Thursday, November 01, 2007

Prague does not Rock

Day 18

we were very sad to leave our posh Vienna hotel
especially after another royal room-service breakfast
and a great night’s sleep
i had a decent show the night before
a small but dedicated audience
but did't get back in until after 3:00AM
as i was waitng awkwardly for a ride from Klaus
while he spun records in a nightclub
i gotta say though
the collector had mighty fine taste in music
he was a bad-ass DJ
and played tons of great tracks i'd never heard before
it was noon when we finally hit the road to Prague
we discovered that morning that our GPS did't cover the Czech Republic
we had no map and only sketchy directions along the lines of
“you get on that highway and just keep going”
Jayme searched the internet that morning
for directions and managed to get some dodgy ones from mapquest
i say dodgy because mapquest also doesn't cover the Czech Republic
but if you ask for directions from Vienna to Hamburg
it will lead you through the Czech Republic
passing right past Prague
so we thought we could probably get as far as the city
and then we'd just have to make our way to the hotel
we were really looking forward to seeing Prague
we'd heard nothing but good things about it
even from a nice NYC couple we chatted with in line
for the opera tickets
the highway we were on quickly turned into a two lane road
in the middle of nowhere
as soon as we neared the Czech border
when we crossed the border our GPS went totally blank
it was like sailing off the end of the world
the countryside changed immediately from manicured farmland
to desolate nothingness
it reminded me of Denton
we passed through two towns on the way to Prague
and they were vastly different from any of the European towns
we'd seen so far
the architecture consisted of simple block houses
and buildings with almost no windows
between the towns there was nothing
not a farm or a village or building of any kind
not a farmer cow or trace of life
nothing except
that's right
lots of them around
it was like driving through Waco on the 4th of July
cops everywhere
a couple even decided to follow us for awhile
for kicks?
who knows...
i just felt instantly creeped out
and nervous
the closer we got to Prague
there more some signs of civilization began to appear
in the form of billboards
with the tackiest advertising i've ever seen
we had no idea what the speed limit was
as there was nothing posted so we just went as fast as the other cars around us
they flew along like they thought they were on the autobahn
until another policecar appeared
and then they'd slam on their breaks and cut their speed in half
it was ridiculous
we made it to the city and before we could even decide where to turn
we were swept along with a giant wave of traffic
eventually Jayme saw a street she recognized from the guide book and yelled
"turn here!"
we miraculously made it to the hotel by following another postage stamp sized map
this hotel was another J had booked while at home
on the edge of town
away from the heavy tourist traffic
our room was ok
it had another super modern bathroom
but it was nowhere near as cool as the last one
the weird thing was that this place looked cool on the surface
but the closer it was inspected the worse it got
for example
they went to all of this trouble to create this fancy, modern bathroom
that looked pretty clean on the surface
but then there were all these weird stains on the walls
the same went for the bedroom
modern and kind of cool but weird stains on the curtains and floor and ceiling
it kinda made you wonder...
we walked around Prague for about an hour
and found a little hidden Indian restaurant that was excellent
it was dark by the time we left and we had about an hour’s walk back to the tram stop
i have to say that Prague was not so great
it sounded much quainter in the guide book
really, there was nothing quaint about it
the city is congested and dirty
it has the worst traffic we'd ever witnessed
far worse than L.A.
it's obvious that the city has undergone significant changes
in the last 15 years
since getting out from under communist rule
now that there is a lot more money in the city
and people can afford cars
there are a lot more cars
however, there are not enough roads to accommodate them
and as far as i could tell
there were no plans to create larger roads
or even room to create them
there is an amazing castle in the city
and a city center with the usual big impressive cathedrals
and old buildings
but beyond that Prague was just trashy
there were tons of tacky souvenir shops
and upscale shopping stores
that had pushed out whatever old shops and restaurants had been there before
it was as if the city had embraced the worst of capitalism
with no regard to its effects on the traditional culture
Footlocker, etc.
alongside those were the trashy sex shops
and trashy bars on every corner
the people of Prague were also thoroughly charmless
ruder than any we'd encountered on either of our trips to europe
their over-the-top disdain for tourists was actually hilarious
it was so extreme that it was like watching a Saturday Night Live spoof
on the street i noticed lots of stern
humorless facial expressions
if you were in their way at all
they would just run over you
in car or on foot
i can’t tell you how many times Jayme was knocked off of the sidewalk
into traffic
by some angry looking Praguer
i also noticed right away that the women – of every age –
were all dressed very provocatively
or as i put it
“all dressed like whores!”
they more cosmetics in this city than anywhere else on the planet
because brother
these women were using it like crazy
that and tube tops!
we were actually happy to return to our hotel room
and get an early night’s sleep
for our 7 hour drive to Hamburg in the morning
i went to bed that night dreaming of Casa Buskies
and seeing our dear friends in Hamburg
i couldn't wait to get back to our home away from home!!


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