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Published: September 13th 2007
I grew up in California. It’s a great place, and all that you have heard is true: swimming pools and movie stars. Oranges, hut tubs, redwoods, Disneyland and blondes. You can’t walk down the street with out seeing a bona fied superstar. Heck! Even our Governor is a movie star. We got it all. Okay, okay…maybe it’s not all like that. Like most native Californians I tend to over exaggerate my own importance and that of my home turf. And while all that is said about The Golden state is not completely accurate, one thing is for sure true: Nobody walks in L.A. Seriously; I drove my car everyday when I lived in California. I had too. The other options were just too deplorable to think about: walking or taking public transportation. Ewww. I mean, if I wanted to exercise I would DRIVE to the gym like a normal person. And public transportation is all but non existent in L.A. (San Francisco was better, but still not the greatest)
I moved to Prague almost a year ago and I am proud to say I have not driven a car since I have been here. The “California Girl” in me is bitter, but the rest of me is quite pleased. There has been no reason to drive a car. The public transportation system here rocks - and rocks hard…like Bon Jovi. It’s really the best I've ever seen. The metros are incredibly fast and always on time, the trams go practically everywhere, and wherever they don't go; you can take a bus or a train. I am now a huge supporter of public transportation. They even have night trams here! The Metro stops at midnight and then they have “Night Trams”. That’s right you can go out with your friends till 4am and still have a free and sober way home! It’s really exciting to sit and watch people try not to pass out or throw up. Ah, Prague.
So, although I prefer to walk this lovely city, I shall now tell you how to avoid certain mistakes whilst using public transit. There is a system of etiquette here in Prague. If you don’t follow it I will glare at you from the Metro platform. You have been warned.
1. The public transportation system is not free. You have to buy a ticket every time you ride or buy a monthly pass. They work on the honor system here, but they have power hungry checker guys hidden all over the place. So save yourself some money and aggravation and just buy a ticket. If you are found lacking in the ticket department, they will charge you 500Kc on the spot. Not fun.
2. You are waiting on the platform for your train. The train arrives, and the doors open. Please, please step aside and let people off! If you do not, you will risk a beating from the little old lady trying to exit said train. Move out from in front of the door!
3. Always let old ladies get on before you do. They will push their way in front of you anyway, so it’s just easier to let them go first.
4. Always give up your seat to people who stare you down, or people with disabilities or injuries, or any woman who looks like she will start yelling at you. I have friends who have never sat down before on the Metro. Do not under estimate old Czech ladies.
5. If you're wearing a backpack, take it off. Did you hear me? OK…if you are wearing a backpack - TAKE IT OFF! This is so you don't bump into me or the old ladies that just kicked your butt for not giving up your seat, and it ensures no one will steal your stuff.
6. You will see a little sign on escalators telling you which side to be on if you want to stand, and which side to be on if you want to walk. Please stand on the correct side. It is proper to stay to the right side of all escalators in order to let people walk up or down the left side. However people tend to stand wherever they want. A heart felt “PROSIM!” usually gets them moving because it’s usually the Czechs who are disregarding this rule.
So, I hope you have learned a little something about the Czech transportation system and how to ensure happy usage on it. Until next month…
I’ll see you on the Metro!
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