Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I did not want to be there.
To make matters worse, it was cold and I had not found anywhere to stay for the night, so I had paid for a hostel. Two hostels in fact, because each of the hostels only had a one day availability. It was the first time that I had been forced to pay for accommodation in my several months of hitchhiking. I was not in a good mood. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to use some of my fast dwindling funds to go out for dinner. We sat on the main square and drank wine, while eating rather un-Czech food. It was quite delicious but I soon had to escort my companion back to the hostel as she started swaying in the chair. Supposedly there was a rogue batch of alcohol in Prague at the time which had caused the deaths of many people. This swaying was induced not by poisonous chemicals, but rather by over excessive indulgence.
One of the most famous parts of Prague is Charles’ Bridge. During the day it is so full of tourists that crossing it makes you feel ill. You go shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world and barely get to glimpse the artwork either side of you before gratefully getting free at the other end. At this point, you have the pleasant realisation that you have to do it all over again to reach your hostel. Joy.
There are a lot of towers in Prague and climbing them is fun. With a stretched budget, you have two choices; not to climb them or to sneak past the ticket guys. Generally when sneaking past ticket control, I have found that the trip doesn’t last very long and you spend most of your time attempting to evade staff rather than enjoying wherever it is that you are. Thus I found some free attractions. John Lennon Wall is a wonderful sight that is decorated in messages of peace and hope. More recently, additions involving Erasmus 2012 have become prevalent but the overall message is still a positive one.
I took a few photos of John Lennon Wall if you care to see them. One of the most scenic views in Prague is from the castle walls. It’s a great spot to sit and eat your picnic, while looking out over a mass of red roof tops. It is with good reason that Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Infamous for absinthe we ventured into absinthe shops and partook in some window shopping. Actually drinking the stuff would probably give a far different experience. We made a second attempt at vegetarian Czech food but managed to get rather uninspiring and tastless fried cheese and over cooked vegetables. The Czech cuisine without meat, leaves a lot to be desired. I did start talking to a Spanish girl who said that if we ever came to Brno, we could come and stay at here place. I noted down her number and would soon be taking her up on her offer when returning South through the Czech Republic.
If you keep your eyes open in Prague, you can also find a guy with a golden penis. This isn’t important and it isn’t much part of a story. I thought that you should know he is there though.
One thing that struck me in Prague was the vast number of locks attached to bridges. They are supposedly symbols of love and I have heard in some places, that the weight of the locks was so much to bare that the bridges were becoming unstable. Supposedly you should throw the keys into the river as a symbol of everlasting love. I wonder how many people kept a spare key or wished that they had many years down the line.
One of my favourite places in Prague is the metro. For whatever reason, it is my favourite metro in the world and the escalators act as wind tunnels. We used the metro to get to the edge of Prague and continued hitchhiking once more. A nice gentleman dropped us in a rather rurl area and suggested that we visit ‘Tropical Island,’ an aqua-park resort. We were on our way there before we managed to make it clear that as lovely as it sounds, we have no interest in visiting an aqua-park.
Multiple rural stops ensued and soon we were hungry. Not wanting to delve into our precious peanut butter supply, I even considered McDonalds as an option when we were stranded at a junction. As expected, there was nothing that I wanted to eat, but the bonus of visiting McDonald’s was that my hitching partner got us a ride while I was out of sight. The guy driving was somewhat disappointed to find me climbing into his car and I genuinely believe that he may have in fact thought he was picking up a prostitute.
When you’re hitchhiking, you have good rides and bad. He wasn’t bad, but unusual. He drove us a very short distance, didn’t speak a word of English, then dropped us in the middle of nowhere once more. Swings and roundabouts, a lovely Swiss lady soon helped us along our way with tales of hitching in Asia and South America. More stories for me to be jealous of. The pattern for the day seemed to be short rides to places that weren’t great for hitching from. We overshot our turning and in the search for Berlin, we found ourselves on the wrong side of the motorway with traffic heading towards Switzerland. If we crossed the motorway, we would find ourselves heading back towards Prague.
I walked alone for a couple of kilometres to find an alternative route. There was nothing. Riding on hope we tried to get a ride to anywhere and recollect our plans. A young guy who’s parents were winemakers picked us up, crossed the motorway and took us back in the opposite junction to leave us at a service station on the road to Berlin. Then he jumped back in his car and continued on his journey after a very big detour. Another example of selfness human kindness. This selflessness continued as we ran into another hitchhiker who sent a van in our direction, claiming that it was easier for one person to find a ride and he didn’t mind waiting. We gratefully jumped into the back of the heavily laden Hungarian camper and then proceeded to move everything around so that we could fit him in as well. Campers, surprisingly, don’t often pick up hitchhikers. When they do, they are amazing. The three of us slept in the back of the van and awoke several hours later in Berlin. Despite setbacks, we had made it to our destination once again.
We met the guy we would be staying with and found one of the most unusual set-ups I have ever seen. There were four of us sleeping in the living room, three in the bedroom, and the owner in the kitchen. The flat was so full of things that we actually couldn’t stand anywhere without stepping over people and our bags were piled on top of other things in the flat. We barely spoke to the guy we were staying with and he seemed to be awake all night and never left the apartment. He seemed nice enough however and we appreciated his unusual hospitality. He didn’t seem to desire communication; he was simply helping people who needed a bed for the night. With the kitchen unusable, we headed into town and walked for hours in exploration of the city. After venturing Eastwards, returning to Germany was a financial shock and we gorged ourselves on €2 falafel wraps. After everything I had heard about Berlin, I was excited to see more of it in the daylight. After a day of stopping, starting, and getting very lost, I was first in need of sleep. Sleep in a tiny apartment with 8 people and several lifetimes of belongings.