Eastern Europe continued… Prague & Vienna

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Originally the idea for this trip stemmed from a joke between Wyatty & I that we should head to Oktoberfest in Germany for his bucks night. With the date being uncomfortably close to his wedding in November an alternate beer festival was needed. The Cesky Pivni festival in Prague, Czech Republic then became the base from which the eventual adventure was built around…

Preceeding our Prague visit, while in transit from Budapest, we spent a couple of days in the classy city of Vienna, Austria. Like many European cities Vienna features many statues, amazing architecture and liveable parks which are frequented by the locals in the afternoon.

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The central city is surrounded by the Ringstrasse, a wide ring road which has been kept in the place of the previous defensive walls of the city which were demolished in 1857. The Ringstrasse is a very busy road and contains many important local sights of Vienna including parliament buildings, museums, Opera house and the University.

Our preferred morning bus from Vienna on our day of departure was overbooked so after spending the day exploring the Ringstrasse we caught the late bus to Prague arriving late at night. One of our first encounters in the city was a local who after missing his tram by a few seconds proceeded to smoke a cigarette while laying on the tram tracks before pulling out a knife from his pocket. Being the ever alert tourists (as advised by the Australian government) we steered clear of this guy but he was not the last weird unit we were to meet in this amazing city.

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This guy might have slightly overdone it in Prague…

Our hostel for this leg of the journey was Hostel One Prague and they made us feel at home from the moment we arrived by presenting us with ridiculously cheap beer. Despite being tired from our journey and after our hectic time in Budapest the hostel bar staff decided we were heading out with them that night. This was a theme that continued throughout our stay with this group of party animals.

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While the majority of hostel patrons you meet are awesome adventurous people on travel adventures one group of guys from Sydney staying here were absolute wankers. Their geographical knowledge of Australia began and finished with Sydney and any Australian who didn’t live there were second class citizens according to them. Sporting cuts, bruises and scratches over their faces the “battle scars” they were wearing were a result of their gameplan for their time in Europe to get coked up, go out to bars and fight. Fortunately we didn’t meet many people like this during our trip or see these guys after the first night after they were hopefully arrested or stabbed to death in one of the back streets in a drug deal gone wrong.

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As planned our first day in Prague was to be dedicated to the Cesky Pivni beer festival. We arrived early and one of our first sites spotted was the leaderboard for a drinking challenge. The waiter serving our beer told us that the records on the board were for the fastest teams to drink 11 pints with the best time so far being 1 hour and 28 minutes. Wyatty & I considered giving it a crack but luckily didn’t as the record turned out to be 1 minute and 28 seconds and to be completed as a relay. Later in the day we witnessed the “metre of beer” taken on by an Irish, mostly female team. The team members were required to finish their pint before the next member could start and they finished with a time of 2 minutes 53 seconds to take a spot on the lower end of the leaderboard.

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The warm and sunny weather that had us wearing shorts & t-shirts for the day but this subsided after a couple of hours in the festival tent. We were forced to move further inside to escape a torrential downpour and strong winds which had the festival staff scrambling to secure the tents and a minor flood surrounding our table.

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The new table we joined was host to 3 ladies from Moscow who were appreciative of our extensive Russian vocabulary, picked up during our time in the country, which was now 4 words strong. Approximately 40 different types of Eastern European beer were on offer and as expected were delicious. One which was coloured red was especially so and the music performed by various live bands throughout the day was awesome.

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The number 1 attraction of Prague is their magnificent castle which is reached by crossing the tourist mecca of the Charles Bridge. Prague castle complex is perched atop the hill opposite the city and after climbing the cobbled roads we were able to appreciate the awesome views.

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View from Prague castle

While admiring the cathedral in the centre of the castle a brief rain shower brought the gargoyles atop it to life with their mouths operating as the guttering for the water to disperse which gives a really cool effect and the chance to shower under the gargoyle’s spouts.

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Entrance to Prague castle

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Hostel one had a really cool underground bar with flags from the countries of the most regular guests adorning the walls amidst graffiti drawn on the walls. We left our own unique mark on the walls with Wyatty’s new hash tag #jamesfrancodoesnotlikepizza and Nailed It! #adventurousadam.

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As well as ridiculously cheap beer they offered daily cocktail specials and a challenge to set a record for drinking a “Strawpedo”. The record for the autumn season to date was 3.5 seconds, a time I’m sure has been regularly beaten by the boys at the Lilydale Football Club, our footy team back home who regularly have strawpedo challenges.

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Out with a bang from Prague we were accompanied by friends from the hostel for drinks and dancing at the Retro Music Hall for a great last night. Retro had a central dance floor fronted by go-go dancers and surrounded by a number of bars over two levels. Dance moves were taken up a notch and we discovered a bounding move demonstrated by a long term backpacker resident of the hostel which was added to the dance tool kit and after some evolution has since been nicknamed “the kangaroo”.

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During his solo walk home from Retro, Wyatty had an encounter with a prostitute who would not take no for an answer. That was until he resisted her attempts to put her hands down his pants by slamming her up against a wall. Unfortunately in the commotion he had become disoriented and after walking for some time found himself on the opposite end of the city to which he was supposed to be but he eventually found his way home safely.

Leaving early at 830am the next morning, still feeling the effects of alcohol consumed, we were waiting at the tram stop when a couple of guys from the hostel were returning for the night. They invited us to join them “for a couple of lines” at the tram stop, which we politely declined, before catching the tram and train onto the airport to make our way to Greece for the start of our Busabout tour around the Greek islands!

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