Thursday, September 24, 2009
Prague, Czech Republic
Now it is called the Czech Republic, before that it was Czechoslovakia. Before that is was Bohemia, part of the Austrian Empire and before that it was and so on and so on. A lot of history in Prague, a lot of old buildings and I am supposed to be impressed, I know it. What can I say? We arrived in the afternoon, stayed another day; even took a tourist bus tour with guide in English and yet, this city leaves me flat. It is just an old city. Oh, I know, I am supposed to say how lovely, how quaint, and how delightful. Yes, I saw the churches, saw the Prague Palace, and got the tour. think Prague is so popular, so full of tourists that all I saw were tourists. Bera said it best:” It’s so popular nobody goes there anymore”.
We checked the hostel that was recommended but we did not feel safe leaving our bikes unattended. There was just too much trash around for me to feel comfortable. Three buildings over was an Exotic Club so there would have been a lot of people there at night. We took a 4 star hotel instead with a guarded underground garage but they only had room for one night. So this makes it difficult to plan anything. Arriving in the late afternoon without having the hotel room for the next day gives us the next day to find another hotel. Besides the packing, unpacking, riding the bike across town and finding new parking for the bike makes multi hotel stays cumbersome. But what choice did we have? Well, we found another hotel in the center of the old city and we left the bike in the first, guarded hotel and took a taxi to the 2nd hotel. A bit of a roundabout way but it worked out just fine.
The streets are narrow in Prague, full of cobblestones and trolley tracks. I saw 2 missing manhole covers and there are steps built into the roads as speed bumps but no warning signs. take a leaning turn and hit one of those steps; you will go down on a bike. There are very few signs but the ones I saw were written in Czech only which is very hard to read. You have to guess the direction which is not easy while riding in narrow, twisted, one way roads, watching traffic and trying to read the few signs that are there. I managed but just barely.
I was glad to park the bike and use the trolley system on the first night. Again, not easy because what direction do we take? When do you get off? The signage is not user friendly. I cannot say that much is unfriendly in Prague but there is sure a different mentality present. A layout map of the bus and trolley system would have been nice. With so many tourists around I thought it was easier to get around. I was cheated in exchanging Euro into Czech Kronen. She was behind a thick glass window and when I called her a thief she said yes, I am. She knew there was nothing I could do to her. Sorry Prague, I did not have a nice experience and you leave me kind of flat and sad. I wish I could rave about you but I just cannot.
So we left after the two days and I must say I felt better once I was out of town and on the way to Austria. Just because people go to a place does not mean it is a good place especially if you are on a motorcycle. I can think of better places to ride.