NOoo, this is not an account of my sexcapades in Prague! Sorry about the misleading title. It is merely a sequel to my travelogue of Old Prague (Please read Prague: The Bohemians are hardly Bohemian!). You see, I had (stupidly) imagined that Prague would be a boring communist place. Here is my prayaschitta, for being judgemental. Prague is a happy place.
The Pubs and….
All over Prague there are Pubs that serve Czech spirits and short-eats at ‘reasonable’ prices. Our resourceful guide Ashley, took us to ‘the best place’ at Misenska, near the Prague Castle. This celebrated pub had a very unassuming functional name: LOKAL INN (or simply, local pub). Ah, the Czechs can be a strangely abrupt species!
Yes, very functionally abrupt. Its waitresses (nice girls, really), were apparently trained by a former communist agent: they disclosed nothing but their rank and regiment and passed the menu card surreptitiously like a classified document. When we ordered, they gave us a look, like “do you really want to consume so much national resources?” Of course, the service was unquestionably efficient.
But the Czech’s are like that — good people who do not know how to express soft feelings. I realised this when I went to the toilet in the pub: I witnessed true Czech hospitality. Every square inch of the walls was covered with Playboy posters. I reckoned that they had featured every Playmate-of-the-Year since 1987! If you were a gynaecology student, you could cover the entire winter-semester syllabus in one long spurt! To be fair, there were some posters of famous football stars too; strangely, I cannot remember even one name now!
Czech Pilsner has a character of its own. It gently elevates you. Just look at the Street Performers below, can there be any other explanation for the magic?
…More Spirits !
In the night, we attended a music and dance performance by a Czech Folk Troupe in a large tavern. I know awful little about Slavic music, but it was vigorous and uplifting. The Dulcimer player was particularly talented — she played like she was a native Shivkumar Sharma !
There was something even more uplifting about the show. Not only was the food good, the fare included an UNLIMITED flow of spirits!
Then, I made an amazing discovery about Czech Wine: it improves your ability to dance! I am normally like Saurav Ganguly — I quickly run-out my partner. But after a few glasses I was swaying and waltzing with aplomb on the stage!
Since the audience was multi-national, the orchestra played some popular numbers from other countries. In the next table was a bus-load of Israelis waiting their turn: they needed a take-charge kind of guy. ME! I walked to their table and proceeded to sing hava-nagila in fluent Hebrew. And, I nearly became the next Indian Ambassador in Tel Aviv! Apparently Czech wine improves linguistic ability too.
Shopping – For your Eyes Only
The Czechs are truly talented craftsmen. (Anyone who owned a Jawa motorbike would vouch for this). They are good with materials — metal, stone, crystal, glass, wood , ceramics …. Old Prague is full of public squares and open markets that sell lovely trinkets.
Anu & I did huge amounts of window-shopping (you need Euros for the other kind of shopping!) and consumed all the stuff with our eyes.
Next, we moved to the high-end Crystal and Jewellery section. Adventurous? Hardly, because we were only window-shopping!
And then we saw this shop selling exquisite amber necklaces and other goodies. Anu adored the jewellery, and I adored the Jeweller ! Strictly window-shopping, of course!
Joy-rides & Cruises
We didn’t take Trams: we were warned about skilled pickpockets (on an evolutionary scale, they were comparable to professionals in Barcelona and Rome). We didn’t ride their autorickshaws — they were so snazzy that we missed them! Tourist taxis looked like vintage cars, we didn’t have the courage to ask the fares. Only the horse-carriages looked tempting: but when we converted the fare from Euros to Indian Rupees, I found that the horse was making more money per-hour than me: I was not even in the same class! Thus, we walked and walked till we could barely crawl. Just as well, because the sights were truly rewarding.
The best was reserved for the last. We cruised on the River Vltava on a luxury yacht. They served us a full course meal with choicest wine, and delicious desert. They had a house pianist who played lilting classical numbers as we enjoyed the glittery reflections of Prague!
1. Prayaschitta = A good-deed performed as atonement for a sin
2. Shivkumar Sharma = The Indian maestro who plays the Santoor (Indian Dulcimer)
3. Saurav Ganguly = Indian batsman famous for frequently getting his partner run-out