A follow up to this post.
Alternately titled “How to turn 12 hours in to 36 without even trying…”
Or: “An American girl on a Ukrainian train to Prague with an Iranian born German.”
I failed to mention in my previous post that on my way to the train station in Kiev where my adventurous journey to Prague would begin, I was accosted by a very drunk Ukrainian man. It was 10:00 at night, dark and the metro station was empty when he came up behind me and pinned my arms down by my side. I honestly don’t think he was trying to hurt me – I just think he was wasted.
I calmly called screamed for help and a young policeman came running to my rescue. He yanked the guy off me and pushed me into the awaiting metro car that would take me to the train station. So, you know…that was the start of this adventure.
So, now I’m in Prague and I’m wiping Cameron’s slobber out of my ear as I make my way out to what I am hoping is the main square. It is early Monday morning and I am armed with my backpack (which contains one change of clothes, my passport and nothing else) and a scrap of paper that lists the address and phone number of the hostel where my friend and her group are staying. My first order of business is to call my host family in Ukraine as I know they are probably panicking since they thought I would arrive in Prague more than a day earlier.
Kelli! Where are you? Are you okay?! We have been so worried.
Sergei then went on to tell me that after they didn’t hear from me, they called the station to check on my train and were informed that it was a much longer train ride than they had been originally told. Shortly after that, they received a phone call from my friend Wanida saying that she and her group were actually running a day behind schedule, which meant that I actually beat them to Prague. A bit of God’s Providence as I would have been wandering the streets of Prague alone for two days had I, indeed, been on a 12 hour express train.
After I hung up with Sergei, I decided my first order of business would be to find some place to buy toothpaste and maybe some shampoo and get something to eat since I hadn’t had any more than a few bites of bread in almost two days.
Entering the heart of Prague, I stopped and took in the sites. I was struck by the beauty of the city. Because it was early morning, the autumn sun was just starting to spill over the buildings. The architechture took my breath away and I found myself mezmorized by the different structures before me. I knew nothing about Prague and was itching to explore once I stabalized my blood sugar.
I began walking down what looked to be a main street and almost immediately picked up a follower. He came out of nowhere and walked right on my heels.
Xello zere, pritty girl. Would yoo like to buy some xash (hash)?
I shook my head and sped up. It was a fairly crowded street so I determined that if he tried anything funny I could scream and escape easily.
Come on now, pritty girl. Eet ees very good xash.
No! I told him firmly.
And yet he persisted. For almost 30 minutes he persisted in trying to sell me hash. And in that time I walked in circles because I didn’t want to venture off this main path. Finally, having had enough, I whirled around on my heel and faced my annoyance. He was tall, greasy and smelled of urine and cheap tobacco.
Seriously! Do I LOOK like the type of girl that would do hash? Please, leave me alone.
He bowed all creepy like and folded his hands under his chin, then turned and walked away. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued my search for toothpaste. Finally, I found a small pharmacy where I bought some Suave Spring Rain shampoo and conditioner and AIM toothpaste. I think I paid $15.00 for those three items. And to the glory of God, a Kentucky Fried Chicken was right next door.
I entered the restaurant and breathed in deep the smell of crispy fried chicken then made a beeline for the bathroom where I check out my reflection in the mirror. As I took in the circles under my eyes and my stringy, greasy hair I realized I kind of did look like the type of girl who would do hash…
After washing my hair in the sink and brushing my teeth, I felt like a new woman. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more clean in all my life. I then walked out and dropped another load of cash on the best chicken and biscuit I’ve ever tasted and walked back out on the the streets of Prague feeling like a million bucks.
Since I knew Wanida and her friends wouldn’t be arriving until that night, I decided to explore a bit. I wandered until I found the Charles Bridge, only I didn’t know it was called the Charles Bridge at the time. Iwas in awe of the vendors selling photographs and paintings, singing and dancing. Every ten feet, I stopped to admire the brilliant statues that graced the bridge. If I could figure out how to work our new scanner and printer, I would share some of my pictures. But I can’t figure it out so if you’re interested in seeing it, you can go to google and check it out. Or watch the opening scene of the original Mission: Impossible, which was filmed in Prague.
After taking my time to check out every vendor, I stopped at the end of the bridge and looked out over the water at a hillside that was covered with gorgeous red, yellow and orange trees. The autumn colors had created a patchwork piece of art across the vibrant green hill. And at the top I could make out the shape of a woman leading a flock of goats. It was picturesque and I determined that before my few days in Prague were over, I would climb that hill and look back at the bridge.
I eventually made my way back to the city square where I found a small grocery store and bought a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the book Jane Eyre. Then I hailed a cab and headed to the youth hostel. By this time it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to fall behind the horizen. Wanida’s group was supposed to arrive at 7:00.
When I arrived at the hostel, I told the receptionist who I was and who I was waiting for. She asked me to have a seat. I did and promptly opened up my box of cereal and dug into my new book.
At 8:00, I asked the receptionist if she had heard from the group. She blinked twice then told me that she was very sorry, but the group had called and they were staying at a different hostel…on the other side of town.
If you go outside and walk three blocks you will be able to get a cab to take you to this hostel, she told me handing me a piece of paper with the hostel’s address and phone number on it.
So I headed out into the dark streets of Prague and found myself in a back alley where an older gentleman who, once again, had had too much to drink stumbled into my path and said something to me in Czech. I shrugged my shoulders and tried to push past him.
Oh you are American girl, yes? Oh please, pritty American girl. Give me money for a beer. Just one beer. I just need a little beet of money.
He then reached down and grabbed my butt and gave it a squeeze. I burst into tears and took off running with him calling out behind me to stop. I finally made it to a busy street, wiped my eyes and hailed a cab who took me to the hostel where I rushed in to find a worried Wanida sitting in the lobby waiting for me. I grabbed onto her and and laughed and cried.
Are you okay? she asked.
Yes, I answered. But I don’t want to be near another man for a long, long time.
After I was finally united with a group of Americans, I had a wonderful few days in Prague. I learned a lot about that beautiful city, I ate at amazing restarants, I ran along the Charles Bridge at night singing the theme song to Mission: Impossible, I bought gorgeous photographs that are today hanging in my foyer and I was all over refreshed after a stressful trip.
When Wanida’s group left, I had about 7 hours by myself to wander before my train was to depart. My hands were loaded down with bags full of souviner’s, but I did the one thing I was determined to do. I hiked to the hill across from Charles Bridge (which was much father away than I had anticipated – I guarantee I walked three miles to get there) and trekked up the hill (which was much steeper than it looked) and stood at the top looking over the city of Prague. I sang praise songs and enjoyed the sound of my voice floating uninterrupted through the air. It was a spectacular moment.
Finally, I headed back to the train station and began the long journey back to my temporary home. And this time, I got a room to myself the entire way back…