I’ve got the flu.
I knew those days of walking around Poland in the snow in canvas shoes would bite me in the arse and oh they have.
And turns out living in a dorm room with seven other people when you have the flu is about as pleasant as being in a party hostel in Madrid when you have food poisoning.
I’m proud of myself though, as even though I feel like death and are in serious need of a hug, I did manage (with the help of a lot of Coldrex) to actually go do stuff.
The first of which was dinner with the New York Wall Street broker I called a ‘walking tourist trap’ from my time in Budapest.
Turns out nothing had changed, he’d just returned from Scandinavia where he’d taken a ‘what if’ girl from previous travels out for dinner, picking up the bill for €250 before learning she was now somewhat taken.
Though his trip wasn’t entirely wasted, with him recalling with vivid admiration the best meal of his trip – oxtail – before asking in a typically loud inquiring American voice, ‘I don’t know what oxtail is? Is it like the meat around the rectum or something?’
My travel buddy the next day was the polar opposite, a guy Melbourne Hipster from Morocco aptly nicknamed ‘the German Sheldon’ (from the Big Bang Theory) when we met him at our swap arse-inducing hostel in Marrakech.
German Sheldon was in Prague for a banking seminar and together we found ourselves among the literally thousands of tourists on Prague’s most recognisable and photographed landmark – the Charles Bridge – photographed here from one of Prague’s less known and never photographed bridges.
And, a word on German Sheldon – turns out Melbourne Hipster’s nickname for him is remarkably accurate, with him later that day mathematically plotting the best time to buy beer and tram tickets to avoid queuing at the ice hockey.
Yep, ice hockey, possibly the most un-touristy thing you can do in Prague, judging by the dregs of society outside accusing each other of being a ‘kurva’ (Czech for slut) and their pre-celebratory cars backfiring blue smoke in support of their beloved Bratislava.
And even though it was my first ever ice hockey game, what I found most intriguing was that despite it being a home game for Prague, the Bratislavan fans outnumbered them 3-1, to the point even the guy in charge of the music started playing their chant – ‘Bratislava, Bratislava, hey hey hey…slavaaaaaaaaa.’
Even showering was too much to contemplate, especially considering it was one of those automatic 20 second timer showers, where the first three seconds are wasted on the shower warming up and reaching optimum velocity and the last three on the water dying out – leaving you exactly 14 seconds to wash yourself before hitting the button again.
So I spent the day holed up in my dorm room with a shiny pointy shoe wearing Texan, who when I asked what he did for a living simply replied – ‘oil.’
And despite the fact he was only in Europe for 13 days, he managed to spent the vast majority of his first two days lying on his bunk bed on his laptop.
According to him he hates travel. He hates not knowing the language. He hates not knowing the currency. He hates not knowing the food. He hates being lost. And, I’m pretty sure he hates me, after I managed to get us just that in the metro system.
In fairness, he had just dragged me round for an hour trying to find this ‘mystical’ outside food market he raved about and could apparently re-find, though when we got to the place he thought it was on the map the first thing he said was – ‘I have no idea where we are, you know where we’re going right?’
In hindsight I would have preferred a night of talking to myself and I was dangerously close to telling him perhaps in future he just Google image the places he wants to see instead of actually going in the flesh.
But I credit his departure the next morning for buoying me to go see what all the fuss was about Prague, despite suffering from menopausal-style hot flushes and being a phlegmy mess.
My favourite sights were – the astronomical clock, complete with hourly parade of apostles and bell ringing skeleton.
Well, that was until their mum left to run errands, coinciding with them running away from me.
And in many ways solitary confinement was exactly what I needed, lack of other backpackers meant I got a eight person dorm room all to myself, I finally watched ‘In Bruges’ which would have been helpful to watch before I was actually in Bruges and the Sound of Music to prepare for my next destination – Austria.