Prague Dog Eat Blog

Red, yellow or green line? Take a subway around Praha

Feb 26, 14:58 (Filed under: Road tripping )

metro There are plenty of ways how to get around Praha. You can take a taxi, hop on a bus or a tram. But the easiest, the most convenient and usually the fastest way is to take a subway. The transportation system in Praha is quite easy and understandable. There are three lines; red one, yellow one and green one. All these lines run through the city centre and they are also connected with each other. You can switch the line at the transfer stations: Mustek, Muzeum and Florenc and continue your journey towards the final destination. The metro runs every day from 5 am until 1 am. During the traffic hours, it is recommended to take a subway. You will easily get to around the city in a metro while people who drive cars will be upset about the traffic in the centre.

When traveling by metro, it is necessary to purchase a ticket. You can buy the ticket at the yellow ticket-vending machine, or just write text message DPT to 902 06 26 and you will receive an sms ticket. Make sure you buy and validate the ticket when entering metro space. The controllers usually check the tickets inside the metro. And just remember metro is fast and convenient.

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Low-cost and favourable car rental in Prague

Aug 9, 17:29 (Filed under: Advice, Road tripping )

When I’m travelling abroad, one of the things I miss except my bed and food is driving a car. That is not a big reason to go rent a car, but if you plan a trip somewhere around Czech Republic or even abroad while you’re staying in Prague, a car rental might be a good choice. Again, our ultimate phrase is low budget.

If you need a car for a day, and if you’re not particular about a model, and its special features, a good choice is Smart ForTwo from SIXT Rent a Car company. If you book it on-line (www.sixti.cz), the prices start at 190 CZK including 100 km, which, if you don’t leave town, is enough for a day. Other features, such as loss damage waiver, additional driver or personal accident insurance are optional. This one is the cheapest i found and the pick up place is to advantage in the centre, at Hilton hotel.

An alternative, with higher prices, but still cheaper than its rivals and with many more car models available is AA-Auto Rentcar company, Zelený Pruh 95/97, Praha 4 (www.autopujcovny-auto.com). Here I was attracted by a special offer on classy VW Touareg for 1599 CZK/day without taxes. However, this price is not final, one must add charges for insurance, radio, air-conditioning and a value added tax of 19% to it. Plus, the car must be rented at least for 3 days. Finally, we arrive at a price of around 7000 CZK for three days. Plus gas and maybe some optional equipment.

This price is still less than other car rentals. I hope this inspired you. Happy driving!

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Pisek

Mar 20, 10:13 (Filed under: Road tripping )

Pisek is a quaint little town in South Bohemia, about one hour from Prague by car. There are frequent bus and train connections between the cities, just check www.idos.cz for times.

I can??t say that Pisek really bowled me over. Sure it??s full of exquisite historical buildings, but the town??s real claim to fame is the fact that it is home to the Czech Republic??s oldest bridge. Of course Jitka and I walked over the bridge and took a few pictures there, but historical sites, structures and artifacts don??t really do anything for me. I suppose I take them for granted, really. Sure, I find that walking over Charles Bridge or through the grounds of Prague Castle can be a trip (especially when they??re tourist-free), but not because of the history ?? the splendour and the majesty of these structures, and the fact that they were practically hand-made, blow me away.

Pisek, like pretty much every Czech town that is not Prague, is not a mind-blowing town. It??s laid-back, chill and friendly. The only thing about Pisek that really amazed me wasn??t even Czech, it was the Tandoor Indian restaurant (Heydukova 172). Their CZK 75 lunch menu is insanely generous, offering a choice of 4 meat dishes (on the day Jitka and I went they were all chicken) and something like 6 vegetarian dishes, with a choice of perfectly cooked basmati rice or naan bread. Add huge portions and friendly service, the Tandoor tops everything that Prague has to offer in terms of Indian cuisine. In fact, I??d say it??s worth a day trip.

We also discovered the chill and charming U Zeleneho Stromu (At the Green Tree) tea room on Zizkova street (Zizkova 202 to be exact) ?? one of those slightly fleabitten-looking places with a soft-spoken white dread blissed out waiter, second- and third-hand furnishings and decorations, a fragrant blend of tea, incense and apple tobacco with an undercurrent of mold?? you know, like a hippy friend??s basement. Unfortunately, we didn??t really have time to enjoy it to its fullest as we ended up waiting a pretty long time for our granola waiter to serve us and pretty much had to chug our tea.

Time off in Pisek combined with a weekend of World of Warcraft and movies (Gladiator, LOTR – Fellowship of the Ring, Honeymoon in Vegas, Saving Grace, Be Cool) has rendered me pretty lazy. There??s no way I??m staying in today ?? for the first time in months I??m going to work downtown.

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On holiday

Mar 16, 09:12 (Filed under: Personal, Road tripping )

Jitka and I are chilling in bed in a pension in South Bohemia, ragging on Clou, a Czech band that makes music that??s catchy in a grating, Hootie and the Blowfish or Maroon 5 way, worsened by their lingua franca lyrics. Clou is a fruit-fly in the ointment ?? the pension is by far the tidiest, most modern Czech pension I??ve ever had the pleasure of staying in, we??ve got the place to ourselves, and are being treated to a very pleasant breakfast of coffee, rolls, ham, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, muesli and orange juice.

It feels good to be out of Prague ?? hell, it feels good to be out of the flat ?? but we??re still kind of working, as we??ve got to head into Pisek to arrange flowers, sweets, and?? damn?? there??s something else but I can??t remember what it is??

I really don??t know where my head??s at these days. All this cocooning and Warcrafting has made me dull physically, mentally and spiritually. As of next week, there are going to be changes. Not saying what, not saying where, when and how, but it??s high time for a resurrection.

For now, I??m on holiday, so that??s enough for today.

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Hot Nights in Ceske Budejovice

Nov 8, 07:01 (Filed under: Road tripping, Personal )

Anyone considering a road trip out of Prague should check Sam Beckwith’s tour of Southern Bohemia. I’ve been to a few of the places he writes about and the article brings back some really pleasant memories, especially of my and Jitka’s week-long stay in Zelezna Ruda a couple of summers ago. We were blessed with great weather, a lot of fantastic countryside walks throughout Sumava, and some incredible meals at our pension. Definitely a place I’d go back to.

Regarding Ceske Budejovice, I should add that the place is a blast at night. At least it was when me and my mate Dave went there about five years ago. We had originally planned on staying in Cesky Krumlov, but because we hadn’t made reservations anywhere and every place in the town was booked solid, we decided to go to the birthplace of Budvar (Budweiser) beer.

Ceske Budejovice did not make a good first impression as we walked out of the train station. There was a skanky ol’ hotel across the way with a couple of skanky ol’ Romany ho’s slouched and smoking out front. The walk into the centre was nothing special – I remember a McDonalds along the way, but not much else.

And then we got to the square and were awestruck. You can see why here. Dave was feeling generous so he got us a room right on the square. One of the nicest views from a hotel that I’ve ever had.

We decided to check out CB’s nightlife. We reckoned we’d just end up drinking in some sketchy old pub, but decided to ask the locals where the party was at. We spied a couple of cute girls sitting on a bench by the fountain. In my pidgin Czech I asked them where we could go to have a good time in CB. After a bit of giggling and blushing, the girls first directed us towards the Zeppelin Heaven Club, just across from the fountain.

The Zeppelin Heaven Club was like Chateau on one of its sausage factory nights – in reverse. Babes galore, with a few guys here and there. And, as I recall, it was the ladies who were throwing the looks around. As fun as it sounds, it was actually kind of odd. I had this feeling like I really should get the hell out of there otherwise I’d end up doing something I’d regret in the morning. Besides, the music kinda sucked ass.

We continued on to a bar with a Harley-Davidson motif. It might have actually been called the Harley-Davidson bar. It was alright, but after the Zeppelin Heaven Club, we weren’t really in the mood for a place so macho.

The cuties by the fountain had also told us about a place called Singers, which is where we spent pretty much the rest of the night drinking and being accosted by cute female university freshmen (at least that’s what I’m assuming they were). It was all good clean fun, in spite of all the beer and tequila.

After nursing our hangovers, we decided to spend another night in CB. As it turned out, the day was actually more fun than the evening. The highlight was going to a herna bar to kill some time by dumbly pushing buttons on fruit machines – each of us being assisted by a couple of dressed-to-the-nines babes.

“Can you believe this place?” Dave asked as we walked out of the herna.

“No, I can’t,” I said, “I have got to come here more often.”

Well, that said, I haven’t been back since. It was like when you have one really perfect night at a club or bar, and keep going back, hoping for a repeat, knowing it’ll never happen. In this case my memory of Ceske Budejovice is just fine the way it is.

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Happy Birthday To Me, Zorbing

Sep 27, 14:08 (Filed under: Personal, Road tripping )

Had no time to put anything up yesterday due to work, which was kind of a drag as the weekend cleared my head so thoroughly that I was itching to write. Now I’m not all that focused because I’m more into filling the new mp3 player Jitka gave me for my birthday with music. Considering the thing has a capacity of 40 GB, and considering I’ve just been turned onto eMule, I’m going to be pretty busy for the next few days.

I celebrated my 34th birthday on Friday, starting with beers a’plenty at U Zpevacku in the company of Chris, Richard, and of course the lovely Jitka. After spending more time there than we probably should have, it was off to Nebe for one drink – not hard to do considering the shit the DJ was spinning on Friday. Way too much Michael Jackson and tepid funk.

We spent the rest of the night at Batalion. No Mediterranean lesbians this time around, but the music was good enough to get Jitka and I up and dancing for the rest of the night.

It was with a heavy head and aching lungs that I went Zorbing the next day. Jitka has friends who have a hand in running Zorb operations here in the Czech Republic, so we got a free ride out near Plzen.

A Zorb is an enormous see-through ball in which there is another see-through ball. Two people strap themselves into the thing opposite each other, then the ball is sent down a small hill. The sensation is kind of hard to describe – you’re not really flung about, jolted, jarred or shaken – you just roll. It’s a bit sickening, somewhat thrilling, rather exhilarating experience. Here’s the hype from the official Zorb website

It’s a vigorous wash for the unclean, a cool drink for the thirsty and a revolution for the oppressed masses. It cures heartbreak, heartburn and hangovers, halitosis and that nagging feeling that you’ve left the iron on at home. It brings couples closer together, keeps sandflies away, tells your mother-in-law when she’s stayed too long and packs her bags – encourages hair growth in the bald and defoliates the hairy. It’ll power your warp drive, warp your sense of reality, pull off your clothes, clean your teeth, read you a story, tuck you in at night and make you dream sweet dreams.

As an added bonus Jitka and I both got tourist tags (turisticke znamky), which are are circular wooden branded tokens that are souvenirs as well as “proof” of having been to a tourist attraction. It is not possible to buy them anywhere other than on the site of the attraction.

A numbered series of tags follows the ridges of mountains, the currents of navigable rivers, maps gardens, natural and technical monuments, historical towns, accessible caves, zoological gardens, and many other places of interest.

Together with up-to-date maps, tourist tags can play the role of tour guide through the beauties of our nation. The entire system is continuously expanding.

They’re pretty cool souvenirs – once you collect ten you get a special tag that is unavailable at any of the tag network’s sites. There’s more about tourist tags (in Czech) here.

Sunday was nice and lazy – we got back home around dinnertime and watched The Graduate (Jitka found it kind of stupid and rather boring. I had forgotten the way the movie plays Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair to death). I was sort of unprepared for the barrage of translations one of my clients sent my way yesterday, but managed to catch everything and put a whole lotta music on my Nomad. Speaking of which, I’m signing off to get back to eMuling now??

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Learning to snowboard in Janske Lazne. Get me offline now!

Feb 19, 19:13 (Filed under: Road tripping, Other )

I’m in Trutnov, chilling at a friend’s place after a great day of snowboarding with Jitka up in Janske Lazne. We’re both beginners, but I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on it, especially since I’m using a much better, shorter and lighter board than I was during my first attempt at the sport two weeks ago.

I’ve spent many wonderful weekends in the Krkonose mountains, especially Janske Lazne, over the last seven years. Every time I come up here in the winter, for some reason I feel more Canadian than usual. Sounds strange, perhaps, but it’s true. I believe it has something to do with all the snow – of course, all we get in Prague these days are relatively light dustings that quickly turn to slush.

The only reason I’m online is due to a few fairly important emails that I had to send out, and I figured why not throw up a blog entry as well. Important emails to send on a Saturday? Well, actually, the most important will probably end up getting sent on Monday morning. I’ve really got to stop working on weekends.

I’ll sign off with a couple of great articles concerning our too-much-information era. I got the links from Richard Body’s blog. Here’s the first. And here’s the second.

Enough – the local pub awaits…

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Welcome (back) to Strelice - Part III

Jan 8, 17:55 (Filed under: Road tripping )

Read Part I

Read Part II

The next day, after sleeping til noon, we gathered up the energy to go to the pub for a beer before I headed back to Brno. Robert called in a second round. I had to do the jackrabbit dash, the cheetah sprint, and the fugitive’s scurry all at the same time to catch the damn thing, with a cigarette to spare.

All that cardio’s really paying off??

Brno was nice, rather crowded, but festive. A new McDonald’s on Masarykova pissed me off – the Cerna Hora deserved a better fate. It used to be a great pub with cheap suds and stick-to-ya-ribs grub, real wood furniture and fixtures, real drinkers (“That place was real popular with the real true drunkards,” Simca told me, “It opened at seven in the morning, so you’d see people sleeping at the tables sometimes just after lunchtime.”), a thick fog of cigarette smoke, and voices colliding in a loud abrasive and hysterical brouhaha.

And now it’s a goddamn McDonalds. Licked-clean lighting, splinter-free seating, the goddamn clown and kiddie corner, staff with programmed smiles, no surprises in the same chow you can get five hundred metres up the road.

I walked further up the street to get my Ceska slice. Then drank more beer with Simi and her boy. A cool couple; he sat silent with a Cheshire grin, Simona gesticulated and laughed and talked loud. We did what we always do when we get together – reminisced about all the crazy stupid shit that Brno’s old expat crew used to get up to in the ’96-’97 school year.

Teaching English in Brno was a pretty easy gig. Most of the students forgave us our hangovers and comedowns, tardiness and lack of preparation, and our general incompetence when it came to doing our jobs. That was fun for about a year, after which the lifestyle started to stagnate. The chemistry changed and quantities grew to ridiculous amounts. Teaching got dull, Brno got too small. Prague seemed like a good place to clean up and do something else.

I still see a number of teachers going through the same thing now – hating their jobs and their schools, rubbing out the frustration in the bars at night. Fleecing students by way of useless one-sided conversation lessons. Going strictly by textbooks with articles and exercises that would insult a third-grader. Fuelling up on coffee, cigarettes, fried cheese, fried schnitzels, fried potatoes, beer, beer, beer, shots, joints, and more beer.

Some of them manage to get themselves together and become proper teachers; others can’t handle it and leave as furtively as they arrived. Then there are those who, out of some strange stubbornness born of either self-loathing or immaturity, seem destined to stay in this dull loop forever. While I’m out of the loop, it is nice to slip inside it from time to time, to chart progress and, as my Uncle Jack would say, check the fences.

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Welcome (back) to Strelice - Part II

Dec 29, 11:00 (Filed under: Road tripping )

Read Part I

Drinking and singing and dancing to Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol in PTS. The sky clear and our minds warmed up. Robert Juracka, a Strelice native who now lives in the UK, is back home. I’m a foster villager, an adopted son – or at least nephew.

While I haven’t been greeted in quite the same way I was on my maiden voyage from Brno to Strelice U Brna (a drunk brunette named Zuzka who, before Robert could shake my hand, thrust a bottle of Fernet and cola at me and yelled, “Patrick, you must drink!”), every time I step off the train, well?? a busy man’s got to a right to a night of heavy drinking. And I’d been hella busy.

Most of the front area was occupied with Pelisky, a movie I’ve only seen in bits and pieces. I had just seen Postriziny on the bus ride to Brno and got to talking about Czech movies with Robert and his mate Robin. I still don’t understand how Czechs can make incredible, clever, highly imaginative films, but their music videos are absolute crap – either cliché, overly-derivative, banal, or crazy for the sake of being crazy.

There’s a certain insanity that lingers in the air at PTS. It’s an insanity that people like Robert and Robin, who served with the Czech Armed Forces in Kosovo and Iraq, feel compelled to flee. But family and the comforts and familiarity of home always draw them back.

Others, like Dog, May, Francois, and Flag at the table behind me, feel comfortable in this maddening loop of the same drunken state spent looking and talking at the same walls and faces. Deep down they know they’re missing something, and they choose to ignore it.

Perhaps it’s not actually insanity, perhaps it’s fear of what really lies beyond the borders of the village. Even the bright lights of not-so-big city Brno freaks out a small part of Strelice’s inhabitants. Prague is just a notion for a number of the PTS posse, a place where the people are cold and think only of money and social status – their own and how it compares with that of others.

Praguers simply don’t think about the villagers. They know what the rest of the country thinks of them and they couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It’s not uncommon that at some point during a night in Strelice someone at the table will dis Prague, wondering why the hell I live there instead of a nice friendly place like Strelice or Brno.

Sometimes I wonder the same thing, but just as a passing thought. To me settling in a small town or a village cut off from the city would be like settling into a comfortably numbing sexless marriage. I’ll take the drama of shacking up with an unpredictable insatiable bitch (Prague, that is, in order to avoid confusion with the lovely lusty work of grace that is Jitka) instead, thank you very much.

But I was in Strelice to get away from Matka Praha for a while, and a few days of drinking and smoking and chatting in PTS seemed like a nice way of admiring her from a distance. The two Robs and I kept PTS open until three or four. We then got a ride to Robert’s place in the lower part of the village, stuffed our faces full of smoked meat, cheeses, pickles and rolls supplied by Mrs. Juracka, staggered off to bed and crashed hard.

Read Part III

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Welcome (back) to Strelice

Dec 22, 07:00 (Filed under: Road tripping )

Soon after I moved to Brno in 1996, I made pretty much instant friends with one of my then-students, Robert Juracka. He lived in a village called Strelice u Brna and within an hour after meeting him for the first time, he invited me out to his village, to a birthday party in a squat called U Hovna by the pub by the railway station.

After that followed two months of visits to Strelice, most of the activity taking in place at the pub by the train station or at the pub in the middle of the village, and, at times, at U Hovna.

And my herb drawer was never barren, Robert made sure of that. We talked about everything and bullshit, neither of us felt that aggravating urge to speak just for the sake of disturbing silence. We hitchhiked to Holland together. His family practically adopted me. We became very good friends.

I got to know the village, and the village, well, I’m still not sure if the majority of it knows what to make of “Burba’s Canadian English Teacher.”

Then I moved to Prague, Robert moved to the UK. We stayed in touch, we lost touch, we got back in touch and the cycle repeated itself a few more times.

I was in need of a little time out of Prague when we got back in touch again. I went back to Strelice this past weekend and reckoned I’d share the return in the odd entry here and there.

At the tail-end of a one-week blitzkrieg on vital organs and systems. After months of working out, I finally had me a good unhealthy week. Tuesday with fellow translators at the Chinese restaurant on Narodni and Jungmannovo namesti for good cheap food and some folk-singing and tattoo talk. Wednesday was the Provokator party.

Thursday was Brno: pizza with spicy ketchup on Ceska (the only slice in the country on which the condiment actually works), followed by a tram ride and a walk to the Deaf Viper – a new smoker’s pub in Brno – for a few cold half-litres of Dudak, a crisp light lager from Strakonice, with sweet Simona and her new teen dred beau.

Then headed for my destination, the Pub by the Trian Station, PTS, aka Vasek’s until a few years ago; it’s just PTS now. Of course the crowd’s the same, only now the formerly nicotine-battered walls are fresh pale orange faces, the sticky yellow light fixtures have been either cleaned or replaced, there’s young barmaid dancing behind the bar, and me and my mate Robert Juracka are drinking to binges past, knowing full well that this time is going to top the charts of our archives.

Read Part II

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