Friday, November 8, 2013

Chelsea in Prague Part I

Friday, November 1

There were no tears shed as we left Bratislava. I was actually cheering in my mind. We had a nice time at the apartment, getting to rest and relax a lot, but that town was NOT my favorite (okay, it was my LEAST favorite!), so I was very pleased to head to the bus station.

We waited on a curb for a little bit for our bus to pull up, and when it did, I think my eyes just lit up. We have had numerous problems, of a great variety, with the Eurolines buses, and to see “Business Class Eurolines” as well as “free WiFi hotspot” and “220 Power Outlets” I might have even done a happy dance.

We lined up and put our stuff under the bus, then we boarded. More legroom, free bottles of water at the front, magazines to read, and true to their word, power outlets! I grabbed our favorite seats that are right next to the back exit door, which don’t have any seats directly in front of them (aka: no one reclining into your face). I was anticipating a fantastic 4 hours to Prague.

Unfortunately, as with every other bus ride on this trip, there was indeed something wrong. BUT, for the first time, it wasn’t Eurolines’s fault. The road conditions were so poor nearly the entire way through Slovakia and into the Czech Republic that we kept bouncing. The little table-like thing in front of us was bouncing and squeaking and thank goodness for seat belts because I was bouncing too. I got a massive headache from this and felt sick almost the entire way. Bonus: the promised WiFi didn’t actually work. Boo...

But, we did finally make it to Prague! We arrived a little late, so I had to get WiFi at the bus station to send a message to our next AirBnB host to tell him to meet us a little later. We needed to make a reservation to Frankfurt (Hallelujah!) and get some food! While on the WiFi, I found a map of Prague and saw that a KFC was nearby. We had both been craving something of the sort, so we made a beeline.

About halfway there, we realized we don’t have any local currency. I am thoroughly annoyed by countries in Europe that don’t use the Euro! While the exchange rate is usually a little better than the Euro (usually only marginally so), it’s a huge pain in the butt to exchange money all the time! We crossed our fingers that maybe they accepted Euro. 

We got there and sure enough, they accepted Euro and would give change in CZK (koruna). We both happily ordered and sat down. Only then did was start to calculate exchange rates and realized that our meals were not very cheap! And, the exchange rate at KFC wasn’t exactly the best we could have gotten. Romeo languished over this for a while, but I munched away and just called it stupid tax. I mean, of course the FAST FOOD JOINT wouldn’t have a great rate, but whatever... We got our food and we didn’t have to walk all over creation to find a currency exchange with a favorable rate. 

After we ate, we headed to the metro and easily found our way to the proper stop. We met our host, Vilem, at the entrance and had no problems. The flat was extremely close to the metro, only 3 minutes by walking. It was on the 16th floor of the building and had huge windows along one wall. In the darkness, the view was only mediocre, but in the daylight it was pretty good! The flat was similar to what you’d find in Korea - one big room with a kitchen in the same room as the bed, etc. It was much bigger than my apartment in Korea, though! 

We got settled in then headed to the grocery store nearby to grab a couple of things. We wandered and tried to translate different names of items; I bought lentils (I had a weird craving!), pasta sauce for the pasta we had brought from Bratislava, a couple of drinks, and a loaf of bread. Romeo got eggs, more beer, some yogurts for breakfast, and chips. As we were walking out of the store, we saw a big glass window showcasing bongs. WHAT?! We literally walked back to stare. My jaw dropped!

Upon further investigation, I guess pot is “kind of” legal in the Czech Republic. Basically, possession in small amounts is alright but you can’t distribute and I’m not sure about growing. I was shocked, though. I’d had no idea! After we discovered this, I happened to notice our host’s taste in decor: he had a big canvas painting with pot leaves all over it. To his credit, it was surprisingly tasteful! It honestly looked like art; obviously, I didn’t notice the marijuana leaves for a few hours!

Anyway, we had a very low-key night in. I was disappointed to find no English TV stations, and no external hard drive stock piled with movies. However, that was probably a good thing! Instead, we played card games with some mini-cards we found in the desk. Add some iTunes Radio on the speakers, and it was a pleasant evening. 

We got some good rest and the following morning, after breakfast, we headed into the city.

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