Czeching Out A New City

"Zombie It"--A phrase coined by Eric, taken to mean completing a task in barely comprehensive state of mind.

Used in a sentence: “We’re going to get home from the Officer’s Ball at about 4 am, then zombie it to the 7 am train to Prague the next morning.”

Of course, fourteen college kids can’t expect to meet in the lobby at six in the morning following a ball without some snooze button action. As a result of cutting it a little too close to departure time, we ended up tearing through the tram and train stations Amazing Race style, which was pretty impressive considering we were mentally about 4% awake and physically mostly broken from wearing heels for eight hours.

After five hours (and a particularly beautiful sunrise), we got off the train in Prague--a city we knew little about except that we had a place to stay. And holy cow, Czech is a totally different language, let me tell you. Until last weekend, I didn’t even know accent marks could be over the letter ‘r.’

Along the same lines, exchanging money was both a nightmare and a learning experience. Currently, one euro equals about 27 Czech Crowns, meaning a brownie at Starbucks costs 65 CZK. A glance at my receipt left me panicked at the thought of blowing $65 on a brownie. I may love chocolate, but not that much. I use Starbucks as an example because it was the one place in Old Town Square with powerful heat and free bathrooms, and as it was freezing and raining, we used it as a sort of home base. If you could fight off the other hypothermic tourists for a free table, that is.

We walked around doing the usual things--the astronomical clock, the Charles Bridge, the St. Nicholas Church, all the while marveling at the street performers. There were your traditional musicians and Segway tours, but there was also a man blowing huge bubbles, a puppet of a baby with the head of a man that cried, and a man who just stood in a doorway holding a carving of a rooster and made chicken noises at select passersby.

As the night came to a close, we took the tram to a college campus in the city where a friend of an LCSO member attends school. We got a great deal on dorm rooms, plus the inside scoop on college life in the Czech Republic. It’s pretty much the same as over here except they’re allowed to smoke in the building and they all have their own personal WiFi networks with funny names like BigPapa. Oh, and you have to bring your own toilet paper to the bathroom. Thank goodness there were rolls waiting for us in the room.

The next morning was spent at the Prague Castle, which is maybe the tourist capital of Europe, or it was on that day at least. In any given room, there were at least three different languages being spoken, and during the changing of the guards (which was so crowded it looked like what I imagine the gates outside the Royal Wedding looked like) I probably heard about ten at once. That was pretty much all I got out of the ceremony, as it really helps the visual experience to be taller than 5’4’’ in such situations.

After a few more hours of exploration (and getting lost, because a straightforward square block of buildings or parallel street is rare), we made it to the train station, minus a group of four who had decided to break off and go to the Beethoven Museum. As our train was scheduled to leave at 4:42, you can imagine our distress at 4:32 when they still hadn’t arrived.

Upon their 4:34 arrival, we once again proved our sprinting skills and made it on the train home with six minutes to spare. We got off the train in Vienna with hundreds of stories, aching shoulders from hours of carrying backpacks, and a new appreciation for the comparatively comprehensible German language.

View from the Prague Castle