Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My bikes are close 29/10/08 Day 104-106

Day 104-106 (slide show)

Well after the cold and wet day yesterday I think I caught a cold. Not feeling like doing much and the weather is terrible. I found out last night that the warehouse in Hamburg will ship the crate on Friday. This is good news, and I need it. Not much to tell today except I had to change the disk in my camera after yesterday’s photos. I have put 2080 pictures on it since I left. I didn’t realize I had so many.

On Day 105 I did get out even though the weather stunk. I’ve decided to go to my favorite bagel shop as often as I can. It gets me out and I like the place even for a cup of coffee. There isn’t really anything happening today though because I am waiting for some word from the warehouse. Today at the bagel shop I plotted a course to try to get to this warehouse and on the map it looks tough to walk there. When I was looking for a place to live I looked at the same maps and not knowing which area the warehouse would be in I figured I had a 25% chance of getting close. I was not to be I’m on the other side of the city, I couldn’t be further away. I’ve decided to go on a scouting mission to find the place even though my friend Moses in LA told me to be patient. I have to do something.

On another note I did make it to the transit pass office and after two hours of torture I got my pass. At least now I don’t have to worry about that.

On Day 106 it was time to see if I could find out what’s up with my bikes. I stopped at the bagel shop for a cup and bagel then I headed off. I was on the metro at 10:00. I had everything all planned out. This was a serious mission. The name of the place is CS Cargo and their location is in Zilčín. I live in the NE quad of the city and this place is as far as you can get in the SW quad without being out of the city. I really missed it on this guess. As I came out of the metro station it was very confusing and after walking around for about an hour I was ready to head back. I couldn’t find a way to walk in the direction where I knew it was at. It seemed my only option was to walk out in the traffic with the trucks and cars. I didn’t really want to try this because I knew it would most likely be for several kilometers. I stood at the curb of the road for a while watching and noticed this guy who looked drunk walking towards the metro yard area. I followed and sure enough there was a small walkway then I cut through a field and there it was. I almost pissed my pants. Just think my bikes will be in this warehouse on Monday. I can’t believe it.

I walked up to the security gate and convinced them to let me in. I needed to try to find someone that would speak English, if I couldn’t find anyone I would need to bring someone to translate for me. I meet a great guy named Pavel who worked in anther department but spoke very good English and was quite helpful. I’m not sure what he thought of my reason for shipping bike to Prague but he took my information and let me now a few things to expect. He told me that he would contact me when it arrives and to get my paperwork together. I am excited; I just might pull this off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

“I’m not a parade kind of guy” 28/10/08 Day 103

Day 103 (slide show)

I have to say right up front that I almost didn’t post this day because of these pictures. I should have done a better job. This was an important day for the Czech people. I have no excuse.

I woke to a cold rainy and windy day and I was in no mood to venture out but I promised Dani that I would meet her and her friends to watch a parade. I should know better because I never go to parades but I heard something about this the other day from someone else. It was suppose to be a big deal. I have this commitment that I make to myself that if I say I’m going to be at a place at a certain time then I make every effort to be there. I have no patience for people who fade. So, feeling like a sick Yak I headed out and proceeded to get lost. The rain was coming down and I’m thinking that this might be a good time to call in sick except I didn’t have a phone. I guess I won’t do that.

I made the meeting place with one minute to spare and found her there by herself because her friends faded. As soon as I saw her I said “Let’s go and get a cup of coffee.” That was not a good thing to say, she wanted to watch the parade. I looked at the troops standing at attention and thought I’ve been there, I will show some respect and stick around. I found out those troops had been there since 9:00 and now it was 11:30. They were cold and wet. The parade started on time and it was interesting for a while then it just kept going a going. They had every unit in the country there, even the Navy and this is a landlocked country. I’m joking here but there were boats from the Search and Rescue in the parade. But it was way to long. We enjoyed the Helicopters and the Tanks, the Missiles, and the troops. We saw the Fire Dept. and the Traffic Cops with their Secretaries and I know they were cold with those dresses on. There were the Snow Safety dudes with their Snow Cats. The missiles of all types made it look a little like a May Day event, and as it turned out this parade was on the road from the airport. This is the route the Soviets used to bring there tanks down in 1968 when they invaded. I’m thinking with the whole military here who is watching the store, so to speak.

This parade is to celebrate Independent Czechoslovak State Day which marks the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. So there are these signs everywhere saying 1918, 1938, 1968, and 2008. Damn, lots of invasions’, is there one today?

So to cut this short I enjoyed the troops and the show but I was glad to get to a warm café for a hot Irish coffee.

Monday, October 27, 2008

1417 Hussite uprising 27/10/08 Day 102

Day 102 (slide show)
Several days ago I saw a post from a lady in the Couchsurfing group. She was looking for someone to see the sites of Prague with. I responded not thinking anything would happen. I didn’t have a phone and neither did she so it was not likely to happen. Well it did though and turned out to be a fun day. Quite cold though but we made it. Her name is Dani from Vancouver and she is a stage manager in the theater. She was in Prague doing some work for a few days.
I decided to take her on a small tour of a rampaging mob that ransacked the city in 1417. It’s a great story about one of early Hussite mob uprisings. In this one they the Hussite really did a job on the Catholic’s. You can follow the route they took and see many spots where they went crazy. The same streets and many of the churches are still here at least in part.
I’ll try to tell a short version of it here. So there is this crazy Hussite priest who gets about 200 of his sheep all leathered up in the Wenceslas Square because the Church and the King decide to allow the rich to receive absolution the day after a sin as long as they pay for it. Now the poor can’t do that and they sin just as much as the rich so their pissed off. “You can’t pay you go to Hell” basically. So these two hundred leave the center of Prague on Jan 26th (I think) and start to the New Town area to reap a little revenge. They trash a couple of churches and other business of the Church of Rome. Then they come to the New Town Hall and proceeded to throw out the third story window all 18 of the city fathers who had locked themselves in there thinking they would be saved by the King. All but one is killed and he lives because he landed on a big pile of horse shit. Of course he is all broken up but the church claims it was will of god that he lived. O’ ya right. Now this goes on for three days until the King decides to send in the troops. By this time there are 10,000 of his sheep trashing and burning everything in sight. The king only sent 1000 knights and 200 didn’t make it to the location. The nights looked over the situation and turned around heading back to the castle barracks. So it is fun to walk the route they went on and try to figure out what happened. O’ one more thing I have to saw is after the third day all the beer was gone so the mob decided to move to Jewish Town and burn it, over 100 Jewish people died.
The New Town Hall was burned down sometime later and the New Town Council Building was built around 1451. Here is a link to a panoramic view from the tower as it is now.
Later we went to the “Lennon Wall” and stopped for a late lunch at the John and George restaurant. This place has some great food at good prices. This was the first meal I have had here. I’ve only had coffee and carrot cake before. It was a nice treat. We split up about 6PM and decided to meet tomorrow for a military Parade that was taking place out on the road to the airport.
I didn’t hear any news on my bikes today. What’s up with that?
Somethings Wrong (Junior Watson) Bluesman

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just looking for something to do 26/10/08 Day 101

Day 101 (slide show)

I have just a short note today. I went to a climbing park today with some new friends. It was a lot of fun but a little cold. This climbing facility is defiantly not something you would see in the states. Well, maybe at a private Outward Bound School or military camp. The liability would be too great. I didn’t have to sign anything to participate. The only test was walking on a wooden rail a foot off the ground to see if any of us had been drinking. I was quite surprised. Afterward about 3 hours a few others joined us for a pizza and beer night. Not much else to report. I hope tomorrow to hear something on my gear. I’ve meet some nice folks here in Prague.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

100 Days Out, WOW 25/10/08 Day 100

Day 100 (slide show) (video)

Well I hit a milestone today. As you can see I am at 100 days out. It doesn’t sound like much but it feels like an eternity. If you remember when I arrived here Miro sketched me and I was so thin well I just got a chance to weigh myself this morning and I’m a thin 163 lbs. So I figured that I might have gained about 8 lbs. since then. I haven’t weighed 155 for a long time. I mean were talking way back. I’m feeling a little stronger now, doing a workout routine everyday and if I could get my bikes before the snow flies I will be able to get a lot stronger. Next week I hope.

I’m getting very bored now and I have to keep myself occupied. I’m participating in more of the couchsurfing events and there is an interesting one tonight. One of the CS’ers Cameron has organized a gathering to see the old sewers of Prague. These are the sewers from the early 1900’s and are not used anymore. The city puts on an annual event for one night a week for a month to raise a little money for the employee’s. They give you a tour through the old tunnels and pump rooms. There were two very good musicians playing the violin and cello in one of the larger chamber areas and the sound was great. I would love to have brought my harp and found a small corner somewhere to play. After the local fireman started up some old steam engines and were spraying water into a field out in the back. The old engines were if great shape and one had a date of 1903 on it. The horses to pull them weren’t there though which was too bad. It was cold so I understand. I had lots of fun and meet some fine folks and made some new friends. Great time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sorry to be so boring 23/10/08 Day 98, 99

Day 98, 99 (slide show)

///////////(link to a panoramic view from the tower)/////////

Not much to report today. I’m making progress on this blog but it sure is a lot of work. I think I’ve said that before. I got the word that my transit pass is in and I can go back to the office and pick it up. I will be able to save a lot of money on this. These daily passes are expensive. Sometimes I have had to ride without one and have come close to being caught. If I get in the situation where I can’t buy one at a tobacco shop I just get on anyway. I don’t like to do this and I think my luck is running out. I can feel it.

There is a nice book I found about the history of this area and Prague in general that I’ve been reading. It’s called Prague in Black and Gold: Scenes from the Life of a European City by Peter Demetz. I like it because the author doesn’t pull any punches and tells it the way it came down. If you’re thinking about coming to this area you might take a look at this. The book highlights the history from the 800’s to the 1990’s. As I walk the city I look for the spots where major turning points accrued. These are events that you most likely find on a tour. Today I’m going to read because it is cold and gloomy.

On Day 99 I have a big schedule because I stayed in yesterday. I had to make two stops at different cybercafés and along with picking up my transit pass. It’s a cold day but clear so I tried to take a few pictures. I didn’t have much luck with this though. I got some bad news right at the start when I contacted the shipper in Hamburg. Today is Friday and I was hoping my gear would leave today but my contact tells me that they couldn’t build a full truck so it will be next Friday. Now it will be another week. I sure need the computer.

That was bad enough but when I went for the transit pass I was passed around from window to window like a joint of bad bud nobody wants to smoke. All I can say is it was torture. This took almost all morning. So this was not a very eventful day and I hope to forget about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The mystery of “Julius Zeyer” 22/10/08 Day 95-97

Day 95-97 (slide show)

As I seem to always do, I headed for the cybercafé to check on any information about my gear. Today was a disappointment and I was sure I would hear something. So I headed out to another new section of the city. I had a great time even though I was by myself. That’s one thing about seeing all these great things from around the world, no one to discuss them with. That’s not so bad though, at least I can choose where I want to go.

I started out at this new beagle store where a lot of foreigners go. I’ve been looking for it for a few days. Then I saw this huge clock thing and figured I had to see what it was. It made for a great day long adventure of the hill above the city.

The clock thing as I called it turned out to be the infamous Metronome. I had heard something about it but wasn’t sure where it was. Now I know and what a place, with a beautiful view of the city below. The Stalin statue was here in the late fifty's but the Czech's blew it up. This area will make a great place to ride my bike as I try to get back in shape. This park area is really nice with an unusual monument that I stumbled on quite by accident. This monument is to an author and poet and is quite stunning. His name is Julius Zeyer. There isn’t a lot I can tell you about this guy. I’m going to have to find some of his work and see what he is about. He sure got a great monument though in the perfect spot.

I found myself going through the King’s Garden and then on to the Castle. This is the first time I have been to the Castle because I was hoping to go with someone who could tell me about it. I didn’t realize I would be going in from the back way.

It’s hard to get a good photo from this hill though because the sun shines right at you. A spring morning would be perfect.

On Day 96 it was another cybercafe day. I’m sure spending a lot of money in these places. If I could have all the money I spent from China to here I could have bought a computer. Damn, I should have listen to my friend Bayani from REI. He told me to buy a small one.

I was able to speak to the shipper in Hamburg today and it’s going to be a couple more weeks because they need to build a load to Prague.

Somethings Wrong (Junior Watson)

I decided to reach out to the Couchsurfing community tonight for the first time since I’ve been here. I just didn’t feel ready before but there is a gathering tonight at a place that looks more my style so I gave it a try. It was quite nice and the guy who was running the night’s “meet up” recognized me right off. He’s name is Elgelen. He is from Sweden and a real nice guy. I had sent him a note or two even before I left for China. I had asked him for information on a storage place for my bikes which I didn’t need in the end. At that time he went by Clabby’ or (Clabba) I guess. But I’m glad he changed it. I guess it was to tough for us English speaking tourists. I had a great time and I think I will try to go to more events.

On Day 97 I was happy to not have to head to the cybercafé again. Charlie let me use his computer again. I have to watch it though he seems to think because of his generosity that I should walk on egg shells around here. He’s a big over weight, laud guy who is very opinionated. I’m wondering weather it is worth using the computer or not. Sooner or later I will have to put him down a bit.

I went to see my friend Miro again tonight. I didn’t stay to long, just a few beers. He had asked me to go with him to a festival in the country but I new when he sent me the email to come a see him it wasn’t going to work out. He felt real bad about it. That’s alright I have a lot on my mind with my bike and gear so close and I don’t have a good feeling about it anyway. So I’m not going.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Burning of the Industrial Palace 19/10/08 Day 93, 94

Day 93, 94 (slide show)

I feel like a tourist today so I set a course for a new section of the city. This is a place on the north side where there was a large fire a couple of nights ago. The funny thing is it was raining very hard that night and the fire was large and hot. The area is called Stromovka and the building is the Industrial Palace. Some time back in the 1940’s Stalin was here for a communist version of the Worlds Fair. There’s not much to the place now, a few vender's and small exhibits but on occasion they hold events here. The early story is that it was arson by the Russian Mob. The owner of the building is a local politician, like a Senator or something. Two weeks ago this politicians’ son who was a talk show host was murdered close by the area in a bar. Now the guy’s building catches fire. I’m told things like this happen often and it’s not a big deal. The local TV news thought it was though. I don’t speck Czech so it’s hard to get the full story but it’s interesting. I wanted to get some pictures of the place.

There is a saying around here that when you are in the city center you need not worry about the Russian and Ukrainian mob’s shooting at each other. It is said that unless you name is on the bullet you will be alright. Those folks never miss there targets.

Afterward I worked my way down to the “Lennon Wall” to see what has changed. It feels good there and you never know who you are going to meet. I discovered a new little park not to far away with this statue of Josef Dobrovsky. He has an interesting story. I’m sure tired of walking; it would be nice to get my bikes. Maybe I will get lucky next week. I hope so it is stressing me out.

On Day 94 I made a nice breakfast for my room mate and myself. Charlie felt sorry for me I guess and let me use his computer. I was ready to head out to the cybercafé again. It was nice to stay in. I’m starting to fell stuck here. I better shake it off I’ve got a long way to go. After calculating it out I have been here 29 days. My plan was to arrive about two weeks before the bike get here. I wish I would have spent more time in Greece and then worked my way up through Croatia like I planed. I kick myself every time I think about it. Not much to report today. The weather is gloomy and it’s a good day to stay in.

Friday, October 17, 2008

“We know nothing” The US Embassy 17/10/08 Day 91, 92

Day 91, 92 (slide show)

I made it back to the US Embassy today. If you remember they brushed me off a couple of days ago. I needed to get some questions answered about my status here. The folks that work there are Czech and really don’t care if they help you or not. I got more information from a lady waiting to speak to someone about another matter. It was a complete waste of time. I will complete this day off the blog when I return to the states. I did get a few more pictures of some of the city and today I received some good news. I think I will have my bikes in about two weeks. I like getting out early; it’s a good time to see the city.

On Day 92 I settled a few nagging problems that have been bothering me. I got in touch with the Citibank people for free. The new cybercafé I’m using has Skype. I noticed it the other day and it sure helps. I’ve spent over $100.00 trying to clear up my stolen CC situation.

For the most part I spent the day in the cybercafé working on this blog. It’s quite an endeavor. Just today alone I spent 189.00CZK for about 4 hours of work. That is about $12.00. It gets expensive. Another Item that has been bothering me is the procedure for getting my bikes. I’m hearing all kinds of horror stories about the customs office here. I sent an email to the office in Hamburg, Germany where my gear is at now. I need some instructions but I will have to wait a little longer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

“The Lennon Wall” in Prague 13/10/08 Day 88-90

Day 88-90 (slide show)

Well I new I would have trouble this morning. I stayed to long at Miro’s place. That Bohemian Beer kicks my ass. Last night Miro drew 4 more sketches of me while waiting tables and the local Czech band was playing great folk songs. Quite a fun night but I’m paying for it today. Not much to tell today as I wandered around the city lost most of the time. I didn’t see anything exciting so I won’t bore you. I’m getting better at reading the street signs so tomorrow will be better.

On Day 89 I set out with an agenda. This was to be a good day I can feel it. I started out to find an outdoor shop and found two. Both were nice small shops with a few items. Prices are as expected, about 60% higher then REI. The prices on gear are a sensitive issue around here. The folks I’ve meet who have an idea of what good gear is are very upset with the prices.

I’m working the agenda fast today because I found the Transit office where I can buy an extended pass. It’s just like a “Commie DMV” with torture implements and mean old ladies. Not a friendly person in site. But I did my paperwork then turned it in. “Come back in two weeks for your card” she said. “WTF” I said. Somethings Wrong (Junior Watson) I just spent 2 hours to find out that little piece of information. But that’s OK I’m not going to let it get me down. I’m working the agenda.

Next I set out for the US Embassy. I’m not looking forward to this but I have to ask a few questions. These people are not friendly I hear. You never know I might end up in Guantanamo or something. I found the place but they were closed for siesta or something so I headed over to a monument I read about from the map that I had. It’s “The Lennon Wall” I had know idea or preconception of the place but after some errors in direction I found it. I was amazed. What a place! It’s right across from the French Embassy and I found out they liked it and want to stay so I’m sorry about all those funky French jokes I told. I like these guys.

I’ve had a hard time meeting new folks here but as I arrived I saw only a couple at the wall. They asked me to talk their picture and we started to talk. It was great; they are newlyweds going around the world from the east. They had already been through Europe and were going to Austria and Italy next. We had good time drinking wine and sharing some bud in front of the wall. My new friends were Ryan Tracy and Jo Angela Johnston from Wisconsin I believe. Ryan and Jo if I have it wrong send me a comment. They left me after a beautiful afternoon around 4:30.

This was just in time to stop at the embassy where they told me to come back tomorrow. Perfect, because I didn’t want to deal with those folks anyway. Just think if the embassy people would have let me in at noon I would have missed meeting Ryan and Jo. Apollo was looking out for me today.

On Day 90 I had a sad monument as I woke. I was making notes in my log and realized that today would have been the day I would have been back in Huntington Beach had I stuck with my original plan. At first when this was developing I wasn’t going to do any biking in Europe. Then I decided that I wouldn’t get another chance to do this so I made a new agenda. I’m glad I did but it still is a downer to think I have to spend the winter here. The worst thing is I don’t even have my bikes yet. If they don’t make it I guess I will head back anyway. What a crap shoot. I got an email yesterday that I to call the company in Hamburg on the 25th to get an update. I hope things go well. I sure need my computer and the gear. It’s getting cold and I’m tired of wearing the same things all the time. The weather is gloomy today so I’m staying in but I sure had a good day yesterday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I’m a tourist again 10/10/08 Days 85-87

Day 85-87 (slide show)

This has been an uneventful day today. My roommate kindly let me use his laptop for a few hours which was nice. I didn’t have to go to the cybercafé. I’m feeling a little stronger now so I started my exercise routine again. I haven’t done it since Greece and it feel good. Here’s a little about my roommate. He is an English teacher here in Prague, nice guy. He loves to talk politics and is quite opinionated. I think he is 32 and he has been here since 2007. He’s from Chicago and hates Bush/Chaney which is nice but he doesn’t vote. I don’t get that.

I’ve been stalled on my blog for a while because I can’t decide what to do about Everest. I was all set to write a watered down version for the event until the Brit’s ambushed me but now I just can’t do it. I have always stuck to what I wrote in my log on the day it happened. I’m really having a hard time with this. Tomorrow I will send my log version to Paul and see what he says about it. They slammed him pretty bad too.

On Day 86 I decided to be a tourist again. The weather is great and makes a good day for pictures. Today I went exploring a small part of the river area around Prague. It feels good to be out and not worried about where I will be sleeping next. The bridge in the picture is just a small one that connects a large island in the river. It’s next to the National Museum and south of the Charles Bridge. Left of the castle is a big park that I will explore on another day. It’s called Petřínske Sady or Malá Strana I’m not sure which. It’s a big place though. I’m on the prowl for a place to buy a public transportation pass. I can save some money if I get a monthly pass instead of daily. Tomorrow is the last day of a World Press Photo Exhibition and I did find the place. It was quite fascinating and enjoyable. It was actually at the Charles University. There is a very nice museum in the basement of the place too. It turns out that Albert Einstein taught here in 1915 just before receiving the Nobel Prize. There are many great artifacts in the place. The university started in 1348 by Charles IV.

A great day today and I needed it. I miss my bikes and could have been riding all day today. Soon I hope.

On Day 87 My roommate let me use his computer again and I got a lot done on this blog. I sure do miss my computer. I am to meet up with Miro to talk about going out to his house in the country next week. He tells me there is a music festival out there and it sounds like fun. I’m not sure where we would go but it is going to be another leap of faith. I like going on adventures like that. You never know what will happen. No Pictures today as I spent most of the day on the computer.

One thing that happened which was interesting though. I don’t remember a place where the folks were so quite and reserved. They don’t acknowledge me when I’m walking by in fact they seem to look angry if their eyes catch mine as I tip my hat. It’s strange and has been on my mind a lot when I go out. Today though I think I figured it out. Most everyone has their head down all the time when walking and today I walked out of my building feeling good and listening to a good blues song on the IPod. I’m looking at the nice blue sky and the pretty lady going by when WHAM. I stepped in a pile of dog shit. Something’s Wrong (Junior Watson, Bluesman) Man was I was pissed off. What a way to ruin a good day. These fucking pet owners that can’t clean up after their dogs make me mad. Then it hit me. The good folks here in Prague are not being rude to me and my American smile there are keeping their heads down so they don’t step in the DOG SHIT! I get it, now I keep my head down too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The miss-adventure at the Linen store 8/10/08 Day 82-84

Day 82-84 (slide show)

So this morning I woke up in my own place and it felt good. There are a few shots of the place for you here. I don’t have any linen yet but I will start to work on that today. It feels good not to have to worry about where I’m going to move next. I was even able to make my own breakfast. I made what's called a Miner’s Dawn and if you want to know what this is send me a note and I will tell you. It’s a beautiful thing. Today is a day to get organized. I’ve got a few challenges coming my way and I need to get ready for them. I feel old man winter coming around the corner and I must prepare for a long slow period. I think it will be tough. Today turned out to be a cool but nice afternoon for running errands. I have to plot new routes for the trams and bus from my new place. This is a challenge. I went to a mall to see what I could find out on the linen issue. There should be a sign on the door that men should not be allowed into these stores. Try picking out sheets with a Czech to English translation book. The two ladies at the store were patient with me but I should have thought about this a little more. After all the hassle I bought the wrong size. Now I have to go back.

On Day 83, I realized that I have been here in Prague two weeks. That seems like a long time in one place. But according to the early schedule that I made over a year ago I calculated I would need 2 to 3 weeks to get settled so I’m on schedule. Now if my bikes would just get here I can start to ride again. It’s a little cool but there are a few days that would be great to explore the area on a bike. Today I thought I would explore Prague and get some pictures for this blog. I set out to the Linen store first to exchange the sheets and comforter. I was surprised as I walked into the store, I immediately through up a red flag. "Shields up", new clerks. I showed them the pictures of the bed and my new measurements and begged for mercy. The two of them looked at me with evil eyes and said “No exchanges.” The sheets were way too small and the comforter wasn’t big enough either. I had used the measurements that were on the mattress but they didn’t match. IKEA measures differently I guess. I left with my chin down around my ankles and headed back to the flat. Now what to do with this crap that doesn’t work. I didn’t sleep on the stuff either if that’s what you are thinking but I opened the packages carefully to put them on. That’s the only way to see if they fit. Something’s Wrong (Junior Watson, Bluesman)

On Day 84, after getting out of my sleeping bag I figured there has to be a solution to this. I’m going to head to IKEA today which is where I should have gone in the first place. It’s a process to do anything around here. I fill I should pack my pack with 3 days of necessary gear just in case I can’t get back from one of these expeditions. Even the supermarket can be a major challenge. IKEA turned out to be an all day event but with some success. I was able to get a sheet and a few other items for my room. I think this metro can be a mistake though and I’m going to try when possible to stick to the trams. It’s safer and there aren’t as many police around. I have come close to being stopped several times. I have always had a ticket but there have been a few occasions where I couldn’t buy one. It’s not worth the risk.

Now what am I to do with these sheets and the comforter? It turns out that most everything you buy around here as an expat will have a no return policy. They love to stick it to the expat’s. This sucks, I paid a lot of money for them. It seems that errands that should only take a few hours end up taking days. I need to prepare myself for this or it will drive me nuts

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Whining and complaining, what me? 5/10/08 Day 80-81

Day 80, 81 (slide show)

When you ride the train/tram around here you should always hold on to something. This morning I happen to board at the front of the car and this pedestrian dude just waked right out in front of the tram. The driver had to slam on the breaks to miss him; it threw three people down on the floor. One was a lady with a couple of bags but no one was hurt. I see people get on these things all the time and never hold on to anything, but most of the time its young people trying to act cool. You won’t see me doing that after this experience.

I was checking my email today and my friend Thomas Damon from the China section of my trip sent me a note to tell me he had checked out my blog. I like it when folks let me know they are looking at this because it is a lot of work. He said he could tell I was having a good time because I wasn’t complaining a lot. I noticed this a few weeks ago when the Brit’s slammed me. I guess that’s what it seems like but I didn’t see it that way at the time and I’m writing these blog posts straight from my daily log book. It seems I had the strange notion that I was warning future travelers of things that I felt weren’t the way I thought they should be. I felt if I was paying for a service I should get what I paid for. If I don’t get the value for my money I fell I should warn others of the experience. But after reviewing some of my earlier post I see I over did it a few times. Sorry for that. But that’s me and you know what, it’s my story. I’ve always been a whiner and complainer, and now that I’ve got that off my chest I’m going to do it again. So you folks that are reading this for the first time you might want to X out now. Otherwise read on and get use to it.

I went by Miro’s place for a beer to see what was going on. He just got a new guitar from a friend for 3000Kz. It is very nice and was fun to hear him playing it. He was joking around a little later making like he was a Mexican. He plays well too. I asked him how many guitars he has “A few” he said.

By the way I got ready to move into my new flat today. Yea.

On day 81 I got up early so I could get to the bank when it opened. I needed to get a check to pay my first months rent and deposit. This was a Citibank branch here in Prague. I don’t know why they wouldn’t help me, it wasn’t a language thing they just said that their bank was not a Citibank but a Czech Citibank. I laughed when they said that, I couldn’t help telling them that I had heard the same statement from the Citibank in Athens. So here is a warning to all who give a shit. Citibank sells the fact that they are an international bank but it’s only in name. There are NOT any services I can find around the world where they work together. These folks are good at passing the problem to someone else. So back to the problem, no check but I was able to get enough cash from the ATM to cover what I needed. There was a 3point charge for withdrawing my own money by the way.

After getting back to my hotel where by the way they wanted me out by 10AM, I decided I needed to make two trips because of the 4 pieces of baggage I had. I was carrying a back pack, a front pack, a carry bag and the “Wheely Beast.” Way too much for one trip. You don’t want to carry that much on the trams because they can be crowded. By 5PM I had everything in my new place. It was nice to unpack in a place where I knew I would be for longer then a few days. It’s a good place and I think it will work out fine. My roommate seems to be a nice guy, he’s from Chicago. I’ve been living out of a pack for 80 days. It’s hard to believe. I don’t have any linen for the bed but my sleeping bag is just fine. I know I will sleep well tonight.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fortune is starting to flow my way 3/10/08 Day 78-79

Day 78-79 (slide show)

Another day, I hope things go better but I don’t count on it. On a good note I was able to get an appointment to see an apartment. I have to be there by 7PM but I’m not so sure I can find the place. It’s hard to find any pay phones that work around here so I better not get lost. I won’t have any way to call the place. The guy showing me the place seems to be good about sending me email though. His directions are a little confusing but I will find it. I have to because I don’t have a place to sleep tomorrow. I won’t be able to extend any more at the pension I’m at so I’m walking on the razor’s edge. It’s another cold day here but I feel pretty good, I’m going to make this work. The pictures that he sent in the email look alright and the location is fine I will just hope for the best. Around 2PM I headed out to scorer the area for a room. It’s not good to walk around going from lobby to lobby but I’m desperate. I have one thing going for me and that is I don’t need the room tonight. That is when they gouge you on the price.

Things are looking up, after a couple of hours I found a place that’s pretty nice and not much more money. It’s a hotel but not real fancy and not too far from where I’m at. I can get all my gear there without too much problem. Already something good is happening.

Back at the cybercafé their printer didn’t work so I couldn’t print a map. I headed out anyway and figured I would find the place. Every time I do this I get lost and this time was no exception. But I left with plenty of time and of course I needed all of it. After arriving with only 5 min to spare I got a chance to see the place. It turned out pretty good, I can make it work. It’s a new place with a big room and a decent location. It’s a little far from the city (20 min by tram) but that’s fine. I need a place now so I’m not too particular. The rent is a little more then the old places in closer to the city but this one should have better plumbing and less problems. Peter the owner lives in London and rents the place out. I have a room mate with a shared bathroom. He seems to be a nice guy but I only just meet him.

I took the place with a 6 month lease which should be fine according to my plan. I give Peter 3000 CZK deposit right then and I think he was a little surprised but I wasn’t going to loose the place by waiting. Can’t move in until Monday but that works well for the new hotel I just got. It turned out to be a good day after all.

On the 4th I packed all my gear up and headed out for the new room. It felt good to leave that pension. I was there too long. It’s a nice day today; the sun is out and feels good. I wish I were camping somewhere but not here without my tent and other gear that is coming with the bikes. An update on the crate with bikes and camping gear is that sometime around the 26th or so. Everything is delayed by a few weeks. At least I have a place now. Things are defiantly looking up.

I haven’t felt like taking any pictures lately so today I put on my IPod and went out into the city. I tried to find a good ATM and do a few other errands while I saw the sights. I wasn’t doing a very good job being a tourist though and I headed back to the hotel. A good dinner and some sleep and tomorrow I will be a tourist.