After 3 days in Berlin, Brin and I loaded up and fired over, via train, to Prague, then Vienna, and ultimately landed in what I envision heaven to be, Switzerland. More on Switzerland in the next post, but that place does not exist…it was a dream.
Prague was cool but the barrage of tourists killed the vibe for me, especially since I was still enamored by India and I was not mentally ready for the western world yet. Luckily for us, there was a Fringe Festival in town. We hit up a few shows and met some of the performers so it turned out to be a good experience in the end.
Prague has a gothic atmosphere, with towering castles and steeples at every turn. It has many sights to see like The Prague Castle and The Charles Bridge. The people were generally in good spirits but, being in the middle of tourists central, we were constantly bombarded with waiters recruiting us to sit down for a bite.
One Fringe Festival entertainer we met was The Upside Down Girl, an eclectic one-woman act of music and storytelling, and she played a mandolin upside down, propelling her legs on a unicycle. How did we meet her? Well, we randomly ran into her sister prior to the start of the show and she later introduced us to her. Brin and I drilled her with questions to the point that she abruptly left us in the dust!
One other quick funny/disturbing story. While at another performance, some lady sitting next to me, who also had a one-woman act in the festival, decided to tell us her life story in-between shows. She ear-banged us for at least 1 hour with circling, run-on sentence after sentence after sentence. I guess I have to admire the passion behind her craft, but it was painful for both of us. Mentally, I was thinking of the quote from Planes, Trains, and Autos, “here’s a tip, when you tell a story, have a point – it’s so much more pleasant for the listener!”
Prague was a worthy stop, especially the one day when we escaped the tourist trap and walked around a different part of the city. The local people looked very serious and rarely smiled. We stumbled into a bowling alley/massage parlor. No massages…other than the way I massaged the bowling ball down the alley, strike after strike, taking Brin for a few Czech crowns!
From Prague, we cashed in another travel by train day and landed in Vienna, Austria,
home of the best Wienerschnitzels on the planet. We were there 3 nights and I partook in this divine dish all 3 nights, including the famous Figlmuller’s establishment. For those that don’t know, a schnitzel is a traditional Austrian breaded cutlet dish made with boneless meat (sorry, usually veal) thinned with a hammer, coated in bread crumbs and fried. Brin and I are thinking of bringing a non-veal version to the USA via Food Truck!
I had heard of Europe’s extreme passion for football (soccer) and it was cool to witness firsthand. The EuroCup was in progress while there and I often ran into public viewings which hosted thousands of people supporting their team. I never confirmed this but someone said the viewership for one game is more than the Super Bowl.
Brin has a buddy from high school, Brad Friedel, who plays professionally in the English Premier League so I often weaved his name into football chats to gauge reactions. One young punk in our hostel said, “yeah, that guy is really solid…and old!” Ouch! He’s our age!
Vienna is also known for being the home of music legends Mozart and Beethoven among others. Classical music is a way of life here. It’s also the home of Sigmund Freud. For me, it’s the home of Wienerschnitznels! Next stop, the Swiss Alps!