Václav Havel Airport Prague – As my taxi entered the city, I was stunned by the beauty of Prague which was strange since I had already visited the city 15+ years prior. It seems in the meantime many of the buildings had been restored and it basically looked like a shiny new penny with a river running through it. Feeling good and vindicated by my choice to return, the next eight days are sure to be glorious.
I had booked a well-located, luxurious, small hostel in the city center and upon entering, saw that my expectations were exceeded. Then I was informed that I had to leave because I was guilty of the crime of living past the ripe old age of 45! Now I have traveled the world for over four years and never run into this conundrum.
I failed to read the fine print buried on Hostelworld.com and was very concerned about finding decent accommodations on Friday night at the last minute which added to the stress factor. However, I remembered my maximum-flexibility travel philosophy.
I even managed to avoid going the way of Chernobyl by virtue of a super-nice Norwegian with amazing diplomatic skills. The unenviable task of kicking me to the curb fell to Howie and it was touch and go for a bit, but he helped me find a suitable alternative that was just as nice at half the price!
ROADHOUSE HOSTEL – HOWIE FROM NORWAY
So my hats off to Howie at the Roadhouse Hostel for probably the best customer service I have encountered in my 62 years on planet Earth. I was a manager in my early years at a 640 room luxury resort so I know what I’m talking about. The fine print even allowed them to keep my deposit and charge me for the first night.
Not only was I not subjected to this further humiliation, but Howie also secured an Uber to facilitate my transfer and take the sting out of my arrival in Prague. Whoever owns the hostel needs to count themselves lucky to have an employee such as this. You have to love those Scandinavians, and I certainly do. In fact, I’ll be visiting Copenhagen later this year, but a return to Norway is inevitable.
Based on that experience, The Roadhouse is clearly a five-star hostel. They have all the bases covered. It’s centrally located, sparkling clean, well equipped, has well-designed dorms, and clearly chooses their staff with great care. When searching for another place to stay we even found another with the 45 year age limit so all was immediately forgiven.
It seems to be a Prague thing although I have seen the age limit stipulation in other cities throughout Europe. The rule seems to be in place to prevent skeevy old bastards from checking in a preying upon young women. I admit that I have encountered some of these unpleasant predatory creatures, but I don’t appreciate being discriminated against. It’s usually indicated quite prominently on their websites, but Hostelworld tends to bury this information and helps add to the confusion. I will certainly make careful scrutiny a part of booking future hostels.
If you do choose to make The Roadhouse your home in Prague and you are under 46 years of age, make sure to seek out Howie. He’ll make sure you have a memorable stay. I’d stake my reputation on it. After stepping into my Uber I arrived at the Dream Hostel in short order and found a place that had every bit the five-star accommodations that the Roadhouse provided.
THE DANCING HOUSE – This is the first thing I encounter after my taxi crossed the bridge into central Prague. I fell in love with the structure immediately. It’s also known as Fred & Ginger and was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
DREAM HOSTEL – WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE
MAIN LOUNGE – This is the magic table where friendships are made.
I dumped my luggage in my room and headed out to take advantage of two hours of good weather before sunset. I grabbed my camera and put on my best New York stride.
The tram made for a special element in the photo upon my return.
There is an observation deck on the top of the right section.
STAG PARTY STRETCH – This fellow handed me his cell to take a picture of the gang and I just managed to get the phone back to him before their ride took off. Prague is a very popular destination for bachelor parties as well as hen celebrations due to its festive atmosphere and plethora of adult entertainment.
DARLING – This mega strip club located just 150 feet from the hostel features up to 150 women at a time, and is a favorite of the thousands of bachelor parties visiting Prague every year.
BURGERS & BEER BY THE RIVER
ZORBING – Zorbing was introduced to the world by the same country that gave us bungee jumping. In New Zealand, they put you in a cushioned inflated ball and roll you down a hill instead. I think I prefer this option.
JUST ANOTHER RUN OF THE MILL BEAUTIFUL BUILDING
PERVASIVE PRETTY PANORAMAS
AND ENDLESS ARCHITECTURAL EYE-CANDY
STANDING ON THE CHARLES BRIDGE FACING THE TOWN CENTER
Prague is a truly breathtaking city so photogenic that you can barely stop snapping pictures long enough to just take it all in. My daughter visited when she spent six months abroad in the UK for college a decade ago and not surprisingly she loved it here as well.
Okay, so the image of a person being tortured to death is a bit of a comedown and tends to kill the mood. I often wonder who got the bright idea to wear this execution device as a symbol of their faith, but then again Christianity has always been about guilt about things for which its followers are blameless. All of this original sin stuff and taking responsibility for the alleged Jesus’s murder seems unnecessarily self-demeaning.
If God is so bloody perfect then why did he manufacture such fallible creatures? It just all seems so poorly thought out. Why would you want to worship a perfect entity that creates you and then turns around and blames you for their shoddy workmanship? I wouldn’t expect Christ’s return any time soon since I’m sure the last thing he would want to be reminded of is the event depicted in this bronze which is literally scattered by the billions all over the planet.
Ironically, the Jewish people don’t recognize the divinity of the world’s most famous Jew, but at least they wear a positive symbol around their necks. The Star of David is a symbol of community, as well as the Jewish faith. I guess after centuries upon centuries of suffering they figured that wearing something negative would have been downright masochistic.
Fancy a cruise on the river, there are many boats willing to accommodate you.
Some shots are worth a second look just in case you didn’t get enough of it the first time around.
How about a bite to eat at a restaurant on the water.
FAR END OF THE CHARLES BRIDGE
U ČERNÉHO ORLA – TRADITIONAL CZECH RESTAURANT AND HOTEL
TRADITIONAL PORK KNUCKLE WITH DIJON MUSTARD – MY FIRST MEAL
HEADING BACK ACROSS THE BRIDGE TO THE CENTER OF PRAGUE
PRAGUE LIKE OTHER GREAT CITIES TAKES ON A WHOLE NEW ATMOSPHERE AT NIGHT
IT’S MORE PEACEFUL AND LESS CROWDED
STATUE – FREE OF SELFIE SHOOTERS AT THIS HOUR
ABSINTHERIE – This bar features 100 types of absinthe. Van Gogh would have loved this place.
DREAM HOSTEL – HOME SWEET HOME – Upon reflection, this is an undisputed five-star hostel. The facility is new and spotless, the staff is courteous and accommodating, and the kitchen is convenient and well-equipped. Most importantly, it is a place that is socially conducive to meeting people and making friends.
CASTLE ON A HILL
PIG ON A SPIT AND SPRING BLOSSOMS
The kid at the railing was fishing for something in the river with a large magnet.
WATER WHEEL, STRANGE STATUE, AND RESTAURANT BALCONY
A MINI FLASH MOB OF THREE
This was a far more compelling performance than is probably offered at the seedier clubs in Prague. Sometimes less is more.
JOHN LENNON WALL – This work in progress is constantly changing so every visit brings new material.
JOHN LENNON PUB
And our friends are all aboard, many more of them live next door, WE ALL LIVE ON A YELLOW SUBMARINE…
STAGED HUMILITY FOR MONEY – One of the nice things about Prague is the fact that nobody gets in your face to solicit financial support. I suspect that it is illegal to do so. Why would these mostly able-bodied fellows want to prostrate themselves in such a demeaning fashion? I guess people reckon that it looks so uncomfortable that they deserve some cash. It must be really hard on the knees. Why not learn the harmonica and play a cheerful tune instead and spare yourself the pain and humiliation of this pathetic exercise.
A phony sailor selling fake gondola rides.
LOBKOWICZ PALACE CAFE – I walked a couple of miles and climbed the hill especially to sit on the patio and enjoy the same strudel I ordered more than fifteen years ago.
VIEW FROM THE TERRACE – The strudel’s still good and so is the view.
To reach the castle one has to go through a security checkpoint with a metal detector thanks to the specter of potential Islamic terror that has cast a pall over the West.
Gothic Cathedral – Of course, we can thank the Catholic Church for endemic child sexual abuse, and for enabling an ever-expanding world population due to their draconian rules regarding birth control and abortion. The crux of our global problems can be attributed to overpopulation so until some major changes occur they could be seen to be abetting the destruction of our world.
ORCHESTRA IN THE SQUARE
PRELUDE TO A CLOUDBURST
In a few minutes, storm clouds gathered and dumped their payload as a number of us took refuge under the pillared portico on the right. Rain sheeted down, thunder clashed, and hail danced on the cobblestones for ten minutes as I traded friendly banter with the Swedish couple next to me. It was too damn cold so the castle can wait until next year.
HEADING BACK AFTER THE STORM
FRANZ KAFKA MUSEUM
David ČERNY – Piss – 2004
FRANZ KAFKA – 1883-1924
Kafka’s relationship with his father shaped his life to the point of making his writing into a response to the oppression he experienced during his childhood.
THE PRIMAL SCREAM
MALENA – One of his failed marriages.
Willy WESSEL – Four India Ink Drawings and a Watercolor for Kafka’s Metamorphosis – 1924
THE GOD OF SUFFOCATION
THE ENDLESS OFFICE
David ČERNY – Piss – 2004
Selfie shooters were driving me mad as I waited for what seemed to be forever as they engaged in their photo shoots. People would cup their hands, catching the simulated urine as it poured forth from the sculpture. Endless hijinks and antics ensued as I cursed under my breath until I finally captured a photo free of their foolishness. I was tempted to recommend using it as a drinking fountain but thought better of it. Probably innumerable drunk people have probably engaged in that perverted indignity.
Better to feed the swans, but you need to be careful since they can get pretty aggressive.
WHAT A PAIR – I appreciated these since I didn’t make it to the modern art museum on this visit.
OLD TOWN SQUARE
THE LEGENDARY ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
NOT ROCK CAFE – Prague – Leave it to a bunch of suits at corporate to turn an already cheesy poseur of a restaurant chain into a complete abomination and affront to the great history of Rock & Roll music. I think most people would look at the sign above the door and assume that one could come here and listen to some authentic Rock and Roll, but they would be sorely mistaken.
FAT CHANCE – Check out the lineup. Eight out of thirteen nights feature DJ’s, and the remaining days are completely bereft of rock music entirely. Whatever happened to truth in advertising? Talk about a bait and switch. Their restaurants are filled with rock & roll memorabilia and yet no music at all to accompany it.
Some employee here in Prague told me Miami corporate’s justification for the company’s disingenuous behavior. Somehow corporate seems to be promoting the concept that these non-rock, so-called recording artists are supposedly living the “Rock Lifestyle.”
You must be kidding me! Just another bullshit ploy to boost corporate profits, while abandoning the alleged heritage of the place. If there is any justice in the world, touring rock bands will stop by these pop culture black holes, take back their clothing and instruments and lay waste to the property as they did to their hotel rooms back in the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
HEN PARTIES ARE ALSO VERY POPULAR IN PRAGUE – Being a safe place young ladies can get their drink on without suffering too much harassment. If you’re going to need your bridesmaid to hold your hair while you say goodbye to dinner, you might as well do it on a clean and charming cobblestone street. From the look of this lot, last night might have been just such an evening. Believe me, in this age of equality, it’s not just the guys who are getting vomiting drunk out on the town.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE DREAM HOSTEL
INDIA – ISRAEL – GERMANY – JAPAN – BRAZIL
This is a rainbow coalition of international flavor that can be found in hostels throughout Europe. The biggest benefit of staying in a hostel is not the savings, but the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world who are all part of one tribe, people who love travel and adventure. Once checked in, you can trade invaluable travel tips, special destinations, share experiences, and explore the sights together.
Sometimes you even choose to travel to other places in each others company, as evidenced by May and Florian (2nd and 3rd from right) who moved on to Berlin together two days later. Case in point May, Florian, and I had lunch in the delightful cellar restaurant you can see below to celebrate May’s unexpected future adventure.
KRCMA RESTAURANT – Authentic Czech Cuisine with Awesome Ambiance
MAY & FLORIAN RAISE THEIR GLASSES OF CZECH BEER
We are all toasting May’s (pronounced my) fantastic travel mishap. She got the month wrong on the reservation and her Freudian slip gained her another five days of adventure! Expert traveler Florian sprung into action on the computer and with an additional panel of myself and Luzie, she created a new travel plan. It also secured us additional time in her excellent company. Her mistake also laid the foundation for a special birthday celebration in Berlin and Portugal.
Florian and I are major players in the travel game and we have no doubt that May is a seasoned traveler and digital nomad in the making. It was a delight participating in the resolution of her lucky error. Between our skillful counsel and plenty of beer, we managed to stave off a bad case of Jewish guilt over leaving her colleagues short staffed during her absence.
HOUSE SPECIAL GOULASH
FLORIAN & MAY – It seemed like I’d known these two for years. Then next day Florian, May, and Luzie left the hostel and it just wasn’t the same without them. You meet a lot of special people out on the road.
During lunch, we learned some additional shocking news. Looking somewhere in her early in her twenties, May was actually just days away from her thirtieth birthday and had never tried French champagne! Not willing to tolerate this outrage, Florian and I made arrangements to rectify the situation just after midnight on Monday night in Berlin.
MOËT & CHANDON – MAY GETS DOLLED UP AND PICKS UP AN EXPENSIVE NEW HABIT
HOUSE AT THE BLACK MADONNA – MUSEUM OF CZECH CUBISM – GRAND CAFE ORIENT
GRAND CAFE ORIENT
ASPARAGUS SOUP WITH CREAM – Having already eaten lunch I still couldn’t resist the soup of the day.
CUBIST STAIRCASE – This alone was worth the museum visit.
MUSEUM OF CZECH CUBISM
SOME THINGS YOU WANT TO TAKE HOME – It’s probably not comfortable, and I don’t have a home anyway.
Otto GUTFREUND – Head – 1919
There wasn’t much to see in the museum, but it was a quality over quantity experience.
TEXTURAL ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENT
MATYLDA – FLOATING RESTAURANT AND HOTEL
PANNACOTTA – This masterpiece of a pannacotta in strawberry sauce was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
This is evidently the grave of someone who was in the film industry.
This is a relatively disturbing image, but I suppose it’s better than the paintings of him up on the cross with blood pouring out his wounds into chalices. For spaces that are supposed to be an environment of spiritual upliftment, Christian churches certainly do have a lot of unpleasant and macabre imagery. Since it’s most likely just another manmade myth anyway, it begs the question as to why the faithful would want to subject themselves to such repellent stories and imagery. Why would people want to expose their children to this? Why is the majority of humanity under the thrall of spiritual philosophies that have acts of violence and supplication at their core?
At least the two largest world religions are responsible for some incredible art and architecture.
A RATHER DOUR ANGEL
PRAGUE ABSTRACTIONS #1
PRAGUE ABSTRACTIONS #2
PRAGUE ABSTRACTIONS #3
PRAGUE ABSTRACTIONS #4
U VEJVODU – TRADITIONAL CZECH RESTAURANT
ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY COMING SOON…..
NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO THE HEROES OF THE HEYDRICH TERROR
Hitler placed Richard Heydrich in charge in order to solve the “Czech Matter” which concerned the liquidation of two-thirds of the Czech population, the final solution of the Jewish population, and the performance of other horrible atrocities. Operation Anthropoid was a mission with the ambitious purpose of assassinating Heydrich.
On display are paratrooper headgear, a portion of a parachute, a Sten machine-gun, and a model of the bomb that killed Heydrich.
This is Hedrich’s automobile after a hand-thrown bomb tore through it and mortally wounded him.
DOOR TO THE CRYPT
This is the space where the heroes of the Heydrich Terror spent their final hours as 700 Nazis planned an assault.
Many of the men gathered in these crypts.
I encountered this grafitti less than 300 meters from the memorial commemorating the fight against Nazi cruelty and oppression. In these days of moral ambiguity, exacerbated by leaders like Trump who equate fascists with those who oppose them and who is so fond of brutal dictators, is it such a surprise that this sort of thing is rearing its ugly head again? Angela Merkel recently spoke of dangerous elements emerging in Europe once again. Ironic, that the leader of the country that engineered the Holocaust, is now a check against future fascist activities.
PUSH TO RESET THE WORLD – FRANKLY, I THINK IT’S TIME – I FOUND A PLACE ACROSS TOWN TO DO JUST THAT
KAREL ZÉMAN MUSEUM – Fantasy is the ideal way to reset the world at least on a temporary basis.
Karel Zeman was an award-winning, visionary, Czech director who was ahead of his time and whose influence outweighed the global fame that eluded him.
Two years before his 80th birthday, Karel asked a friend to organize a party for him. All of the upper echelons of the Eastern European film industry were gathered together for his celebration. Less than a year later he died.
Zeman was one of the pioneers of stop motion dinosaurs.
JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME
JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME – This film brought dinosaurs to life for millions of schoolchildren who were able to learn without boredom.
Pterodactyl battles were well-choreographed and very effective due to excellent editing.
A brontosaurus looks out onto the lake at the boy’s boat.
A JURASSIC DRAGON-FLY
THE FABULOUS BARON MUNCHAUSEN
BARON MUNCHAUSEN – WEAVER OF TALL TALES AND FLIGHTS OF FANCY
The film won many international awards, including in Cannes and Locarno. The American director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam admitted that his film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) was primarily inspired by Zemen’s version.
THE MOON: FROM FANTASY TO REALITY
SIMULATED MÜNCHAUSEN SET UTILIZING PERSPECTIVE
KILLER STREET ART
AERIAL VIEW OF TROJA CHATEAU
The advantage of getting here when it opens is that nobody gets in the way of your shots.
They’re busy restoring the main staircase. Hopefully upon my return next year the work will be complete and it will be ready for its close-up.
BACK ACROSS THE RIVER
THROUGH THE PARK
LILAC DELIGHT – SPRING FINALLY COMES TO EUROPE
EVEN THE SIDEWALKS ARE A WORK OF ART IN PRAGUE
THE VIEW TOWARDS WENCESLAUS SQUARE BEFORE HEADING TO CATCH A BUS FOR BUDAPEST
IN A DETERIORATING WORLD, PRAGUE CAN STAY JUST THE WAY IT IS.