Monday, November 19, 2007

Prague: Cheap and Easy, But Also Cute

Like a fantasy date! Well, after riding a wave of Polish good tidings, it finally came time to say goodbye, and so I headed out for Chopin airport to hop on Czech Airlines for a flight to Prague. A DJ gig didn't quite come together in Prague, which really has turned out to be a bit of a relief -- after the madcap tour of Poland, (and before the madcap tour of Belgium, Germany & France) I could really use a few days to recoup, and it turns out Prague is the perfect place to do it. First of all, my friend Ashley is living here, a former LIVE 105 employee (like myself) who came over almost a year ago, currently working at a fancy crystal and home-decor store. She knows her way around and last night I got my first whirlwind tour of the city, and despite all I've heard and seen about Prague, it, like Krakow, is still a bit overwhelming, with its winding streets and hidden passageways. What's awesome, though, is that it's cheap.

Below right: snack aftermath

Poland was surprisingly expensive: for instance, yesterday I went to Starbucks clone "Wayne's Coffee" for lunch before I left for the airport, and my sandwich, a small dry roll with salami and cheese, was 15 Zloty, which at 2.5 zl to the $ is a whopping $6, and the espresso was like 8 Zloty, which is over $3. I'm not sure if this is a recent development due to general European exchange rates pummeling the dollar into oblivion, but still, it was a bit annoying: aren't places that feel kind of ex-communist supposed to be bargains? So Prague's cheapness has turned out to be a crazy surprise. Dinner last night at an amazing multi-level cafe (whose name I forget, sorry) which included spicy toast, croquette appetizers, a cabbage salad, two entrees including my pork stuffed with cheese and olives, and two glasses of wine, all came to about 560 czech koruny, which at about 5 cents to the koruna, is around $28. For everything! Our glasses of totally tolerable Czech wine were 32 czk each, and yes that's $1.50. My hotel, the amazing Miss Sophie's (which is part hostel and part hotel), where my beautifully modern room with custom metal furniture and an awesome glassed-in walk-in rain-head-shower thing, I booked at 1450czk/night but when I showed up they charged me 1100czk/night, which is just around $55. It's hard to believe that there's anywhere left where Americans can use their rubles so effectively, but here it is.

Below: the astronomical clock in the town square, and the awesomest thrift store in the world which is right next door to my hotel

I'd also heard there was grumbling (and general Eastern European dourness) on the part of the local populace about foreigners, especially loud Americans, and to expect unfriendliness, but again, totally not the case: everyone's been incredibly nice and only mildly smirking at my pathetic attempts to try out some Czech, which is only 35% like Russian as opposed to Polish at around 60%, so in other words I'm not getting it right.

Back to Poland for a moment: Fellow DJ on the Polish leg of the tour Liam B sent me this video of my Party Ben Kenobi entrance in Krakow although you can't see a damn thing and it cuts off right before I get on the mic. Come on, Liam, learn to run your camera!

Also check out a gallery of pics from the Krakow gig here, including some highlights like this one of P.B. Kenobi or this one of regular Party Ben wielding the light saber while Duze Pe whips up the crowd.


Kristi said...

mysterious blue light saber getting waved around - cool. But drag you got cut off before speaking!

Dennis Cass is . . . said...

You had . . . spicy toast?

Will you time on your whirlwind European tour to write more about spicy toast?

Amy said...

Arriving in Prague in the winter was like a dream come true for me as to gaze across the snow covered rooftops was like something straight out of a fairy tale...Right from the moment I took my first walk around the old town in the evening mist of my first night, I instantly felt as though I had been swallowed up by its astounding history from its first founding just over a millennium ago. We booked a room in one of the Prague hotels right in the center of the Old Town - wanting to be close to everything.The old town square is simply breathtaking, presided over majestically as it is by the town hall and the dominating presence of the monolithic Church of Our Lady before Tyn. A short five minute walk from the square has you standing on the banks of the Vltava River gazing in awe at the mediaeval masterpiece of the Charles Bridge- in fact the only thing that can possibly tear your eyes from this visual feast is the simply stunning presence of Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral standing proudly watching over the city on the opposite bank.And that is just the beginning of visual treats that Prague has to offer... :-)