Wednesday, 18 September 2013

On The Way to Bohemian Rhaspody




Studying abroad is an experience that lets you explore other cultures very deeply. This includes travelling back to University after a Summer spent at home: never have I felt more like a member of a Gypsy caravan than when going to the city that serves as home to my stronghold of education. You can imagine I was quite an attraction to all the locals who I had to shamefully pass by on my way to Prague. Here is how it went.


  The trip commenced last Saturday when I took off from Luxembourg to find myself in Mannheim not more than 2 hours later. The plan was to visit my friend from Dublin who is taking her year abroad in the Land uber alles and then take a direct train to Prague from Germany. Upon my arrival, I was warned that my friend’s Russian neighbour considers himself Putin’s voter number one. Some of you are aware of the passion with which I dislike the Russian leader. Clearly, I couldn’t miss out on such an occasion to present my doubted vocal skills while singing a few songs referring to our loved and peaceful friends from the East. And Mannheim itself? If not the number of kebab shops it wouldn’t differ much from any other Polish city of similar size. This is either an insult to Mannheim or a compliment to Polish cities of circa 300.000 inhabitants.

  Two hours before catching the City Night Line train to Prague I begun to plan out my trip tactically. “The train leaves at 11:59pm…. So two beers should be enough to ensure that I fall asleep without a larger difficulty”- I thought and proceeded with my plan. I went in to my couchette cabin to see that there are four beds (needless to say they were too short to accommodate my almost two metres long body). A person who we should refer to as Helmut Gunter for the needs of this post already occupied one of them. Gunter was a middle-aged, middle-class average German man with a distinctive moustache and a red t-shirt hiding his large beer muscle. He also made a squeak of dissatisfaction similar to this made by a Trabant on a sharp turn whenever I tried to fit my bag under my bed. You can imagine what happened when 50 minutes later two Korean girls went into the cabin thinking it was their own, then changed their mind only to come back again a couple of minutes later. Gunter got off in Dresden.

  This way I found myself in the capital of the Czech Republic. My first observation? I’ve heard a couple of jokes about the Czechs being a rather weak nation (i.e. what do you call a 100.000 peasants waving white flags? The Czech Army). Well, such is the case for the Czech currency: it’s also weak. My wallet hasn’t seen as many bills ever since my 18th birthday. This is also good as for the first time in my life I will be able to spend a 100 on a night out without experiencing a moral hangover on the morning after. Yes!

Jan