Prague, Czech Republic
07.04.2010 4 °C
We regretfully had to leave Krakow a day early in order to avoid missing our connecting transport in Prague. Krakow was a intreging city and for the first time on our trip we left feeling like we'd missed out on so much. Definitley a place which is back on our "must see AGAIN" list. It was hard to tear ourselves away from our hostel (the best so far) but reluctantly we did and headed to the train station to catch our overnight train. The previous day Sam and I had attempted to purchase 2 person sleeper tickets, but they were unfortunately all sold out. So we decided to brave the 4 person sleeper instead. We thought we'd try our luck at the ticket counter to see if perhaps someone had cancelled and a 2 bed sleeper was available. Arrrr ... no ... and you're in a 6 person sleeper, not a 4 person. So it went from bad to worse.
So we boarded the train at a near empty platform thinking "Hmmm, not so bad, maybe it won't be full". The sleeper itself was the stuff of nightmares ... 3 bunks (or slabs of wood with a thin mattress on each) lined a room no bigger them a small long bathroom. Sam was reserved in a top buck and myself on the middle bunk, disaster. You couldn't even sit up, it was either lie down or stand upright torture style in the narrow section between the bunks. After 10mins we assumed we'd struck gold as we were still the only ones in our compartment. Then, Jurrassic Park style the ground began to shake and all went quiet. A feeling of impending doom suddenly came over us. Next thing we knew the train was surrounded by 200 confused Japanese tourists. 2 minutes later 4 young Japanese girls frighteningly peered into our compartment. It was clear ... they were equally as disappointed. Yet we knew we needed each other to get through these trying times ... and the next 10 hours.
So picture a tiny 5 foot nothing Japanese girl struggling to get into her top bunk, not so hard right? There was head bumping, plenty of "Oooww's", tugging at sheets, untangling of clothes, until she finally was able to sit up with her head tilted strongly to the side. Now picture Sam, a solid 6 foot something struggling to get into his top bunk. It was like watching a Cat trying to escape a bathtub. There were limbs flying, concussions, plenty of "ARRRRRRGH's" and a few close calls with Sam's swinging size 12's and a Japanese girl's head. Yet with his knees up around his chin, he was in. Notice how I didn't address how I got into my bed ... we won't go there as I may need to seek councilling on my return to Australia. Lets just say, one doesn't get too much sleep when they keep envisioning newspaper headlines along the lines of "Large Australian girl crushes tiny Japanese girl in sleeper train bunk bed collapse".
After a night of much unpleasentness, we finally got into Prague. Our Japanese friends didn't speak any English, but this didn't stop Sam trying to have a conversation with them. He'd say something and they'd just laugh, it was very cute. After posed for 20,000 photographs with our new best friends (and even their friends who didn't know us, hahaha), it was time to disembark. If you ever had to be stuck in 6 person sleeper, four quiet Japanese girls is probabably the best case senario. Our hostel was no more then 5 mins from the train station and the wonderful hostess let us check in at 8 in the morning. Despite the amazing view from our terrace and we went straight to sleep!
We awoke feeling refreshed around 12pm and on a tip from our hostess we headed to a restaurant at the end of the street. We'd heard tales of the cheap beer in Prague but nothing can really prepare you for that moment a waiter plonks a 1ltr of beer down in front of you and you then proceed to do exchange rate sums in your head over and over, not quite believing this cold golden nector is only $1.50 Australian. Two hours later we left pleasently numb and warm despite the 3 degrees outside. We spent a few hours enjoying sights of Prague before heading in for the night.
Prague wasn't looking after us weather wise, but despite this we headed to the famed Charles Bridge and then onto the Prague Castle. They say Prague is a fairytail city, and the Prague castle really doesn't let you down, with its mix of pristine and varied Architectural styles. Excited by the sight of my first Gargoyles since Notre Dame, I whipped out the 'stalker' lense and snapped away. If its to wash away storm water from the roof or to scare away evil spirits, their elaborate facial features and protruding tongues do a fine job at both.
It was late afternoon so we decided to see if the restaurant we enjoyed yesterday was still serving food. After a walk around the touristy part of Prague we'd discovered cheap food and beer needed to be hunted down, and when you we onto a good thing stick to it. Luckily it was open for business and we had one of the best meals so far and I think the bill totalled $25 (including about 6 beers, hahaha).
Again time seemed to slip by to quickly in Prague and again we left wishing we'd scheduled more time for Prague and beyond. Regardless we headed to the airport to begin our Italian leg of our trip.