Wow, what a holiday in Prague. It feels weird writing about this after three weeks have passed but I noted down a few things as soon as I got back so I’d be prepared when it came to writing this up. For those who didn’t know, I was heading to Prague and then Dolni-Studenky for my mate Pavel’s birthday. We flew out on a gorgeous Wednesday morning from Dublin at 7.15am which meant I had to be up for roundsabouts 4.15 although I never really mind things like that when I’m going on holiday. 🙂 This entry is massive so I’ve included a little summary for those who don’t want to read it all. There’s pictures in the extended entry.
Wednesday: Got the plane out, met Pavel’s friend, Jurka, whose apartment we would be staying in, had a few beers (tastes much better than the muck they serve here), rambled around the Old Town and saw a few sights, ended up at an Irish bar by accident, went for beers in a big outdoor venue.
Thursday: spent 9 hours walking around and taking photos, toured the gorgeous castle, drank cans on the street.
Friday: met Ciaran after he got lost, toured around the city, played tennis on the outskirts of prague, ate cheese in a mad bar, went to the akropolis and drank and danced till 4.
Saturday: headed down to Pavel’s home town, met the family and ate some roasted pig, did shots, played a game of football in a mudbath, DJed for a couple of hours
Sunday: watched firemen racing against the clock, took the train back to prague, didn’t feel great
Monday: went to see the museums, walked around prague’s north bank, shopped, retired to bed.
Tuesday: spent the day in bed and then took our flight back.
The flight out was with Czech Airlines and I really have to give them a big thumbs up for service. Due to the fact that I had booked online, I didn’t need a bulky ticket but a single slip was enough and I also got fed first on the plane. Not a bad deal considering I paid €130 return for the trip. The initial group heading over was myself, Kenny, Pavel and his girlfriend, Tanya, along with Miki and her boyfriend Gino. My friend Ciaran was due to meet us on Friday in Prague as he couldn’t get the extra few days off.
After travelling into Prague from the airport we found a nice little pub right next to the metro station and had some food and pints. To say Beer in Czech you say Pivo and bars normally have one or two brands on offer. The first thing which strikes you about the beer is the pure taste. It’s like no beer I’ve ever tasted but it just seemed easier to drink than the stuff sold in Ireland. We were sitting beside a German tourist guide who we got chatting to briefly. Turns out he had met Gareth O’Callaghan and Ian Dempsey (Irish radio DJs) before. 🙂 Sitting behind us were a group of, what can only be described as, English yobs. These guys give England a bad name as all they do is drink tons of beer, insult the locals and generally cause a ruckus. We all laughed when the German guy made a quip about an approaching street cleaner coming to sweep away the English. 😆
We then headed to a couple of other bars, as were killing time until we would meet with Pavel’s friend, Jurka. The others would be headed directly down to Pavel’s home town of Dolni-Studenky but myself and Kenny were staying in Jurka’s flat in Prague until Saturday. It was hilarious to see Jurka greeting Pavel at the train station as it was really animated and enthuasiastic. 🙂 After leaving the guys at their train, we walked out of the train station across the tracks (make sure to look left and right now :lol:) and made our way to Jurka’s apartment. It was about 10 minutes walk from the train station and it’s pretty central to everything. After dropping the bags we walked around the Old Town a bit and took in some of the sights. We crossed George’s Bridge, which they are still repairing from the floods a couple of years back, and went for a pint at a riverside bar. Jurka explained that he needed to go and do a bit of work so myself and Kenny then rambled around taking photos and somehow ended up at an Irish bar. 🙄 It was completely unintentional but funny none the less. After that we went for a bite to eat in a place recommended by the Lonely Planet. We got a platter for 2 but we couldn’t get through the whole thing so decided to get a doggie bag and bring some back to the apartment. I don’t think the waiter had ever heard such a thing but greeted it with a shrug of the shoulders and a “why not?” 😆
After we got back to the apartment, Jurka suggested going for a pint in a place called Ragrovy Sady (sp). The place is a giant outdoor bar with loads of trees around. There’s music and a big screen for sports events and the place is filled with young people. We stayed there for a few and then headed home to get some rest after a hectic day.
Thursday really was the day we made tracks around Prague. We had seen a massive TV tower and Jurka mentioned you could go up to a viewing platform. Myself and Kenny somehow managed to lose the tower when we were walking around but eventually tracked it down. The views from the tower were fantastic. It was built in the early 90s and there’s now an art exhibition of metallic babies crawling up the tower bolted onto it. 😯 It looks really well though. After that we spent the majority of the day taking in the sights and having a few beers. We had wanted to go up to the castle but didn’t get a chance on Wednesday. If I had known about the stairs up to it then I may have thought again about tackling it at all. 😆
After the arduos stairs we eventually reached the castle and had a look around. There’s a magnificent cathedral within the grounds and tons of stunning archetectural pieces. We then got some cans from a shop and did what all Irish men do and drank them on the street in the sun. No idea if that’s illegal in Prague but what the hell. 😆 Thursday night saw us back at Ragrovy Sady to meet some of Jurka’s friends, namely Josef and Mikaela who were really nice and invited us out to their place the following evening. More beers were consumed before we headed back to Jurka’s in a heap. 9 hours of walking around plus beers will do that to ya. 😉
As I mentioned, Ciaran was due to meet us on the Friday after flying in from Dublin. Myself and Kenny made our way into the same pub we had been on the first day near the Metro station and waited around for a while. We were in touch on the mobiles with Ciaran but he managed to get lost for the best part of an hour and fifteen minutes. Turns out he took the wrong exit from the station. 😆 Muppet.
After that we headed back to Jurka’s to drop off Ciaran’s bags and then rambled around for the afternoon. In the evening we drove out to Yosef’s place on the outskirts of Prague. He had a swimming pool but Kenny was the only one of us who ventured as far as having a dip. Yosef then mentioned a tennis court that the community owned so we went and played for the best part of two hours. I showed off the patented Tony backhand and the Czech’s were suitably impressed. 😉
That night after arriving back in Prague we went to this crazy bar which served cheese. I wasn’t too keen on it myself but Kenny was a real fan, eating most of mine and Ciaran’s. Friday evening meant only one thing and we headed off to a niteclub to wreck the place Dublin style. The venue of choice was a place called the Acropolis which had two bars playing House in one and Raggae in the other. A rather bizarre experience that went on until 4 in the morning at which point we made our way back to the apartment.
With nary a hangover between us we hopped in Jurka’s car for the trip east to Pavel’s home town of Dolni-Studenky. The drive was about three and a half hours but we got there in one piece. Pavel’s birthday party was on in the community centre of the village with a tent set up out the back and a pig roasting on a spit. We were introduced to the family and friends etc and have to admit that we were made feel really at home. Czech’s are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. 😀
As part of the birthday celebrations, a Czech vs Ireland match was to be played and we warmed up by messing around on the clay and sand pitch. Little did we know what was to come. After about an hour the thunderstorm came. The locals had been expecting it but it was a sight to see the clouds roll in and lighting streak across the sky. The amount of rain that was dumped on the “pitch” made it a mud bath but with a few more beers and our jerseys on the decision was made to proceed with the “match”. Initially I kept my runners on but it was clear that was not going to work as the surface was way too slippery and mucky. The game itself was absolutely hilarious with about 20 guys falling all over the place and getting covered in muck. I even managed to score a goal for the away side and I believe it finished up a 4-4 draw, with a good performance from Gino keeping us in it at one stage. After the game, it was time for photos and as there was one area of the pitch that looked like a lake, it would have been rude not to run and jump into it as a group. Needless to say we all needed a shower after that one. 😆
The party rocked on into the wee hours after that with special mention going out to uncle Yigosh who was racking back the shots at George Best’s best session rate. Pavel’s dad was also brilliant as he would be trying to communicate in Czech but somehow we were able to understand most of what he was saying. 😆 I then jumped on the turntables for a couple of hours as Pavel’s brother had set up a sound desk and speakers. I had a lot of songs to choose from since I had my MP3 player with me and, to my suprise, the tunes went down a storm with a dancefloor forming at one stage.
After things had quietened down a tad, we all had a go on Pavel’s bike/scooter type of thing with both Ciaran and Kenny crashing straight into a fence one after another. 😆 My go was cut short due to the fact that I hit a pothole and almost lost my manhood. 😳
After waking up on Sunday, Kenny wasn’t feeling too well at all and had to get sick a number of times. He slept it off for most of the day as the rest of us went to watch a competition for firefighers out the back of the community centre. Since all of the towns around that area of Czech don’t have full-time firefighters, teams of volunteers man the stations. Every few weeks all of the teams from the area come together and take part in a competition to see who can assemble the hoses, run down the track and then spray the target at the end with enough force to turn the lights on.
The thing is that there’s 50 teams taking part so the competition goes on for the majority of the day. Spectators line either side of the track and we almost got soaked at one stage. After the competition was over we headed back to Pavel’s house where his brother would give us a lift to the train station. At this stage Pavel’s parents waved us goodbye and I find it hard to convey how impressed I was by their hospitality and warmth. They were just magnificent. 🙂 A short car journey and we had arrived at the train station. Hard to believe that a train journey covering the guts of 300 miles costs just €3!! 😯
On the train back Kenny began to feel better while I began to feel worse. By the time we got off the train I was definitely the worse for wear and struggled to go out for dinner after we had met up with Jurka again. It turned out that I was coming down with Gastroenteritis and an associated stomach infection. 🙁 Not a nice thing to have on holiday.
When Monday morning arrived I wasn’t feeling much better. Tanya, Pavel and Ciaran would be travelling back to Dublin that morning so we got up to see them off. I got a bit more sleep and then myself and Kenny went to visit some museums in the city centre. Little did we know that museums are closed on Mondays. 😐 My stomach didn’t feel much better after walking around the city so I was exhausted by the time we got back to the apartment. Our plan was to bring Jurka and his girlfriend, Vendula, out to dinner but I just wasn’t well enough to go.
After missing out on the museums on Monday, Kenny’s plan was to hit at least one of them before we needed to head to the airport to catch our flight to Dublin. There was an exhibition of Gieger’s art on in one of the museums. He did most of the art and concepts for the alien movies but Kenny said a lot of it was quite disturbing. I spent the day laid up in the apartment and Vendula was good enough to give me a Buprofen tablet which would kill some of the pain. Around 5 we drove to the airport and bid farewell to Jurka and a fantastic holiday.