Thursday, March 30, 2006

Prague to Austria

Prague was awful starting from the time that I decided to leave. I was in Brugge on a day trip, and my watch stopped for an hour for some reason, so I was running an hour behind. When I got to the train, I needed to get on the train and then have it arrive just on time so I could get my stuff and get to my next train. I had 4 minutes to make the connection. However, some handicapped people were late to the train, so the train waiting the extra 15 minutes to let those people on. I made it very close to Brussels on time to make the connection, but as I made it to the platform the train was pulling away.

I went to the ticket office and explained my problem, and they told me that there was another train very soon, but it was going on a different route to get to the same place. I was going to have to go through Cologne, Germany to get to Frankfurt to change to a train to Prague. When I got to Cologne, the train was late, so I raced to the platform for the connecting train, but they changed the platform and didn't announce it, so I, like a dork, stood there and waited for the next 40 minutes before I asked, "Where's the train to Frankfurt?" I found ANOTHER train that was ending up at the same place but was AGAIN taking an alternate route, but I got on. To make a long story short, I ended up at the wrong station in Frankfurt and had to figure out how to navigate to the main train station to make a connecting train to Prague, which I did do with no problem.

Because it was a night train, I found a compartment to myself and settled down. When people came to interrupt me, I moved, and eventually found a quiet place to settle down. UNTIL I had just fallen asleep, and some German man threw open the train of my car and stuffed as many of his high school group as he could in there with me. So, it was me and a bunch of students and my luggage and their luggage. They didn't speak English, and it was just awkward. So, I pulled out my MP3 player and tried to go to sleep UNTIL the group right next door to me decided to have a party very loudly. At one point, I went angrily over to their car at about 2:00 AM and yelled, "I don't care if you don't speak English, but you need to sit down and shut up and go to sleep because you're not the only people on this train!" After that, they still didn't settle down, so I found their teacher to get them to be quiet. When that didn't work, I grabbed my luggage, went to the entirely different end of the train. On my way, I informed the leader of the group that they had a horrible group of students that were drinking and doing drugs on the train under his care and that I would reconsider taking them on an outing to Prague. With that, I left them, and found peace in my empty room.

UNTIL the police came through. I guess that I look like a terrorist or something because they woke me up and started to interrogate me about what I had been doing in Amsterdam, and what was going on with my bags. They didn't speak much English, and I can't say that I know any words in Czech (except for Hlavni, which I think means either train or station), so it was interesting. Eventually they stamped my passport and sent me on my way. And thus ends the exciting parts of my train ride to Prague.

When I got to the station, it looked very run down and degraded, and I actually looked at the board at that time to look and see if there were any trains out of there, but I decided to give the city a chance.

And I did, and I'd say that we don't agree well. The building are beautiful, and seeing all the famous sites was fun. The place that I stayed was in the square where Communism took over that country and where it then fell 40 years later. I took many pictures, most of which were night shots. I went around the city by foot and explored. The money system there is kind of funny, though it makes things cheap (I spent probably less than 6 dollars on food the whole time I was there). The "traditional" thing that I ate was a hot dog, you know, real high class, etc.
The part about the city that I didn't like really was the chasing. Women still at least feel like objects, and though communism has been gone for 15 years now, I don't think that they really have an understanding of what freedom means. The people feel so run down that it would take quite a bit to put them back together again. I've explained it like "Dr. Zhivago gone wrong."

I left a day early, and I'm very glad that I did. On the train away, I got to see the state of the country outside of the city. Though the country towns are very beautiful and quaint, they are also littered with graffiti and trash everywhere. There was a distinct line when I moved into the Austria border.

So, here I am in Austria, just kind of relaxing, and it's fun. I'm not looking forward to my journey to Greece, but I'm going to have to find something that will make it fun (like the afternoon that I may have to spend in Venice)!

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