So my last day in Prague was again spent in the company of Marcus, Jenni (who wants me to let everyone know her name is actually Jennica) and Jim (whose other friends call him unspeakable names which we won’t reprint here unless there is huge public outcry and a petition under the Jaq Freedom of Information Act). Anyway, we decided to walk around the city, see the Palace and do whatever came along.
But the Palace was our first stop. Well, not exactly. Our first stop was the train station where I took WAY too long trying to book a ticket to Munich. That was one of the two things I needed to do during the day. The other was get some more souvenirs and mail a box home (filled with said souvenirs). So my little gang (and yes, we looked like a United Nations version of Reservoir Dogs walking down the street – in slow motion even because of all the walking we had done the day before) was very patient with me delaying them and once I had my ticket sorted, we headed off towards the Palace.
Naturally, we got off at the wrong stop so once again, out came the trusty Lonely Planet and once again, Jenni was our fearless leader in getting us to the Palace and the Cathedral or St. Vitus. Now, as you’ll recall, I’ve already been to the Palace on my city tour so it was up to me to fill in knowledge gaps and point out things my guide told me (I felt like I was passing on the wisdom and knowledge of generations of Pragians – or whatever they’re called). Once we were through with the Cathedral, we all opted for a bit of a sit down and maybe a light refreshment. We found a place inside the Palace walls, chosen for the dessert special which sounded fantastic, and sat. I decided to have a chicken wrap, as did Jim and Jenni. Marcus chose a focaccia bread sandwich and we each had a beverage. Why, you may be asking yourself, is he going into so much detail about a silly lunch? Well… after last night’s adventure with the nice rude waiter, we’d been having discussions about service and the lack thereof and sure enough, this little place didn’t disappoint!
When the meal came, four plastic sealed items were deposited on our table, like the kind you’d buy from the refrigerated section of a Seven-11. Drinks were also set down and before we could even comprehend the fact we had just purchased pre-made meals the waiter asked us if we were paying together or separately. When we answered “separately,” the guy immediately told us how much each of us owed then stood there until we paid. I wish this was the worst of it, but no…the bus person took away our plates as we finished, even if no one else was done and then, as a final push, she took Jenni’s plate while Jenni was STILL eating! We had to laugh about it. Of course, the reason we had stopped there to begin with was for the dessert, so Jenni and I (being the dessert twins) decided to split it. It was advertised as a mash of strawberries with ice cream and something else… when it arrived, though, it looked nothing like what we were expecting. It was a strawberry puree with a lump of ice cream in the middle and we figured the whatever it was I forgot was mixed into the mashed strawberries because it was nowhere to be found.
This started a trend of weird food things through-out the day for us. Sure, I could talk about trying to get down off the Palace hill and me going to find a post office to mail my stuff home, but that’s boring compared to our food adventures.
When we decided to sit for 45 minutes and take a little boat ride in the river, part of the reason we went was they offered free ice cream, beer, lemonade, coffee and tea…except it was only one of the beverages and the ice cream was a cheap chocolate dipped bar. The boat ride itself, though, was nice and relaxing.
Then came dinner. We found a little out of the way place and we all ordered traditional Czech foods. At least we tried to. The menu was written in three languages, Czech, German and English. So each item had the description first in Czech in big, bold letters, then in German in smaller, regular script and finally in English. None of us spoke Czech, but Marcus, as you’ll recall, speaks fluent German, so he was looking at both the German and English descriptions of each dish to try and determine, exactly, what they were. I ended up ordering a sirloin dish with a cream and raspberry sauce. Of course, when it came, it was three thinly sliced pieces of beef smothered in some sort of raspberry infused gravy and topped with a huge dollop of whipped cream. It was like dessert and dinner all rolled into one… a Willie Wonka experiment gone awry! Jenni had ordered boiled potatoes along with her main course but when the food was brought out, she got fried potatoes.
“I ordered boiled potatoes,” she said
“We don’t have boiled – you get these,” came the surly response.
Again with the Eastern European view of the world – you’ll get what we give you and you’ll like it! Then we had dessert, according to the menu, a pancake with ice cream and cherries (and the only reason we knew it was cherries was in the German description it mentioned Kirsche). Naturally, what came out was a crepe, stuffed with chocolate ice cream (no mention of chocolate anywhere) drowned in a chocolate sauce which, if it had any hint of cherry in it, would take a palate the likes of which Tom Colicchio would be envious of to spot.
The difference, though, in this place as opposed to the other places we had eaten, was that here, they weren’t nearly as eager to get rid of us. In fact, once we had gotten our food initially, trying to catch someone’s eye in order to get refills, dessert, or, heaven forbid, the check, was nigh on impossible. The servers would walk past us, close enough we could ALMOST reach out and touch them, but not quite, and completely avoid noticing we were waving frantically to get their attention. I suppose for the Czechs, there are only extremes.
Nothing major happened for the rest of the night (although our grand tally for the day was 15km) and Friday morning, Jim and I headed off to the train (Jenni met us in the lobby to say good-bye). The train ride was uneventful (except for a minor detour where we all piled onto a bus for one station stop to avoid some rail damage) and we pulled into Munich around 3:30. Once I got to the Hostel (which was a fair walk, especially with full kit in the hot weather) I checked in, got set up and went for lunch. When I got back to my room, I met Mike, a student from St. Louis. We talked about psychology for a bit, then I went downstairs, where the wifi works, and spent the evening talking to Kamilla, one of the counter girls, about comparative literature and helping her practice her English (which was much better than having her help me practice German, I assure you).