Published: July 9th 2012July 9th 2012
Just a warning to other travellers to Prague.
On the last day of a 5 day short holiday, my wife and I bought two 90 minute tickets at the funicular railway to the top of Petrin Hill. We stuck our tickets into a machine at the bottom and had them time-stamped. About 15 mins before the expiry time we returned to the to station, but just missed a train and so had to wait for the next. When it arrived I put my ticket through the ticket machine but my wife had hers examined by an official, and handed back to her without any comment. The official obviously knew we would be fined, but said nothing. Sounds like a nice little scam!
At the bottom, two burly ticket inspectors told us our tickets had expired by 15 minutes and we would have to pay a 800 K fine. When I pointed out that my ticket had been stamped by the macine and was just 2 minutes out of time, they ignored this and still asked for 800 K each. Our quite reasonable comprise of buying two new tickets was rejected. We still refused to pay, not seeing any signs indicating what level of penalty had been set, or whether these two clowns were making it up as they went along. Then the fun started when we told them our passports were safely locked away in our hotel safe. We were then threatened with the police and 5000 K fines each, unless we paid up now. Still we refused and the cops were duly called.
We were taken to separate cars and my wife was handcuffed and shoved into the back of the policecar for asking where she was being taken and why her husband was not coming with her. At the hotel our passports were examined and luckily the hotel manager came with us to act as interpreter and witness.
They first asked for 3000 K each, but we told them we only had 2000 K cash between us (last day). Then they said we should get cash from a machine, but we explained that we had taken cash with us for our short stay and our card company had not been informed that we would use them abroad and that the transaction would fail. They then settled for the 2000 K we had, and that was that. They told the hotel manager we had not paid for our tickets, but when we showed them the tickets, they waved them away and said they were not interested in tickets, and that we were being fined for not having passports on us when asked.
So, make sure you have your passport on you at ALL
times outside the hotel, and do make sure your travel tickets are correctly validated, not visually examined!
Apart from that, great beer!