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Berlin to Prague: In search of the Elf – Prague, Czech Republic

Berlin to Prague: In search of the Elf
Berlin to Prague

The Train Ride to Berlin
The Train Ride to Berlin
“We do not do such bad things,” the man grunted from behind the counter with a thick Czechie accent. He was the Welcome Committee at the Praha Train Station Information Booth. That was his response when my friend and I had asked if he could help us locat a hostel – for around 15 Euros. After his “warm welcome” to his country, he returned to looking “busy” as he attempted to fix the radio on the counter top. When we inquired about the ATM or Cashbox, he retorted “very far”. As we wandered outside the double doors of the train station, the ATM was located against the wall only a few feet from the main entrance. (I suppose everyone has their own perceptions of distance.) Slightly amused by our introduction to Praha, known as Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, we were in search of a magical land as we stepped through the gateway to Eastern Europe.

We were accosted by several individuals trying to drive us to their home and provide us with a room — some were many miles outside the main part of the city. This is a common practice among the city dwellers that have additional property or rooms to rent out in their homes. Thankfully, I was traveling with Reid — I am not sure I would have gone alone so willingly to someone’s home. We called the hostel, in search of a more social environment and found them to be full. Arriving without a reservation on a Saturday evening minimized our options. We finally agreed to be driven to a lady’s apartment for our accommodation. But food was our first priority, even though my bum was dragging from lack of sleep.

Less than 24 hours earlier we were in the process of saying good-bye to Berlin, with a true German style send off — lots of drinks, lots of dancing, and we were out so late that the sun had greeted us on our way back to the hostel. We were able to sleep for only one and a half hours before we had to maneuver through the Berlin train station in search of tickets to Praha. Once we found our train, we were squeezing through a narrow passageway to find a seat with all our bags. The seats were full – people everywhere. So Reid and I dropped our packs and choose to sit on the floor between train cars, that gave us enough space to pile our bags up and lean against them. We were dazed from our lack of sleep but as Reid pulled out his guitar, and sat on the floor of the train, I chose to remember this calm peaceful moment with a photo. However, his soothing musical tunes were abruptly interrupted each time a passenger needed to climb over our territory and use the toilet.

Eventually, the passengers slowly trickled off at each stop, providing us with an actual seat. When the train was stopping at each destination, it was difficult to know which stop was ours, everyone would end up piling into the narrow passageways with their bags, and then stop and block the way if it wasn’t their destination. Struggling travelers tried to reach the exit before the doors closed and carried US on its way. After a very long four hours, we arrived. Reid and I grabbed our bags, and Reid plowed the way down the corridor to the exit. He jumped off, and door slid shut in my face. My heart stopped, as I pictured the train lurching forward in motion. My bags weighed me down and I saw no handle to push the door aside. I was thankful when Reid found the magic button and the door opened for me to exit. I found my breathe as the fresh air hit my face as I jumped off the train and onto stable ground. What a relief!

After almost missing my entrance to Praha, and struggling to find our way to the city, we obtained lodging and a fantastic traditional Czech meal. In the morning, we left the flat and arrived at Hostel Elf. We wanted a more social setting. I am not sure we truly understood the meaning of “social”, as defined by Hostel Elf. Upon arrival, there were about seven people in the front lounge slamming shots of Vodka and it was ONLY 10:30 on a Sunday morning! And this was just the beginning.

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