Prague : Day 2

I woke up about 11, which was soon considering I slept really late, washed up, got dressed and went on my way to earn my gift. Making my way throw Old Town Square, to this place through this tunnel.IMG_1935

and there it was. The Prague Skywalkers skydiving office. The next 6 hours passed in a second. No, wait, 60 seconds 😉 That’s the amount of freefall time I would be getting. The airport is an hour and 15 minutes away, so we got into a shuttle to take us there. A scenic ride, but I was more concerned about the butterflies in my stomach. Shouldn’t have eaten butterflies. LoL.

Do you know the drill? You get there, use the restroom, then you’re divided into groups ( 4 per turn on the small plane ) and given a briefing on what to do while up there and advised not to die 😀 Then comes the harness, which is pretty tight, afterall I’d be concerned if it wasn’t! Another Korean guy diving with me got his harness on too close to his groin, and I’m pretty sure he got his ball squeezed during the dive. Shit. Don’t let that happen to you! Speak up and tell them that it’s too close, not that it’s too tight!

Ofcourse, I was laughing my ass off when I realised this. Then, just before we get on the plane, we meet our tandem instructor, who has the parachute ( On a tandem jump, you have nothing, and you’re just connected to this guy/girl) and a photographer. Moving towards the plane, I was almost the last to get on, as I stopped to admire the sun, pretty close to dusk; and the others literally ran to be first to get on.

And my photographer captured all my emotions
And my photographer captured all my emotions
What this meant was, I was going to jump first! *Tell me how to feel!*. The plane took about 15 minutes to get up to 4000 m, I know this because I was checking the altimeter of my co-diver all the time. So cool, watching that needle go from the red area to the white ( reverse, because we were going up ) and with each kilometer gained, I was starting to breathe heavier. Do you remember I have a mild case of motion sickness? And that I don’t enjoy rollercoasters because well my body just doesn’t feel good afterwards? This was like the grand father of all those things!

Thinking through this, it was time, and this wingsuit diver next to me ( professional, alone) just jumped out. AAAHHH SHIT! I was next. We get to the side, I look down, and I think to myself, ” What the fuck was I thinking? ” and then a microsecond later, “Fuck it.”.

We jump. We do a somersault in the air. I then feel the air blowing into me. I feel the speed with which I am going down. Instead of looking down, I look straight, to see the horizon on all sides, with the sun just about to set, glinting off orange. It is freaking beautiful. I am still falling, my eyes start to water, my ears turn numb, I can’t hear a thing but I’m still screaming at the top of my voice. It’s difficult to breathe, so I try harder to take in the air and  it’s almost impossible to throw it out. It’s indescribable.

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The parachute opens, and the next 7-8 minutes, I’m cool-ly coming down, breathing easier now, taking in the scenery, the sun warming up my face. We land, and I’m left there, ecstatic and exhausted, not wanting to get up. Perfect.

Ofcourse, the next hour, my motion sickness kicked in, and the journey back to Prague, I was rolled up in a corner trying my best to control it. Thankfully, nothing came out of me! Haha, phew.

Do you know what’s more special about this day? It was Halloween, and I had just received a coupon for a 20 Euro free meal at Hard Rock Cafe, Prague!

Do you know what’s even more cooler? The Hard Rock Cafe in Prague is the biggest in Central Europe! The voucher said I had to make a compulsory reservation before hand, so I wasn’t pretty sure I’d get in that night. Looking for other avenues, Halloween plans with all my new friends didn’t work out, and my college friends were going back tonight. So, I decided it was worth a shot. And ofcourse, that shot paid off. Check out this insane interior:

Not a great pic, but a great place!
Not a great pic, but a great place!
This, was the first time I went to a high-end restaurant, alone, for a meal, and let me tell you, it was one of the best nights! I got the chance to eat my amazing meal in peace, think about all my birthdays, and this, my 20th birth-week! Couldn’t have been better! I spent a few hours there, ah, such an insightful night!

This got me thinking, and I came to this conclusion : I am extremely lucky!

A lot of things came together at the right place and the right time to make sure I could experience the day like I did. Firstly, when I made my bookings for the diving, the only slot available was the 2 PM. I wanted to do it in the morning, but I’m so glad I could not, as that would have hindered my last night clubbing and I probably would have been too tired in the morning to do the dive. But, 2 PM isn’t exactly sunset. Take the shuttle, 3 :15 PM. Not there yet either. Remember the division into groups? I got into the second group, meaning I would dive after the first group. The briefing + suiting up + the first group dives, and it’s 4:00 PM. We suit up, I get in last because I stopped to admire the sunset, and bam, I’m the first one to get out, no one blocking my view or my photos 😉 The plane takes 15 minutes, and I jump about 4:15 PM? Sunset at 4:25 PM. Perfect. Absolutely perfect! I choose the Hard Rock Cafe voucher, out of the 5 available, and get into the cafe on on of the busiest nights, Halloween. There’s a video DJ, playing live, and it is me eating some of the best food with some classic music, enjoying  every bit thinking about how awesome I am. How awesome this is.

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Prague : Day 0-1

6 PM. That was the time I reached Prague, after a pretty bus journey through the countryside. Oddly enough, I wasn’t very impressed when I first set my eyes on Prague. It seemed so normal! Haha, I think this is the travelling effect, I ought to give places more time before I decide they are normal 😛

Interestingly, my college here in France had also planned a trip to Prague at the same time, and it’s safe to say I met atleast one friend each day, at any random location, random time. Hide and seek?

At a cool 5 Euros per night, I was staying in Hostel Centre, which is a bit out of the city center, but I couldn’t complain, it was a really cool place, and I made some amazing friends! My college friends on the other hand were staying bang in the city center, Hostel Ananas, at the same price I think. ( much WIN )

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View from Hostel Ananas (slightly exaggerated)

By the way, that’s the National Museum. No, I didn’t visit it, I am kind of tired of museums. I’d rather take a tour of the city now, it’s way more interactive! And of course, that’s what I did! My morning was greeted by Karel, our Sandemans Prague Tour Guide! I wouldn’t go into the details of the tour, except a few really cool things, like the astronomical clock in Old Town Square :

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This left me so awestruck! It was built in 1410. Can you imagine? And it’s still working! However, don’t ask me how to read the time on this monster, I have no clue! Every hour, there’s a 30 second clock show, which, well I guess you can watch it once, it’s fun! ( Only the first time, I hope you don’t stay there every hour just to watch it again and again ).

Here’s a really cool fact you wouldn’t find on wikipedia yet( I checked ) : The lower dial consists of 400 names on the outskirts, which correspond to a specific day! In every persons life, there are two important days : The birthday and the name-day. That’s right, Czech’s had to choose one of these 400 names for their kids. Yes, that means you couldn’t name your kid Yoda, or Gotham, or Skeletor, or Bulbasaur. Hmm, I should write a book on “Best Names to give your child. Gender not an issue.”

Haha, moving on, on the tour break, I got to try some authentic Czech cuisine : Pork with dumplings and sauerkaut, which is basically a sauce! Let me tell you, it tasted heavenly! Absolutely wonderful!

Guláš
Guláš

I took a bite before I could take a picture, too hungry! In fact, I just realised 😮 This has happened every time! Remember the Indian Naan? Damn! Those white things, are the dumplings! They are different here than the rest of the world, not your common “momos” or the Chinese dumplings you’re used to.

This was followed by discussions into the Second World War, the Jewish Quarter, and the various occupations in Prague. I think, being in Europe, I’ve come to see the war from a much closer perspective, from right next to the epicenter, to how it spread through Europe. It has been pretty eye opening.

This 3.5 hour tour, by far the longest and also one of the loveliest, left me next to the Philosophical division of Charles University with 2 new friends. We decided to go see the John Lennon Wall, by Karel’s recommendation, through the Charles Bridge, which is also pretty famous, and right across the corner.

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A view of Prague Castle and the Cathedral
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Charles Bridge

This was followed by one of the most ecstatic and spontaneous moments of my life. This band, Electroshock, playing Viva la Vida, Toxic, We will rock you, on a chello, violin and hand drums! I was in love! So.Freaking.Amazing! Music hormones( you understand what I mean if you love music like I do 😉 ) shooting through the roof! Watch. A small video, simply because hey, I’d rather listen than shoot it, and I had to take a glimpse for you guys.

Followed by one of the most epic walls I have ever seen : The John Lennon Wall.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?
When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Taking in the city, walking around town, exploring, you know how it goes and well, 20KM and 25,000 steps later, I was back to my hostel. This, right above, was one side of Prague, let’s call it the day-life, because the night-life is something totally different! Drugs, Casinos, Strip Clubs, Night Clubs, all are in plenty throughout town! I was slightly surprised the last night, when I first got to see all this! This was also new to me. I haven’t been clubbing much, and in fact to not even a single club where I didn’t know majority of people ( college parties / birthdays ). What better way to change that, than to do it here, in Prague? The drinking capital of the world, with some kick ass night clubs.

What I didn’t know was, that the first opportunity would present itself this night itself, with me sitting in the common room of the hostel, talking to people from all around the world, and hearing their night plans. Mind you, this was at 11 PM. Whaat? My new friend, Rafael told me about this really cool place. 4 floors, biggest music club in Central Europe, different genre of music on each floor and a 200 CZK entry. Now that sounds awesome! Although I was tired as hell, 15 minutes later, I was out again, on our way to Karlovy Lazne! Best. Decision. Ever.

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Thanks guys for taking me with you! Rafael, Gabriela, Neil, Leo.

This GIF was created with http://www.gifmaker.me and I want to add this reference because it was free, those guys deserve that!

That night was a pretty important night, and I am not going to go into the details of what happened there 😉 However, apparently a lot of people from my college were there too! Talk about coincidence!

I reached back home, 4 AM, bursting with excitement, because the next day, I finally get my birthday gift for myself, which I had mentioned before. That, finally. at 2 PM.

Wroclaw, Poland

I don’t know where to start. It’s been one hell of a week, starting on the 28th October morning, ending today, 3rd November. I was about to take my first RyanAir flight, intra Europe, from Paris Beauvais to Wroclaw ( pronounced Wro-SLAW ), Poland. Why did I choose Poland? Simple, it was a very cheap flight! 45 Euros, return journey included, and I booked about a month or two in advance. Also, it was right next to Prague, and for another 5 Euros, I could get to Prague by bus. Not bad, not bad at all! Sounds pretty exciting, in fact! 😀

With this plan in mind, I left college to get to Paris, you know the usual story. However, this time, I took the bus from Lille( 1 Euro, much cheaper! ), which dropped me off to a point in Paris where I hadn’t been before : Eastern side, Quai de Bercy.IMG_1744

There’s something about this city, something I can not lay my finger on, but every time I come here, I experience something magical! And everytime I leave, I think, I wouldn’t be coming here again, I’ve pretty much done all there is to do. This was my 4th time. My first time post Autumn, and my, didn’t that give this city another flavour!?

I really love this picture
I really love this picture
But well, I think I had just the perfect amount of time, before my flight, to go over the city once. According to Google Maps, it would take me about 2 hours ( 10 K.M ) to walk from this Eastern end to the Western end, where I take the bus to the airport from.

Pro Tip : Booking RyanAir? Pay attention to the airport! For example, RyanAir only operates through Paris Beauvais, which is really outside the city, costing another 17 Euros to get there! Factor this cost in, and the extra time it’s going to take, while making the bookings!

A few not so interesting events and a couple of hours later, I ended up in Wroclaw, at 23:30 PM. At this time, pretty much the last bus leaves the airport for the main city. I deliberately delayed myself to miss this bus, spending time in the bathroom, having the prepacked croissants I bought in Douai, for one sole reason : I was about to do something I had never tried before : Spending the night on the airport, all alone, to kind of save on an accomodation, which would be valid only for a few hours, as I had the bus to Prague at noon. The things we do for money? It was practical and kind of easier than going through the trouble of locating an hostel. Had I gotten kicked out,  I don’t know what I would have done, since I had no backup plan! But looking back, I probably would have come back in. Not a very good back up plan, but hey, that’s all I had.

Pro Tip : While deciding to do the above, check online for reviews and airport timings! If the airport closes, there is no way you could do this, and you’d be kicked out! Also, sleeping post arrival without a connecting flight is considered bizarre, and most authorities wouldn’t allow it. So, be wary of security and try your best to make sure they don’t approach you. Don’t do stupid stuff.

True, it is pretty uncomfortable. There was an air of confusion and excitement, not knowing whether I was  going to make it without any clashes with the security. Thankfully, after the last flight into Wroclaw, the airport was left pretty much deserted, save a few fellow travelers with a connecting flight, the occasional security, and the cleaning staff. I stayed awake till about 2 to figure this whole out ( and the fact that the chair was very uncomfortable was a major contributing factor ) . After which, I started to feel the night setting in over my eyes. It was a broken sleep, I’ve definitely had much better, but well, there was no way I was complaining. Free clean toilets, free water, free wi-fi, electricity and a warm area for the night!

Pro Tip : All over Europe, I’ve seen that the tap water is highly portable. Drink away to glory! Check online, ask if the water is drinkable though! Heard that beer is cheaper than water in X. ( X = Munich, Germany etc. ) Well, If you believe that, you’re doing it wrong. Do you know why? Because you’re not supposed to buy water, you’re supposed to drink it from the next water fountain you find.

Caution : Follow at your own risk, if you believe your immunity system can handle it. ( Is that a challenge? ) 

Next morning, I ventured into this town I had never even heard of before. I instantly fell in love with it! It’s so travel friendly! Moving through it, I tried to pinpoint the reasons why Wroclaw was so cool.

#1 : It is freaking pretty!

Yes, this is pretty common in a lot of towns, but hey.
Yes, this is pretty common in a lot of towns, but hey.

Do all towns have this as well?
Do all towns have this as well?

and this?
and this?
#2 : I saw a majority of women on the street, and only a few guys. I haven’t checked the sex ratio here, but I am pretty sure it’s in favour of the ladies. But can it be just this?

Every girl my age I looked at, smiled back at me. Woah, friendly little town!?

#3 : Have you seen the exchange rate here!? It’s approximately 4x cheaper than the rest of the west!

( Try singing that. )

1 Euro = 4.2 Zloty. But don’t apply this logic in Prague ( 1 Euro = 26 Czech Krowns ). Prague is not any cheaper. The “4x” was just a coincidence 🙂

#4 : Free wi-fi in almost the whole city, with directions on every street on how to get to the next wi-fi zone! Haha, doesn’t get funnier than this! ( Okay, it probably could, but go with the expression, okay? )

Lovely little town, eh?

Sadly, I didn’t have much time! However, I did see most of the monuments around town, and made my way to the bus. Prague was waiting for me.