Wed. Oct. 3, 2018:
Cesky Kremlov, to Prague Czech Republic:
I couldn’t believe I woke up after 10am, it felt so much earlier. We packed up and headed out. We stopped at Café Provence for a quick breakfast on the way to the train station. I asked for a small coffee, I got a shot of espresso. I mean it wasn’t entirely wrong. Between us we split a chocolate-lined cannoli and a sour plum yeast cake.
We had to go up a giant hill to get to the train station. Even with Brent carrying my bag, I struggled hard. My legs were toast, burnt toast. I had finished my Wiccy Magic Muscles massage bar from LUSH the night before. We got to the train station 2.5 hours early only to find out that our train had been converted to a bus due to some track issues.
We went inside the train station to ask for more details. The lady said we would have to take a bus to Cesky Budejowice and switch to a train there. We went back to the waiting room, still not content with the situation. We saw that there was a train to Cesky Budejowice at1pm. We were somewhat familiar with the city and knew where the train station and bus terminal were. We could easily make our way to Prague from there, it beat the alternative of sitting around the soviet-feeling waiting room. We figured we might even be able to arrive earlier in Prague than originally planned. I went off to the nearby Co-op grocery store while Brent sat in the world’s saddest waiting room with our bags. I found a raspberry-flavoured Czech brand of cola, white chocolate Twix and vanilla flavoured wafers. It would have to suffice for transit snacks.
We took the GW commuter train to Cesky Budejowice. On the way we had to get off the train and get on a bus and then we got back on another train a few stations later. The ticket checker had accompanied us and was directing people along the way. It was less confusing than I would have expected and surprisingly ran smoothly. The bus ride was quite nice, we passed through some forests, we saw some woolly sheep.
We got to the train station and found out that in an hour we could just take the train we had originally planned on taking- leaving us just enough time to go across the street to the bus terminal/mall to grab a quick lunch. There was a KFC in the food court. I ordered the “classic box” because it was way easier than trying to order a 2-piece chicken meal. It was a tiny bit more expensive but worth not struggling. Imagine my surprise when I was presented with a mountain of food. The price difference did not add up with the food difference. I had gotten a great deal- and a great deal too much food. In addition to the 2 pieces of chicken, I got 5 hot wings, fries and a soda. I tried the Miranda orange soda. I had seen it earlier in the grocery store but had been unsure whether it was orange juice or orange soda. After lunch I had a 10minute window before we had to head back to the train station: super quick shopping trip! I found a few nice things but I quickly realized that yes of course I like them- I already owned very similar dresses! Next door to House, was Orsay. I found a nice sweater dress but it was on a mannequin and I did not have time to try and figure out where to find it.
We got on the train and it was empty. The bus we would have been on hadn’t arrived yet. We had pre-purchased our tickets and had reserved seats so we both got window seats. Even still, there were 4 other empty seats in our little room. No one ever ended up joining us. Once we were heading out, a train employee came in and gave us mini-bar menus. This train was awesome. It was unbelievable how cheap everything was. It was less than $2CAD for a single serving bottle of red wine. The raspberry cola, Krofola Malina was the fakest fake cola I have ever had, it wasn’t even close. It was plain awful. It made gummy colas seem like a closer flavour match. The Haribo sweet & sour gummies were two conjoined gummy bears, one sweet and one- you guessed it- sour. It was one of the best Haribo mixes we’ve ever had.
Prague was even more beautiful than I had imagined. I was really glad we had done the trip in this order. It was unbelievable how many people were crammed into the old town section. There was also a lot of chimney stacks shops. Which made no sense at all. It is a Hungarian street food, it has no ties to Prague. Regardless, the masses were loving it. The famous Charles Bridge was crammed with even more tourists, it was stop and go the whole way- on foot. The vendors all along the side of the bridge did not help matters, only adding to the traffic jam. We got to our hotel, something about 3 ostriches in the name. We were told that, actually, we were booked in the apartments. We looked at each other like, ok what does that mean? She told us to wait for her colleague who would show us the way. And so, we sat there for a really long time, no word of explanation, why couldn’t she give us directions and we go ourselves, why the delay. Nothing. Eventually the colleague showed up. We followed him out of the building… and to a waiting car. What the hell was going on? He had to drive us to our hotel room? I was not pleased. A 15-minute drive meant it would take us that much longer to walk back to all the stuff that we planned on doing during our stay.
Turns out we had a small apartment (sans kitchen) all to ourselves. It was in a non-descript building that definitely did not look like a hotel. At this point I was grumpy and tired. It was already 6pm and we had been on the move since 11am. Not helping my grumpiness was the stupid bathroom door that wouldn’t close. And the shower was just a hose with no holder on the wall. I was not looking forward to my evening shower: having to hose myself down? Ugh. My phone also was not picking up the wifi network.
We walked to U Fleku for dinner. The walk was killing me, the sun had just started setting and we were in a new town. Alas we didn’t have the time to stop for photos. It was decided that the next day (when we had dinner reservations around the same time and distance) we would head out earlier. It turns out our hotel was a little bit above the city, on the palace grounds. Really, we were not that far from the main hotel, it just seemed that way because the car ride took so long thanks to the small winding streets, walking was much faster. We had to go down a giant set of stairs to leave the castle grounds. Crap. We’d have to go back up later. We made our way through the (now even more!) crowded Charles Bridge. Once we were out of the touristy area the walk was much nicer. I was surprised to see so many mini-marts- and all selling alcohol.
U Fleku was a wacky beer hall. There was a mess of people in the entranceway, we had no idea where to go. We had reservations but there was no one to tell this to. Brent asked a passing server, who seemed annoyed and pointed us in the direction of a guy standing by the bar. The server was very busy, but the guy at the bar was just standing there fanning himself with menus. We were seated in the far back corner of the restaurant. As soon as we sat down a server came over with a giant tray of shot glasses: two different kinds, light and dark. I thought they were beer samples, it made sense. This was a brewery beer hall. Brent grabbed one, I was going to pass but he told me to grab one. I did assuming I could give it to him. However, upon closer inspection it was not beer, it was liqueur. We figured maybe these were welcome shots? We grabbed one each and the guy marked something down on a piece of paper on our table. Brent downed his before we could trade halfway. Mine tasted cinnamon-y and I eventually deduced from the menu and the bill-tally that it was Becherovka. Meaning Brent had the Medovina. I would have to try that one next time the guy came around. No sooner had he left, another guy came by- this time with a giant tray of full steins of beer. The ladies next to us tried to order different beer and the guy laughed. This was it, this was the only beer they served: a dark brew. The system made sense for such a busy beer hall. The shots guy came back ground after we had received our food. Except I had been so distracted by all that was going on that I couldn’t remember the colour of the first shot I’d had. I figured I had grabbed the lighter one last time, for some reason thinking I would have preferred a lighter beer. I sipped it slowly, unsure if it was the same. Brent had a sip and confirmed definitively that it was not what he had the first time. Crap. I had grabbed the same one. The guy didn’t come back around until we were settling our bill.
We split an appetizer of beer cheese and toast. The toast was exactly what I needed, I was not feeling great. I was tired, run-down and achy. The room was also hot and loud. I had ordered the dinner size version of the sausage dish (conveniently listed as 200gr). It was too much food. I should’ve gotten the app size, but 100gr just seemed like so little! I made a huge dent in the potatoes and ate 1.25 of the 2 sausages. The sauerkraut was served warm but it still was just a little bit off and I wasn’t a fan. All that greasy and salty food, I really needed a drink- something more substantial than a tiny shot. I tried to order a Sprite but the guy said he had to go get our server so I could order. He never did come back and I never did get my Sprite.
Walking back, the Charles Bridge was still kind of busy but at least I got a few photographs of town and the side of the castle. Both were beautifully lit up. The walls of the bridge were not a flat surface, they curved up and were slightly rounded- not great to use as a platform for your camera for some night shots. I had to hold the strap of the camera and just hope my camera didn’t fall into the river down below. On the bridge we cracked open the drinks we had grabbed at a convenience store, apparently you can drink on the streets in Prague and we were all about that experience. The kid working in the store did not even look old enough to drink. There were also small packages of weed by the register- was it even legal? Brent googled it as we walked home- apparently, it’s a grey area.
Once we were past the bridge it was much less busy. We saw two cops up ahead and instinctively we both dropped our hands down by our sides, trying to conceal our drinks. We then laughed at ourselves. It was nice to walk around in the evening, enjoying a Wino z Winka (red wine and cranberry juice mixer), looking at all the old buildings. Once we got to the giant stairs, I had to crack a second drink. This was not going to be an easy climb. There were so many steps! Thankfully I had a Le Coq mojito (it kind of filled that earlier craving for a citrus-y fizzy drink).
Back in the hotel room I found more things to get mad at. The curtains were purely decorative and didn’t actually close. This meant that the next day at like 6am I would be getting a very rude wake-up call from the sun. The only curtains in the room that did work were the ones leading onto the deck- aka windows not facing the bed. My ebook had expired and now I was on a holds-list. I gave up and went to shower- having forgotten about the stupid set up. Every time I had to soap myself, I had to put the shower head down and then only my feet were in the shower, meanwhile I was shivering and cold. It was so not relaxing. There weren’t even any free lotions! The only good thing in the room was the kettle. Things were not looking good. In the end I was too tired to play Mario Odyssey and I didn’t feel like starting a new book. I opted for just going to sleep given I would be subject to early wake-up.