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

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Itinerariat 5/25 through 6/2

5/25 German class, of course, then lunch at cool bagel place again, where I again read CE book (now in WWII section). Some blogging, plan-making, then wander around city taking pics of key monuments: Under den Linden, Brandenburger Tor, Tiergarten. Visit Reichstag, which is spectacular in setting sun. Evening plan to see Star Wars movie w/J. Beforehand, spend downtime in strange Dunkin Donuts where group of 10 shrieking US college girls conscript me to take pic and upset solitude in which I am approaching end of Corrections with disturbing rapidity. SW movie not bad, as long as you expect a SW movie and not high art. Kino at Sony Center includes so many previews that movie does not begin until 11.40 (scheduled at 11pm) and have to take night bus back at 2am.

5/26 German class: am fatigued from late night and irritable for that reason and also because have to sit next to odiferous classmate. Class also moving along too slowly for my taste. Post-class, eat brat, bock, and currywurst at Pburg imbiss with classmates. Then home for marathon nap. Awaken and go to museums by Schloss Cburg only to find that latter not open late on Thurs as promised. Irritated, salvage some of day by going to Gemaldemuseum (for free) instead. Awful faux-Cheesburger for dinner. No wonder Euros think cheeseburgers are terrible. The ones they have are shite.

5/27 German class: again, room hot, clingy classmate odiferous, subject matter unchallenging. We make fruit salad, strangely, and I eat some to be nice. Frantic day of mailing things home, going to exhibit near Schloss C (great drawings by Klimt, Koshoska, Schiele), and then to store for booze and quickly home to pack a bit then go to J's for schnitzel, which is, despite warnings to contrary, quite delicious. I eat far too much of both Jäger and Wiener schnitzels, as well as german equivalent of Tater Tots (Teuton Tots?). After dinner, go to cool beach bar that--b/c darkness and heat and sand on ground--actually does feel like beach.

5/28 Awaken with scandalously little sleep (2hr?) to catch early train to Dresden. Dresden itself hot, full of Saxon tourists, and must wander city in fatigued stupor for hours after arrival until check-in time at hotel. See major sights, then check in, nap soundly, awake feeling rested and fantastic. Then go on unsuccessful search all over city to find bar showing US-England game. US loses anyway. Starving, cannot find reasonably priced restaurant open late. End up eating Nogger for dinner.

5/29 Awaken early, visit great museum full of medieval ceremonial weaponry (swords, shields, crossbows, suits of armor, etc.), then hop train to Prague, where arrival is smoothed by meeting friendly, Koruny-bearing Canadians. Spend evening getting bearings on city, then having great pizza at Pizzeria Kmotra. Am flummoxed by inability to speak to locals.

5/30 Up early to eat adequate if unspectacular breakfast at hotel-pension-prison Unitas, then go on walking tour of city where I fortuitously meet Canadians from train station. Guide is marvelously informative, and tour lasts twice as long as scheduled, after which I trudge under punishingly hot Czech sun to Retaurant U Mediviku for delicious gulas with knedliky (goulash with dumplings) and divine Budvar. Celebrate by taking well-earned nap. Eventually, more Kmotra for dinner.

5/31 Again, up early to beat crowds to breakfast. Arrive at Prague castle 15min after opening, at which time it is already swamped by tourists, including particularly aggressive Japanese tourists, some of whom have to be dragged bodily away from taking point-blank photos of changing of guard (for castle-guarding guards with guns and all, they command very little respect). Tour Castle, Vitus cathedral, state house (where 2d defenestration of prague took place), and escape to nearby green tea house, where owner gives me evil eye for using bathroom before ordering any tea. Then quick trips to spectacular St Charles Church and Wallenstein Gardens before lunch at Bohemia Bagel (free refills of Diet Coke!), and then funicular railway to Petrin Hill. Panic on rickety staircase to top of Prague Eiffel Tower, but ascent successful enough to warrant reward of beer and klobasa (sausage) once back on terra firma. Descent via back road along deserted stairs--finally feel have sense of solitude in Prague--then dinner at wonderful, if largely deserted Czech cellar restaurant (more gulas, budvar).

6/1 Up even earlier, and take subway south to see Vysehrad castle, which is overrun by czech schoolgroups (this is what these people consider education? no wonder the CR has a GDP smaller than Mississippi´s). return to Old Town Square, reprise of astronomical clock parade of saints, then quick klobasa from stand and trip to City of Prague museum, which is great but most memorable for photo exhibit of final days of Nazi occupation in ´45. Walk through Jewish Qtr on way back, then another meal at U Mediviku (wild boar, garlic, spinach, potatoes), then sweet sweet nap. Dinner: surprisingly good Thai.

6/2 Early morning altercation with loud brits turns out to be blessing b/c it inspires me to catch earlier train to Vienna. Meet friendly Canadians on train south. Check into pension in time to see fantastic Albertina museum, with "from goya to picasso" exhibit as well as deliciously overdone former Hapsburg palace rooms with art from imperial collection. Wander city, taking in post-imperial splendor, then dinner by university and long sit-and-write session at wonderfully languid cafe sperl.