There are two types of paddle boats – one where each boat has one propeller shared between the 2 paddlers, and one where each boat has two propellers, driven by the respective paddler. Cheating is only possible on the first type because on the second type, a lazy paddler will result in the boat turning in circles.
We had the first type.
I love paddle boats and I don’t know why. They make me happy.
Like almost all other major historical European cities, Prague is divided in half by a river. Vltava river runs through Prague, and offers a great view of many landmarks.
Boat mates were Israeli guy #1 and #2, and Canadian girl #1.
Israeli guy #1 and #2 were pretty young. They just finished high school and decided to go travel before the mandatory military service (I think?). Did you know that women are required to serve in the military as well in Israel? Conscription is pretty shitty, but at least they are not sexist about it (unlike most other countries, including the US, which still doesn’t allow women to hold some positions in the military). One of them does some software stuff, and wants to continue on with that in the military.
Canadian girl #1 works in the correctional services of Canada, in Ottawa. Her job is to answer phone calls, from inmates who are not happy with… pretty much anything. Apparently food requirements are common, and many people claim to be Muslim to get halal food, which is way better than regular food. And of course, being a woman, she also gets a fair number of wankers and heavy breathers…
At the end of the boat ride, one of the girls (Belgian girl #1) suggested we go to a famous burger place that’s known for their huge portions. I got ribs. Yeah. It was as good as it looks.
Belgian girl #1 is studying tourism in a small town near Brussels, can speak 4 languages, and reportedly has an amazing fuck buddy.
I originally planned to visit Brussels on the way from Lisbon (since I planned to go by train). Didn’t happen unfortunately since I found out that the train ride would cost a few arms and legs, and involves running through Paris in 55 minutes to get from the south train station to the north train station. Definitely on my list of places to visit, though, especially if I end up back in the UK. It’s so close!
This was supposed to be my last night in Prague. I went back to the hostel and tried to book stuff for the next part of my journey, and had a bit of a scare – I originally planned to head to Budapest next, which, despite the refugee situation, I thought would be easy since people are trying to get OUT of Hungary, not INTO Hungary.
What I didn’t realize is that if trains aren’t going westbound from Budapest, there won’t be trains going eastbound into Budapest either. Law of Conservation of Trains!
As a result, all the buses were fully booked (those buses don’t usually require advance booking), and I actually had no way of getting into Hungary. Even the flights were crazy expensive.
So there you go, the danger of impromptu travel. On the other hand, since I had nothing already booked in Hungary, I was able to just look at a map, and pick another city/country to go to.
My options were Vienna or Krakow (Poland). I really wanted to see Munich or Stuttgart, but it’s pretty much impossible to visit those cities (or any German city really) at this time of the year, thanks to Oktoberfest.
I also thought about just flying out again and into Russia, to either Moscow or St. Petersburg. Then I found out that Canadians need to apply for visas to enter Russia. Totally unacceptable. What kind of countries require Canadians to apply for visas!? So no Russia.
It was a difficult choice between Vienna and Krakow. Vienna is very cool with all the musical stuff and history, but Krakow had Nazi stuff and more WWII history.
In the end I decided to go to Vienna just because I still wanted to go to Budapest eventually, and it’s easier to get there from Vienna than from Krakow (3 hours bus vs overnight sleeper train).
Roommates for the night were Slovaskian guy #1 and American girl #1. American girl #1 was amazing. She grew up in South Carolina (or was it North?), decided she didn’t like where the US is heading as a country, and moved to Stuttgart (Germany) by herself, and now works there and speaks fluent German. She was one of the volunteers welcoming refugees at a train station in Stuttgart. It’s one thing to read about those kind of things on the news, but actually meeting someone who was there makes it so much more real.
On a totally unrelated sidenote, her looks, voice, manners, and even political views were EXACTLY the same as those of a girl I had a huge crush on years ago… it was uncanny!
Slovaskian guy #1 was loud, obnoxious, and racist (against Syrians, regarding the refugee crisis). He mostly argued with American girl #1. “Arguing” is perhaps not the right term to use here, since it consists mostly of him saying the same racist stuff and lies over and over and over again, and without any support. It was ugly.
Slovaskian guy #1 is hereby declared non-beautiful. That’s another shitty thing about hosteling – you get to room with crazy people once in a while. That said, in my few weeks travel and rooming with 20-30 people, there was only this 1 crazy guy. Overwhelming majority of people I’ve met on the trip were amazing. Still worth it.
I spent the next day on my laptop being anti-social at the hostel, booking and researching stuff… said goodbye to everyone and departed the next morning on a 5 hours bus ride to Vienna. Back to just me + backpack. Another friendships reset!
If you are ever in Prague, I highly recommend Hostel One Home. Most enthusiastic and friendly staff ever. And free traditional Czech dinner every night. FREE DINNER!! It’s also on the main road, and walking down the road in front of the hostel takes you straight to the old town square, where all the interesting things are.
To be continued…