IT, Alcohol, Mucha, Alcohol, Kafka, Alcohol

A couple of weeks ago I went to Prague. [For a business trip. Yes, I’m still smug about that.] I was sent there for an IT training* and since the friend formerly known as abstrakt teashoe and B. wanted to see Prague as well and had actually decided to go on a trip there before they knew I was going there as well, I stayed an additional weekend there with the both of them to do some more sightseeing.** And drinking.***

Anyway, so it all started on Sunday morning, when I left Vienna by train, only to notice as soon as I had left Austria and started to pay roaming fees that I had forgotten the printed program. Which would not have been so much of a problem, if it hadn’t been the only place where I wrote down the name and address of the hotel where I was staying. So I started calling my two sisters who have a key to my apartment to try and get that information. Fortunately, I was successful and half an hour after I arrived in Prague, I knew where I had to go.

So I got on the tram, drove to the hotel (which was rather luxurious, though not so much that I felt completely uncomfortable – yay!) and even after taking a shower, I still had a little time to see the Dancing House, which was right across the bridge from the hotel. What a beautiful piece of modern achitecture!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to see more before I met the group for dinner. There were about 20 people there, from all continents and I didn’t actually know anybody so I spent dinner [and the beer after dinner] getting to know everyone, except my roommate, who arrived late.

The next four days are quickly told, since we spent them mostly in front of our computers, learning things about Report Builder (which looks a lot neater than Crystal Reports) and about hidden features in our database etc. [There are always hidden features, aren’t there?] And in our breaks we got completely stuffed. With every cup of coffee there came fresh fruit, chocolate cream and/or pastries. I am amazed that I didn’t gain about 300 kg.

On Monday evening, we went to have dinner in a Czech restaurant. [I had Svíčková, of course.] And afterwards we went for what was supposed to be a short walk round the block, basically, and ended up being an almost two hour tour of the city center (including Charles Bridge and The Astronomical Clock and the Jewish cemetery, unfortunately only from the outside). Which is beautiful and at night, you can even walk there without having to fight your way through hordes of tourists.

On Tuesday evening, we had no fixed program, so a part of the group went to another Czech restaurant (with an amazingly fake decor… they had wood painted to look like plastic painted to look like wood) and afterwards we went to a Cuban cocktail bar (with absolutely great Mojitos and live music) and we drank and danced until around 1.30 am.

On Wednesday evening, the organizers had booked us a Jazzboat Cruise, which is a 2.5 hour tour on Vltava river, with food (of course) and live music – though not, as promised, Jazz but Bossa Nova [which, imo, is nicer anyway]. We had really nice weather, so we spent most of the time outside – and just seeing the Vyšehrad Castle at night and from the river is worth the whole trip. [Also, I did not get seasick, so that’s good.]

After the Jazzboat tour we walked home and passed what seemed to be the shooting of a music video [and looked pretty ridiculous, I have to admit], but one of our trainers was convinced that she had seen the singer in a Bollywood movie [during her flight on the way to Prague] and then she continued with a pretty detailed description of said movie which sounded like pretty much every Bollywood movie ever and I never found out who that guy might have been. Here’s a picture – maybe you can tell. :)

[Yeah, I know that’s not much to work with.]

On Thursday, our last evening in the IT training, we had dinner on Petřín hill and after that walked**** to and then through the Prague Castle complex. And that complex is massive. It took us a while till we had just walked through it, though we also stopped to look at St. Vitus Cathedral. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go in because it was pretty late already. So we just continued walking and, with a stop-over for some beer, reached the hotel around 1 am.

The next morning, I only saw a few of the people, most had either left already or were still asleep. But since I had promised to meet B. and teashoe in the morning (rookie mistake) [they had been in Prague for a couple of days already], I left the luxurious hotel and walked over to the hostel where I had a bed in a 16-bed-dorm. Though it was even closer to the city center than my hotel and it was really cheap, so I’m not complaining.

I met up with B. and teashoe and we walked (of course we did) to Vyšehrad Castle, were we basically just waled around for a bit and had a look at the cemetery [which is nice, though Alphonse Mucha‘s and Antonín Dvořák‘s graves are pretty disappointing]. Because there was not much else to do there we then went on a tour of the fortification system, which was pretty cool. You basically got to walk inside the huge-ass wall [and if Hostel wasn’t shot there, then it should have been] and then ended up in a huge room where some of the original statues of the Charles Bridge are stored. Our guide was a rather old woman with rather bad English, but it was really kinda charming.

From there we walked past the Emauzy monastery back to the city center, saw Wenceslas Square and then went to the Mucha Museum. The museum is pretty small and gives us a broad overview over his work, omitting the Slav Epic but showing a drawing he did when he was 8 years old (I looked at the drawing and thought, “interesting, that’s a different stlye” but I wouldn’t have guessed his age at all) and his Woman in the Wilderness which is quite wonderful.

And there was a video at the end of the exhibition, which was rather boring (I had to fight to not fall asleep) but then gave us the wonderful sentence: “Black is the color of bondage.” To which I can only say: Exactly, exactly…

Anyway, from there we headed back to the hostel, with a stop at the Globe, a wonderful bookshop/café/bar with a great Happy Hour (2 Euros for a Cocktail!). [We wrote our postcards there which became slightly wobbly.]

After dinner we actually wanted to head to a traditional brewery but we got stuck in the hotel bar with B.’ and teashoe’s roommate F., drinking shots and when we were ready to go, the brewery was closed. So F., being Irish, put it on himself to drag us to the next Irish Pub which we reached half an hour before it closed, so we had a quick drink and then continued on to the next Irish Pub, which was opened for another hour and had some more drinks before returning home.

Unfortunately, I did not have the calmest of nights. I was pretty much the first to return to my (full) dorm and after me, every half hour somebody returned with banging doors. And then the girl in the bunk above mine started sleeping with some guy, which I wouldn’t have minded so much, except it was also my bed which was shaking…

Considering that, I think it was pretty heroic that by 10.30 the next morning we had already left the hostel. [Thank goodness I don’t get hangovers.] B. and teashoe decided to head for the Strahov Monastery (and the library there), while I went back to the castle to see the Story of Prague Castle exhibition (which was nice but too much information so that in the end, all I can remember is some Saint stories and the tradition to bury people with their hands tied and huge stones on their graves so they couldn’t rise from the dead*****).

Then I met B. at the Kafka Museum (teashoe stayed at Strahov Monastery because they had reached it during lunch break), which is a trippy affair. The museum texts are awful psycho-babble and they have three unnerving sound installations (and you can always hear at least one) and they obviously expect you to know all of Kafka’s work  and that you go there to further your knowledge.

In short, it was exhausting.

From there we went to Charles Bridge, where we met teashoe and then crossed it (big mistake. Saturday afternoon in good weather and with some construction work in progress? I think it was the first time I was ever in a pedestrian jam. It took us almost 45 minutes to cross that damn bridge) back into the old town.

And because I hadn’t been to enough museums yet that day, we headed to the Municipal House (which is basically an art déco dream building) where they had another Mucha exhibition, called the Apotheosis of Love. It was pretty much the same stuff as in the Mucha Museum, they even had the same video, and it seemed kinda random.

From there, we headed back for another cocktail in the Globe (and the most awesomest Peanut Butter Cheese Cake) and then had dinner in a medieval style Czech restaurant. Unfortunately, we had to wait for one and a half hours for our food which meant that by the time we had returned to the hostel and gotten ready for going out that night, it was again too late for the brewery.

But no matter! We got dressed up, met F., had drinks in the bar (how could it be any different?) and then we headed to Karlovy Lazne, apparently the biggest club in Central Europe. And it was really awesome. Five floors, four for dancing, one for chill out and on each floor very danceable music. [It only hurt that the music they played on the Oldies floor? The 90s, people, the 90s…]

[That’s F. in the club’s fog machine – pretty awesome picture, isn’t it?]

On one of the floors there was a group of guys who were having a dance off (and one of them was really cute) and that was great entertainment. It was also cool to see that it was really a group of guys and not girls.

In short, we had loads of fun and we returned to the hostel at about 5 am. (This time, I was the last in my room and there was no more sexiness above me.)

On Sunday, we checked out and left our bags in the hostel and went for a last tour of the city, heading to the Astronomical Clock again. B. and teashoe conquered the tower. I preferred to conquer Starbucks.****** When they came down again and I had caffeine in my system, we went to have goulash in bread which tasted great and looked amazing and was fun to eat.

And then we did a last tour of Wenceslas Square, saw a cute musketeer, looked at the National Museum and finally saw the David Černý statue of St. Wenceslas [which is completely awesome, but unfortunately being renovated at the moment], before heading back to the hostel to get our stuff and then take the bus home.

The bus was completely packed, unfortunately, which was not very comfortable but it got us home 20 minutes early, which was great because I was pretty much dead.


*I wanted to write that it was my first official IT training but that’s not even true. I just surprised myself with my own IT-nerdiness…

**If you want to get some sightseeing done, go with teashoe. Anywhere.

***My drinking after this trip in graph form [only slightly exaggerated]:

****My walking after this trip in graph form [only slightly exaggerated]:

*****Which is actually one of the more morbid traditions. I mean, imagine thinking that your loved one will wake up and rise from the grave and you’re basically condemning them to lie in the dark with their hands tied behind their backs for eternity.

******Why the hell is Starbucks everywhere cheaper than in Austria?

15 thoughts on “IT, Alcohol, Mucha, Alcohol, Kafka, Alcohol

      • Ah. Now I definitely have to catch up on your private life next time we meet.
        Who is F., by the way?

        I’m successfully avoiding a boring presentation I was invited to (“bonding is good for your kids” or something by an eminent social-pedagogist)and I feel bad about it because so many people have asked me to come but I *dislike* events such as these. Perhaps that’s why I read “bonding”.

  1. Of course it’s a valid theory. All theories are either valid (and when I consider them valid, I don’t need to hear them again surrounded by housewives) or stupid (and then I don’t need to hear them, either).
    I just can’t stand these organised meetings of mothers who want to talk about parenting and theories about parenting and recipes for muffins and all. I mean, I love other parents and I love kids and all.
    But I don’t think I’ll get big new insights when I hear a basic presentation about why you should bond with your kids or why you must not treat them gharstly or why you should respect them.
    And it is really annoying (and sometimes very sad) to listen to the statements of people who bash valid theories because “My mother never listened to me and the only book I read was at school and I’m a sane, happy person”.

    I can’t stand
    * getting no new information
    * being surrounded by people who treat the presentator like a goddess (“Oh, she is sooo right! We really should smile at our kids. Good to hear that from an *authority*”) or who need to hear how good they are (“Oh, I’m bonding! Am I not a great person!”) or who bash valid positions
    * missing sports
    * being without my kids but talking about theories about raising them properly

    I am very allergic to these events but this has nothing to do with opposing good and basic pedagogogical ideas.

  2. a great trip it was indeed! :) and lovely to read all about it again! loving the graphs, shocking as they are. at least you didn’t do a drinks-hours asleep-ratio-graph, that would have been slightly worrying… :P i agree, you really do get some sightseeing done with teashoe! :) (still have to get used to the name) also, without wanting to nit-pick, you forgot to mention our stop at the tea house, which i think became a noteworthy event at the latest when the slightly absent waiter put a dead ferret around his neck. ah, good times! :D

    • Drinks to hour ratio… maybe I should do a graph of that as well, just to hammer home the point. :)

      OF COURSE! The visit to the tea house! How could I forget? But I couldn’t have put it any better than you…

        • I’ve had a good laugh reading your recap of our trip! Thank you for your beautiful summary! I think it’s safe to say that Prague was the second trip this summer that deserves the rating “epic”. ;)
          By the way, the graphs look very professional (love the “who’s counting?”!), so I strongly suggest that you do a graph of the drinks/hours of sleep-ratio. To complete the picture. ;)

          And yes, you do get some sightseeing done with me, but don’t pretend you didn’t want it, too! :P (Not quite sure if you can say that in English – only 3 Google hits, 2 fanfics, 1 Harlequin – well, at least they get the direction. ;) I guess some of the grammar/phrasing is off in this post, but I’m tired.)

          Oh, and we should definitely go back to Prague in the not-too-distant future!

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