Colin and I arrived in Prague in the evening, just minutes after Charlie and Chelsea’s flight landed. Our travel time was a little shorter than theirs… by about 20 hours. We were driven to the hotel by an expat from San Francisco who gave us a bit of foreigner insight to the city, pointing out communist era apartment blocks that had been recently painted in an array of pastel colors in an attempt to cheer them up. The buildings changed dramatically as we got closer to the heart of the old city where we were staying at the Castle Steps. The streets in that area are cobbled but very wide, the buildings old and decorated with statues of cherubs and gargoyles. Over the doors each has some sort of iconic image of a scene or an animal, which were used to identify them, eg “deliver this to the Two Suns building, a couple doors down from the Rooster building by the old nunnery”.
We’d been eagerly awaiting seeing all of our friends in Czech for Lenka’s birthday (Lenkapalooza), especially after the solitude of the Bond House. Due to a British Airways strike and some schedule changes, the rest of them had gotten in much earlier in the day and were hanging out on their terace and drinking, trying (some unsuccessfully) to stay awake through the day. We celebrated our reunion with more beer and some fresh baklava, then made our way up the cobbled streets to the Seven Cockroaches “medieval style” restaurant. They sat us downstairs at a long wooden table with huge lance hanging over it. The walls were decorated with hops, boar hides and tapestries and around the corner was a dungeon scene complete with skeletons.
We sat down just as they were starting their nightly show, beginning with a dancer dressed as a saucy maid who pulled Colin up to sweep around her (then up her leg) as she danced. She got a bunch of us up and taught us a short barn dance kind of routine where each couple had to pass through the other’s arms. Then we had just enough time for our first beer before The Magic started: an eccentric magician with a tiny ponytail in his beard did some slight of hand tricks. Colin was unimpressed with the slight of hand but loved his patter. Our favorite was when he closed his left hand around a hankerchief, then described in detail how the hankercheif was travelling up the veins in his arms to his chest (Lenka translating and providing misdirection) then back down his left arm where it reappeared in the same hand it had started from.
We feasted on pickled cheese, pork knuckles and lard spread on large slices of bread, more food than we could possibly eat. The dancer came back in a belly dancing outfit, climbed up on the table beside us, spread broken glass onto it and danced barefoot in it while we all winced. The magician reappeared with baby rabbit sponges that magically multiplied in our closed fists. There was some fire dancing, but no snakes.
After dinner, we rolled our pork knuckle filled selves outside and went for a walk over the old bridge to admire the castle area at night. I blissed out at how silent and wide the rods were after the crazy streets of Istanbul. No cars on the sidewalk, no delivery trucks that just barely fit threatening to run you over around every bend. Old Prague is peaceful and beautiful and old. It survived both world wars virtually intact and hardly any earthquakes or fires or other major disasters have bothered it in the last thousand years. I should probably look that up to be sure (I know there have been some bad floods), but the number of perfectly preserved old buildings was amazing.
Sarah <3 Prague!