I got to Prague in the dark, and wandered a few cobbled lanes to my hostel. Early the next morning I hopped out of bed and headed directly out, deciding by my map to go towards the river and follow it.
When I got there – when I got my first glimpse of Prague and the Vltava River, of the castle and city’s red-tiled roofs and layers of skyline, my eyes got big, and I couldn’t force the smile from my face. I got out my phone and texted Andrea: “I LOVE MY LIFE”.
I spent the first two days in Prague wandering the streets – I took in the free walking tour and then the castle tour, and tried to retain all the history I could fit in my excitable brain. Here’s what I retained:
1) Throughout history, Czechs have apparently prefered to solve political disputes by throwing important people out the window.
2) The Czech calendar has a different name for every day of the year, and children are only given those names – therefore they have a birthday, and a name day.
3) The astronomical clock is pretty, but the thing it does at the top of every hour is pretty underwhelming.
4) Russia invaded after The Prague Spring in 1968, in which the Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek tried to liberalize the system, allowing more freedom of speech and releasing political prisoners. A student set himself on fire to protest the invasion.
On my third night in the hostel I was sitting in the common room with my computer in my lap. Four guys were watching TV in their own corners; one was drinking a mixture of absinth and Fanta, slowly. A group of people came in, on their way to a movie, and saw the bottle.
“You know how you should drink that?” said a blonde girl. “Get a spoon, put a sugar cube on it, then pour a shot of absinth over it, light the sugar cube on fire for a few seconds, then pour water over it, stir it all together, and drink it. There’s some sugar cubes in the kitchen, okay bye!”
Absinth Guy looked at the rest of us left in the room and said “Well, I’m not going to do this by myself, who’s in?”
And that’s how long it takes to make friends in a hostel.
We decided the absinth tasted like Christmas trees. After a few more of our own drinks the movie group returned, and we retreated to The Fun Room (aka the basement). We started the largest, noisiest and most disorganized game of King’s Cup ever, and passed around a jar of Nutella that people either ate with their fingers, smeared on each other, or, unfortunately for Mitch from Medicine Hat, put in the King’s Cup.
At 2 a.m. we gathered everyone’s pocket change and went ot the corner store, which was still serving beer out of the fridge for 14Kc (about €0.50). We came back with four bags full.
I love my life.