some funny things about prague

it’s a few weeks on and things are normalizing here. well, normalizing as they do when you are in a strange, new and foreign land. which is more to say “becoming more familiar” than actually normalizing.

i am beginning to make peace with prague, but the city still completely mystifies me. as bill’s friend who visited last weekend put it: “prague is an enigma.”

now, i know you all love it when i write about the weird and wacky aspects of living abroad, so i have been stockpiling a list of weird and wacky things i have noticed or experienced in prague, and i am taking a nod from my e-pal allison carlton today to give you a list.

bees. prague has so many bees. i kind of don’t understand it. i mean, the city is very leafy and green and overgrown, sure. but i’ve lived in plenty o’ green places before (hello, ireland!) and not seen so many bees. they have basically overtaken the entire city. they get into the tram at least ONCE per ride and they swarm you when you are walking down the street. this is very much not my favorite.

smiling. prague people do not seem to smile very much. i’m not sure yet what that’s about, but i intend to find out.

pork. oh my goodness, was anthony bourdain right on when he called prague “porkopolis.” i challenge you to find a “vegetarian” dish here that does not include small bits of pork for taste. “green beans with bacon” seems to be the vegetable of choice on czech menus (read: the ONLY vegetable).

smoking. lordy lordy lordy. i thought the chinese liked to smoke. forget about it. praguers win, hands down. indoors, outdoors, on the tram. everywhere. that’s all i gotta say about that. ahem.

the “potraviny”. this is basically like a czech convenience store, but actually more like a chinese version of one, because they are these super crowded, dusty, crazy shops with like, everything you can imagine in them. a lot of them are open 24-hours (or “non-stop” as the czechs like to say) and they sell everything from apples to jim beam.

underground bars. when i say “underground”, i mean it quite literally. like, in the basement. it seems like you always have to go downstairs to get into a pub, and they are always these window-less stone caverns dripping with atmosphere. not that i’m complaining. they are basically awesome.

becherovka. it is a known fact that i’m not really drinking much these days, but i can never resist the temptation of trying a new and utterly local liquor. becherovka is a czech liqueur that is distilled from anise seed and 32 kinds of herbs. it tastes like ginger and goes down like alcoholic tea.

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8 responses to “some funny things about prague

  1. This is awesome! At least we know we can find bees in Prague to keep them from extinction. Also, I would love to visit an underground bar, sounds so much like the Roaring Twenties!

    • in fact, i heard that the czech republic just got loads more funding from the EU to help beekeepers, so i guess they are really committed to that sort of thing. i gotta say, if prague is any indication, there is no shortage!

      re the underground bars: yes, they have more of a 1700s feel to them than a roaring 20s, mostly due to all the stone and wood, but still. pretty awesome!

  2. This is funny! The smoky bars are quite a trip even for a smoker, makes me think of Dublin bars pre the 2004 ban. Moreover, I had totally forgotten about even the existence of a smoke hangover, good grief!

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  4. This is great & made me laugh on several fronts – love the observations. Regarding bees, it’s usually not this bad. This year was crazy for some reason.

    No smiles – let me know if you get to the bottom of this as I’ve heard several theories. I’m sorry to say it’s only going to get worse as you go into winter. Maybe the city should apply to the EU for money to buy Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps for everyone :)

    Underground bars makes me think of U Sudu near Karlovo Namesti. The further down you go, the less oxygen is available – it’s almost all smoke. Oh, and the drink of choice – frankovka (red wine) and coke. I kid you not.

    The potravinys have a soft spot in my heart. They used to all be Czech owned (and grouchy) but in the last few years many were taken over by Vietnamese.

    Only thing I’d add to the list is Herna Bars – now why does the city need so many 24-hour slot machine bars??

    Glad to hear you’re settling in!

    • thanks for commenting audrey! it is nice to hear that i am not completely crazy from someone a little wiser and more prague-seasoned. :)

      yes, herna bars was an oversight – i should’ve mentioned it! definitely strange to see so many slots in random pubs.

      and i have definitely seen some czech women ordering red wine and coke, but the chinese do this too, so i wasn’t as shocked by it. hehe.

      we’ll have to go to u sudu, for the experience.

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