We settled into our apartment in Prague, which was happily much more spacious and less odorous than our houseboat. We reveled in the exchange rate between the dollar and the crown, but flailed in the face of unwritten social rules regarding tipping. We went to the grocery store and bought donuts. The core of the ringed pastry ambushed Micah and Maria with Bavarian cream filling. It was the best of both worlds, donuts have reached their telos in Czech pastry, Maria proceeded to eat a donut every day for a week in search of a worthy equal.
The next evening we met up with Jan, a wonderful family friend who lives in Prague. He took us to a bar where they delivered the drinks to the table via small electric trains. We taught Jan our trip game, "What Are The Odds," in which one person dares another to do something and the challenged states the odds of their performing said challenge (1 in 10, for example). On the count of three, challenger and challenged say a number within the bounds, and if they both say the same number, the challenged endeavors to perform the dare. Giana challenged Maria to solicit free drinks from a nearby table of menfolk and for the first time all trip the challenger and challenged matched. Maria, of course, rose to the occasion and succeeded. We sampled unfiltered Czech beer while discussing Jan's experience at art school. At the end of our first bar of the evening, Jan offered a toast to "personal development."
After a speedy tour at Maria's blazing pace, we reached Charles Bridge. As it was past midnight, the bridge was nearly deserted. We took in the sights and chatted for a while. Eventually, we decided to visit another bar, this one underground and quite smoky. We all had a lot of fun dancing under the neon lasers. Micah and Giana paid for their own drinks. Just before dawn reached her rosy fingers into the sky, we arrived home.
The next night Maria went out for part two with Jan. Giana and Micah, unable to keep up with the youthful vigor of Maria, showed their advancing age by staying home for a quiet night of TV and sherry. In fulfillment of a trip-long dream, Maria danced on tables with exuberant friends at Jan's apartment.
The next day Maria went to the library and Giana and Micah went to tour the city with Vitek and Mirek, other fabulous Czech friends. Maria was bummed to miss out on the awesome tour. Micah and Giana saw the theater where Don Giovanni and the Magic Flute debuted, Old Town Square with the fancy clock thing, the tower, and the church, and Prague castle, the largest castle in the world. We ate some authentic Czech food (wild boar and beef with cream sauce), and visited an alternative bar. At the end of the evening Maria joined us and we headed home.
We visited Vitek and Jan at Jan's apartment for lunch the next day. We had the naps there, and then went out with Vitek to run some errands and see the city in the daylight. Vitek and Jan's mom joined us at the end of the tour, and we all travelled together to Jan's exhibition.
Held in a cool old car factory, the exhibition featured interactive audiovisual multimedia events. Jan's video placed the viewer behind the mask of a pawn in a totalitarian society. Inspired by Orwell's 1984, it made reference to the current political landscape in Czech. It was by far the most well developed and thought provoking of all the pieces.
We had Chinese for dinner with Vitek, his mother, and Mirek, who had joined us at the exhibition. Before dinner, Maria and Mirek had discussed stopping by Old Town Square before boarding our night train to Krakow. Time was tight, and Micah and Giana had planned to take care of some logistical business before boarding the train. Swept up in the romance of Prague at night and Mirek's assurances that we had time, Maria accepted the invitation to go to Old Town square. She wanted to drink in the scene. We insisted she chug. Mirek expertly navigated us through the town, delivering us to the station with minutes to spare. However, the logistical business had not been taken care of, much to our conductor's obvious disapproval. He waited with us in our cabin until ten minutes after the train was supposed to depart for us to finish filling out our tickets. He departed with a head shake and a "Tsk, tsk, tsk." Maria and Giana both feared repercussions. Micah insisted that was preposterous, but boy was he wrong.
"Part of the ship, part of the crew"
- Giana and Micah