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I took advantage for the first time of the "weekend feature" of working in Dutchtone. For Easter's weekend, I decided to go to Prague. After all, I had already planned to go for my work, and I had bought a guide book for it so I had to use it.

Friday, april 21st 2000

For Easter, the prices of plane tickets skyrocketted so I had to go by train. I had to be in Utrecht for 6h30pm so I left work early.

I got to the train station a little early but the train managed to get there. A nice first class super couchette because there was no more normal ones. So instead of a 6-beds compartment I had a 2-beds on, really more confortable. Notbad, but for the price, I wasn't expecting less. My compartment neighbour was a Czech guy who was barely speaking english. We still talked for a while then I went in another compartment to talk with txo American girls. They were studying in London and were going to Prague for the weekend too. Then two American guys joined us and I spent the evening with these happy folks.

At one pojt, I crushed my finger in a folding seat (how clumsy!) and it began to bleed under the nail... exactly the same thing happened to me exactly one year ago, the first of may when I was moving and I crushed my finger in the window. I knew I had to do a hole in the nail but for some reason I was thinking that I had to see a doctor for that. So I was thinking about going to see one in Prague... but later I decided to wait until I'm back in The Hague, anyway most clinics are closed for easter and I took a lot of Aspirins until monday morning when I decided to get rid of the problem with my swiss knife.

I finally went to bed and slept pretty well, fortunately. Our cute flight attendant (!) woke us up an hour before we get to Prague and I had the occasion to see Bohemian scenery while taking my breakfast. It's nice, lot of forest, it changes from France and Netherlands but what stuck me was the pipelines everywhere in the fields. Juste before we get in Prague I saw a superb castle

Saturday, april 22nd

After getting to the train station, I had to meet Suzie near her place. I was going to live there for the weekend. I already talked to you about her, I met her in Edinburgh in september and now she lives in Prague with her American boyfriend, Shane, where they teach english at Berlitz.

We had a rendezvous at 8h45 near the ??? z ??? metro station, in front of the church. I took the metro, cheap and fast, it took me 15 minutes to get there and I had one line change to do, good average. So I got there in advance and it gave me the possibility to admire the enormous church that looked like the communist party HQ with a big clock on the top. I found Suzie and we went to her place, I was very happy to see her.

The design of her flat is... interesting. When you ent*er, there is te kitchen.. with a bath in it, and the toilet is in the corridor, outside.

Shane was still in bed and was suffering from a hangover. While trying to shake hands,I spilled his beer on the carpet but he managed to wake up and he seemed to fastly recover.

Since everyone was hungry, we decided to go for Bagels. We took the Tramway because the weather was very nice (27°C and sunny) and crossed the city to go in Stare Mesto near the castle. We passed by Wenceslas square, the central place in Prague, where a student burned himself alive in 1969. There is a little memorial for him on the square

I took a mega ham-cheese-pinapple-tomato-basil bagil and we went to a park on a hill to eat it while having a great view of the city.

We slowly headed for the castle, after seeing Hradcany, and old district with cute houses. The castle was nice but there was too many tourists... I understood why my guide book was preventing people of coming at easter. Anyway, the cathedral was beautiful and there was a military parade.

Finally we went pass it, at the slow pace of the crowd and we found ourselves outside. We went in another park to have a beer (the first of many) and sat in the grass. We began to contemplate the idea of going ice-skating but we the arena would probably be closed so we choose something relax : pool. It don't look like it but play tourists in the sun is exhausting.

When we were walking, there was all these couples holding wooden sticks. In facts it was whips. The easter Czech tradition wants guys run after girls and try to whip them. They have to stop when the girl give them an easter egg. So girls paint a lot of eggs because there is a lot of men whipping them in easter family reunions. They try to wake up before the guys to give them the egg before they wake up... anyway, it's strange to see people walking in the streets with whips.

After dinner, we wanted to take it easy so we went to see a movie... a disaster. The seats were incredibly uncomfortable : wooden chairs with a straight back and 2X4 beams on the ground to hold them so we didn't knew where to put our feet. And the movie was bad, Bringing out the dead. Anyway, I had to possibility to try the communist-era comfort.
After this we just wanted to go to bed

Sunday, april 23rd

Next morning we were awakened by what I believed to be Easter bells but that were finaly everyday's bells. During 5 minutes it was ringing incredibly loudly, like if I was sleeping on the roof of the church.

Of course we were up shortly after this and I began to try to solve thenail problem, I took a needle and Shane dig a hole in the nail but it was not big enough and was closing under the pressure of blood so we abandonned the idea of the needle.
On s'est levé pas longtemps après et j'ai commencé à essayer de régler le probleme de l'ongle, j'ai pris une aiguille mais le trou était pas assez gros et se refermait tout seul. Alors j'ai abandonné l'idée de l'aiguille.

I wanted to do touristy stuff again so I left, leaving the lovebirds alone.

I started with city hall place. When I got there there was a big gathering in front of the clock tower. It's nice but don't justify that many people with video cameras. I understood when it turned 1 and the clock began to ring and the sculptures began to move. It's really well done. I didn't think they were able to do that kind of automation since so long. I continued to visit and headed to Charles bridge

We can say that this bridge is the main attraction of Prague... along with the castle. It's an old stone bridge with statues all the way along it. There is a lot of people selling all kind of stuff and, I heard, a lot of pickpockets but I don't bring my wallet when I travel. I walk along the bring, looking at the view and the people and for like an hour and found myself on the other side. What a surprise

On the other side there was the John Lennon wall. I looke for it for a while but thanks to my magical guide book, I found it. It's a will with John Lennon's face drawed on it but most of it disappeared, covered with graffitis. There is only the top of the face left, because it's too high to be easily reached. But there is really a lot of graffitis and under communist regime, people were doing it as an act of defiance and the authority never been able to stop it.

I've been told a lot about U Fleku brewery (pivovar), one of the biggest of Prague so, since I was thirsty and hungry, I decided to go. It's a little Oktoberfest-style with musician singing german drinking songs (Prosiiiiiit, Prosiiiiiiiit....). I ate a good potato soup and tasted the very good home-made beer, which is dark, that changes from the standard Prague's Pilsener.

It was 4pm so I went back to the flat. Suzie and Shane intercepted me when I was walking next to the church, they was sitting on the grass. We went back to the flat and Shane played a little with his guitar and played some of his songs. Then Suzie wrote a poem in french and Shane put music on it. He also found a chorus and I added lyrics on it. But it was hard for Shane to sing in French so we decided to let go and have something to eat.

We went to the little restaurant at the corner of the street with all these old Czech people, very typical. They served (the servers, not the old Czech guys) us a kind of croquets with cheese in it. Apparently it's typically Czech but it look a lot lie typical Dutch food... except that in Dutch food, it's an unidentified mixture that we find in it.

We found a folkrock concert in the cultural guide. The guy was from Seattle, like Shane so we went there. Suzie told us she knew where it was so we followed her. On the way, Shane was jumping and singing Manu Chao songs while he mimic a pigeon to scare the passer-by, while Suzie and me were laughing to death.

After turning for half an hour, we saw that Suzie didn't know where it was so we ask for our way and after 5 minutes we were there

Problem : we were a little late and there wa sjust 1 hour to do in the show. And it was 100Kc, so 4$, very expensive in Prague where beer and classic music concerts are less than 20Kc. Anyway, we entered because we were minded on it. Deception: the guy was not from Seattle but from Texas, even if he lived in Seattle for a while, he was playing something countryish.

A swiss-german managed to guess each of our nationalities.. not bad.

Monday, april 24th

Last day... again I was awaked by the bells from hell. I guess this is what decided me to finish my nail job. So I took my swiss knife and dug in the nail and this time it worked.

We were all pretty hungry and Shane propsed an Australian restaurant. Perfect, Suzie knew where it was so we went... again, we turn around for a while and decided to go in a pizzeria... fo breakfast. It's good anyway but let's say... original.

Suzie had to meet a friend so Shane and me went to the pool room and then I visited the rocket-shaped telecom tower with a nice view on Prague because I wanted to finish my film roll. Then I began to look for a mailbox, an almost impossible mission in this country and it took me half an hour. Just after I got back, Suzie came back too with Nicole and we went in a park to have a beer. After that it was time for me to go at the train station.

I had to change train 3 times to get back. Prague-Dresden arrival at 9pm, Dresden Magdeburg arrival at 12h19am, Magdeburg-Amesfoort in a sleeper, arrival at 6h30am and finally, back to Den Haag at 8am.

In the train for Dresden I talked with a guy working for Daimler-Chrysler. It was very interesting... I think trains are a good place for industral spies. His Colleague was a beautiful russian girl specialist of business takover in eastern Europe... but she was not talking english... too bad.

In the other train I met a couple of Canadians, from Toronto : MAura and Alex. They are teaching english in Hannover, like Suzie and Shane in Prague. I talked with Maura a lot, her french is excellent since she grew up in cornwall and went to french school. She have a cute franco-ontarian accent. Time flyed and we got to Magdeburg, we were not in the same car so I went to take my sleeper.

Tuesday, april 25th

I began to search for my car... 582. I saw 180, 181, 182... I asked the controller and he showed me the date on my ticket : April 24th.. it was 1 in the morning so we were the 25th... these morons at Den Haag CS don't even know how to reserve a night train, and everytime I bought a ticket there I had to wait for an hour!!!! don't buy internetional train tickets in Den Haag, they have a shitty service.

Fortunately, there was one place left so they let me take it. I fell asleep immediately to be immediately awaken at 6am by the controller who houted in my hears : AMESFOORT!!!!

No trouble in the last train, back in the flat, shower, change clothes, and leave for a long day of work.

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

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