a small grocery store and picked up some items to make pasta.
It was strange what you missed on the road and yes, cooking was one of those modern annoyances that I wanted to do again.
I thought it turned out well and my Italian friend even had a bowl I offered him.
He gave me a thumbs up, though I suspect it was due to the fact I didn’t drown my pasta in sauce like he thought I would.
He and his new girl of the week were going to the statue in the square area to drink some wine and people watch. I told him I was off to see a rock show.
This venue was downstairs and I was met by a rather surly door guy, well he may have just been Czech, hard to say.
The cover was around $6 which was entirely reasonable I felt.
The band was a 5 piece and all looked like pretty normal dudes, but the crowd was fanatically in love with them.
People danced alone, swayed, or sang along arm in arm with a friend the whole show.
One guy kept raising his glass quickly, spilling a bit all around him, but he never did get anyone else wet.
I was quite taken by a female dancer with a shaved head, suspenders and boots who danced front and center the whole show. Oh she was so graceful!
She later retired to a table occupied by a chain-smoking, long-haired guy who she kissed.
Oh well, I doubt she spoke English. The band didn’t either so I have no idea what songs they played or how funny they were. Lots of laughing in between song banter.
I left quite happy with a ringing in my ears.
Staying on the street led me back to the English pub where I’d seen karaoke a few days ago.
“Ah you came back!” said the Dutch bartender. “I thought we’d run you off!”
There were maybe 5 people here so we all sat outside as that’s what he wanted to do.
When I told him I had come from a Už Jsme Doma show everyone at the bar perked up and shouted.
“Oh man, wow. They are still playing! I played a show with them in the 90’s.” the bartender related to me.
A couple at another table told me they loved the band too and were happy I was able to see them.
“They are best Czech band, good experience for a tourist to the city.” one of them told me.
Alas the mood didn’t sustain as the bartender related how good his time in the band was compared to now.
Apparently they toured the UK and Europe and did well, but couldn’t sustain the lifestyle and broke up.
Now he seemed stuck in Prague with his girlfriend. I advised him Prague was a great, cheap city to be in. He didn’t disagree, but rent was due and he barely made it.
Apparently most nights were like this, not many people and he wasn’t paid much for his work.
I made sure to toss in a few koruna into his tip jar after he poured my final pint and we returned to our table.
He opened his beer with a very familiar opener that resembled a key. It was the same bottle opener from Boulevard Brewing in KC that I had on my key chain.
What are the chances?! Such random coincidences like this made me feel like I was on the correct path. I was again in the place I was supposed to be.
We shook hands as I left and wished me well. I returned the sentiments.
What a great day in Prague. You don’t win rain!
Song: Už Jsme Doma – Propast/Abbys
Beer: Pilsner Urquell