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Published: February 13th 2007
Train to Prague
It was a realllly nice train, and we had these four seats to ourselves, which was great.
After a slightly expensive train ride, albeit an incredibly nice, highspeed one with a train that tilted so it could go around corners faster, Derek and I have arrived in Prague. I'm trying not to develop any impressions yet because we got here after 7:30 and it was already dark, and we're currently not in a very nice area of town and train stations are generally not nice places anyways and we didn't even get off at the main one, sooooo let's just say the place hasn't exactly won me over. But, like I say, I'm not willing to judge it yet. Everyone says Prague is a gorgeous city and I'm sure it is and that I'll discover its beauty tomorrow in the light. In the meantime, I have to go hungry because the signs for the grocery store indicate quite a long walk, which I'm just not willing to undertake right now. Derek went out on the journey, however. His empty stomach calls stronger than my tired body, I suppose.
But hunger, shmunger, because I have something better than food--FREE INTERNET!!!! Yahhhhhhh!!!! Oh, how good it is to calmly surf the net, send e-mails I've been meaning to send for ages, and actually upload photos, for once. Plus, it's an English keyboard, which I'm extremely happy about (although I was starting to get good at typing on that German one). Of course, this free internet comes AFTER I've sorted out all my flight changes and senate stuff. =)
I'm happy to have some free internet because there are a couple of stories I wanted to regail you with that I didn't get a chance to earlier today.
The first one happened yesterday on our long walk to the southern train station. We wanted to go there to find out if our railpasses would be valid for a ticket to Prague (they weren't). As Derek and I were powerwalking there, a man came up behind me and loudly inquired if the building we were crossing across the street was the main gate to something or other. I replied with an, "oh, sorry, I have no idea. We're not from here!" To which the old man replied, "Oh, American?"
--Oh, even better! (shakes our hands) Vancouver?
--No, Victoria, just across the water!
--Oh, lovely! I've been to Victoria!
--Oh! (we exclaim)
--My brother lives in Seattle, you see
--Ahhhh (I reply) So did you take the Clipper?
--Of course (he says with a knowing smile)
Then, with a sudden flutter of movement he says "this is my Greek restaurant! I'll give you my card! Come!" and before we know it he's disappeared inside the building we were standing in front of. Derek and I exchanged bewildered glances, then followed inside. By the time we entered, however, he was starting to fill wine glasses with wine. "Ohhhhhh no!!! No thanks!" We both exclaimed in unison. "We've already eaten," Derek helpfully added. What had we gotten ourselves in to? "Ohhh, but I insist! Have some good Greek wine, on the house. From my heart!" There was absolutely nothing we could do. The wine was poured. "We'll have the wine, but then we're out of here." Derek muttered quietly to me. The guy graciously gave us two huge glasses of wine (which was pretty good) and showed us to a couple of seats. "It'll will keep you warm!" he said. So, completely confused, Derek and I sat down and presently consumed the huge glasses of liquid as quickly as we could. Then we gave the glasses back, thanked him profusely, and hightailed it out of there. "We're open every day!" he called after us.
Now, you may think that we're terrible people to be so skeptacle of his generosity, but you kind of have to be when you're travelling. Plus, let's recap the situation. First of all, why did he ask me for information about a building that was directly across from his restaurant? Surely he knew what it was. Second, he'd been behind me when he spoke to me and must have seen my Canadian flag, so why did he assume I was American? Thirdly, he DID know that Victoria was near Seattle, but when I asked if he took the Clipper he gave an answer that could easly have just been one of those answers you give when you want to pretend that you know the answer is obvious, but you don't actually know what you're talking about. This has happened a few times to us on our travels. I think next time I'm going to ask if people took the bridge, and I'll see what kind of a response I get! Now, it's very possible that he was just genuinely a big fan of Canadians and Victorians in particular, I don't know. It was a pretty strange experience, though! A day later and we haven't died from poisoned wine, so I guess we're in the clear.
I'm desperately trying to remember the second incident, but I just can't think of it right now so I'm going to start uploading a few photos and maybe it will come to me.
Ahhh yes. Now I remember. A tale of empty stomachs. Now, I LOVED Austria. Seriously. But now I understand why the Austrians eat such big, hearty meals. It's because they need to build up their stores of fat for times when they are unable to get food. You see, grocery stores are EVERYWHERE, sometimes right across the street from each other. It's like Starbucks in Vancouver. However, there hours are terrible! They close unbelievably early, open rather late, and, as we discovered, don't really open at all on Sunday. Well, nothing of much was open on Sunday. To make matters even worse, there are no 7-11s or convenience stores of anykind. At least in Salzburg there were a few gas stations with good hours, but there was nothing like that anywhere near us in Vienna. Sunday, yesterday, was the day when we went in to the House of Music at 3pm expecting to come out around 6, buy some spagetti sauce, and make the rest of the leftover pasta and weiners that we had from Thursday for dinner. However, as I've told you before, we ended up staying in the place until it closed at 10pm. We knew that we were completely out of luck for obtaining pasta sauce. Even if it wasn't Sunday we never would have been able to find a store open that late at night. I almost always have a bag of food at the hostel with staples like cookies and granola bars and stuff, but right now I've pretty much eaten all of it. Literally all I had was some plain spagetti and 1 1/2 hot dogs. Soo... that's what we ate! A huge bowl of plain pasta, and 1 1/2 hot dogs. Mmmm mm. I actually didn't find it that bad, but Derek couldn't handle the plainess of it so he kicked it up a notch with some sour milk he had (it was fortified with acidopholus bacteria and was supposed to be sour, don't worry). Now I know how the really, really poor students live. I guess it was better than tonight, though, since I'm not eating any food at all! I wonder what the grocery store hours are like in the Check Republic? Derek still isn't back yet, so that either means the store was closed and he's wandered for ages, or it was open and he's taking a long time picking out just what to get. We have to get used to a new currency now, the Crowna, which is in huge denominations. 20Ck to the Canadian dollar, or 30 to the Euro.
OK, can you tell my internet time is free? I'm just rambling now. I'd better sign off and upload some photos. Bye!
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