I’ve left the safe shores of Ireland to go on a business trip to Praha (Prague) – the old Eastern Europe state of Czech Republic. Well, back in the cold war days it was Czechoslovakia and a communist state. Not too sure what to expect, but I was looking forward to it.
Having lived in Europe and witnessed the integration of the Euro, it has been a while since I had to exchange money. In the airport I changed 50 Euro and was given 1200 Korunas. The old brain cells had to start calculating every time I was buying something. Not an easy task!
I arrived at midnight, local time, and was greeted by my limo. Ok, saying limo is probably exaggerated. It was just a car sent by the hotel, which just happened to be a Mercedes E-class. I just leaned back in the soft leather seats. Suddenly the driver turned up the radio and to my surprise, it was the familiar sounds of Metallica. Not many radio stations would dare to play heavy metal, but these guys did – brilliant.
I’m always wary about jumping into a taxi in Eastern Europe, even if there are no reasons for it. But, if you’ve seen the shitty slasher movie “Hostel“, then you’d know not to tempt faith. The nervousness probably comes from the fact that I don’t speak or understand e.g. Czech, so I don’t know what they are saying to each other when on the phone/radio.
Anyway, the silent driver (probably ex-KGB hit-man) sped off towards the hotel, using manoeuvres that I recognised from spy movies; driving mentally through the narrow streets of the dark capital, avoiding cars, traffic lights and pedestrians. What normally, according to my Czech colleagues, would have taken 40 minutes, took less than 30 minutes.
The hotel, a measly 5 star hotel in the centre of Prague, greeted me like a king – or at least like a minor celebrity. I checked in and was given my key. Quickly, I legged it upstairs and into bed. I’m getting older you know, so every minute of sleep counts, and is of course helping me staying young and beautiful.
I only had 4 days in Prague, and I actually didn’t see much of the city. All I managed to do was a a quick 30 minute walk to a restaurant, through the old city centre. Walking through the narrow streets, stopping at the odd pub to taste the local brew and being offered ‘darlings’ was part of the local atmosphere. It was clear that the city had suffered during the various wars, communist area and revolutions, but it was still a very amazing looking city – from what I saw. I have to go back soon with the missus.
Prague actually reminded me a bit of Paris, with a Eastern European twang.
Every parent is always dreaming of some quiet time, away from the kids and just being able to wake up with a hangover. There’s no denying it, we secretly crave some hours of solitude, just to re-charge the batteries. The amazing thing however, is that once you actually are alone in some strange country, in an empty hotel room, then you realise how much you miss the noise levels.
I sat on the bed for about 37 minutes, just trying to relax. I was constantly waiting for the kids to leg it into the bed and start jumping in it. I missed my wife not being there and hated watching all these News/Business TV channels. I was praying (not really) for the days to go really fast, so I could be back with the hobbits.