This is the first post of 2011, isn’t it? It won’t be a very good one, sorry to disappoint. I sort of disappeared for a while and need something to kick start the creative juices. This is more for me than anything else. But this is mine, so I suppose that doesn’t matter, does it?
This is being written far later than it ever should have been. I am writing far later than I ever should have. I fell out of habit over the holidays, and went into some sort of creativity holiday daze…if you want to be a shithead and call it that. Which I am, so I will.
I got really sick the morning after I got back from Lahnaniemi. I don’t know if it was the standing outside in the cold while waiting the bus back to Helsinki. Perhaps it was the mid-sauna naked snow angels on Christmas Day that gave my body a shock it wasn’t ready for. Maybe it was the too many whiskeys I had the night I got back that numbed my internal defenses and left me vulnerable for whatever virus was trying to infiltrate my system. Whatever the reason, I woke up in the middle of the night with that oh so cold feeling, and awoke the next morning with the flu. And the cocksucker stuck around for a few more days, intensely kicking my ass without mercy.
What makes this worse is that we were about to leave on a ten-day trip to Prague and Ljubljana, and everyone knows that there’s nothing more fun than airplane travel when you’re reeling from the flu. I pumped myself full of drugs and made it, but had to spend the first day in Prague in bed, I couldn’t drink, and I couldn’t smoke. No Czech pivo bonanzas for this cowboy. On the bright side, I’d seen the city before, and will move there in under a month, so I will get my pivo bonanzas goddammit!
That said, I recovered and we tooled around and that’s what I wanted to put down here. Some evidence that this happened so I can reminisce when I’m an old, brittle, Alzheimer’s-ridden fart. I didn’t write at all while we traveled. For the most part, I was still a little sick and found it hard to find time, space, and motivation to do so. In spite of this, it was still a great trip. I won’t include everything, and most of this will be more interesting to me than anyone else, but at least it gets words out of my system.
I’ve been back in Helsinki for almost a week now, and this is the first time I’ve writing anything that wasn’t an email. Again, I got back and have been dealing with a lot of the pre-Prague tasks and preparing for the post-Helsinki life. I’ve had time to write, too much time, but have just been the laziest sack of shit as it pertains to actually putting anything down on a page. So it goes.
That said, here we go:
We left on Wednesday the 29th. I stayed at home all day and battled the flu. Oranges, tea, and sick drugs. Not sick in the nineties sense of awesome drugs, homes!, but rather the drugs you take when you are sick. Much less sexy. Much less fun.
I flew into Prague with the flu. But without much hassle: no holiday delays, no lost luggage, and a Czech and German to pick us up at the airport. We drove into town with the dreadful sounds of Scooter and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Czech, just like I left it. Lazy and late we opted for a McDonald’s dinner – I really need to work on my Czech ordering skills – and went out for a few pints at some smoky pub in Prague. The real bummer of it was I could only handle one beer (though my first drink since I’d gotten sick) and I couldn’t smoke at all. Smoking indoors with a beer is what makes America great! But, like I said, I’ll be back.
The oddest thing was a bunch of, what looked like, young, young high school kids getting completely shitfaced at the table next to us. These kids looked, and handled their beer, like they were fourteen. It was uncanny how the staff didn’t really care. Central Europe, give it up I guess?
The next day, Thursday the thirtieth, the lot of us, six of us by my count, get up and walk around Prague. A few sights I’d seen before, and just as cold as when I’d seen them last. I made it maybe an hour before I had to bail. I felt like I was going to die any moment, and spent the rest of the afternoon ibuprofened up and asleep. I woke up around the time everyone else came back from their pivo bonanza and shot the shit while sneaking a few shots. Not bad, feeling better…
On Friday we woke up and slowly five of us, from three different countries, headed to Brno for New Years. Once more, another great flat, another great Czech host, though no pet turtle in this one. We kind of fuck up the timing, not realizing that everything closes early on New Years Eve and have to scramble to find beer. But we do. Gin too. And everything works out smashingly. A fantastic party in the Czech Republic, watching random Czech TV, playing fantastic music, and just getting silly with some really good friends – what more could you want to ring in the new year? After midnight we go to porch for cigars and pink cigarettes and watch the unofficial fireworks fly through the sky. I crash, I don’t know when, but there is an Urquell pyramid as high as high on one of the shelves.
Saturday we hangover the morning, have a couple breakfast pivos and tour the town. Jana takes us to a great restaurant and I get my Svíčková on. We go to the top of the hill and watch the official city fireworks, and post-game with too many beers in a nice small pub, decorated with the usual Christmas wares. The bartender got progressively hammered as the night went on, which was kind of funny. Every time she came over to our table she was slightly more askew in her gait. By the end of the night she was pounding shots behind the bar. We do a bit of the same and all of us, guys and girls, end up at a Czech strip club until late into the night.
The next day, Sunday the 2nd, Laura and I take a train to Ljubljana and it is so nice to return. It takes a few days, but so too does my Slovene. By the time I left it was decent, but at first it was fucking horrid. We immediately eat a jufka, walk around the old town a little, and meet Alenka at her place. The three of us take in the last days of the Christmas market, have some kuhano vino, and crash.
Monday we wake up to meet Alenka for coffee, lunch it at Tomato – Jesus I forgot how big the hamburgers are in this country! – stroll through Tivoli, argue about the semantics of the statues there, and go back to the flat for a Laško. We go for dinner at Gregorino just like old times, but have to split the pizza and, even then, we struggle to finish. We both used to be able to pound one of those bastards into our bellies no problem. Oh Slovenia, how I miss your comically large portions and disregard for my weight gain.
I’ll skip ahead…
Wednesday, Laura and I try to cook ourselves lunch. We end up melting Alenka’s toaster, which is stored in the oven, unbeknownst to us. We inhale only minor amounts of toaster fumes and catch it before it burns down the building. (“Should smoke be coming out of the oven like that?” “No. No it shouldn’t.”) We meet a Finn-Slovene couple we know for coffee and afterward buy a new toaster.
And once more…
Saturday we have coffee with the Kranjcs, lunch with the Borštniks, say our goodbyes around town, and head to the airport. Fly home, again without worry, and my health is in better shape than when I left. We make it back to our flat all right, and I don’t write a word for days.
All in all a nice little trip we had ourselves.