Wherein DF travels to Mitteleuropa and recounts his merrie adventures to his adoring broad readership.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Maticka Praha

...is, I have read, Czech for "little mother Prague," and is the affectionate nickname for the city in which I currently find myself among its locals. In an effort to disclose all to the devoted B.R., have no way to confirm or deny this, as I have had a hard time locating a local among the tourist hordes, and even if I could find one, I suspect it would be useless because I don't speak the slightest scrap of this western Slavic tongue.

The trip in from Dresden yesterday was so nice I was kind of disappointed to arrive. There is something about train travel in Europe I find infinitely comforting: you get to see the country, which is usually gorgeous (not sure why European train trax are so frequently built through picturesque areas, but most of them are--the Dresden-Prague line goes through a stretch of Central European countryside along the Elbe River), and (this being my fave part) you don't have to do anything. You just get to sit there and relax. This stands in contrast to the rest of my time, which is typically spent trying to see and do as much as possible, and while great is often fairly intense as well.

Arrival posed a series of challenges, not least of which was that the train dropped us off at Praha Holesovice station, not the more central station that appears on all maps and from which all accommodations give directions. Fortunately, however, I teamed up with a pair of friendly Canadians who were similarly confused, and figured out the way to town (they also spotted me enough Koruny for a subway ticket when the exasperated lady at the station refused to change my 1000Kr note--more evidence of post-communist laziness).

Thus despite knowing no Czech and armed with only a copy of the map from my trusty Lonely Planet (no I am not using Let's Go, about which I wish to say no more in this public space), I managed to find my prison/hotel (about which more later) and took the requisite nap before setting out to navigate the Golden City in the company of tens of thousands of tourists from around the world, as well as the occasional Czech person trying to sell T-shirts with a picture of the word "Praha" emblazoned on a big cannabis leaf.