Saturday, November 24

praha :: day 3 :: street food and protests, ghosts on the charles bridge

due to a late night and jet lag preventing me from getting more than 3 hours of sleep, destructor and i go back to bed after breakfast and do not wake up until 4:30pm. it's already dark when i wake up, and i jump up exclaiming, "@#$%?! it's 4:30! let's go let's go let's go!!"

but go where? i didn't care as long as we didn't end up wasting the whole day. we frantically throw on all our layers, and promptly jump on the 9 tram so we can "get off somewhere random" and explore. we end up on one of the main streets by stare mesto (old town), and the first thing we do is buy a random pastry looking thing with a sausage in the middle. all i know is that it starts with a "b" and the rest of the letters are something like "zcljiewaiijklzjljfdjalslkjfd"...??

we go inside a nearby tesco so we don't have to eat in the cold. it's very greasy, and is like biting into a giant thick hash brown with a sausage in the middle. yummy.

then, we see several people waiting in line at this little stand:

so we get in line too. it turns out she's making some sort of delicious pastry.

however, while waiting in line we hear several police sirens and are alarmed by a mob of people marching down the street towards us. everyone is in heavy jackets and some are in ski masks. what is this? i try to take pictures but at this point feel a little vulnerable getting in people's faces and snapping photos when i don't even know what this protest is about.

one of them yells, "tesco!!!" and many follow and pour into tesco. we had just been in there moments ago. what was this??

it is finally our turn to order the delicious pastry. i ask the lady if she knows what they are doing, and her english is suprisingly good because she says in a very annoyed voice "they are @#$%ing anarchists"...something something "nazi".

did she say..."nazi"?

we get our pastry - i don't know why we only order one but it is sooo delicious.

we slowly head down the street but stop in our tracks when we see an entire van of police jump out and trot in single file through an alley, presumably into the next street.

hmm. we decide to figure this out later and continue our lovely evening walk, despite the apparently politically charged demonstration we just ran into.

(it turns out that this is an antifa demonstration because november 10th is the night of kristallnacht. we later piece this information together from photos of subway stickers promoting the rally and researching on wikipedia. to find out more click here and here - very interesting)

i find this amazing, quaint little nook hiding in the back of a building that is an "original souvenir" shop. the store is full of hand painted easter eggs, floor to ceiling.

eventually we go back and meet up with the rest of the group. before heading out again for dinner i ask the front desk if they know anything about what just happened near stare mesto. they give me some sugar-coated answer and say "don't worry, the police are out tonight so is okay."

that's nice.

at dinner, i have goulash that is made with completely unchewable beef. that's okay, because our beer orders make up for it. i attempt to order a half blonde half dark beer and feel pleased when the waiter actually understands and confirms "half half?". auspiciously, our beers - when placed next to each other - make up a nice spectrum of light to dark beer.

beer spectrum photo courtesy of bitesize

after dinner we go to the charles bridge for the view. this is a very famous bridge and is stunning at night. despite the cold, i can't help but be charmed by the experience of walking on this bridge, everything around me dark except for the interspersed lamps and the prague castle in the background.

before we go to lavke, a club recommended to us, we go back to the friendly bar we discovered the other night. i have a velkopopovicky kozel; i get the "cerny", a delicious dark beer. (the wikipedia entry for this is in desperate need of an update)

anyway, the club is interesting but thus far my experiences have felt like i was back in the ex-pat social scene in beijing. the night before, another club felt very international/ex-pat-ish mixed with a little bit of santa monica. not so exciting.

minnie mouse and i had planned a "charles bridge at dawn" moment a long time ago, so after clubbing and eating a second dinner, we all walk back to the bridge. it's about quarter to 6am and freezing cold, but we think the sun will rise soon. we had heard the views were beautiful. we pass the time by taking pictures of belvedere looking like a headless ghost. (he has a long coat so that if he pulls the collar above his head, it works)

i also pose like a gargoyle.

then, 2 drunk dudes show up and ask us if any of us are from prague and when we say no they ask if we would be offended if they threw this bench (which they had been dragging for some time, it appears) over the bridge. we say no and offer to take a video for them. they scream something like, "1234 woohoo new york!!" and heave the bench over the bridge into the river. what? drunk americans.

however, soon it became clear that no amount of goofing off would make the sun rise faster. i had previously thought about checking the sunrise time but the demonstration had distracted me. by 6:30, it is still dark. finally, we decide to head back to the hotel. at least by now the metro is running again. how sad! nearly an hour in the dark and cold and no payoff. but the experience was still beautiful, because there is no other time you could stand on the charles bridge like that, surrounded by only the darkness and glowing yellow light from the lamps, and no people.

back at the hotel breakfast service has already begun. we eat and then crawl into bed just as the sun finally begins to rise.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Very original picture of spectrum of light to dark beer! When I was in Prague, I realized that beer is ingrained in Czech culture so much that the Czech beer industry is considered a part of the national heritage. Czechs rate beer as part of their lives. They even call beer the “Liquid Bread” and they very often consume it in that manner. Popular Czech beer brands which you can find in Prague restaurants are: Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquel), Gambrinus, Radegast, Velkopopovicky kozel, Budvar and Staropramen.