Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:40 PM
Subject: Alex Flachsbart’s Ramsey Great Ideas Tour
Afternoon, Ramsey Family!
The remainder of my time in Frankfurt (oh so many days ago) was, at least in my eyes, rather productively spent. I got down to Cologne and day-tripped the cathedral and the Roman History Museum (fascinating place, that) and had a chance to get down to Heidelberg to go castle-watching too. It was, of course, tremendous to see my cousin; after having been on the road for the past week and a half, the very notion of human company was far more exciting to me than any of the sights of Frankfurt (and, after I saw the sights of Frankfurt, human company was still a heck of a lot more interesting). But you´re all curious about the trip after Frankfurt- the epic adventure to Prague and Munich and Vienna!
I´ll begin at the only appropriate spot in the narrative: the train-trip to Prague. After having been over here for the better part of four weeks and having seen the interiors of more than my fair share of trains, I´ve gotta say that the train to Prague was by far the most ancient, the most Byzantine, the most positively Soviet thing I´ve yet encountered on the trip. Here, for the first time, the emergency exit signs appeared in Czech, German, Russian, Italian, and French– but NOT in English! Fabulous, is it not? Finally, I thought, an escape from the tourist throngs of Amsterdam and Heidelberg, an experience even more authentic than my quick trip to Tuscany! The station which greeted me at the other end of the line did nothing but propagate that notion. Finally, Prague, city of the East, a clean, pure, untainted European Paradise! Then I saw my first band of Japanese tourists. Then my first band of German tourists. Then my first band of American backpackers. Slowly, the realization dawned on me: Prague was just as over-run as the rest of Europe. They just had shoddier trains to take you there.
Nonetheless, Prague met my expectations. It was an absolutely beautiful city, and with Euro 2008 kicking off in Prague with the Czech national soccer team matched against the Swiss national soccer team, I got a great slice of the local scene by watching the whole game on a giant screen in St. Wenceslas Square surrounded by… Well let´s just say that the Czech fans around me could give even the most rabid Roll Tider a run for his money. And once I got out of the touristy-est districts, the city that unfolded before me was like the almost medieval paradise that everyone had told me it would be. This leg of the trip surely included the best beer (drinking an ORIGINAL Budweiser at a tiny cafe overlooking the city from a park just three blocks from my hostel had to be one of the best experiences I´ve had thus far). Other than a couple of temporary friends I made at the soccer viewing, I didn´t meet a whole bunch of interesting people, but hey, when travelling alone, you win some and you loose some but you´ve always got the next town to make up for the town before. Incidentally, I went on a quest to find the best goulash in Prague and I think I found the spot. If any of you want to know the secret, just email me and I´ll reveal it.