The Haunted Praha Tour

20141031_220128We are walking towards the pond in Stromovka. It’s 8 p.m., October 31st. It’s very dark, the only light coming from the eerie fog that has settled on the fields and among the trees. It is also quiet of humans, though there are the occasional barks of distant dogs and the guttural ribbit (Cz: kvak) of frogs in the pond.

By day, this park is markedly different. It’s green and usually filled with people jogging, walking, skating, or playing Frisbee. But on this autumn night, with the fog, the eerie quiet, the black trees outlined against the dark night, it’s a storybook setting for a Halloween ghost story.

And that’s fitting, because we are here on Halloween to see a ghost.

The ghost was a Carpathian Captain and cousin of Vlad the Impaler who is said to live in the middle of the pond at Stromovka and come out only to catch humans to eat. While he waits, however, he feeds on pond creatures and whiles away the hours organizing the fish into military formations.

Collin found the article – Prague’s 10 Most Haunted Places. So we decided to visit some of them tonight instead of sitting in one of the four pubs we inhabit on Fridays. Sure, there are Halloween parties, but as we are both virtual outcasts there were no worrisome invitations. And now, I am sipping on a flask and waiting for a ghost with the only other American in Prague who’s dateless on a Friday night.

We wait for PJ and Vlad’s cousin, and while the captain does a no-show, PJ does rumble out of the fog. He’s got a flashlight. We head to our next ghost, a disgruntled Apache in Old Town who died while touring with a Wild West show in the late 1800s. He is now seen occasionally begging the sun to send him home to the western U.S.

We see no Apache, but there is talk of a hotdog shop. We also have to pee since we stopped off at a pub on the way here. It becomes clear that we have veered too far to hit the hotdog shop and our bladders are ready to burst. So, at least for a short while the Apache wasn’t the only unhappy American in Old Town.

The streets in the city center are filled with revelers of some sort. Some are Halloween revelers, dressed up as ghouls, zombies, and British people. Others are just Friday night revelers. I’m not used to so many people as I’d never consider going to Old Town on Friday night. So while there have been no appearances from our friends in the supernatural community, I’m having the time of my life.

I guess it’s because I am a routine dude. I visit the same pubs, see the same friends, watch the same shows, drink the same things, and buy the same food. The cashier at my local shop could probably do my shopping for me and deliver it to my house. And tonight is new and with new  comes excitement and fun.

The Iron Man was a knight who killed his lover in a jealous rage. He now lurks near the statue of his likeness where it is mythologized that his soul can only be freed by the love of a pure-hearted woman. Hoping to free the knight, we look around for such a lady. But the only ones present are dressed up for Halloween as Sexy (enter any noun here), so pure isn’t an applicable adjective.

Samantha the witch in front of the Iron Man

Samantha the witch in front of the Iron Man

The closest we come to a pure-hearted woman is the Korean gent who is dressed as a witch and who offers to get in a picture with the statue. I name him Samantha.

Thirty minutes later, as we stand on Liliana Street, the site of Prague’s own Headless Horseman, we are finally filled with a sense of horror. This is mostly because the Headless Horseman now resides next door to a TGI Friday’s. We recoil in horror at the homeless man snoring in the back lot. No Headless Horseman, but PJ does anger a TGI Friday’s bartender by using the bathroom.

At the next pub the horrors continue as we realize we have stumbled into a bar full of drunken opera singers. Also, PJ gets the hiccups. We settle in and sip on beers. We talk about real life horrors. Job and family stress. Approaching deadlines. Foot fungus.

PJ’s diaphragm pesters him until he finally gives in and they head off into the night, one man with two breathing patterns. It’s after midnight when Collin mentions visiting a new bar in Žižkov, which is in the opposite direction from my house. Normally an immediate no-no in my book, but not tonight. And in the spirit of doing new things, I say yes.

Many hours later, I am making my way home amid the drunken and the slurring revelers on the night tram. There has been nothing supernatural tonight; the spookiest moment being the impromptu discussion on cannibalism some guy in a bathroom struck up with me. However, as I nestle into a tram seat and avoid the idiot with the bloody knuckles, I know that tonight wasn’t about spooky, but about new.

If you are a routine dude like me, you know that new can be just as spooky.

  1. #1 by Simon on November 9, 2014 - 9:50 pm

    “Some are Halloween revelers, dressed up as ghouls, zombies, and British people.”

    I’m just back from blighty, and British people have become very scary, or maybe my norm parameters have shifted?

Comments are closed.