Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pink Shirts in Prague

John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic (pre-pink shirt)
After an awesome last night in Berlin, Mike, Danielle and I took a lovely train ride to Prague from Berlin. We were headed for another Airbnb destination and after such an awesome experience in Berlin (perfect location, two bedroom flat with kitchen and big bathroom!) I was confident the next one would be just as spectacular. 

When we arrived to another shitty entrance (much like most of the Airbnb places I've booked) I was not deterred, because thus is the beauty of this operation. Not much from the outside, but gems on the inside. We were happy to learn that Danielle had booked a room in the same flat as us and that they were not separate apartments. We were greeted by a young Czech woman with one earring, pink dreadlocks, and a passion for vegetarian food as most of the restaurants she recommended were such. She was not the owner of the flat, but a friend who showed us the ropes, marked on the map what areas would charge us outrageous prices and where the local restaurants and pubs that had the real Prague were.  
Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, & The Charles Bridge
Prague, Czech Republic
Things I did not expect in Prague:
1. The colors. All of the buildings, which are all gorgeous, are different and bright colors that make for an almost magical setting. 
2. The Disney effect. I had seen all of these castles and churches before, they were just animated and in Disney movies or scaled down imitations at Disneyland in California.
3. The beer really is cheaper than the water.
4. Cheese-smothered sausage in a frying pan for dinner will definitely make you gain weight overnight. 
5. That I would walk away from this trip with three pink shirts.

After a great meal at a local traditional Czech restaurant (whose name escapes me) we went for a walk along the Charles Bridge lined with medieval  bronze and stone statues of saints. We entered under a huge arch that looked almost identical to the entry way into the fantasy kingdom at Disneyland. The effect of walking into a real life castle entrance was surreal and all of us lit up like kids on Christmas. We wandered around the enchanted town until our legs were shaking with exhaustion.

We took a tour of Prague castle of which my favorite part was seeing the windows where the defenestration of Prague happened. Basically, three Catholic leaders were thrown out of the windows by Protestant leaders who wanted to change the national religion, but the three Catholic leaders survived and this is what sparked the Thirty Years War. We took a walking tour with a young tour guide on her second tour ever who would often get so nervous she would laugh or blush and then apologize. She walked us through the city past the only working astronomical clock in the world, Kafka's house and Mozart's old street and the theatre he once conducted Don Giovanni. Here, I totally got suckered and fell for my first but not my last tourist trap. I became obsessed with the idea of hearing Don Giovanni in the theatre that once housed Mozart. So, we bought tickets and the next night we got dressed up and basically saw a two bit variety act with an average male lead (at best) as they switched costumes and sang some of the songs from the opera. To say the experience was underwhelming is being too kind. Danielle and Mike still have not let me live it down. You would think the night could only go up from there. But, instead, we could not find a restaurant that would take credit card (we didn't want to take out more Kronos since we were leaving the next morning) and all of us got into disagreements with different vendors that tried to overcharge us or were essentially straight out rude. It got to the point, where we broke out into uncontrollable giggles at the absurdity. We wanted to spend money on a good meal for our last night in Prague and we walked away with two hot dogs and a glass of white wine, none of which we wanted. We even had one restaurant say they could not take our card because they had no electricity. He said this in a fully lit restaurant with blinking lights. We laughed ourselves silly and realized how annoying it must be for the vendors to be dealing with tourists all summer long and chalked it up to a lesson learned in expectations and letting things go.

When we got home, Danielle cracked a bottle of wine open and I discovered that the white laundry load I had left to the flat owner to do (under her specific instructions I was not to touch the washing machine and she promised to put my clothes with like colors) had been washed with a load of red linens. All of my white clothing was pink. Now that seems silly, maybe. But when you have carefully selected multi functional clothing to go with every other article and these are your clothes for the next year, it sucks big time. In a rage I threw them back into the wash and screwed up all the settings and washed them for 3 hours, but still, they were pink.

In the morning, when I asked another American couple staying there (the flat owner was not there and had told her friend to do the laundry) if they understood the washer since they lived in Germany, the woman said she could help me. When I explained my clothes had been ruined, her face dropped and she admitted that it was her who had done the wash and she was friends with the flat owner. Now instead of leaving room for her to step up and take the right action, I quickly told her it was okay because I didn't want her to feel bad. It didn't help that she said she assumed the clothes were old and made jokes about not shopping for new clothes in Vienna because it was expensive. By the time I left Prague I was cursing the city and its people. But after a phone call in Vienna with a very wise friend, I realized I was most angry at myself for not letting there be uncomfortable space in that moment and for not saying anything. I had betrayed myself! But there is a happy ending to that the next post.

We had a blast with Danielle and were sad to see her go, but overall what a wonderful experience! 

How we dry our clothes when we sink wash


daleboca said...

i have been trying to go to prague for 20 years! there is always a mishap. maybe i will get to go in the next 20! so great that you are writing- so many experiences- so much to do and see and eat and remember. are you getting saturated yet?

tara said...

thank goodness i read the other post first, because i was like oh no she di'nt. wear your pink with pride. it's couture from prague!: