Saturday, 10 November 2012

czech interlude

Jurek meets us off the bus in Prague and immediately takes us for coffee in one of the city's grand cafes.  He lives a fifteen-minute walk across the river from the city centre in a quieter neighbourhood overlooking the city.  The Czechs are known for their fondness of beer - and down Jurek's street are about half a dozen bars.  The street is a short one.  

Kafka in Prague
Our bohemian experience continues at the Traveller's Meeting that night.  When Jurek returned to his country after a year or so of travelling he wanted to meet like-minded Czechs and through local forums got a monthly meeting set up.  Totally informal, in a different venue each month, come along and chat, meet people.  Oh yes, drink some beer.  The pub Jurek has found is suitably grungy, with two enormous hounds lying in front of the bar - not my idea of promoting beer sales but it doesn't seem to put the punters off. We have a great evening chatting to a lot of well-spoken Czechs.  (I mean in English, of course.) Oh yes, and drinking beer.  We even get the offer of a guided tour from Luci.  Jurek intorduces us as two English friends who are cycling to Japan.  And which way did we come to Prague?  Well, er, actually, we got the bus from Vienna.......

The city is used to tourists.  When we wander around it wears its Tourist Overcoat quite well, looking a bit worn, but still clean and respectable. We're astounded by the numbers of visitors around but we only have to step off the main routes to suddenly be in a quiet street.  Jurek shows us some of the more unusual sights and tells us of his plans to set up an educational charity for children in developing countries.  He wants to ensure that every penny of donations goes directly to the beneficiaries.  He has quit his full-time job so he can dedicate some time to this project.  In the meantime he also hopes to work as a consultant advising and helping small firms negotiate better terms with their banks.  He's been working in the banking sector for several years and knows the game.  As an aside he also points out a more cost effective way for us to use our bank account while we're travelling.  Thank you kindly, Jurek.
Luci has a hard act to follow, but she's game and does a fair impersonation of a tour guide while we do the wide-eyed tourist bit.  The Infinite Book Tunnel in the National Library foyer is inviting - we want to jump in.

Inevitably we end our sight-seeing with another good beer...........

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