I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Shouting Prague, er, Prague, er, lager

Woke up in Berlin at 9:30am. 7 hours sleep. I barely ever get that much even at home. Had a text from Steffen saying he was downstairs for breakfast so grabbed that, tailed off by being told by Mark that our midday checkout was actually RIGHT NOW. Hurriedly packed stuff and set off, just me, Mark, Mike and Albert as everyone else had already disappeared. Found later that some of them had arisen at 8am and thought that we had already gone. Not sure they realised we'd been out til 2...

Albert left us in Berlin, doing just 11:45-1:30 on the clock face that is our route t-shirt. But he sent us off in style, first walking us to Karl Marx Allee, a vast thoroughfare of communist glory decorated now by pornographic animated billboards advertising massage parlours.

The, 3 u-Bahns. I didn't need this. The physical punishment of the trip so far was having an effect and I was very much the worse for wear, hungover as fuck and decidedly not enjoying, well, anything. Nonetheless I very bravely joined them on the trek to the Brandenburg gate for some legitimate tourism: 90 seconds or so looking at the gate, large amounts of tourists, and some people dressed as French and US troops. Where were the Brits?

Hauptbahnhof reached and we found everyone else, after a wurst stop. We were a dozen, but becoming 11. Photos of the group were taken and we boarded the train to Prague. Some people were expecting nice things, but I'm pretty sure this journey outshone everyone's expectations.

The first expectation to be shattered was that we wouldn't be boarding amongst a school trip seeming, comprised of an entire fucking school. It took forever to get into our compartments, indeed some didn't reach them until the second stop. Me and Mick had been ruthlessly efficient in grabbing the seats early though. The last of the duty free beer got drunk and we sped through Germany.

Then it happened.

Someone went to the buffet car.

The buffet car with table service and a proper chef with no microwave. With a 16 page menu (in three languages), a la carte food, draught Czech lager served in glasses, and happy hour pricing once we crossed the border. Most of us sat there for the next 90 minutes or so, loving this luxury but also waiting for food - being freshly prepared it took a while. Still, we had fine company and a gorgeous view of the Elbe, which we were hugging all through Bohemian Switzerland. Oh, did I forget to mention that before? The buffet car pretty much had special panoramic viewing windows.

Dresden to Prague by train is, simply, fantastic. As with Narvik, though, it would have been beyond description if the sun had been out. Things have been largely overcast so far, pretty much the only thing that's a legitimate shame.

Berlin Hbf to Praha hl.n was actually our only train on Thursday, as we were scheduled to bugger off at 0001.  This gave us a lovely 5 hours to spend in a city which I had only been to once before. I don't think we did much of the proper tourism last time, as I struggled to recall many details apart from playing pool to the sounds of Danish europop, a dog drinking another dog's piss while we drank in a park listening to a guy play a giant mobile piano with bells, and a landlord asking us to keep an eye on our waitress because he suspected her of theft.

This time around was a little different. Obviously, given the main focus of this trip, we went and got a tube, the. a tram, in order to catch a funicular railway up to the top of a park which we the. descended from on foot to reach a bar named the Black Ox. Two drinks choices: light, or dark. This beer was great. The place was smoky as hell though, so we kinda fragmented a bit into the almost-outdoors vs properly-indoors gangs. A couple of us secretly hoped that our captain would be kicked out for daring to smoke an e-fag in here.

Mick lost his camera :-(

Another tram later and suddenly we were in tourist central, the vicinity of that bridge in Prague that's really famous and whose name I can never remember, and I just asked Mike and Lloyd what it was - without looking up and noting that they're spark out. Damn it. Anyway, that bridge in Prague. Y'know. That bridge.

We didn't cross it immediately, instead dropping down to a market square bordered by restaurants where we occupied 3 tables and bought lots and lots of meat. It all looked as good as it tasted, which was very bloody good indeed. I had duck with red cabbage and dumplings and potatoes and a pilsner and it were all grand, and so welcome. Another business card was handed out to about the 50th person we've explained just what it is we're all up to.

It was dark. We wandered across that bridge.  Many photos were taken. I'd had lessons from Paul in how to use manual settings on my camera to take better pics earlier in the trip, and used them as best I could to take a series of noisy and/or dark, out of focus, badly framed pictures of really pretty things. Deleted each one and used the iPhone on automatic to get a few corkers. Bleh. I suck.

There was a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "DON'T DRINK AND BLOG". I'll just go home then shall I? Christ. It's basically all I'm doing!

We were meant to see some kind of amusing clock show, but it didn't happen. Nonetheless the walk back to the station was a real treat, every corner turned revealing a new bit of wonderful architecture. Until near the station, where google maps tried to make us walk through a dark underpass meant only for cars. We used the passenger lift instead.

Luggage retrieved from lockers, we piled on to the Hungarian sleeper car whisking us overnight. Tara, Prague.

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