Oftentimes, your memory of a place comes from the warm people or the pleasant experiences you had during the trip. Sometimes, not…
This was how Prague welcomed my friend, Sharlene, and I on our 3-day winter escapade to the city. Don’t get me wrong, Prague is a wonderful city and I fell in love with its romantic and poetic ambiance that despite the glitch we encountered, I would still want to go back one day.
MISADVENTURE # 1: WHO’S GONNA TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT?
To get from Nuremburg, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic, we chose to go by bus. We arrived in Prague 7pm-ish and it was very dark. We got off just right outside a metro station, the name of which I forgot as we busy trying to figure out how to get to our pension. Poor planning on our part, tsk, tsk… Parked near the metro’s entrance are cars that we suspect to be (colorum) taxi cabs. My friend and I decided to approach one and negotiate. Immediately when I got in the taxi, I felt nervous. Our luggage were already in the compartment so there was no turning back. It was really a (colorum) taxi and had a lady passenger in front. The driver introduced her as his girlfriend and told us that she will be hitching as they will be going home after dropping us off. Then I searched for the taxi meter, and I couldn’t see it. Sharlene found it installed in a not so obvious place. So, ok. We thought we were OK. The distance from the metro station to the hotel is not so far. There was no traffic and we were only stopped by the traffic light just once. But guess how much our taxi fare was? A whooping 700 Czech Krona, equivalent to about 30-40$. My friend has been living in Europe for a long time now, so she knows we’ve been scammed. The kronas we brought with us from Germany were almost finished. We knew then that our first stop tomorrow would be a money exchange counter. We slept the night away hoping that tomorrow might be a better day… NOT! Because we had…
MISADVENTURE # 2: TICKET TO RIDE
Determined to make our first morning in Prague a clean slate from last night’s nightmare, we were on high spirits as we were getting ready to go to Prague Castle. We were advised that the easiest route for us was to go by metro, then change to a tram which stops a short walk away from the castle. We excitedly walked to Namesti Republiky, the closest station from our hotel. At the station, Sharlene and I were culture-shocked. The booth attendants couldn’t speak in English. The ticket vendo-machines were in Czech. We tried asking (local) passengers for help but they could not understand us and were not much help. And nope, there were no lost tourists like us around 😀 Finally after staring some time at the vendo booths and praying for Divine Intervention, we managed to figure things out 🙂 Now, we’re on our way to Prague Castle!
At the metro station where we had to alight to catch the tram, there was only one other guy who got off. We followed him on his way to the exit and saw he was approached by a uniformed man to check his ticket. Thinking we should do the same, Sharlene and I flashed our tickets too and the misadventure started :p The inspector noticed that our tickets were NOT validated. He called his colleague and they both led us to the station entrance to show the rules/penalties in English language. The inspector explained to us our violation and told us to pay the penalty of 800Kronas each, equivalent to about $40. We tried to negotiate, but they would not let us, saying that it is their policy. At least they accepted US$ for payment and did not get adamant about us paying in Kronas.
MISS ADVENTURE MEETS MISADVENTURE
Blame it to lack of planning and diligent research which I normally do, our first encounters in Prague were not so pleasant. We went intentionally less prepared than I was with the other legs of my trip. These experiences were a little intimidating, but we did not let them get in the way of our enjoyment. For me, Prague is still one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, that I am wishing to go back in a different season than winter to appreciate its beauty even more.