Prague Dog Eat Blog

Party boat cruising on the Vltava river

Aug 22, 13:23 (Filed under: Out and About in Prague, Prague nightlife )

Visla party boat Has it ever happened to you that you wanted to party but you weren’t sure and couldn’t decide where to go? It happens to me often, but last time, we made a great decision. We went to a party boat on the Vltava river. It was very good, four hours of music, dancing, singing, drinking, and sailing.

There are different party boats, cruising the Vltava almost everyday, and they are usually operating under the patronage or sponsorship of one of Czech’s radio stations. The ship we went to is called Visla, and the party was called Fajn Radio discotheque.

This ship weighs anchors at 20:30 from Cechuv most and it’s good to be there around 20, to come aboard, order the first drinks before there is a long queue, and take the best seats. Then we were heading north, passing Stvanice island, Karlin and Liben area, and reaching Troja, where the ship turns around and sails the same way back. We arrived to Cechuv most before midnight, and then we left, but the party went on until 2 am.

I was surprised that the ship was so steady, no leaning to the sides. It is as if you were in a regular club but the scene around the dancing stage is amazing. You see buildings, lights, getting dark, etc. Sometimes when the wind was blowing, it was rather cold. But you could always go to the under deck, where it was warmer and the music was not so loud, and just enjoy the ride.

Another interesting part is when the ship enters the water lock, and you feel rising/lowering. And when you pass by another ship, and wave at people there, you just see how they wish to be on the party boat too. Very soon we discovered and then followed another unwritten rule: each time the ship sails under a bridge, the crowd starts to yell. And the music, well, that was kind of a strange mix, covering most of the singles and tastes in music, shortly, since it was such a mix, everyone found there some songs that he or she enjoyed, and some that he probably disliked, but when songs from Grease movie were played, we all joined in singing loud.

The entrance fee was 100 CZK and the prices for drinks were standard, similar to other clubs. That is for example, vodka 40 CZK, energy drink 50 CZK, beer 0.4 l 30 CZK, etc, and it was also possible to order grilled sausage there. After all, it is still much cheaper than if you went on regular tourist sightseeing cruise, and to me, this is much more fun. Anyway, it was a great way to combine sailing on the Vltava with partying. Don’t miss this chance as the boats run only until the end of September. Or have you already experienced it? What are your thoughts?

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Tree Paradise - Stromovka

Jul 29, 13:06 (Filed under: Prague walks, Out and About in Prague )

Stromovka park in Prague The Prague Royal Park is well known by every citizen of Prague under the expressive name Stromovka (Tree park). The current area of 85 hectares is full of trees…leafy, evergreen, small, tall, rare and protected, and also quite usual, though very nice and pictorial birch groves. Stromovka belongs now to the most popular pleasure places for Prague inhabitants, and nonresidents as well. It is very well accessible from the metro station Nadrazi Holesovice, from where we get to it´s eastern part.

The park will satisfy all age categories. For mumms with babies it is built here couple of modern playgrounds with swings and other attractions. For old age pensioners, lusting for silence and quiet it´s here enough noiseless and shady places with benches. For couples in love it is here enough romantic hideaway places. Even sportsmen won´t be cheated…the park is virtually linked with bicycle and in-line paths. These are separated from foot paths, so you don´t have to worry about collision.

Stromovka park in Prague When the bicycle is not enough for you, I suggest to go to the Sport Park Stromovka in the north part of the park, providing many activities. You can find there opened and covered tennis courts, fitness center, sauna and physical rehabilitation. Then you can refill the given calories (in case you are not on diet) in local restaurant with excellent cuisine.

About four years ago a very interesting project was set up here. It is called Three oaks. With a support from prominent persons, for example tennis player Martina Navratilova, three symbolic oaks were planted. Since this time every citizen can buy his own tree, which will be used for renewal of Stromovka, which was partly destroyed by flood. On the bought tree a notice with the name of the donator will be placed.

First information about the Stromovka park are dated from 13th century, when it was set up as a hunting deer-field. Gradually many ponds were built here, which are unique by their watering. Water from the Vltava river is lead by one kilometre long Rudolf´s tunnel, built already in 16th century. So in the beginning Stromovka was built for hunting purposes, but during the centuries and with many modifications and tree planting it became a beautiful park, which is giving pleasure up to now.

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Wednesday’s night trips to Prague club Mecca

Jan 4, 10:19 (Filed under: Out and About in Prague, Prague nightlife )

Interior of Mecca Club Why Wednesdays? That’s easy, my Thursday is free of both school and work. This night is my middle-of-the-week party night, and most of the time, I pay a visit to a well-known Prague club Mecca in Holešovice area. Why Mecca? It’s absolut night in Mecca on Wednesdays. That means free entrance, Absolut vodka shot for just 30 and a cocktail for girls for free. And the best part, the club is full of party people.

Usually, it breaks down like this. I arrive home, tired, cook dinner, eat and watch TV news. After, I dress up, splash some Giorgo Armani Black Code perfume on my body (I received it as a gift last Christmas), take a bottle of liquor or some beers, and go meet friends at one of one’s place. There we start talking and drinking, telling stories, making up new ones, or recall the old ones, all while listening to some beats. Clock strikes eleven and we slowly move.

We either take tram or metro, but club Mecca bus is also available from 23 to 02 every ten minutes at Václavské Náměstí 19 (in front of H&M store). Other option is to take metro to stop Nádraží Holešovice, walk around 500 metres straight on Plynární street and turn right to Osadní street. Walk a little and you arrive at street U Průhonu. There it is, U Průhonu 3, Praha 7.

This club is not that big, three bars and two stages are available and it’s quite enough. Last Wednesday we arrived at around midnight and girls to guys ratio was 50:50. And girls in the club were beautiful. As time was passing, the ratio was changing. At around three or four in the morning, there were maybe three quarters of guys and the rest girls, and that was a sign for us to leave. It was not that good late at night (or early in the morning), people got drunk and wasted, they didn’t enjoy it anymore, it was just some sort of inertia going on. Well, who knows, maybe they did. Those hours spent inside were fun, though. We talked a lot, danced a lot, met some new people, we just chilled and forgot about everyday worries and duties. I liked it!

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Funicular Railway to Petrin Hill and the Christmas Markets

Dec 20, 16:24 (Filed under: Out and About in Prague )

Funicular to Petrin Hill On Friday afternoon we took the advantage of this beautiful sunny day and went for a walk. This time, the walk was more or less typical, Prasna Brana, Celetna street, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Kampa, until we arrived at Ujezd, where is the entrance to Prague’s funicular railway.

After some repairs, the funicular is fully functioning again, and it took us slowly to the top of Petrin hill. The trip was short, but the view of the town was pretty. Not as pretty as in summer, there were no leaves left on the trees, too little green grass on the ground, but the sun compensated for it. At the top of the hill, we expected better panoramic view and we were a bit disappointed, since the bare trees still covered big part of it. We couldn’t have found any better view, what more, the lookout Eiffel Tower replica and the Mirror Maze were closed. At least the sun watch in front of the observatory was working fine.

About the funicular, so it starts at Ujezd stop, where you can get by trams no. 6, 9, 12, 20, 22, 23, and it runs daily from 9 to 23:20 every 15 minutes. You need an ordinary valid public transport ticket (the one for 20 CZK).

Not more to do and see here, we took the funicular back down, then got on number 12 tram which took us to Vystaviste (the exhibition ground). There, for the symbolic price of 10 CZK, we visited Christmas markets. I must say these were so far the best I’ve seen. Concretely, it was the pottery and craftsmanship section. If you are still looking for some not-only-dust-collecting Christmas gifts, this is the right place. I bought myself a pair of sheep fleece wool socks for 70 CZK.

Oh yes, one more thing, at the market, a girl from Citi Bank stopped me and convinced me to have a new credit card. Well, I agreed. There were no fees, no need to open a bank account, etc. I signed it and we got a free stuffed plush hedgehog with Santa’s hat. Now I should receive a mail from the bank and I still have time to decide whether or not I need the credit card, and eventually, later pick it up in the bank. At least I hope I understood it well. Anyway, the hedgehog was worth it.

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Few Tips on Bike Rental in Prague

Nov 2, 06:17 (Filed under: Sport in Prague, Out and About in Prague )

Bikes for rent in Prague Despite the fact that city transportation in Prague is of a good quality, with working schedules, and little lockouts, I decided to mention the possibility of renting a bicycle. In the Czech Republic, the bicycle is not heavily used as a transport vehicle, but more as a medium for sport activities. On the other hand, someone might find it interesting and practical way to explore Prague on bike. So if you think that renting a bike might be a good idea, here are several tips where you can do it.

There is quite well-known Praha bike tour&rental company located near the Old Town Square, in the street Dlouha 24. They offer both guided bike tours, and bike rental, and are opened daily from 9 to 19. However, I think this company is expensive. The bikes are ok, mountain bikes with suspended front, but today, you can get such a bike for several thousands CZK in any store. One day (24 hours) rental costs 590 CZK, plus prepare a 2000 CZK deposit for the bike. The advantage is that they give you a bike lock, a helmet, and a city map for free, and that bikes can be rented for less that a day for lower price.

Another company not far away from the centre is Skala Sport, in the street Cechova 3 (near Sparta stadium at Letna). This is a very good location, because it is very close to popular bike route between Letna, and Brevnov (BR-LE). So the prices for mountain bikes start at 196 CZK per day plus 40 CZK for the helmet (optional). Here, you can also borrow, what they call “recumbent bike”, for 250 CZK per day. From Monday to Friday, they are opened between 10 and 20, on Saturday from 10 to 16, and finally Sunday, from 10 to 14. I’m sorry, but i don’t know how it is with deposit.

Last tip for today is the possibility of testing a bike of a first-rate quality for free. One can test Merida Trans Mission Speed (the price in stores is about 43 000 CZK), usually for two days or the weekend. This info is first hand as a good friend of mine borrowed this bike on Friday and returned it on Monday. You have to sign an agreement, and give a (huge) deposit of 15 000 CZK, before taking the bike. The company’s name and address is Cykloservis U Tyrse, Jaselska 38 (Praha-Dejvice). You can also call them on phone 224 319 738 when in Prague.

I hope someone finds this info interesting and useful before the winter comes.

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Sailing on Vltava River

Jul 25, 14:17 (Filed under: Prague sightseeing, Out and About in Prague )

Been at Charles bridge? Oh, of course. Have you noticed those little boats on the river? Have you tried one of them? I did, and it was fun.

We took one of these treadwheel boats right under Charles bridge (entrance from club Lávka) and trod away. One thing I can say, the view of the bridge, castle, islands, etc., from the boat is worth it. And the members of the boat crew feel like celebs. Many people from the bridge are watching you and i bet if you wave at them, the will wave back. At least they did at us.

Anyway, we took a nap, letting our feet get wet in the water, the skin was tanning, chilled Pilsner in the hand, mild breeze and the stream of the river showed us the way, let me quote Lou Reed..’such a perfect day..’.

We approached a fisherman, asking if he caught anything, he said he cannot if we keep disturbing. We understood and focused on sea-gulls and ducks. But the hour that we rented the boat for has passed so we trode back and returned it. An hour was just enough. Next time, we’ll take the rowing boat instead, i think it better fits the whole setting.

As we later discovered, the rowing boats are available at island Žofín. For ’hard to please’ fellows, there is also a rent place for boats with engine available for public located at a place called U Cisarske louky.

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ID theft - case solved. More about men's clothing stores in Prague

Apr 19, 01:54 (Filed under: Personal, Out and About in Prague )

The not so thrilling conclusion to last week??s financial office fiasco was as follows: turns out somebody??s personal id number (??rodne cislo??) is the same as my taxation id number. Jitka discovered this when she called up the financial offices in Plzen and Litomerice on my behalf, then called the FO (or STFU) for Prague 9 and straightened things out.

So, all is well and good now, I suppose. The worst part about the FO cock-up is that I pretty much lost a day of work and ended up having to spend the rest of the week working until around 4 a.m. every night to make up for lost time. Needless to say I did absolutely nothing over the Easter weekend.

Actually, Jitka and I did manage to make it out to Letnany to go shopping on Sunday. It was business as usual as far as men??s clothes go ?? other than an overpriced plain brown shirt in Zara (which I didn??t end up buying) nothing really appealed to me. I came to realise that perhaps that??s because I??m not feeling all that good about my body these days as I kind of let myself go to seed. I??ve got a gut and get winded fairly easily.

I started going to the gym again on Monday. I??ve only smoked one cigarette in the last two days ?? had it just before sitting down to write this little entry. I??ve always had pretty good eating habits, though in the weeks coming up to Easter I was really pigging out on junk food and have been scarfing down massive helpings of Jitka??s first potato salad ?? just as good, if not better, than her mother??s.

Anyway, maybe once I??ve shed a bit of this gut and the accompanying handles I??ll be more into clothes shopping. I suppose things aren??t so bad if that??s all I??ve really got to gripe about these days.

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Floodsurfing in the Czech Republic

Apr 7, 10:06 (Filed under: People, Out and About in Prague )

Overdid it with the suds and buds at Tulip last night, so can’t really bring myself to write about how much it blows that U Zpevacku has shut its doors for good. I could mention something about the ridiculous conversation I overheard at Villa Incognito yesterday while working there (a group of people discussing a movie they are making ; best quote from the discussion: “Like, every love story is, like, tragic”, which was blurted out just as Neil Young’s Heart of Gold started playing on the stereo. This kid has evidently never seen a Nora Ephron flick. Lucky kid), but I’m too knackered to give you my misinterpretation of it. Of course I could write volumes about my latest WoW adventures (got my druid up to level 40. Yay), or about how the history essays I’m slugging my way through are killing me with boredom but I’m 99.9% certain that 99.9999% of the people who are reading this entry don’t want to hear about any of that.

So, here are some photos. Don’t know where they were taken or who to credit because Jitka just sent them to me this morning. With any luck this moron was one of the seven that the floods have killed so far. If not, then hopefully his number will be up soon – one less moron on the road, one less idiot with the right to vote, one less dimwit with the ability to procreate.

Floodsurfing

Idiot

Moron

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Prague hucksters

Apr 3, 09:39 (Filed under: People, Out and About in Prague )

Spammers suck. If you’re a blog spammer who happened to come across this while taking time off from sucking, please do the rest of us good people a favour and hang yourself. Better yet have yourself hung, drawn and quartered ??? I’m sure you can find some people in Slovakia who will be more than willing to do it for you*. Really. Piss off.

Ah, nothing like a Monday morning hangover to get the ol’ vitriol flowing. Went out with fellow Tragically Hipster Tom last night. It had been ages since we last met, so we ended up chatting a lot later than either of us had originally planned. Had a good time reminiscing about some of the hucksters we’ve encountered here. Prague hucksters are always good for a laugh and usually a few ‘free’ drinks, sometimes even a meal, thanks to the Barter Deal. They tend to be pretty easy to pick out of a crowd as they’re the ones talking the loudest and drinking the most, networking manically. A brutally carved smile, wild jittery gesticulations, and always a vague to obvious flame of guilt, pain, or fear flickering in their eyes. In general they’re pretty good at selecting cheap suits, ties and shoes (which they wear like a uniform, like monks or soldiers), but there are also those who somehow get by in t-shirts and jeans.

Prague huckster bullshit is fairly consistent ??? they’re either organising “charities” or they’re interested in building bridges between (insert huckster’s country of origin here) and the Czech Republic. They organise mixers and soirees and smooth-talk gullible, kind hearted folk into doing a ton of donkey work in order to pull the things off. There’s usually a discount on a few types of drinks, there’s a cover charge, and if there’s live entertainment, it’s usually somebody the organiser knows ??? somebody unknown and willing to do the gig for ‘exposure’.

Ah, then there’s the Barter Deal. More bullshit. You mean in exchange for the use of my (advertising, DJing, catering, promoting, etc.) services I can put a banner up in the men’s crapper? I’m all ears! If I donate that many thousand to your cause you’ll put a shit-quality jpeg of my company’s logo in the back pages of that magazine of yours that nobody reads? Hold the phone, where do I sign!? You’ll buy me a cocktail for that press release I spent hours revising because of your nitpicking? Better make it a Long Island Ice Tea, mate ??? double, hold the cola.

The last time I did work for one of these personal fundraisers I actually had to pester the huckster to get my drink ??? a beer and a shot of tequila in exchange for a press release. The only reason I did the work in the first place was because a very good friend of mine who was involved with the organisation asked me to (this friend works for an ad agency ??? guess what he was being used for). My mate was starting to get up with the organiser’s bullshit as well, so he ended up badgering the huckster into buying both of us LITs ? not doubles, mind you?

The huckster tried pitching his nonsense to me, but could tell I wasn’t buying into it and never asked me for another favour again. I’m not sure if my mate is still involved in the organisation ??? I kind of doubt it because he never mentions it these days.

Sorry about being non-specific about names and organisations, but I’d just rather keep things anonymous. Anyway, this was supposed to be about me and Tom hanging out last night, but I suppose that’s all for today. I could also mention how much the Chodov shopping mall blows for men’s clothes (like the rest of Prague, though I did find some nice overpriced stuff at the Mexx on Na Prikope on my way to the bar yesterday), as I discovered yesterday afternoon while shopping with Jitka, but I’ve already griped about that subject. And this entry has gone on long enough ??? now I’ve got to get back to my damn history essays, a job that has really started sucking, bigger than big time.

Though nothing sucks as bad as blog spammers, who should do all of humanity the courtesy of ending their miserable intrusive lives, now.

*Of course I’m not being serious. Of course there isn’t a town in Slovakia where horny young backpackers get kidnapped and tortured by degenerate millionaires. From what I heard at U Zpevacku yesterday that all goes down in Cesky Krumlov.

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A weekend outside the flat

Mar 27, 09:45 (Filed under: Out and About in Prague, Film )

Finally, a weekend of activity outside of the flat. On Friday, Jitka and I went to Kino Atlas to see Factotum. In spite of fine performances by Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor, the movie pissed me off. It⿿ll piss off anyone who has read a fair amount of Bukowski, especially if they have seen Barfly. In fact, the only thing that Factotum inspired me to do was rent Barfly, though I⿿m not sure if and where I can get it on DVD here in Prague.

Dillon⿿s Henry Chinaski is more phlegmatic and sympathetic than Mickey Rourke⿿s. The former barely cracks a smile throughout the whole film (he sort of manages one when his horses come in), while the latter is constantly cracking wise. The only scene that really makes an impact is one in which Dillon delivers a poem (in voice-over) while watching a stripper do impossible gymnastics on a pole. The rest of the film is a hodgepodge of scenes that are, at best, chuckle-worthy. Worth renting if you⿿re into Bukowski, though I could see how it might be more enjoyable for those who know nothing about the man.

Our original plan had been to watch Factotum then go boozing. All I really craved after the flick was a cigarette, and, much to Jitka⿿s chagrin, I gave into that craving. We hit Soft Bellies for a couple of beers and called it a night.

On Saturday, after a very pleasant lie-in, we had a rather unsuccessful day of clothes shopping. I⿿ve said it before and I⿿ll say it again ⿿ Prague sucks for men⿿s clothes. I mean, what⿿s with all the frickin pastels this spring? I don⿿t feel like I can get away with baggy hip-hop or skater styles, and I damn all designers who insist on plastering perfectly good clothes with idiotic images, logos and expressions straight to hell (especially the folks at Clockhouse). I suppose it⿿s a good thing that I don⿿t go out all that much these days. I⿿m not what you would call a fashion whore, but I like to look half-decent when I⿿m out and about. Prague⿿s men⿿s clothiers are not helping whatsoever.

Following our shopping non-spree, Jitka went out with one of her friends and I decided to stay in town and get drunk and stoned with the city on my own. Ended up having an alright time, cruising from Marquis de Sade (which supposedly re-opened in November ⿿ how could I have missed that?) to Soft Bellies to U Zpevacku to Tulip.

Marquis was a disappointment. All the cool artwork is gone ⿿ even that awesome massive Jackson Pollock-esque piece across from the bar. The furniture is new-ish ⿿ meaning the owners have replaced the ugly half-gutted couches with ugly second-hand couches that even the most senile of babickas would turn their noses up at. The chimp with the pith helmet? Gone. The mirrored bar? Gone. The happy hour? Gone. And on top of that, a half-liter of Staropramen is a whopping 45 koruna! My ass on a Marquis barstool? Gone.

I ended up overdoing it, being rather out of practice, and while I managed to keep my dinner down, I felt like a pale, squint-eyed target. There was a time when I did this practically every night, waking up sometimes asking myself When exactly was the last day I went without a drink? and not having the slightest idea what the answer might be. Yeah, right, good times.

After sobering up a bit with a cigarette and some, ahem, fresh air, I parked my ass in Tulip for a while, where I had the good fortune of hearing a couple of dudes do a few excellent Radiohead covers. When I slurred my props to one of them (I think his name was Mishka, not sure) he said he remembered seeing me perform at the Globe and in the Tulip Lounge. Not sure whether he said he liked what I did, but I suppose it was kind of nice to be recognised, though not in the condition I was in.

Ah well, someday the comeback⿿ someday⿿

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Super Spek Me - the not-so-shocking (though surprising) results

Mar 10, 10:20 (Filed under: Film, Out and About in Prague )

Last month I wrote about Supersize Me finally coming to Prague. A Czech experiment in a similar vein recently came to an end. Oddly enough, the results were not all that shocking – apparently Karel Gustav Bozan actually lost weight after eating nothing but “typically unhealthy Czech food. That makes me smile.

Another thing that makes me smile: in a past entry buried deep within the archives, I’m sure I mentioned that out here in Blackbridge there are three McDonalds within walking distance of one another, two of which are technically part of the same shopping complex. The third one is a stand-alone unit intended primarily for drivers who are travelling along Chlumecka.

Rockin Ronnie’s on Chlumecka is right across the road from the McDick’s located at the mall entrance (this map will give you an idea of how ridiculously close they are). Anyway, a couple of days ago I had breakfast at the Chlumecka McD’s (two cheeseburgers and an orange juice – Czech Mickey Dees are very inconsistent when it comes to offering proper breakfast fare). Coming out of the joint, what do I see standing loud, proud and utterly bloated between the two McDicks? A billboard promoting Supersize Me, featuring an enormous belly sagging beneath the bottom of the board.

I wonder how many of these billboards, if any, have been purposely placed near local McD’s?

Anyway, I don’t get that easily moved by documentaries – as much as it kind of pisses me off, I know that most of the meat and animal byproducts I eat here are factory produced, and, goddamnit, McDonald’s cheeseburgers taste good – especially now that they’re only 20 koruna each. But definitely not good enough to eat for every meal every day – anybody with an iota of common sense should know that.

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Medical insurance and treatment in Prague

Mar 9, 07:33 (Filed under: Personal, Out and About in Prague )

Confession: I had a few smokes yesterday to calm my nerves, and, in a way, to soothe my ego. Gimping around town without any accessories that tell the world you??re injured or defective is bad enough. Having a leg brace* (or is it a cast? It??s one of them corrective things with Velcro straps) takes me back to my pre- to early teens, when I had to wear orthodontic headgear in public, like your average geek sidekick. Not only do I feel sorry for dogs that have to wear those satellite dishes after an operation, I kinda empathise with them.

Every since I arrived here in ??96, I??ve been kinda wary of Czech doctors, especially those who specialise in orthopedics. One of the many factors that shaped my initial impression of this place was what seemed to me like an inordinately large number of people on crutches. On top of that, a few weeks into settling in, a fellow English teacher quipped, ?I can introduce you to Czechs who have lost their ability to walk because of a visit to the doctor to sort out water on the knee.?

Ugh?? I kept thinking about that wisecrack when I realized that I probably had water on the knee and would have to see a doctor here??

On Tuesday, getting insured was somewhat of a nightmare in itself, though mainly because of my bad timing. The woman handling short-term insurance contracts buggered off for lunch about five minutes after I got to the VZP offices at Vitezne Namesti in Prague 6, which is not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away from Prague 9. I finally got served about forty-five minutes after arriving. However, the hospital would have to wait until the next day, as my insurance wasn??t to kick in until then.

Rather than take public transport all the way to Motol hospital (about a ten to fifteen minute bus ride from Andel metro station), I opted to take a cab. As always, AAA??s operator was very pleasant (I love the fact that they put you in their database so they know your name when you call), and the cab showed up about seven minutes after I made the order. The ride seemed excessively long, but it ended up being worth it ?? the cabbie went the extra mile for me and asked a couple of security guys and a few ambulance drivers for the location of the hospital??s foreigner section. He even parked in the emergency area and weathered quite a few dirty looks from the ambulance staff.

A kind security guard ended up leading the way. Turns out that all that extra effort was unnecessary ?? had I come by bus, I would have found the foreigner??s section in Motol without a problem, as I had been there before. But the way we came by cab kind of disoriented me. In any case, it was nice to go to the hospital in comfort.

Then things took a 180. When one of the clerks in the foreigner??s section called the insurance company, I was kept waiting for an hour as it turned out the morons at the VZP hadn??t entered me into their system, despite the fact that my insurance was supposedly effective as of yesterday. I kept my cool for the better part of that hour, but lost it after the clerk over to me all shoulder shrugs, head shakes and ?I don??t know?. ?Tell you what,? I told her, ?how about I bash your knee with a hockey stick and leave you sitting here for an hour??

More shoulder shrugs, then ?We have to wait for them to enter you into their system.?

?Well, can I see a doctor while they??re doing this??

It was like trying to reason with a cat: ?I don??t know if we can accept this card, you must wait.?

Then I went off on her ?? I know it wasn??t her fault as far as the insurance cock-up was concerned, but I kept thinking that it wouldn??t have mattered if I had come in riddled with bullets, she would have been just as cold and dumb.

Well, as any quick-tempered foreigner knows, going off on Czechs is an exercise in futility and frustration. I really wish I could master that famous passive-aggressiveness of theirs ?? it??s kind of admirable.

However, in the end I got to see a doctor. That is, I got to wait a hell of a long time before seeing a doctor, which always sucks, anywhere in the world. Sitting in that long corridor in the Orthopedic section of Motol could not have been any more depressing ?? lots of long faces, lots of gimps, lots of cranky old-timers single or double-crutched or in wheelchairs, one old woman with a tracheotomy (I felt she should have had a more profound effect on my efforts to kick the nic sticks, but she didn??t, even when she put her finger to the hole in her neck to speak in rusty croaks).

Then, finally, after all the waiting and hobbling and standing with this bitch of a knee, I got to see the doctor. And it was well worth the waiting, hobbling, etc. She was great. Spoke English almost perfectly (British accent) and was friendly enough. She stuck a rather large needle into the side of my right knee and drained it of the excess fluid (I didn??t watch, not because of queasiness but because it was nice to have an excuse to lie back with my eyes closed), gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatory pills (good thing I??m off the booze right now) and an order for the aforementioned leg brace (or cast, or wrap, or whatever it??s called), and told me to stay off my feet for the next week or so (huge drag, especially considering the fact that Richard is coming to stay with us this weekend).

After killing more time in the hospital while waiting for the place that sells orthopedic treatment equipment (there has to be a better term for it than that?? damn, that Warcraft is destroying my mind??) to re-open after lunch, it was finally time for me to gimp my way back to Blackbridge. Of course, I hopped on the wrong bus and ended up taking a really long way home, ending up out near Nove Butovice. But it was all worth it in the end ?? last night was finally relatively pain-free. And I??ve got a little more faith in Czech doctors.

*When I googled ?leg brace? to make sure I was using the right term, this site (not safe for work) topped the list of results. I find that amusing for some reason??

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Boulevard Crocodile. Jam session at Ridgeback

Mar 7, 07:31 (Filed under: Prague events, Out and About in Prague )

The only bonus about having to run out to Hradcanska (for a new passport) and Dejvicka (to get health insurance) has been being able to do lunch at Boulevard Crocodile. That??s about as thrilling as my trips downtown get these days.

Well, there??s also the joy of the B-line. Quite a while back I clipped and pasted a chat that Jitka C. and I had about grabbing and keeping a seat on the metro (unfortunately I can??t find the article as the archives in this blog are still a nuisance to wade through ?? my apologies). I think about that chat a lot while on the metro these days. Because of my bum knee I??m not able to sit without extending my right leg, something that simply can??t be done on a crowded metro, partly because it??s rude and partly because if somebody nudges my leg I??m in for a world of pain.

So, the baguettes kinda make up for that. Pretty thrilling, eh?

However, I may venture into town this evening as fellow Canuck expat Charlie Kosman is hosting a jam session at Ridgeback (Zitna 41, Prague 1 ?? beside the location indicated on this map). Here are the details from Charlie??s email:

Cool place, no cover, not expensive beer, can smoke in the back room.

Most nights a bunch of African dudes bang on their drums, but that evening they have agreed to let us jam with them and some of their friends. I will bring my drum, violin, harp and a few light instruments, and 200W amp with 2 inputs, so I am sure we can whip up a bit of a storm. Anyone else who wants to bring an instrument or amp etc. are welcome.

Will try to organise this where people can sign up with me if they want to lead any songs, stating if and what accompaniment they can tolerate/desire. Those who are inspired/allowed can then join in. Would prefer to keep it more of an open jam instead of individual solo performances, cause I didn??t drag my shit down there to watch someone else play. Will try to organise things in a Bohemian yet hopefully tactfully anal way to ensure an enjoyable evening for all, and will even be the benevolent dictator and allow the audience to boo me and my violin off the stage!
Hope to see y??all :o)

Of course, my attendance is kinda dependent on the knee ?? it ain??t no fun limping around the centre of Prague feeling like a total gimp??

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Pizza West is far from the best

Jan 26, 15:58 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Out and About in Prague )

Pizzerias in Prague are nearly as abundant as Chinese fast food joints. From the heart of the city centre to the outer rim of Prague’s periphery, every neighbourhood has at least one ??? if not two. Here in Blackbridge, we’ve got three within walking distance of our place, not including That Gyros Place at the Mall.

And, just like Chinese fast food joints, Prague’s pizzerias run the gamut in terms of quality, style, service, etc. At Namesti Bratri Synku, two extremes of pizza-pie makers sit side by side.

At the upper end of the scale is the mighty Baretta (Belehradska 4 Prague 4), arguably Prague’s most original pizzeria owing to its Native American Indian theme, friendly service and eclectic selection of tasty pizzas. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but they still seem to attract quite a crowd, based on what I saw yesterday.

A door or two over from Baretta, on the corner of Namesti Bratri Synku and Belehradska, Pizza West represents the low end of the scale of pizzerias. ‘Pizza West is the best’ (that’s what it says on their website)? Bullshit! Gah! Phooey! Ach! How this place, which is something like ten times the size of the magnificent Baretta, gets business is beyond me. It’s so crap that I’m not putting its address here – just take my advice and skip it and go to Baretta. The only reason to go to Pizza West is to kill time while waiting for a table to open up at Baretta.

I’ll admit that I haven’t had Pizza West’s pizza, but based on what Jitka and I experienced yesterday I don’t think I ever will. To start with, the bottled Pilsner (they don’t serve draft beer ??? strike one) was only a few degrees below room temperature (strike two). Ok, the minestrone was proper, chunky tomato-based vegetable soup (as opposed to the bland vegetable soup that most other ‘Italian’ restaurants in Prague have the nerve to call minestrone) and very tasty, but it was served at a few degrees above room temperature (foul ball).

I made the mistake of ordering a beef burrito (at a Czech pizzeria’ man, I can’t believe I was that dumb), which was a crepe filled with Bolognese sauce, with a side of dirt-flavoured beans, rice with some kind of wimpy seasoning and some tomato paste with raw onions that was trying to pass itself off as salsa (note to Pizza West ??? there’s this really amazing herb called cilantro that you should check out). On the whole, the meal had all the appeal of what my cat leaves behind in the litter box after eating too much cheese ? strike three, you’re OUT Pizza West!

Oh, and Jitka’s vegetarian lasagna was not much better. An uninspired stack of lasagna noodles with a frozen vegetable and tomato sauce, covered in eidam, surrounded by a moat of? what??? bechamel sauce? More like flour-and-water sauce.

The lackluster service was about the best thing about Pizza West. For the first time in a long time I was signaling for the bill before finishing my meal ??? such was my haste to get the hell out of there.

Fortunately, our deserts at Radost FX saved our tastebuds somewhat. The double-layer chocolate cake was not all that decadent (if you really want chocolate decadence get Radost’s cheesecake brownie) and the cheesecake was rather stale. Ah well, at least the coffee, the music and, of course, the company were fine.

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