Eastern Europe: Prague

July 7, 2008

From June 1st-16th I traveled with my Dad through Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, and Istanbul. The de facto theme of the trip was history, so we spent much of our time taking tours and trying to visit history museums. It was a much different manner of trip in comparison with those that I take by myself, mainly because I’m generally unwilling to spend any money on anything.

June 1st– 4th: Prague

Prague proved to be rather more interesting than I noticed last time, though I enjoyed my previous trip there as well. On our first full day my Dad decided we should take a guided tour, so we went to the center of the old city to find a tour. The way this works is there are several people standing in the center, holding an umbrella or a sign to indicate that they are tour guides. There were four tour groups to choose from on this day. We chose the guy holding a sign saying “Experienced Tour Guide,” which sounded good. It was, in fact, good. I thought we would wait for more people to show up, but our guide, Viktor, apparently believes that two people is enough for a tour (at 1000 Czech Koruna, ca. 40 euro), so it was a rather intimate tour. We spent about four hours walking through the old and new cities (which together form half of Prague as a whole, as there are another two districts east of the Vltava river).

After the tour ended, our guide asked us if we would like to go with him for “a beer.” As my friend Jack Wilde, who spent six months teaching English in the Czech Republic, can tell you, accepting such an offer from a Czech person is a bad idea. As Jack explains, “let’s have a beer” means, to a Czech person, “You are a sissy if you don’t drink at least six half-liters.” Not mindful of Jack’s advice, however, we went for a beer, with predictable results.

It started because we had to try all of the three beers available at the bar. After drinking a half-liter of the third beer, Viktor ordered us another of the first so we would really be able to see the difference. Having agreed that the first beer we tried was the best of them, we had another round of this beer to celebrate. Then Viktor ordered us another round just for the heck of it.

The rest of this story doesn’t go particularly well for me; in the end, I did manage to walk back to our hotel by 9 pm, at which point I got in bed and fell instantly asleep. What fun.

Incidentally, Viktor probably spent 1/3 of the 1,000 CZK we paid him buying beer that night. An interesting business model.

The next day we walked around the East side of the city and saw the castle. Not much to say, as it was a fairly low-key day.

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