A Day of Pragueness

mulletIt’s Saturday and it’s hot. Steaming hot. To counteract the extreme unpleasantness brought on by humidity in a country with no air conditioning, we have decided to drink outdoors. We are in Reigrovy Sady, one of the great beer gardens in Prague. The mugginess sits over the place like a circus tent.

The beer is cold and the Becherovka is as hot as the weather. If you have ever had Becherovka, you know that it is best served chilled. Chilled Becherovka tastes like jolly Christmas. Heated Becherovka is like drinking a glass of cinnamon nails. Nevertheless, we drink it.

Though we originally came out to beat the heat and have a drink, it’s clear that sometime during the day we have decided to make this a day of Pragueness. It’s true that Reigrovy Sady is packed with expats and non-Czechs, but the Pragueness comes through in many ways. In the first place, Reigrovy is the quintessential summer hangout. There’s a big television showing soccer, a permanent plume of marijuana smoke, a laidback atmosphere, and grumbling bitter staff.

We have a klobasa with bread and mustard. Mark has two. The beer is going down easy and the hot Becherovkas make us wince and roll our eyes, but apparently not enough to stop drinking them.

To have a day of Pragueness is a requirement from time to time. I sometimes start in the morning with a yogurt and buttered white rolls with ham for breakfast. Then there can be soup and Svíčková for lunch and maybe a beer if you are feeling adventurous. In the afternoon I’ll go to Naplavka or sit in a pub for an hour or two and watch the Czech news with the regulars.

We wanted to have a day of Pragueness today because we are going to be in Africa for two weeks. There is most probably not going to be any Pragueness there.

We close Reigrovy Sady, staying there until well after 1 am. Since it’s a day of Pragueness, we need to enjoy more beer, so we find another pub in Vinohrady. The waiter is a prick and glares at his watch to complain that we arrived at 2 am to a pub that closes at 3 am. He will clearly need 90 minutes to clean dishes. It’s almost too perfect. We sit for a while and when it’s time to pay and they don’t accept cards, I have to go to the ATM while they keep Mark hostage.

Now, everyone who lives (or has lived) in Prague knows that you sometimes just have to have a night that ends in a shifty all night herna bar. And so that is what we do. The bartender yells at us for coming so late to a bar that never closes. He is watching Czech Superstar. The Becherovka here is cold, we surmise, and well we tried one just to be sure. We were right. Then we tried another to make sure the whole bottle was cold.

Now, to complete a night out in Prague you need to eat something that’s going to strip a few months off of your life. We choose KFC. It was a decision made easier by the fact that nothing else was open. We wave our bags at a can passing by. This cabbie has to be perfect. He has to complete our night. When we notice the length, bushiness, and overall beauty of his mullet, the night has been made complete.

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