Saturday, September 18, 2010

Toto, We Aren't In Prague Anymore

Well, actually, we were still in Prague.  However, the prices had moved on a bit.  For our last night the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed up to the Cloud Lounge atop the Prague Hilton.  The place was quite spectacular and offered a lovely view of the city and the river just a short distance away.  It was a bit overcast, but still a nice view.

The prices here weren't outrageous, at least not by New York standards.  About eight bucks each.  For similar (more about that later) drinks in New York in a similar venue double that wouldn't be uncommon.

We could just sit and watch the boats go through the locks on the river while nibbling on the free nuts and chips.  Now I know, how sad is it that this is what amuses me these days.

But The Mysterious Chinese Woman Always Amuses Me

That is a faux Mai Tai that she is drinking.  I say faux because I think a real Mai Tai is supposed to have rum in it.  There was none that I could taste.

I had a Hemingway Daiquiri that is made with rum, grapefruit juice, maraschino liquor and lime juice.  Well, that is the way it is supposed to be made.  Again, no taste of rum whatsoever.  The taste of the marashino liquor came through though.  Unfortunately, this is not a taste that I particularly care for.

Looking A Bit Like Papa

I suspect that if Hemingway had been served a drink like this he would have thrown it in the bartender's face, jumped over the bar and made his own.  Bar Man would have gladly paid New York prices for a New York drink, which means a stiff one.

By the way, the reason Hemingway liked his daiquiris this way was because he was diabetic.  A regular daiquiri just has rum, lime-juice and sugar.  Guess he was cutting down on the sugar.  I know a few diabetics who don't seem to have a problem with alcohol.  Rum and diet coke is very popular with that crowd.

The next day I had a beer in the Prague Airport and, I guess, no surprise, the prices were about what you would pay in any airport bar, about seven bucks.  It was a nice bar though, and the beer, a draft Pilsner Urquell, was excellent.

A Hip, A Pot, A Mess

As much as I like to travel, I always like coming home too.  I really like my neighborhood, partially because it is a microcosm of the whole world.  And, of course, there is the Waterfront Ale House.  It didn't take me long to pop in there after my return.

I started off the lovely, warm and sunny afternoon with a Victory Sunrise Weiss.  Now it was warm and sunny yesterday, but we got hit with two tornados the night before.  They missed my neighborhood and I slept right through the storm,  But they did a lot of damage not far from me and one woman died after getting hit by a falling tree.  Of course several subway lines and the Long Island Railway were out of service.  This is why I laugh when our Mayor says that in the case of a hurricane we wouldn't have any problem evacuating the city using public transportation.

Anyway, the beer was delicious.  Nice and crisp with citrus notes.  A dark yellow with a large, light and white foamy head.  It was 5.7% ABV, which is reasonable, and was quite quaffable.  Victory is a brewery located in Easton, Pennsylvania and they put out a more than decent line of beers.  Their Hopdevil and Prima Pils are two favorites of mine.

My next beer was a Valeir's Belgian IPA.  This is brewed by Conteras in Gavere, Belgium.  It is 6.5% ABV but tastes much stronger than this.  The alcohol really comes through, not like those drinks at Cloud Lounge.  There wasn't anything particularly note-worthy about this one, and I wouldn't go out of my way to order it again.  Of course, if one was given to me I would drink it.

My last beer was really an interesting one, an Arcadia Jaw-Jacker Ale.  It had an unusually spicy flavor to it.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but then it came to me, a spicy pumpkin pie.  It doesn't have any pumpkin in it, but it does have cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  And it pours a nice pumpkin orange.  An excellent October beer, even if it is still September.  Oh, and it is 6% ABV so you can drink a few of them without falling off the hay-wagon.

In the overly optimistic department, I see where MasterCard has been charging an extra $10 dollars if you use it to buy lotto tickets, treating it as a cash advance.

And in the "define miracle" department, the pastor of a church whose steeple was blown off by the storm we had the other night says he believes it was a miracle that no one was hurt.  I guess that is just the way miracles work, you blow off the steeple but don't let it injure anyone.

The perfect timing department has to focus on the cover story in this issue of Vanity Fair about how Lindsay Lohan is really trying to clean up her act juxtoposed with today's news that she just failed another drug test and is looking at jail time.

I see where Paris Hilton pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and faces a year's probation and 200 hours of community service.  Hasn't she already serviced a community or two?

Going to a tailgate party at a friend's house tomorrow and making my much-in-demand Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches.  I will be wearing my Brett Favre Jets jersey too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meandering Around Town

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I like to check out grocery stores and the public transportation system when we travel.  It kind of gives you a bit of a flavor of a city that you don't get otherwise.  Of course what we check out in the grocery stores differs a bit.

The Section That I Like

They had a large selection of beers, and the prices were very reasonable.

Pilsner Urguell - About $1 For Half A Liter

Budweiser For A Bit Less Than $1 For Half A Liter

And that is the real Czech Republic stuff too.  The Beer of Kings, not the King of Beers.

We purchased an all-day pass that let's you take the subway, tram, and bus as much as you want for 24 hours.  It cost $10 and was worth it.  There is an extensive tram system that hooks up with the subway and bus lines at various points.  The only drawback is the map you get is nigh on to undecipherable.

A Really Confusing Map

The subway part wasn't too bad, but trying to figure out the number system and routes of the trams was impossible.  We just got on one and let it take us wherever it went.

Hmm, Not The Best Part Of Town

Oh well, you can just get off at the end of the line and go back again.

The End Of The Line

We passed a little restaurant that was doing a brisk business and it was right next to a subway stop so we figured it would be a good place to get lunch.

U Jagusky

Now I told you that prices were very reasonable here, but check out this menu.  And keep in mind that there are about 20 crowns to one dollar.

Such A Deal

We ordered a single serving of the pork with saurkraut and dumplings and it was plenty for the both of us.

Under Four Dollars

Not only did we get plenty to eat, it was very good.  The pork was nice and tender with crispy fat, the saurkraut was well seasoned and a bit sweet in the Czech style, and the dumplings were light and fluffy and soaked up the tasty gravy really well.

Of course we washed it all down with a couple of big beers.

Goes Great With Pork

And With Dumplings Too

I think our entire meal with the beers and including a tip was less the eight dollars.  And I probably over-tipped.  In fact, it looked like I was the only one in the place who left a tip.  I can see why this place was so popular.  If I lived in Prague I would be a regular.

After our meal we waddled, we are waddling a lot now, to the subway where we took the fastest escalator that I have ever been on.  You kind of need a running start to jump on.

One Fast Escalator

And, once again, you can't help but be impressed by the cleanliness of the subway stations. 

Pretty Much Spotless

What is it about people in the United States, and especially New York, that makes them consider the subway system, and the streets for that matter, a large garbage can.  It is disheartening to see how pretty a city can be when people don't throw their garbage all over.  New York could actually look as nice as it does in the movies after the film crews clean it up to shoot a scene.  Central Park never actually looks as nice as it does in Woody Allen movies.

We switched lines and got off at a stop that looked like it might be by the river.  It wasn't, but there was a little hotel with a small outdoor area where we could sit and have a beer.

A Perfect Place For A Beer Break

Not the sunniest of days, but still warm enough to sit outside and wet our whistles.

Getting Our Noses Wet

After our beers we caught another tram and then got off when it stopped near a bridge.  We needed to cross the river to get back to the side with our hotel.

Plenty Of River Traffic

We passed a little park and I had to stop to use the restroom.  I was impressed by their signage, although it took me a minute or two before I figured out what they meant.

I hope Photobucket doesn't consider these to be inappropriate.

By the way, that last sign was for the room with the changing table and, it appears, only women are allowed to change a diaper.  But that is only as it should be.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman spotted another little restaurant that she wanted to check out so, of course, we popped in.

A Cute Corner Place

They had outdoor tables but it was getting to be late afternoon and there was a chill in the air.

Not Too Chilly For A Beer, Though

And A Plum Brandy Chaser

And if you think that their plum brandy is a sweet drink like, perhaps, blackberry brandy in the United States, you are wrong.  It is clear and a lethal 100 proof with not a bit of the taste of the plum.  Not bad, though.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman Settled For Tea

And that was pretty much our day.  We stopped back at the grocery store and picked up some dried sausage and cheese for dinner and ate that while we drank champagne and mead cocktails. That was the "free" champagne we got on the boat when we bought our drink package and a bottle of mead that I bought from a guy selling it at one of our boat landings.  Mix them together and it makes a really nice cocktail.

This is our last day here in Prague and I lose my internet connection later this afternoon. As a result there probably won't be any more posts for a couple of days.  We leave here at 10:30 AM and get home a little after 7:00 PM.  Doesn't sound too bad, but don't forget that six hour time difference. It is almost a nine hour flight from Berlin. Plus that flight from Prague to Berlin.  Short, but a couple hour layover.

It has been a really nice trip and Viking did a good job taking care of everything.  The only thing I would do differently is check out my own travel arrangements.  But usually you do get the best prices if you get it with the package.

I still have a lot of pictures from when we were on the boat and will be posting them once I get home.  I probably have several posts worth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Smelling A Setup

I love all of the attention the Jets are getting for, hmm, I am not actually sure.  Making sexually suggestive comments to Ines Sainz, a former Miss Universe contestant?  I am sure she didn't do anything to elicit them.

Don't All Reporters Dress Like This?

She said she was so embarassed.  And I am sure she was, being such a modest person.

Miss Modesty

Okay, now this I don't understand.  I downloaded a picture from Google of Ines Sainz wearing a bikini, no exposed breasts or anything, and Photobucket still deems it inappropriate.  Go figure.  I think I need another photo hosting service.  It is bad enough that they delete pictures that I have taken in museums because, gasp, a breast was exposed, but this is getting stupid.

Let's See If This One Is Considered Appropriate

That one, obviously, is an Esquire cover shot.  If Photobucket can't deal with that they really have some people judging these pictures who probably need professional help.  But I think you get my point.  Ines isn't exactly a shrinking violet who easily gets embarassed by the attentions of members (the pun was intended) of the opposite sex.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it is appropriate to treat any woman in a way other than the way she wants to be treated.  But come on, don't you think Ines might have been trying, at least just a little bit, to elicit the reaction she got?  After all, how much attention would she have received if she had dressed more modestly, had her interview with Sanchez, and nothing happened.  Oh, but Ines said she did dress modestly.  One can only wonder what she wears when she dresses provocatively.

Addendum - After seeing the score of last night's game (it didn't start until 1:00 AM here in Prague) it looks like the incident with Ines was the only offensiveness the Jets were capable of showing.

A Bit Of A Hodge Podge

We are now in Prague and have checked in at the Prague Hilton.  We docked yesterday and took the bus a short way to the hotel to drop off our luggage and then got back on the bus to go on a city tour.  The bus dropped us off at the train station and then we went on a bit of a walking tour.  I will cover some of the hi-lites later, but you will be proud to know that Bar Man managed to get seperated from the group at some point.  Quite inadvertent, I assure you.  I popped into a souvenier shop that wasn't on our intinerary and when I popped out the tour group had moved on.

Fortunately I had spotted an interesting sight of my own to see earlier on our little walk.  Here is what everyone else was looking at.

A Church Of Some Historical Importance

I spotted something much more interesting right across the street.

An Australian Pub

Although I couldn't find our tour group, I was able to retrace my steps back to Fat Boy's Pub where, as you can see, I was devastated by being separated from my group and the Mysterious Chinese Woman.

Simply Inconsolable

There was a group of about six people in the place and one young lady was from St. Paul, Minnesota. As many of you know, I am originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and the two cities are known as the Twin Cities, hence you have the Minnesota Twins baseball team on which Kent (buy me a vowel) Hrbek, of "forward momentum" fame and future Hall Of Fame inductee (if it was up to me) played.

Even I have a hard time understanding that last sentence, and I wrote it.

My Hero, Kent Hrbek

Okay, a bit of back tracking now.  I had mentioned the two Pilsner Urguells that I bought for about three dollars here in the Czech Republic.  You can see that the big beer is, indeed, a big beer.

Bar Man And His Big Beer

And that three dollars also included a little beer for the little lady.

A Petite Beer And The Petite Mysterious Chinese Woman

Bouncing back to Prague, I guess teenagers can be a bit inconsiderate in any country.

Can You Think Of A Better Place To Sit?

After a long day of sight seeing, and longer for me because I had to walk back to the hotel when I couldn't find the tour bus after drinking in Fat Boy's Pub, we figured we would just eat at the hotel.  But, give me a break, travel all the way to Prague for Mexican food.  I don't think so.  And the prixe fix dinner was fifty bucks.  That is more than I would pay in New York even after including a few Margaritas.

Nothing Says Prague Like A Mexican Festival

A couple of new friends that I met on  our boat:

Our Boat

decided to head across the street to a little place.

The Unpronounceable Restaurant And Pub

Here we had large plates of decent food for a much more reasonable twenty bucks, and that included a few beers. I should have taken pictures of the food, but the Mysterious Chinese Woman had a whole roasted duck, I had smoked porkchops and our friends Carol and Dave had a large frying pan of potatoes with pork and some kind of a pork neck dish, I think.  And more dumplings than you could possibly eat.  They love dumplings here.  And, of course, beer.

Carol, Dave and Bar Man And, Of Course, Beer

That wasn't a very good picture of Carol and Dave so here is a nicer one.

Carol And Dave

Dave was a very funny fellow and his jokes really helped stretch out our vacation.  And, in the small world department, my brother and his then wife ued to live in Avoca, a town with a population of about seven in southwestern Minnesota.  Avoca isn't far from the megapolis of Fulda, population of at least fifty.  Dave's brother lived in that area and Dave had been to both of those towns.  What are the odds of that.

Oh yes, mustn't forget the Mysterious Chinese Woman enjoying her beer.

Do I Have Foam On My Face?

They seem to have a nice little trolley system here in Prague so I am going to get a couple of all day passes and just ride them around the city today.  Maybe we will just buy some bread and cheese and have that with our free bottle of Champagne tonight.

Oh, yeah, about the Champagne. We were supposed to have a little party with Carol and Dave last night.  But Dave couldn't wait and he opened his bottle as soon as he checked into his room.  It wasn't even chilled yet so when the cork popped off he managed to hit and break a ceiling light.

Everybody, from the guide books to the hotel to the tour guides warn you about the taxis here.  Apparently they make a practice of ripping of tourists.  When I couldn't find the tour bus at the train station I asked at an information booth how to get back to the hotel.  He said he could call me a cab and it would cost about five dollars.  I asked if I couldn't just take one of them parked in front and he said if they heard me speak English they would probably charge me about twenty-five dollars.  And I thought New York was bad.

I just walked back to the Hotel and, as luck would have it, managed to connect with the tour bus that was dropping off some people who didn't want to continue with the little city tour.  Ah, and you can probably imagine how the Mysteriou Chinese Woman reacted when I showed up.  I can't say it was with overwhelming relief that I was safe and sound.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just A Quickie

We are about to dock soon and then board our bus for the trip to Prague and a short tour of the city before checking into our hotel.  Depending upon the availability of an internet connection I should be posting more over the next few days.

We entered the Czech Republic yesterday afternoon and I had my first Pilsner Urguel in its native country.  Most delicious.  And quite inexpensive.  I had a large mug that was at least a pint and the Mysterious Chinese Woman had a smaller glass.  The price of both beers was just a little over three bucks.  I took pictures but I was so tired after all of the deflowering last night that I failed to dump them onto my PC.  Now my little uploader has been packed away and is now on the bus so the pictures will have to wait.  And now I have to get on the bus as well so Uff Wider Stein.