Saturday, April 22, 2006

Night Train Shuffle


I took a night train to Prague last night. A rather amusing experience, being packed in a little cabin with a Czech, a German and myself. The Czech was very friendly, very chatty. He even bought beer for his new friends. He was also the most racist bastard I've ever met.

Good God, he just went on and on about Muslims. I've never really encountered someone that racist, where there is obviously no way of convincing them otherwise. At least, for once in my travels, I was actually in agreement with a German on politics, foreign policy and acceptance of different cultures.[1]

He was, however, very informative on riding the night trains in Poland. Crime has dramatically risen on the trains. They only allow one door to be opened when the train is stopped, they tell you to lock your door at night. I never even knew that the doors locked. He blamed it all on the Gypsies (which there really aren't any in Poland, they are all in the Czech Republic - all the Polish Gypsies were exterminated in WWII).[2]

Prague is beautiful. The city itself escaped most war time damage and, as a result, the old buildings are all still intact.

I had a lot of time to kill before I could actually check in to my hostel. I spent it wondering around before the tourist got up, while the city was still quiet after a Friday night.

The buildings are incredible. There has been a remarkable amount of restoration work in the Old town. All the buildings have been painted to their original colors, allowing the tourist to imagine the city as it was all the better. The old town is full of narrow, winding streets. The shops themselves have become quite touristy, though.

I didn't spend too much time walking around before needing to head back to the hostel to sleep. I don't know what it is about taking night trains, but I always feel a bit of something akin to jet-lag[3]. Still after plenty of sleep, I was ready to head out to a bite to eat and watch the night life move from place to place.

Prague is supposed to be this city that keeps people: people come, people just don't leave. I'll be here a bit longer than most places on this trip, so we'll see what sort of impression it has on me...

[1] In the past, and I'm sure this is a bit of a generalization, but more often then not I've encountered German tourists who have felt like they had the right and duty to just try and show me how wrong America is.

It's as if I have never even seen a foreign country or thought about foreign policy. They feel like they should correct all the wrongs of the world by arguing with me.

Man, it's frustrating.

[2] Again, he was racist.

[3] Can I coin the term "train-lag"?

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