It’s starting to get cold in the land of the Czechs
Coming into this experience, I thought that I would be travelling around Europe as much as possible while I was here. I thought that every other weekend would mean another set of stamps in my passport. For some of the people that I live with, this is quite true. But I’ve found that I really enjoy just living in Prague. It might just be the whole idea of living in a city, or living in Europe, or it might be something special about Prague, but I’m really enjoying having my day to day life happen in this city. I have much more of a desire to feel at home in this city than to see the sights of Europe.
With that being said, I’m going to Italy.
My friend Mike has been living in Anversa degli Abruzzi, Italy since April. He works as a chef in a restaurant there and also apparently tends the flock of sheep part time. I haven’t seen him for quite a while, even before he moved over, and as soon as I told him that I was coming to Prague, he said that we definitely need to get together. We were back and forth over who would go where, but after working our schedules, it was decided that I should go down there November 16th and spend four or five days. Works out pretty well, since Charles University has that thursday off for Student’s Day, so I have a five day weekend. Also, it being the week before Thanksgiving, and both of us being away from home for it, we thought it would be good to have Thanksgiving together.
Hlavní Nadráží 2: Electric Boogaloo
Getting the tickets to Italy was an ordeal though. I should mention, to begin with, that I am a computer person. I prefer to buy my goods and services online and have things very well organized and planned out via computer. After doing a bit of research on the train schedules I was able to find a suitable train running from Prague to Rome when I wanted to go. Great. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I could not buy these particular tickets online. So off to Hlavní Nadráží to actually buy the tickets.
When I went to Milevsko, Eva knew what she was doing. She knew which window to go to, what tickets to buy, and which platform to go to.
I knew that the tickets I wanted were somewhere inside that building. Beyond that, I knew nothing.
After spending the better part of my afternoon working for them, I walked out of Hlavní Nadráží with round trip tickets to Rome in my hand.
But only after wandering from place to place, looking for the windows with the letter C on them (C for International, I guess), finally finding the C windows (right where I left them.. on the other side of the building from the B windows), I learned that the Czech train station believes in distributed knowledge. That is to say that I couldn’t just go to the window and ask for a round trip ticket to Rome. I needed to go to the information window and find out the train number (which I thought I already had).
This led me all around the station again, this time looking for glass doors which I am supposed to go through and meet the Information Fairy. Most of the glass doors I found led me to outside. Finally found the information window and got two sheets of paper with the same train numbers I had gotten off of the website, and brought the papers back to the C windows and by that point, would have given my left leg in order to finally get the tickets.
The moral of the story: Do not attempt to purchase international tickets in the Czech train station without an assistant and a bag lunch. Not to say that Hlavní Nadráží was unnessarily difficult to navigate, but trying to feel your way through a process when you don’t have a firm grasp of the language is difficult and time consuming. The buddy system would have been a good idea in this situation.
Right now, sitting in my closet, with my traveller’s cheques and passport, are my tickets to Italy. I can’t wait to use them.