OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP
The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.
The cover of one of my most cherished CD's, 'Angel Dust' by Faith No More, has a beautiful, regal white Herron on the front, and a gorey snap of hanging meat carcasses on the back. Faith No More's attempt to describe their own paradoxical nature describes Prague perfectly.
Prague, whichever way you look at it, is either a beautiful, historically rich and cultured city or a cess pool of seediness and vice.
The Hurricanes stayed in two places, a hostel and a 'Holiday Inn' hotel. The hostel suited the younger guys perfectly, $10 a night and right beside a dark little underground bar that sold beer for about 80 cents a jar. That's about, oh, €5 cheaper than Dublin on a Friday night. The Holiday Inn was great, another situation where a basic enough three star hotel in Europe would probably rank as a four or even five star hotel in Dublin, the land of the mediocre hotels.
Even in the hotel beer and food were pretty cheap, basically €4 for a big jar of tasty Czech beer. Those Czech's know their beer. Budvar is delicious. The great thing about it is, since most European countries don't put chemicals in their beer, you basically do not get a hangover. Try drinking ten pints of horrible Budweiser, which tastes like pig swill compared to Budvar, and you will be pumping Advil like the second coming of Brett Favre to avoid the inevitable hangover.
Ten pints of Budvar? You might experience a little sluggishness, but no throbbing headache. Plus, it goes down easier than Tara Reid on a Friday night, and tastes better than any American beer I have tried with the possible exception of Sam Adams.
Whatever you say about Prague, it is great for socialising in. As a team we could sit around, catch up with each other and shoot the breeze for hours knocking back tasty Czech beers without worrying about being robbed (as would be the case in Dublin, for example). Most bars allow you to run a tab so you just pay when your ready to go. In the bar we nicknamed 'HQ', right beside the hostel, I paid €8 for a delicious plate of Schnitzel, seven beautiful Budvars and some snacks. Now that's value.
The historic, beautiful centre of Prague is as aesthetic as it is interesting. Beautiful old buildings give the city a really regal feel to it. The architecture is fascinating and the history deep and omnipresent. However, you might be enjoying the view in the old town square when a piece of the seedier side of Prague might hit you right in the face. Check this guy out. He is basically advertising an adult entertainment centre, the likes of which are there, right in your face, all over Prague. Some of his terminology is a little 'spicy' so maybe give it a skip if that kind of thing offends you.
That's Hurricanes slugger and home run hitting hero of the weekend Rafael Diaz trying to enjoy a cold beer in the town square, and ending up laughing hysterically at the 'Hand massage guy' as we came to know him lovingly. The funny, or sad, depending which way you look at it, thing is that his ilk are all over the city. It's unavoidable. 'Come to Prague and see our beautiful city, and get solicited all weekend!'
Another drawbacks is that the city is absolutely plagued with roaming packs of English stag parties. The skittles (as my old friend Mark Connolly used to call them, red shirt, yellow shirt, pink shirt, blue shirt, skittles!) wander from bar to bar getting progressively more drunk and rowdy. If you actually enjoy this backdrop when travelling, a cheaper alternative would just be to go hang out around Anfield on match day.
Also, we all agreed, the nightlife isn't really that great. The beer is cheap, but the nightclubs are reasonable at best. Perhaps we chose poorly however and I have to say the bar staff, beer and cocktails were all super fab wherever we went. In Dublin, you are made feel grateful for being 'allowed' spend €6 on a bad pint of beer, in the Czech capital you get a friendly barman serving you a tasty, smooth beer for a sixth that price.
Prague is a fascinating and paradoxical city. The perfect spot for hanging out with friends during a tournament, however possibly not the best spot for bringing the kids on a family holiday.
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