Prague : Day 3

This fine morning, I was greeted by the sun shining in my eyes, raising the ambiance temperature by a bit. I took a bath, checked out, and made my way through the city. To where? I didn’t know either. I hadn’t visited the Castle yet, so it made sense to do that. But, I wanted to enjoy the sun first, as I hadn’t checked out the beauty of the city on a sunny day. ( Yesterday, I wasn’t technically in the city 😉

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View from Charles Bridge

Great decision, I’d say! For the city looked like this.

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Prague
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Charles Bridge

Well, another reason why I was here was because I was looking for Electroshock. Would have been pretty awesome to hear them once again! But, no,sadly I didn’t run into them, so I started backtracking, to a wi-fi place, where I could search for the Castle Tours.

Just as I exited the bridge, guess who I saw coming onto the bridge, with their violins and cellos? Yes, haha, it was Electroshock! Ofcourse, I followed them back onto the bridge! and sat on the wall, right next to where they were setting up. This was followed by 10 minutes of musicgasm! Ah, definitely hear them once, if you’re in town! I got their card in the end, and that’s how I now know they were called Electroshock. Made my afternoon!

I left once they left, having chosen a tour, to Prague Castle, and St. Vitus Cathedral. Now would you look at that?

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St. Vitus Cathedral

We had to take a tram to go up, and our guide told us to be careful, as there are a lot of pickpockets on the tram. On the tram, I secured my satchel containing my wallet, when I realised it was slightly open. Funny, someone could have grabbed my wallet! I closed it, and carried on.

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St. Vitus Cathedral

We witnessed the changing of the guards, which I thought to be kind of funny. Why do people come from all over the world to see a guard replacing another guard for duty? That never happens for the security guard in my building. Sorry man, you should have worked at the castle. More interestingly, there is another man there, who shows himself after every such event, as the crowd is still there :

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2281 Days

He has been coming here for the past 2281 days, protesting peacefully for his home. The government forcefully took his home, based on, alleged endowments a few hundred years ago. I don’t know how much of it is true, but it was amazing to see his determination! I had a lot of questions for him, but we were short on time, and he didn’t speak English either. Here’s to you, buddy! I hope you find peace 🙂

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The city does look amazing from here

The tour took us through the Golden Lane,  where Franz Kafka, the (famous?) writer lived. I hadn’t heard about him before hand. There’s his museum next to Charles Bridge as well, but you can guess, I wasn’t too interested.

By the time the tour ended, it was night time and I had a few hours before my bus back to Wroclaw. I put on some good music and went on through the city. Just strolling through, I found this shop with a decent clock, which wasn’t too expensive, and I thought to myself, I should probably take this! I hadn’t taken anything for anyone back home yet, and it was time to start. I reached into my satchel to get my wallet and pay for it, and that’s when I realised that it isn’t there. I flashed back to the tram, when the zip was slightly open, and I had that funny feeling. That, was replaced by a sickening roaring in my gut, and I could feel the adrenaline pumping. Okay, this is a first. I checked my bag once again, to make sure it wasn’t just a funny panic-attack. Nopes.

I rushed back to the tour start point, panic almost taking over, to the place with wi-fi and googled “What to do if you’re pickpocketed?”. Haha, google refused to help, sending me to links showing me how not to get pickpocketed, and I exclaimed, to hell with you! ( Not necessarily the same words) I took a deep breath, and imagined what I had in my wallet. The bank cards, a lot of money, ( skydiving woes), subway coupons, my college ID card and my photograph. What would a thief do with all this? He’d take the cash, probably the bank cards too, but the rest, worthless. So, it would make sense to get rid of the rest. So, how do you do that? Trash can. Or the river. Oh shit, not the river!
Considering the fact that I was 4-5 hours late, I still searched the trash-cans around the area, looking like a maniac but concluded that he/she either threw it in the river, or the trashcans had been emptied out. I called back home, to cancel the Indian bank card, and tried calling my French bank, to no avail. So, I sent a mail to representatives of both the banks to do the needful, ASAP.

I went to the police station, where they told me to wait and give a statement, but I couldn’t wait, as I had to catch my bus. ( Paid for earlier, thankfully)

Pro Tip : When you get pickpocketed, don’t waste your time going to the police station. Make an online report, it is much easier, much faster, and you receive an online registration statement, which works as proof anywhere in the world.

I walked back, laughing, thinking, how could I be so confident that I would never get pickpocketed that I passed off that tiny incident on the tram as nothing, not even checking my bag for my wallet. Oh, and I didn’t have any spare money in my backpack, or on me.

Pro Tip : Always, always, always listen to your mother and have some back up money separated from the rest of your money!

This was, no doubt, one resounding experience of my life. For I reached Wroclaw, late at night, 1 AM, looking through the train station, if there was security barring people from sleeping inside and making my way to a hostel where I’d made a reservation. I had paid 10% advance, so I just went and explained the situation. I had read in the terms and conditions, that in case of no show, they deduct the first night’s stay from the card. That convinced her to let me stay, and she automatically deducted the money from the card, which worked, I have no clue how, as I had asked for the cards to be blocked.

You know the best part about the hostels I choose? There is always free breakfast! And my, I was so grateful to myself for choosing hostels like these. In case you’re wondering, this was Cinnamon Hostel. I’d absolutely recommend it. The receptionist wasn’t very helpful in my case, but on the whole, the hostel is absolutely amazing! A brilliant work of art. You could see that the owners put effort into the place.

I never thought my first proper job interview would be at McDonalds, but hey, that’s what you do when you need money! My mom gave me the idea, who was much more terrified than I was( I’m pretty sure about it, but she cooled down soon ) , and I thought it was brilliant! So, I went asking for work, standing next to the customers, which was kind of embarassing, as I had a flight in a few hours time, and I needed enough zloty to get to the airport. ( 3.80 to be precise, which was less than 1 Euro.). Also, English wasn’t the first or the second language, so in the end, talking with the manager, she told me I couldn’t work for a few hours there, as all employees need medical approval. What a shame. The florist, same result.

Finally, an Indian Restaurant owner, who also couldn’t let me work, offered me 5 zloty, which I reluctantly accepted. ( Afterall, I needed the money, and if he insisted I have it, after I’d said no, meant I should take it 😛 )

By this time, my family had arranged for a transfer as well, so I had enough to get back to Douai. I went around town, because well, “Il faut profiter!”. This pretty lil town, Wroclaw.

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What an amazing day. I reached Paris at night, slept at a friends place, and next morning, I was in Douai, in french class by 10 AM, sharing this epic adventure with my teacher.

I was extremely lucky, that the guy/gal didn’t get hands on my passport, nor could use my bankcards.

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.

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.