Archive for December, 2011


just czeching in

Honestly, the months delay in posting this update has nothing to do with the time taken to write the witty title above. It’s more down to the everyday trials and tribulations work, girlfriend, socialising and Christmas have had to offer over the past few weeks since this mini adventure ended that hasn’t allowed me time to finish this latest chapter.

Last time I wrote I had just finished wittering on about guidebook suggestions on rubbish clubs and pubs and had just been finishing off my latest Serbian lager in the catering car on the Budapest-Prague train. See the old rattler had left Belgrade several hours earlier and picked us up in Hungary’s capital city on route to our final destination in the Czech Republic. The seven hour jaunt was broken up by the consumption of several of the aforementioned alcoholic beverages, wonderfully called ‘Jelen’ which incidentally turned out to be the first beer I’d ever drunk beginning with the letter ‘J’…..the lists you make whilst travelling on public transport!

Just like the previous train trips, tourists and locals were sparse in their numbers which gave us a table to sit at by ourselves in the catering car and chat about important things such as the A-Z of beers of the world we had drunk. The only other people in the car were a slightly overweight Serbian couple who decided on having a loud argument with each other, the ticket inspector, the customs officer who was checking passports and the smartly dressed waiter who was more interested in his newspaper than he was serving anyone. There was also a chef who decided on smoking (despite the no smoking signs slapped across the walls) whilst advertising his arse crack to the world. When the train pulled into Bratislava to pick up several hungry passengers, the chef decided it was time for his break, pointing at the waiter to put down his paper and get cooking.

We arrived in Prague and were soon caught off guard when looking for our hotel. It was approaching eleven PM, we’d just been woken up after an hours booze induced snooze and hadn’t ate anything other than ‘bread’ (exactly what it said on the train car menu) since lunch in Budapest some nine hours previous. We dived into a cab and asked for him to take us to the hotel Elite. After a taking what can only be described as the scenic route I soon realised we were being ripped off. We only had ourselves to blame – no map of Prague and no idea where the hotel was in relation to the station. With the meter well and truly set to ‘rip off tourist mode’ we finally arrived at our digs, I for one feeling pretty embarrassed at being taken advantage of – especially given my recent guidebook comments. Still, all was fine again with the world after rubbish KFC and a good night’s sleep.

Prague was simply one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. The cobbled streets, the clay coloured roofs across the city, the wonderful Caste which overlooked the town – I instantly fell a bit in love with the place. There was something very photogenic about the place. The main tourist area which started with a walk over the pedestrian only ‘Charles Bridge’ would have been a romantic’s dream were I not with my ex-brother in law! The whole town seemed to have been regenerated but in a classy manner, still maintaining a feel that it was an old city – a difficult thing to do without feeling and looking fake.

We arrived in Prague a night early giving us two nights in total. We had caught the late afternoon train as opposed to the original plan which was to get an overnighter as the journey by night would have seen us crawl into the Czech capital at around 4am. This would have killed our one full day in what turned out to be my favourite city of the four city trip. After a stroll taking in the marvellous sites we naturally retired to several cheap bars and ate some extremely rich food – the wild boar I ate in the evening was a particular highlight given the previous night’s emergency visit to KFC!

So as I pass thirty countries visited thanks to this whistle stop train trip in Central Europe my attention turns to the next two trips I’ve already managed to sort. The UAE will be next on the list in just a few weeks before taking my lovely lady to Italy in April. The sabbatical last year may have been the whole point of this blog but as long as I travel I think I’ll keep this going.

Besides, it’s always great to look back on and remind myself what a great world we live in when not on the road (or train, in this case!)


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