Hixie's Natural Log

2005-03-17 23:18 UTC The Other Guys

Last week, Nadia, Alex, and Aly planned to go to Prague to visit the city with a friend of Aly's who is in Prague. Since I've wanted to visit the city for some time, I took the opportunity to go there myself to meet up with them.

Nadia lost her passport, so never made it. The friend with whom we were staying had asked one of his friends, Mike, whether he could house a couple of us, and then went off with Aly to go skiing, so it ended up being Alex, Mike and myself, who had never met before, visiting the city together.

We drank "to random friends", which seemed appropriate.

Prague itself is beautiful. Most of the buildings in the city are very old, many of the roads are paved with cobblestones (and kept that way, unlike in Oslo where cobblestones are repaired by pouring tarmac into the holes). The public transport system is probably the best I've ever seen, in every respect: frequent, punctual, very modern vehicles, cheap, 24 hour service, good coverage, well maintained tracks.

Many people there speak English, more so than in Germany, although less so than in Oslo. It snowed most of the time we were there.

On Saturday I visited The Castle, met up with Mike and Alex, and then visited The Clock, The Bridge, and The Wall. On Saturday evening we went to a tiny Jazz club and listened to a local band called "Vertigo Quintet", who were very good. On Sunday we did some more sightseeing. One building we passed, the Dancing House or something, looked very funky.

It's like a big broken plastic building.

I have a theory as to why it looks the way it is. I picture the following scene, a few months before construction began: the architect looks at his carefully constructed paper and plastic model sitting on the desk where he is about to present it to his customers and their investors. He carefully lays a white sheet over the model, after making one final check.

He then goes down to meet them at his office's reception, so that he can escort them to his office. In the meantime, the catering staff enter the office and bring the drinks for the meeting. Before leaving, the caterer sits back on the desk in the middle of the room, admiring the view out of the window. A crunching sound emanates from under the sheet, and the caterer jumps up in panic, smoothes down the sheet, and runs out of the office.

In walks the architect and his customers and their investors. He begins talking about how the design is a brilliant symbol of power and modern design, a carefully calculated speech that forstalls any objections that the customers might make, since he doesn't want to spend another six months designing a new building. As he finishes his explanations for the design, he yanks the sheet covering the model, showing the model in all its crumpled and broken glory. "Amazing!" exclaims the customer, who was taken in by the speech, before even looking at the model. "I love it!", says the lead representative from the investor's side, for the same reason. The other representatives all agree that this is clearly a brilliant design, not wanting to cross their bosses.

The customers agree to the design, and leave, before the architect has any chance to explain that this is not the design he had in mind.

On Sunday evening we played Settlers of Catan Travel Edition. Great game. I bought it a few weeks ago but this was the first time I'd played it (Alex brought it with him, by the way, not me!). Kam, Wilhelm and I played it on Tuesday as well. It is good.

Then Aly and her friend came back from skiing and we all went bar-hopping. We settled on a cocktail bar where I sampled a number of drinks, although to be honest I thought the strip club we tried before it would have been more fun.

On Monday we visited the zoo, where a lovely cat came and sat on me and purred, much to my happiness. And there were other cool animals too, I guess.

Altogether, I liked Prague very much.