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Thursday, April 14, 2011

PRAGUE AND THE GREAT NATIONAL MUSEUM RANT

Picture by Pete, I am the original fatboy!


PRAGUE NATIONAL MUSEUM

To get into the National Museum of Prague costs 200 CZK per adult.

Here are my rantings about it...

While the individual pieces often had small labels in Czech and English on them, the longer signs which gave you vital over view information were just written in two languages. One of which is the international language used by throngs of tourists descending on the city and the other is only used by a very small segment of the entire world's population but is the local lingo. The big signs may have included a small sentence in English in parenthesis which read "Fuck you, learn Czech. Stay out of our National Museum until you do." Don't get me wrong, I don't expect everyone to be forced to learn English... Necessarily... However, that is a big time tourist place. I would even say that 80% of the people we saw there when we were there were tourists. And I would also hazard a guess that only a couple of them spoke more Czech than I. Put up the signs.

Perhaps the reluctance to put up the signs is to try to entice people into buying the 'audio tour' in their native language. The same way that they want you to pay an extra 50 CZK to be able to take non-flash pictures. Really? What a sad thing.

Pete and I saw tons of bone fragments, pots and sharp eyed attendants looking for people trying to sneak a picture with their cameras.

To someone interested in walking a ton, the exhibits may have been more interesting. But I have doubts. Between gaming and studying archaeology/history/etc in my youth, there wasn't really anything I hadn't seen before. Yes, I've studying archaeology. I decided not to go into that field because it is meticulous, detailed work that calls for a great deal of patience. My patience is legendary.

But, I wanted to do a museum for Pete as he puts up with an amazing amount of shit from me, including hearing me continuously bitch about my feet, legs and back. I haven't bitched about my arms so far as I know.

Pete seems genuinely interested in what amounts to mostly poorly labeled junk with a few nice pieces thrown in to get people to consider blowing 50 CZK to be able to take pictures.

Being that it is a European museum with weird twists, they were doing things like showing a bizarre, poorly done claymation film.

There was also dirt sprinkled on the bottom of some exhibits. I asked Pete why. He said the dirt represented 'dirt'. These are the sorts of deep insights you too may start to give if you hang out with the Logan enough.

They also had a room done up in woods and shit with a stuffed bear and a big wooden picture of a guy with stairs around behind leading up the back. If you opened a small circular door from that end, you could extend your face through the hole. Anyone standing on the opposite side would be shocked that your body had been replaced with a badly painted one. From the height of the stairs, this was not made for children to use. Disturbing.

They also had a pen with a door whose size made it clear that it was meant for children. Or, I suppose midgets. On the inside of it was a stuffed boar of some sort that the kids would go inside and mess with. I swear to god it looked like they were dry humping it. Very disturbing.

Fortunately, the new weirder exhibits had some English writing which told us that they dealt with Czech legends. Deeply disturbing ones is my guess. I'm not even sure what the hell was going on there.

I told Pete that so far, this was my favorite museum ever because I hated it so much. I told him it gave me a lot of ranting I could do on my blog. He said "You are a sad man."

If you ever go to a museum with Logan, you will notice his pace increase as boredom, back and leg pain cause him to go a bit faster in search of a place to sit down to write in his notebook for a few minutes and rest himself. Once within sight of the exit, the Logan will usually bolt and be found just outside in whatever seat can be had nearby smoking. Believe me, it is not you, it's me. Oh the pain, the pain, the pain of it all!

After you've been to 40-60 museums, you realize shit is pretty much the same all over the world. Grinding stones. Stirrups. Spurs. Combs. It all runs together for me in the 'broken, old junk' category.

They even were suppose to have dinosaur shit. They had a couple fairly low grade heads partially stuck in rock still and a shit load of crustaceans, but who the hell cares? I want a fucking triceratops!! So, no dinosaurs. Not really.

If people were to ask me, "Do you feel that you should have paid 50 CZK to take pictures?' Counting the number of mildly interesting shots I would have taken, it's about 5. Fuck paying $.50 per picture, it's just not worth it.

Naturally, they have a coffee shop in the museum where you can get a slice of cheese cake for 45 CKZ. [Don't look at me like that, Pete is the one who got it and ate it. I haven't really done much in the way of snacks and certainly no binge eating while I am here. I've been told it will take a long time for my excess American - er fat - to go away. Pete said I should probably see a difference in a few months. Hell, in a year, maybe I can fit though some of these European doors!] Anyway, Pete said the cheese cake was weird. They put some sort of spongy material in it and it was rather bland. I told him I had better things to do than eat a bland sponge.

We found a big map on the floor of the Czech Republic and I went and stood on Prague and tried to get Pete to help me make plans for our future trip. I said "Look at how close this other place is!" (Step on other place with a foot). We can just do this and we're there! A security guard was having difficulty controlling his grinning as the strange American danced about on the map. Pete just shook his head and moved on. Pete often does that. Or face palm. I have no idea why.

The prices in the museum cafe are OK but you can't smoke in there. I am filled with angst.

Jana took us to a gaming store. It looked pretty much like every other gaming store I've ever been in but they had some products in Czech. They even had an RPG in Czech. Jana said she had owned a previous version and didn't think much of it. In Europe, Magic the Gathering seems to be the big draw. The amount of RPG's on the shelves - not much. After spending a couple minutes there, we left. To the best of my knowledge, that is the only gaming store in Prague.



THE ART OF BEING A DICK

There are a lot of beggars out there and they make you feel like an idiot if you don't give them anything.

The problem is that I don't really care about them. People who do become social workers. It is obvious that society doesn't care about social workers either, judging by their wages.

Anyway, you want to give the beggars money so that they can buy drugs or booze but you really don't want to part with your money.

So what do you do?

You give them small change that you've picked up in foreign countries.

No currency exchange will take your dimes or pennies but they make a nice sound ringing in the beggars cup.

So, everyone gets something they want - you get rid of dead weight, the beggar gets money and so on.

If the beggar can't find a way to exchange it, you can feel better helping them avoid overdosing on heroine. If they can exchange it, maybe they'll buy their way out of poverty. Yeah, right.

But it buys me some amusement. Cheaply.



OTHER THOUGHTS

Pete wanted to get a head shave and beard shave. The place we stopped by didn't do shaves but a haircut was 200 CZK. Meh.

In Melbourne (Australia) the public transportation is privately owned and closes at midnight, like it does in Prague, Czech Republic. If you find yourself in Melbourne close to midnight, lock yer ass in yer room with a case of beer and pray for the dawn!

Whinge - to grouse or complain. This is Australian slang, often used by Pete to refer to Logan's activities.

Pom - a British person.

Whinging Pom - common phrase there.

Whinging Yanks - not so common of phrase, perhaps because I haven't been there yet.

Despite my daily attacks of whinging, Pete has noticed an increase in my energy and physical activity. I have no stats but would guess it is up by 30%. In fact, I was the one to suggest we go to a museum. Possibly due to guilt. But the up side is I got to whinge about the museum! The system works.

I think Prague could probably be done in a few days. Numerous books have been written on that shit already but I'm here to give you the Logan perspective. Personally, if not for the fact of Jana and Pete being here I'd have already fled to a cheaper country or part of this country. I know I haven't seen all that much of Prague but the need to live within my very small stipend is outweighing the need to see yet another museum, art gallery or more architecture which I don't fully realize the significance of. Or care. I'm having a lot of fun hanging out with Pete, Jana and recently Jana's friends. My money is not yet at the 'critical' state - I'm just worrying. And sharing that worry with you.

Dealing with money, for pretty much all of the cities I've been to, I'd strongly recommend figuring out what you're going to spend then bring double that amount. Triple if you're going to the UK. If you have change you won't whine but you sure as fuck will if you run out of money early!

One reason I've been waking up much earlier (and sleeping much less) than in the states is that I have a great zest to do, see and whinge about things here. As a result, I'm only sleeping like 7 hours a night. Simmer down, medically, this is OK. I am excited to be alive and where I am.

Some stats on my backpack - it has an 80 liter capacity and can hold up to 25KG (that's 55 lbs for people stuck in the USA as one of the only countries still using that system). This amount of weight is more than I can carry so the backpack can carry literally more than I can. Infinite capacity! I might be getting one of those wire mesh things ($80 US, fuck) to see if I can hold onto the contents of my bag a bit longer. Or just get some metal wires I can secure locks to. Probably that - if someone has a knife, they win anyway.

Logan quote on Prague: "Always something to take a picture of."

In England, they continuously tell you 'mind the gap' on subways and such. The gap is the space between the train and the platform. In Prague, the gap is larger but they don't fucking tell you about it every thirty seconds. I figure they must have a problem with chronically stupid Englishmen getting sucked up by 'the gap'. Or, they want you to mind this Gap.

Going back to the 'service with a frown' discussed in previous blogs, we found a map that in the legend had the key to show us what the 'you are here' looked like. The map just neglected to tell us where the fuck we were.

In Prague, if you want to go on trips with the street car to see stuff, go west - the east seemed dull, west was interesting.

Pete and I tried a soda called Kofola. Pete thought it was 'interesting' (as he thinks many things are). I thought it tasted like Coke and Dr. Pepper mixed with ass.

Whenever I see a pretty girl - well let me rephrase that - a girl who looks as though she's come out of a fashion shoot, I have been saying 'fashion show' in order to alert Pete. We believe I've said that over a hundred times today. Holy shit.



SLEEPING PETE

As people may notice, I don't really publish a lot on my traveling companions (aside for some persons obsessive love of some sort of food) as I don't want to reveal anything personal about them. However, I did ask Pete and he said he didn't care if I talked about this. Pete sleeps like people in the movies. It is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen. I'm sure that everyone has seen some movie where people go into a bedroom and see someone resting with their head centered on the pillow, sheets neatly placed and all of that. Something like this. That's how Pete sleeps. The covers are even neat. I can say I've literally slept in the same room as hundreds of people. They usually are more like this. Or this - or this - or this. Or, God help me, like this. Not Pete. He is the 'neatest' sleeper I have ever seen. If he were suddenly pulled off of the bed from the head of it, the bed would look 'made'. It's just weird.



FAVORITE CITY

Logan quote: "If you can't find Pop Tarts, you are in a better country."
Pete quote: "Or you're just not looking hard enough."

Prague is Pete's favorite city thus far from a visitors perspective. He likes all of the architecture, statues on the buildings and the old world feel.

I know people are wondering about my opinion of which city I liked better thus far - London, Amsterdam, Munich or Prague. I liked them all for different reasons and disliked them for different reasons. Here's my breakdown for comparison. NOTE: I am not including my friends in different cities for this - my friends are what has made this portion of the trip really special to me. This is just the cities.

London:
Pros - can talk to locals.
Cons - ass hurt from money getting sucked out of it.

Amsterdam:
Pros - liked the city - had a good energy to it.
Cons - I was on high alert as there were a lot of tourists who were doing drugs and alcohol with unknown results to them. I didn't really feel relaxed due to my natural paranoia being stimulated.

Munich:
Pros - lived there before, very familiar with the city, could talk to locals.
Cons - there were an ass load more tourists and such than there were there twenty some years ago. City center was much more dingy and crappy than it had been. The place felt much more industrial, much less friendly.

Prague:
Pros - there is always something interesting around, worth a picture.
Cons - English is scarce, difficult to chat with the locals. Much more expensive than I thought it would be.

Yes, I fucking know that when I go 'deeper into the heart of Charley' that English will get more scarce but for some of the areas I intend to go, people may try harder. We'll have to wait and see.

In short, all of the cities to me have pros and cons. I don't think I've encountered my 'favorite' yet. We'll see what the future holds.



TRAVELERS TIPS (The ones marked 'Pete' are from Pete!)

The notebook I carry around (read as 'temporary memory till I can type shit into this blog to store it for a longer time') is an excellent thing to carry. I strongly recommend having one. It helps during the downtime as well. Also, get one without the spirals as they constantly snag and get fucked up. Pete also mentioned that if you want to keep track of what your photos are of, you can do that in your notebook as well.

Pete: If you burn easily and it's spring in Europe, bring a hat and sunblock.

Pete: If you bring a netbook/laptop, you can upload photos as you go so a lost/stolen camera does't mean you've lost all of your photos.

Pete: You don't have to look too far to find wifi - bars, coffee houses, etc have it. Grab a cheap cup of coffee and you're in.

Pete: If you have a smart phone, turn off data roaming and make use of wifi locations or you'll more than likely be in for a nasty shock at the charges you accrue.

Pete: Get a hold of metro/subway guides. They are invaluable.

Pete: Prague in spring is very cold compared to Melbourne, Germany, England, etc. Dress for it.

Here's a traveler's tip that might help you out. I personally have difficulty doing currency conversions in my head. When $1 is 17 CZK, hey, it's a bit complicated when something costs 333 CZK and you're trying to figure it out. I personally carry a cheap calculator to help figure things out but this tip will help with budgeting. Lets say you're going to Prague and you've decided (for whatever reason) that you can spend $75 per day on stuff. The current exchange rate is 17 CZK per dollar. 75x17 = 1275. I like round numbers - round down for safety. You're new budget is 1200 CZK per day. In other words, if you stop thinking in terms of dollars and just go with CZK, it will be easier to go 'oh shit that's a lot' instead of looking at the local currency as 'play money' - which can and will happen...

Most European cities have motion activated lights. If parents had them in their house in the USA they wouldn't have to yell at the kids every couple hours. Note that these are in 'pass through' areas such as hallways and on long timers in restrooms. So if you go to the john and don't see a light switch, try waving your hands around like a freak.

For better bag security, trap your room when you leave. Flash bang grenades are sure to surprise light fingered hotel staff or that pesky cleaning woman. If you combine this with a bear trap just inside the front door, you will be able to confront the screaming, possibly one footed, dazed and bleeding to death worker when returning to your chambers drunk at night. Hopefully, the sight of this wretch will remind your drunk ass of the traps. Otherwise, it might be you the worker finds. Role reversal at it's finest. But your cheap clothing you brought along will be slightly safer. Or, someone will break into your room to steal your grenades and bear trap. That's always frustrating.



PENSION 15

This is the second, slightly cheaper, place we are staying in Prague. I think I've already ranted about the hill and the internet. I wanted to rant again about the internet. It's pretty horrible.

Either I badly misplaced it or my headphones which were in a blue bag have gotten stolen out of the room here in Pension 15. I think it's OK to leave your clothing out (backpackers are not the height of fashion) but lock everything else the hell up.

I deeply suspect (due to me occasionally being a dumbass) that I have left the at the last pension we were at. We're going to head over there tomorrow to see if I get exceptionally lucky. If not, well shit.



WHERE ARE THE PICTURES?

The internet at this hostel sucks ass. When I get to a better one, I'm going to try to upload more.

3 comments:

  1. I love the picture, bro. Hope you having fun.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So, btw, where are you planning on staying when Pete-less? Hostels? Hotels? Short term apartment? On the street?

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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