Sunday, October 28, 2007

Prague Day 2

Now, where did I get to... ahh yes, ring of fire - pub - another pub - bed.

Day two begins fuzzily, with no memories of pub #2. Its not that I had one too many in pub #1 either. I blame it all on ring of fire.

If you are not familiar with this game, then read on - once you can identify the game, it is a lot easier to avoid. Basically, all 52 cards in the pack get laid down, and one by one, are picked up be the unfortunate players. With each number on the card is a special meaning, much like switch, except that pretty much all the meanings associated with the cards involve one or all the players drinking some or all of their current beer.

For example: any player that picks up a 10, initiates a "waterfall". Player starts drinking, followed by players to his left, creating a Mexican wave of drinking. Drinking continues until the initial player stops (which is entirely voluntary, but more often than not, the madness continues until the player finishes his current beverage or passes out).

In summary, everyone drinks. A lot.

After hours of getting ready, we are all ready to investigate Old Town, but first on the agenda is lunch. Being the most picky about what I can and can't have, I jumped at the chance to have my first proper food in a nice vegan-friendly canteen called Country Life.

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Most of the others stuck their noses up at such "healthy" food, and decided to carry on looking for fodder with legs. I had already anticipated having to eat alone to get a half decent meal, but I was still surprised at how quickly it was dismissed. George offered to eat with me, which I was grateful for, so I didn't get completely abandoned.

Enough ranting. Country Life was cheap and the food was nice. It was a shame that me and George saw the salad first and piled it on our plates, only to realize the crowd of people in the corner were busy piling on extremely yummy hot food. We ended up pilling on both, and ended up with a lot of food, although after weighing, it only cost 135 koruna (about £3.50) each.

Big smile from Gee after lots of salad
Gee, outside of the woodcraft shop, next door to Country Life.

After eating, we decided to have a quick look around before meeting the others. I felt compelled to buy myself a cute falling-over zebra from a nearby woodwork shop, which I was convinced had been specially hand-crafted right there in the shop.

Happy Zebra

Drunk Zebra

It didn't take us long to bump into one of the most famous attractions in Prague - the astronomical clock, which neither me nor George could make head or tail of. We stared at it for a good 10 minutes, and it didn't move an inch. Jack later explained that it showed which constellation the sun was in, and we would've had to have waited a month or so before noticing that it did indeed move.

Cobbled alley between Country Life and the Astronomical Clock
Cobbled alley between Country Life and the Astronomical Clock

Astronomical Part of the Astronomical Clock
Astronomical part of the Astronomical Clock, in Old Town Square

Old Town Square's Clock
The clock - it really was that sunny!

We all met up, and had a long walk around, absorbing the culture, and taking in the sights of pointy buildings. We reached Karlov Most and lined up to touch the shiny piece of the center statue like everyone else, although at the time, we had no idea what it meant, or what luck it was supposed to bring us.

Shiny statue

By this time, Chris, the builder of the group, was desperate for a cup of tea, so we made our way to a suitable venue. On the way back towards Old Town, I noticed a sign advertising a classical music performance. I'm not really into my classical, but it is what Prague is famous for, so I asked the others if they fancied it. The response was similar to the one in country life, with the majority eager to get back to the apartment for another round of Ring Of Fire. I was still feeling the effects of the previous game, so that was the last thing I wanted to do! Dave being the sophisticated one of the group, and Jack, who is usually up for anything, were also up for hearing some live classics. After much deliberation, the others decided that seeing a show at the theater would be enough culture for one holiday, and so they went on back to the apartments.

The venue for the string quartet was a large church opposite the bridge. I hadn't really realised this until we were ushered in. The whole place had an uneasy atmosphere of silence, every noise we made echoing around a million times for everyone to hear. We sat down on our creaky pews, and waited. Being surrounded by effigies and murals depicting scenes that didn't look so pleasant, added to the uneasy feeling, but eventually the silence was broken by the appearance of the musicians.

It was worth it though. The performance was amazing and the acoustics of the hall were perfect. I even recognized some of the songs (they were classics after all). I had a pretty sore backside by the end of it though, those hard wooden seats are about as comfortable as sitting on a cold rock. We slowly made our way back, in no particular hurry, (until it started raining of course). We decided not to spend any of our culture points as we passed the Erotic Supermarket, on the way back, and arrived back in our apartments for around 7pm, to find the others drinking away on Czech Pilsner and plum favoured vodka. It was about dinner time, and so we set off to find a restaurant, that was both vegan friendly, but served enormous lumps of meat. It quickly became obvious that the two don't mix, so they chose an authentic Czech steak house to dine at. I was tempted to go and eat alone, but I'd already had my quota of segregation for this day, and decided to stick with everyone else, and just drink beer instead. Rosh made a good effort in communicating to the staff to see if they had something more interesting than "salad" that would be suitable for me, but as nice as the waiter was, he had no clue what we were on about, so I ended up with a salad, with boiled potatoes.

Despite the lack of interesting food, the place was actually really nice. We were sat on an indoor balcony overlooking the rest of the restaurant, and in the next room were a group of girls who spent all night practising their choir singing, which for a while was quite novel, but did get a little irritating! And this was the first time I experienced and fell in love with "pivo tmavĂ˝", a type of dark beer brewed in Czech Republic, which is rich, malty and full of flavour, compared to the regular pilsner which we'd been drinking up until then.

Too much salad?
Too much salad?

Too much meat
Too much meat...!

Afterwards, we made our way back to Wenceslas Square. I wasn't really feeling up to a club, still feeling a bit groggy and tired, so I called it a night, whilst the others went to Duplex Dance Club, which was conveniently opposite our apartments. I'm told it was pretty good...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Prague Day 1

Well, the purpose of this blog, was in fact to record my recent holiday to prague, partly so I have a record of what I did that won't be forgotten, as my memory is worse than the fish from Finding Nemo.

The time is about 5am, Wednesday 17th October 2007. I'm starting to stir in my bed, my brain attempting to preempt the horrendous wakeup call that is alarm clock.

6am, am rudely awakened by wretched clock, and roll out of bed. You might wonder what I was doing up so early in the morning, but it is tradition with Rach to allow an extra 30 minutes for every stage in any journey. I wasn't about to sacrifice any of my sleep for such shenanigans, so I casually ate my bowl of cereal, and took a slow stroll down to their flat where the others would be.

Arrived at Rach's door with a good 30 min to spare.

As planned, George and Dave had come up the night before from London, and made themselves at home. Rach and James were busily making breakfast, although looking rather tired compared to the normal 11 o'clock start. We met Chris and Kev outside the train station, and our special guest Rosh soon after. A short bit of standing-on-a-train later, and we had made it to BHX.

A first hurdle was to make it passed the NBC girls without ending up with another credit card, which we all manage fine, although making it passed Subway without an enormous sandwich was too much for some. One quick plate of beans on toast and coffee later, and we're away again. With only a mere 40 minutes to go, Rach insisted that we hurry to our gate...

For entertainment on the plane, we had snagged ourselves a copy of the aptly named WTF magazine, mainly because of the girl in orange spandex on the front cover. Sadly it wasn't the most exciting of magazines, and before long, I was heartily enjoying Rach's copy of Glamour (again only made interesting due to the numerous photos of good-looking girls, and not the articles on how to be a better person...!)

We touch down in Prague on schedule at 13:20, looking forward to the rendezvous with Jack, only to find out that the plane he was supposed to be on was still in Paris. Well, he'd made it that far alone, so we thought we may as well crack on and meet him at the apartment. One free taxi courtesy of our hotel later, and we're in the center of prague.

Upon leaving the taxi, it is now becoming apparent that the weather is not getting any cooler, and is in fact, quite warm. Which was a very nice surprise, but nevertheless a surprise that we weren't prepared for, having only packed huge woolly jumpers and giant coats. No one complained though!

Our apartment was also a nice surprise - a big master bedroom, and two other bedrooms kitted out with single beds (except for one other double bed, which Kev proudly claimed for himself, not quite realizing what this meant when trying to fit 9 people into an apartment that sleeps 9...).

By time Jack reaches us we've already stocked our fridge with Pilsner Urquell, and before long, we are all sat down with a beverage. Who the first one was to suggest the infamous Ring of Fire, I'll never know, but before long we are all incredibly merry.
First night. Drunk.
Merrily ring of firing it up

We ended up in a bar that night, drinking extremely expensive beers and cocktails; to be expected for a bar that was 2 minutes away from the front door, right in the center of Prague.

Hello World!

Here it is, my first blog.

For those of you who don't know me, why the hell are you reading this?! Ok ok, so hi world, this is me: I'm a games programmer, graduated from a uni in dundee a year or two ago now, and now I work in a pretty big company in the midlands doing what I'm supposed to be able to do best.

As a trained geek, I have a theory that you can tell more from a person by looking at their desktop, than you can by reading a blog, so with that in mind, I'll post mine:

Cerb's desktop

From this you should now be able to tell that I am in fact an anime fan, from the giant picture of Chobits' Chii, and numerous unwatched episodes of Ghost In The Shell.

You are also probably thinking I look at a lot of dodgyness on the interweb, thus need quick access to a killCookies shortcut, but let me put that one straight right now: I use a lot more than I send texts on my mobile, and if it knows you've sent more than one text, it will do everything in its power to foil your next attempt. I've since produced a much better way of dealing with this deterrent, but thats another story.