Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prague IV: The Weird Stuff

As they say in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, "We do the weird stuff!" But really, in the grand scheme of weird, extravagant, and generally odd things I encounter on a somewhat regular basis, Prague was pretty normal. There was, of course, the issue of the Dead Baby Public Art (left), but I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to what they were thinking when they erected those things. In a similar vein, we found some pretty hilarious sweat shirts (right) in one of the stores on our block. They had all sorts of interesting things in there, but that one took the cake. I think Prague is just one giant "dead baby" joke waiting to happen. They might be the new non-Internet dead baby capitol of the world. And let me tell you, the Brits in our flat are not going to relinquish that title without a fight. If you've never heard a dead baby joke, please don't google it (Mom).

I wouldn't say that gelato qualifies as "weird," but the fact that we only paid $2 for them does. These sundaes were enormous, delicious, and inexplicably (even by Prague's standards) inexpensive. We celebrated our first night in the city with them, in part because we didn't know when we'd find that much gelato for so little and in part because we were just really hungry. They had food and drinks on the plane, but they only got to the row in front of us before stowing the trolly for landing. Basically, we didn't eat anything after 9 AM at the train station until we sat down at around 7 PM for dinner. There is no reason anyone should ever go hungry in Prague - we ate at a series of very nice restaurants for around 10 dollars each, and the foods on the street carts and in the convenience stores was even cheaper. Not to mention, all of the restaurants have (at least) tri-lingual menus. So really, we even knew what we were eating. That's kind of a rarity for me these days - everything in England comes drenched in mushy peas and gravy.

We got very good, non-gravied crepes, salads, and lite lunches here almost every day. It's hidden in a courtyard off Národní (going from the water to the promenade it's on the right), and there are three or four wine bars in the adjacent buildings. I think I have a picture of the inside somewhere, but for simplicity's sake I'll leave it out. They've got it decorated in a cluttered country-home style, with lots of small bells hanging from the ceilling. It sounds tacky, I know, but it really worked for them.

This thing is called a "Hot Apple." I don't remember exactly what's in it, but it's a hot cider drink served with pieces of cinnamon and cloves (read: twigs). I normally wouldn't include something as mundane as this, but about 5 minutes after they brought out our drinks I convinced Chad to eat the cinnamon bark at the bottom of his cup. He did. Every last one. And then we decided we wanted dessert, but the kitchens were closed. So, I attempted to make something in the room. Our original plan was for bananas Foster, but the store didn't have any ice cream, so we amended that to cake. Except - remember, all the words were in Czech - instead of cake mix I ended up with frosting mix, so then we bought the single most disgusting pound cake I've ever tasted, "decorated" it, ate about five bites, and threw it away. I'm going to go ahead and say the Hot Apple was the culinary highlight of that late-night craving.

And this, if I'm not much mistaken, is every swan that ever lived in Prague. We were down at the docks for our twilight cruise, and a family was tossing bread crumbs into the river. I don't think I've ever seen that many swans together at one time, it felt a bit disconcerting. I don't know if it's residual memories from the time a goose chased my mother and a 5-year-old me back to our car and she kicked it across the lawn or if Hot Fuzz is finally getting to me, but they definitely made an impression. For some reason it reminds me of "The Ugly Duckling," except in this case the cygnet goes crazy and uses its arm-breaking beak to kill off all the ducks.

We found this club - N11 - while we were out looking for a place to dance on Saturday night. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it had some of the best techno, trance, and 90's remixes I've heard in quite a while. We danced, we laughed, we sang along... a good time was had by all! It was a nice change of pace from the dance clubs in England, too. I don't know if you're aware, but every night is Halloween in an English club. We went out once and were accosted by Willy Wonka and (probably) 15 Oompa Loompas. And once I watched Batman puke on his own boots. Anyways, the people in Prague dress nicely and (that we saw) don't puke on their own shoes. Go Prague!

Speaking of Halloween, we were in Prague on the 31st. I didn't get a photo - to my eternal and undying shame - but we met a group of Czechs dressed as the Ghost Busters. The word "Slimer" in Czech might be the funniest thing I saw all weekend. The jury's still out, but it's down between "Slimer" and Max Payne (not my idea to sit through that piece of garbage -- it was, however, funny in its own pathetic, inaccurate way).

And this is a revision. I can't believe I forgot to put this stuff on here in the first draft!

This is the most extensive, completely fabulous tea shop in all of Prague. They must have had at least 2,000 different teas (individual types by box and brand) in this place. The man working there wasn't very helpful - I might have actually bought something if he'd seemed even slightly interested in what we were looking for, but he failed spectacularly. It's OK, though, I guess you have to expect the kind of person who would work in (or own?) a store like this to be stuck up and a little rude. It ruins the ambiance otherwise. In addition to all of their teas, they also had an upstairs section (roped off, probably to keep tourists like us out) that looked like it had a wide selection of tea pots and kettles. I wish we had gone up stairs, but even walking around smelling the different loose leaf varieties made the visit worth-while.

1) The Best Tree in Prague (not to be confused with The Worst Pies in London). It's in the park opposite the New Town Hall.

2) Exploring The Best Tree in Prague. Fun!


Anonymous said...

YOU were 3... the goose was crazy ( biting your heals and my legs... chasing us as I carried you running to your car... as you screamed like a little girl... OH wait you were a little girl..AND yes... to all who would judge me... I kicked that goose right square in the chest... it was him or us. And you know the rest of the story... memories make me smile.

Ray Yaegle said...

Seriously, mom. Punctuation. It's not hard.

Burkesmouthpiece said...

glad you both made it out of the goose fight...

Burkesmouthpiece said...

p.s. - my brother now thinks that Prague is the coolest city - on account of it's luster as a 'dead baby' joke capital. ::sigh:: 16 year olds...were we ever that immature?


Ray Yaegle said...

I don't know what you're talking about, I'm STILL that immature. Just kidding (I think). You guys should make Praha your next family vacation - didn't you say that you all go abroad semi-regularly? Flights from the US are probably a bit expensive, but once you get there it's cheap and in English!