As the Purrito often reminds me, our long-weekend vacations are supposed to be restful. The transit phase never is, or so it seems to me, and the movement phases of our weekend in Prague came dangerously close to damaging my calm at several points.
On the way there, we had:
- The closure of the RER C, which, while a known wrinkle, led to our utilization of the substitute bus, which was to take us to Saint-Michel and on to the RER B ;
- Said bus, however was slow. Unreasonably slow and in traffic that was abnormally, unexpectedly heavy for a random Thursday afternoon (though Friday and Saturday were apparently the exit days for the French populace’s August holidays, so I suppose we caught the leading edge;
- We thus exited the bus several stops ahead of our intended destination and proceeded to hike to Saint-Michel. Once there, we couldn’t find a working entrance to the RER B, despite the fact that the RATP app said that the station was still open;
- Thwarted, we hopped in a taxi and told the driver to take us to CDG. Fifteen minutes and but a few blocks later, we understood why his eyes had gone wide as he asked us incredulously, “Charles de Gualle?” Going nowhere, we requested that he divert to Gare du Nord, as we would pick up the RER B there, and continue on to CDG;
- Arriving at Gare du Nord, we waited on what looked like a non-stop train that did not show. We thus took the slow train that showed up in its stead;
- At CDG, perhaps predictably, our plane was delayed;
- On the plane, we were stuck (seat selection in the airport, and seeing as we were late, we had literally no choice in the matter) next to a guy who seemed to be having issues with this whole “flying” thing. Our hypotheses varied from him simply being grumpy to perhaps needing a cigarette to perhaps being genuinely ill (particularly given his expressed agitation level), but one he abruptly got up, grabbed his phone, marched over to another aisle seat two rows back, and plunked down next to the sleeping couple I quit giving much of a damn since he wasn’t our problem any longer.
- Sitting at the gate, we began to grow concerned at the lack of a plane. When one showed up at the time we were supposed to board, we were relieved, though less so as the boarding time ratcheted past the time at which we were supposed to be taking off;
- Having made it into the plane, our flight was uneventful, save for the douchehog dudebro next to the Purrito with his stunningly loud music (which I suspect was why he, for lack of a better term, hooted at the flight attendant for his snack (he’d been passed up by said flight attendant as he was pointedly staring out a window, and when the Purrito tried and failed to get his attention to give him his half-frozen brownie, the attendant told her that the dudebro could push the button if he really wanted one))
- Oh, and the turbulence as we came into CDG. Watching the Purrito turn green was alarming;
- And then the RER B back. Smiling impishly at each other as we went through the access point, past a family whose patriarch was attempting to pry the doors open (best guess: they bought the intra-Paris tickets, as opposed to the CDG-to-airport tickets), we boarded the train for what was supposed to be a 25 minute ride to Gare du Nord and then another 20 or so minutes back to our apartment;
- Two hours, a stop at Stade de France, several stops on a random section of the tracks, a stop in the tunnel leading up to Gare du Nord, and untold kilometres of moving at less than walking speed later, we arrived back home.
What then, of Prague?
That’s an oddly difficult question to answer; certain parts of it were fantastic (like the hotel room, which the Purrito snagged for a ridiculous rate via an Expedia flash sale, and which was bigger than our flat here in Paris, or the Mucha museum, or the Slav Epic (which required 40 minutes of hiking, a river crossing, and a wander through the very-dead-on-the-weekend business district), or the inside of the Old-New Synagogue (they gave me (read: made all males wear) a
chapeau yarmulke), or beer and pizza in a place overlooking Wenceslas square (sadly not as good as the place in Budapest)) while other parts were less so (like the astronomical clock, which is markedly more ornate but still less inspiring than the one in Rouen, or the unpleasant (possibly counterfeit (read: pig asshole)) calamari and sauceless vegetable lasagne that I had for lunch on the first day or the seemingly endless army of tourists (broken into platoons by tour groups, and then into squads by families) or the lousy communism museum (per their poster: located above McDonald’s)).
Perhaps it was the city itself; I don’t harbor any ill will towards Prague; it’s a rather nice place. That said, it’s machine tourism in peak form: street performers, “authentic Czech food” (cosmopolitan Czechs don’t eat the traditional cuisine), and souvenir shops around every corner. I realize that it’s a strange complaint coming from someone who lives in Paris (per Euromonitor, Paris is second while Prague is fifth on the list of most-visited European cities), but there’s something intangible that just seems to be off.
The beer, however, is genuinely pretty good.