Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A view of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Here’s a photo to whet your appetite a bit.

I am so full of schnitzel and beer and so jet lagged that it’s not even funny.

The trip was fascinating. Prague doesn’t give up its secrets easily and has layers and layers of history. The Czechs are known for their rudeness — I found it more passive-aggressive behavior, typical of countries that were trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Also, Costume Imp and I had less trouble than a lot of people because we’re New Yorkers. We’re unfazed by unsmiling abruptness, and we don’t need every checkout clerk or waiter to be our best friends. The lack of problem-solving skills and an unwillingness to think ahead, coupled with either the inability or the deliberate passive aggressive anger that makes tasks such as giving correct directions impossible got a bit frustrating. I’ve never travelled anywhere where, in order to figure out how to get anywhere, I needed five maps of the same area. Of course, none of them were compatible with any of the others, and it was like solving a Rubik’s cube to get anywhere. I understand a lot of the mentality is left over from being an occupied area under Communist stronghold (as well as other defeats and occupations over the centuries), but when something doesn’t work, they just keep doing what doesn’t work instead of finding a better or different way. Until they explode and start executing people or defenestrating them. The first response to a question is to either say “no” or just stare blankly. As New Yorkers, we simply pushed back, and they immediately backed down into “victim” mode (again, leftover from being under occupation for so many years — even though that ended twenty years ago). And then they were shocked when, once we got what we wanted, we then said “thank you” and moved on.

Let me put it this way — the dumb fuck Republican politicians who whine that we’re turning Communist don’t know what they’re talking about and wouldn’t last ten minutes without being killed in an actual Communist or socialist regime. Except for the ones who’d switch sides in the blink of an eye because they’re not working from any deep-seated belief or value system, but from a desire for money and power. In other words, they’d make excellent Communist officials.

Students often romanticize Communism, and politicians can’t be bothered to learn what it really is. Here in the West, we tend to think the demonization of living under such a regime is propaganda. It’s not — the atrocities committed under the regime were not exaggerated, and when you are face to face with the realities of it, you realize just how spoiled we really are.

The transportation system is fabulous, and it’s easy to get around. We had outstanding restaurant karma and ate exceptionally well for very little money. We overheard on the plane other visitors complaining about the food — but they ate at tourists venues that charged about four times what we paid for bland, uninteresting food, while we stayed off the beaten path most of the time, were the only Americans in the place, and ate very well. We didn’t see many vegetables — except bowls of cabbage for breakfast and about 17 different ways to eat potatoes with dinner (which were all very good, but I was desperate for green vegetables by the time we got home)! And, although eggs are used in baking, we didn’t see eggs on the menu, and were delighted to go to the Globe (expat bookstore/cafe near the National Theatre) for a leisurely brunch — with lots of eggs — towards the end of the week.

I only used one of my two Czech phrases because, let’s face it, nobody gives a damn if you ask them how they are! 😉

The coffee was fantastic, and the pastries — let me just say I’ve recommitted to baking my way through THE COFFEEHOUSE COOKBOOK, which has recipes from Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic this winter!

We walked about 12-15 miles a day, in addition to using public transport. We saw all the “musts” on our list, yet feel like we barely scratched the surface. There were things that just had to drop off the list, and a few things we’d have liked to see, but couldn’t find.

I’m organizing my diary entries and will share essays based on them, probably starting next week. I made myself stay up every night, no matter how tired I was, to write the 10-12 pages of what we did that day, but didn’t have the energy to analyze any of it, so I’ll go back and do that as I write the essays.

My mom was sick while I was gone –as in, sick enough to have to go to the doctor and get antibiotics — but she seems better now. I ran around yesterday, changing money back, which I promptly blew on candles, decorating for the Equinox, roasting a chicken (and green vegetables, hallelujah), doing four loads of laundry, packing for the Cape, and trying, just a bit, to catch up on some email.

Heaven forbid the iPod touch work properly — it seems I have to choose between a working computer and a working iPod — not amused, and Apple will hear more from me again.

I fell asleep around 6:30 last night, and woke up at 4 this morning. I always have a more difficult time coming back, no matter which direction, than heading out.

I got some good news — a short story made the first cut for a magazine, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it will make it through to publication. Also, an essay I wrote for a book over a year ago that seemed doomed has come back for another round of revisions. When I return from the Cape, I’ll tackle that.

Had we stayed any longer in Prague, we would have needed to get a flat and start creating our own schedule a little more. I was itching to get back to a regular writing schedule by the end of the week, even though I kept pretty decent notes of what we saw and did. I definitely want to go back and get at the next layer of Prague, get more in-depth. It will probably be at least two or three years before I can do so, and by then they’ll be on the Euro and probably more expensive, but oh, well.

I’m going to get as much done as I can today, and tomorrow I head out early in the morning for the Cape.

More soon.


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 7:20 am  Comments (6)  
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  1. I can’t wait to hear more–it sounds like you had an amazing time!

    Get some SLEEP!!!

  2. What a great trip, Devon! Glad you’re back. Detoxing from such a culture switch is fun, isn’t it? 😉

    Glad Mom is better, too.

  3. Really beautiful cathedral. Your trip sounds just fantastic. I agree with you about students romanticizing communism and conservative politicians putting blinders on about it.

    I made friends with Russians while the Iron Curtain was still in place – and I noticed how much of their time was spent trying to slip things past the authorities.

  4. Welcome home, Devon! What a fabulous trip! As for “…the dumb fuck Republican politicians who whine that we’re turning Communist don’t know what they’re talking about and wouldn’t last ten minutes without being killed in an actual Communist or socialist regime…” Absolutely true! d:)

  5. I can’t wait to read your essays about your visit. I’m glad you arrived home safely. Sorry to hear your mother was ill in your absence. I hope she’s feeling better now. I also hope you get some rest!

  6. Glad you had a great trip! 🙂

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