Arrived in Prague
Feb 14, 2003
very tasty food and supermodel looking girls
bone chilling weather
After my flight being cancelled for 2 consecutive days and over
20 hours of travel time, I finally arrived in Prague on Feb. 1st.
It is now February 14th and I am finally sitting down to write my
first group e-mail. I guess that should serve as some form of foreshadowing
and a testament to the incredible time that I’m having in
Praha, Czech Republic. I figure instead of boring you with my daily
routine and such, I’m going to break this up into different
aspects of life in Prague. Feel free to read anything you think
will interest you and skip anything that doesn’t appeal to
you. For some of you, that will mean skipping to the end of this
right now. For the rest of you, I will try to provide brief anecdotes
or tales to accompany each section to paint a vivid picture of the
place I will be calling home for the next 4 months.
It is surprising to note that most of the restaurants in Prague
are Italian. I would have never expected to travel halfway across
the world to a Bavarian state rich in German and Slovakian heritage
and see signs sporting the word ‘pizzeria’ every 3 store
fronts. So, for my first meal I decided to try some Prague pizza
since their was rumoured to be a delicious Italian restaurant in
the vicinity of our dorm. I sat down at the table with 3 of my new
friends and we received menus. At that point, the menu could have
been Chinese and we would have understood it just as well. I somehow
managed to explain to the waitress that I wanted a vegetarian pizza
and she seemed to understand which was a great sign (people over
the age of 30 don’t speak a word of English for the most part).
We all ordered and were enjoying our first taste of Czech pivo (beer).
Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the waitress approaching our
table and got very excited at the prospect of eating my first meal
in Prague. To my surprise and chagrin, the pizza that was placed
in front of me was topped with some mysterious spinach puree and
copious amounts of corn and green peas! I learned my lesson quite
quickly that when travelling in a country where you don’t
know one word of the native language, you should bring a local bi-lingual
individual with you. In all honesty, the pizza was delicious and
I recommend trying it at home. My pizza almost rivalled the deer
goulash that I had for dinner the other night. If you haven’t
had deer before, it’s like beef but more tender and tasty….mmmmmm!
Weather: The temperature in Prague always seems to hover
around 0 degrees, but it is absolutely bone chilling, which is a
mystery to all of us here. There’s no humidity in the air
and there’s no wind chill, but it feels as numbing as when
Toronto was -25 before I left. Also, I haven’t seen the sun
since I arrived in Prague, it is always overcast and grey. I don’t
know how I haven’t been stung with a bout of severe depression.
People: This is the section where I talk about the women
in Prague, but I thought using the title ‘people’ would
be a little more tactful and diplomatic. After spending one day
on campus at the Prague University of Economics, it is no wonder
to me why Prague has been touted as the world’s newest breeding
ground and hotbed for supermodels. I would perform a serious injustice
by trying to describe what the women here look like. All I have
to say is that if the Czech Republic falls into a deep recession,
the government should consider some sort of exporting program to
boost their GDP.
I should take this opportunity to introduce my roommate Eric who
hails from Lyon, France and has shared many of my wonderful adventures
with me, some beyond the scope of this e-mail.
After that brief preface, I will dive into another one of my stories.
Eric and I have discovered a new favourite pastime in Prague and
have co-conspired with another one of our friends, Carole, who adds
to our legitimacy and credibility. What we do is sit down in the
library directly adjacent to the entrance. We pull out our ‘Elementary
Czech’ notebooks and repeat after Carole as she reads Czech
words out loud. When we see one of the aforementioned Czech beauties,
we call her over and ask for her interpretation of the pronunciation
of a very easy word. As we’ve figured out, there’s a
serious positive correlation between helplessness and cuteness.
Relationships: Another interesting aspect of the Czech
culture is that boyfriends and girlfriends aren’t afraid to
share their status in public. For example, while walking to class
yesterday, I walked down the main corridor and saw a Czech guy on
a bench holding what seemed to be his girlfriend across his arms
while they passionately kissed. Arms flailing about, they continued
their enlightening (at least to me) public display of affection
as I walked by in amazement. I think there could be a business opportunity
here to rent rooms out by the hour in various strategic positions
in Prague, I think it would improve the experience for everyone.
Accommodations: The outside of our dorm gives off
the impression that it has been through World War II and the mass
turmoil that plagued Czechoslovakia under its Communist regime from
1948-1989 (good thing I have my class notes handy). The inside is
a big improvement and my room is great. There is a truly eclectic
mix of people in my program from places like: Colombia, Portugal,
Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Sweden, USA, Spain,
Hong Kong, Korea, and Austria. The people are all amazing!
A couple lessons to learn before travelling to Prague:
You can get all bundled up to go to school and not worry about hauling
around all of your stuff because there are 2 huge coat checks in
the main building at the university which struck me as odd.
If you go out with Czech people for a pre-lunch drink to warm you
up, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
When I was visiting Prague castle, there was a Chinese restaurant
that was recommended to us for lunch, but it didn’t open until
1:00pm. So, about 6 of us went with one of our Czech buddies to
get some hot chocolate and coffee to warm us up in the interim.
On the menu, I saw “hot honey wine” and I asked her
if this was a signature Czech drink and if it was wroth trying.
She assured me that it was delicious and insisted that I try it.
The drink arrived and it was about 0.25L of beverage which looked
great because I was freezing. I took a sip and almost spit it out.
The contents of the glass are still a mystery to me, but unless
wine is 40%, I’m not sure what it was. I quickly marvelled
at how delicious it was and offered it to all of my friends at the
table. How could I be so selfish and drink it all myself? I was
on a completely empty stomach; needless to say, I exited the restaurant
and warmly stumbled to the Chinese restaurant.
Make sure you have your communication bearings before you ask your
Czech friend if she’s soon the movie ‘XXX’. On
the plane ride over I saw the movie ‘XXX’ with Vin Diesel.
The timing was impeccable because most of the movie was taped in
downtown Prague. My Czech “buddy” (there’s a buddy
system here and everyone has a Czech student that helps him or her
out for the first week) Dasha picked me up at the airport and in
the taxi on the way to our dorm I wanted to see if she had seen
the movie I was just treated to.
The dialogue went something like this:
Jared: “Dasha, have you seen the movie ‘XXX’?”
Dasha: (puzzled) “I don’t think so.”
Jared: “You know, the movie with Vin Diesel, ‘XXX’”
Dasha: “No Jared, I don’t think I’ve seen it.”
Jared: (due to her unfamiliarity with the movie, I thought maybe
the title was a little different in Prague, so I spelled out the
letters one by one for her) “The movie is X X X.”
Dasha: “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh” (Great, I thought, I managed
to explain it to her, I was a master communicater!) “Sorry
Jared, I’m not into that.”
I had to spend the next 5 minutes trying to convince a girl that
I just met that I hadn’t just asked her about watching pornographic
That’s more than enough reading for everyone. This weekend,
I’m going to a Czech cottage about 2 hours from Prague and
5 minutes from the German border. I was invited with my roommate
by one of our Czech friends, Lucy, and we’re going with about
12 other Czech people. It should be a blast and a great chance to
get to know more Czech people. I would love to hear from those of
you that haven’t written me yet.