Close

Czech Yourself!

  1. Select the correct answer.

If Jackie gets on a bus leaving Prague at 11pm and arrives in Krawkow at 7am the following morning, and the bus is traveling at 100 kilometers per hour, how many hours will it take before her laptop is stolen?

  1. 42
  2. -4
  3. Beer

Ha ha! It’s a trick question! The answer is that Jackie fell asleep within an hour of getting on the bus and didn’t wake up until it was time to get off. Being in a sleep-induced brain fog, she didn’t realize that her laptop was even missing until 5 minutes after she left the bus, at which time the bus had fled the scene and every authority figure in the bus terminal had made a solemn oath to be as unhelpful as possible to girls who are silly enough to leave their laptops exposed to strange eyeballs on strange buses.

Bye bye carefully curated collection of music from the 20s to the 2000s. So long 5000 pirated e-books. Catch you never tax records.

While this set back did lead to unashamed ugly crying in the middle of a busy bus terminal in Poland, a fun-ish experiment in reporting a stolen laptop with the help of an interpreter, and a two-month blog hiatus, the adventure continues. I really didn’t lose that much upon reflection. The biggest setback was that I hadn’t backed up half of a training handbook that I was custom making for an upcoming job in Sri Lanka. Even that was solved through a little proverbial-nose-to-the-grindstone, though. Then, through the miracle of a paycheck, I was able to purchase a replacement laptop, and here we are…talking in the third person!

I’m going to attempt to back up now and recall everything that’s happened since April when we returned from Skipping Winter. Let’s start with a two week trip to the Czech Republic.

We started in Pilsen, the home of Pilsner Urquell Beer – the first pale lager in existence. Pilsen is a super adorable town that has a quaint old town square made up of beautiful architecture and an underground network of tunnels that I can best deduce were used for brewing beer, keeping beer cold, and keeping protestant cooties out of the beer. Our super sweet Couch Surfing hosts, Anna and Matej, cooked us traditional Czech food and took us on a tour of the area. We saw America Street, so named because Pilsen was one of the only cities in the Czech that was liberated during WWII by the Americans and not the Russians. We also learned about a golden angel located outside of the old square church that people come from all around to rub for good luck. Anna gave us insider information that the angel is used by drunk college students for target practice when relieving themselves, though, so we abstained.

We did take the must-see tour of the Pilsen Urquell brewery, which made me feel for the first time ever that beer could be educational. The tour did end with a generous sample from giant, old barrels. The unpasteurized, cloudy liquid looked very pretty, but I’ll admit that I slipped my glass to Nate after just a sip and an obligatory beer selfie. Gross.

After three days, we got on another bus heading northeast to Prague. Prague suited us immediately. We took our time walking the 5 kilometers to our new Couch Surfing host’s apartment, stopping to look at and smell all of street food lined up for tourists. Hanging meat and fresh-made cinnamon ice cream cones (trdelnik) turned on spits over coals on every corner. We even treated ourselves to a traditional Czech meal with dumplings, cranberry sauce, roast beef, and a side of terrible service – which we’re told is a hallmark of Czech culture. Neat!

Trdelnik photo from: https://www.bonappetour.com/blog/must-try-food-in-prague/

Prague’s crown jewel, like Pilsen, was a quaint old town square made up of beautiful architecture. I didn’t catch if there was an underground network of beer tunnels, but we did learn from our free walking tour (highly recommended) that the Czechs of yesteryear were more concerned with what was above their heads than under their feet. It turns out that Prague was the center of great religious reformation; it’s where the protestant faith took its first steps. Some of those steps led to high towers for “meetings” with Catholic priests who were then unceremoniously defenestrated. Yes, you heard me right: defenestrated, or thrown out a window. This was a big moment for me, folks. I’ve loved this word since learning it’s ridiculously specific and morbid meaning in high school, but until Prague, I’d never heard it used in an actual sentence about an actual thing that happened…on multiple occasions. Our guide told us the act became so popular even into recent history that all of the pubs were moved to street or basement level.

Quaint old town square with many windows for defenestration

This may have had something to do with Prague’s other claim to fame: absinthe. The green liquid is everywhere, but we were told that the “good stuff” that makes one fly with green fairies could only be found at a specific underground pub. And given that it was (wink, wink) illegal, a person seeking such a drink had to be creative in obtaining it. We decided to pass. We did go to the Prague Burlesque Show at the Royal Theatre, however, and drank wine while a woman lit her ta-ta tassels on fire. So that was something.

Prague was definitely a favorite city. Between its most celebrated art nouveau artist, Alfons Mucha, its grand and varied architecture, and fantastic street performers, there were hours and hours of mostly free entertainment. We could have easily spent a week there.

A not-at-all candid shot of me dutifully admiring Alfons Mucha’s work

Charles Bridge with the Prague Castle in the distance. Fun Fact: The Rolling Stones funded the lights that illuminate the castle at night!

Prague is also where we met two more amazingly generous Couch Surfing hosts: Francisco and Peter. Francisco introduced us to the city’s famous drunk food: fried cheese. Mmmm. Peter lived in the suburbs of Prague where he tended to bees. He made sure we had a jar of fresh honey before we left and set up a couch behind his hives so that we could enjoy “bee therapy.” Note: If your anxiety stems from a fear of bees that, say, you developed after watching the movie Killer Bees as a child, this might not be the therapy for you.

Nate attending his first bee therapy session

I could go on and on about the Czech Republic. It was really that good. Our fantastic Couch Surfing hosts made it that much more spectacular. As an added bonus, the Czech president often appears drunk in public, so it was nice to commiserate about leaders for once instead of pretending like we’re from Canada.

You can czech out Nate’s podcast interviews with some of our hosts from both Pilsen and Prague. Just search Oyster World Radio wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you can, I highly recommend czeching out the real deal; you won’t be disappointed. Keep czeching in for more blogs coming your way. Czech you later!

2 Comments on “Czech Yourself!

Maria DeMatteo
July 19, 2018 at 8:20 am

So glad to hear where you have been and so sorry about the theft! But, you overcame and now we can stop wondering what you have been doing. I reallly enjoyed reading your entertains and informative entry!. Good luck and please keep sharing so I can live vicariously through you!

Reply
Gish
July 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Thanks for reading, Maria! There will be more for sure. It’s how I digest this crazy experience!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *