Posts Tagged ‘drinking’

Cellar Bars

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

After aimlessly walking around Prague, I was feeling a little down. It just kept getting colder, and I felt like I had seen everything I cared to from a tourist’s standpoint, at least for a 3 day jaunt. I was sick of the language, sick of the hostel, sick of not knowing anyone, and angry that I didn’t get to see as much as I wanted to, because of those German bitches.

Turned out I just needed a nap.

So, I went down from 2:00 to 4:30, woke up, and felt great!

I went to the bar, had 3 beers (in Prague, you just order a beer. There is no selection. You just say, “I’ll have a beer.” And they give you one. Its good.), and spent some time packing, showering, and get ready for some action.

Here was the plan:

At 8:00, I was meeting Jillian, an American from Couchsurfing, by the national theater for a good old-fashioned American take on the Prague experience. Jillian was (and remains) 25, and portrays herself as a true partyer. She teaches English in Prague, but she’s clearly here for the nightlife. This is a girl who thirsts for the thump of the disco. It had the potential to be a good night.

I arrived flawlessly at the National Theater, our meeting spot, at 7, just in time for a traditional Czech meal. Earlier in the week, I had had pickled brie cheese, some Czech sausages, but this was excellent. I had roasted pig’s neck, potato dumplings, with some kind of brown sauce. Americans have a problem with Czech food, mostly because of the descriptions, and they have a point. If they just called it Roasted Pork, I think we’d be fine. We don’t need to know whichpartof the pig it is. Roasted Pig’s neck? This is not information that I require as a diner.

I also ordered Budvar, which my father requested I try in Prague. He had watched some documentary on Discovery, or some shit, talking about how Budweiser originally was spawned from the original Prague Budvar recipe, and that the Budvar beer was among the best in the world. So, I ordered two pints, and guess what?

It tasted…a fucking lot like Budweiser. So, so much for that.

At 8, I paid my bill, and went across the street to meet Jillian, who arrived to greet me at 8:15.

“So, what do you want to do?”
“Jillian, I don’t need the best experience. I just want an experience.” As an afterthought, I added, “And I want to go in a cellar bar.”

“Okay, well, the first thing I want to do…is buy some marijuana.”
“Hmmm…okay. I will be curious to see how you do that, Jillian.” That’s what I called her.


So, we darted off one corridor, down into another, a quick turn in an alleyway, and we opened a nondescript door to the left. Inside, there were some people drinking beers, many of them Rastafarians.

“This used to be a big ex-pat bar,” said Jillian, as if this would somehow be significant to me. “Down here.”

We went down a hidden staircase. As we descended, I asked, “Now what?”
“Now, we just ask for a bag.”

I hung out behind her while she conducted the transaction, and just like that, we were gone.

“Okay, we’re good. It was funny. They were all giving you the evil eye. That big rasta guy in the back? He likes me.”

From there, we went to some crappy bar, where they sold us roughly pint-sized pints of pilsner for 25 crowns ($1.32). Jillian and I sat and caught up while we waited for her Czech friend.

“Do you know how to roll joints?”
“No, I’ve always been terrible. Its the pinching that fucks me up.”
“So, you moved to Prague as an English Teacher.”
“Yeah, I’m here for the nightlife. I visited for a month, and just…kept…staying. I’m here with a program, and I keep saying this is the last year, but I just love the partying.”
“Well, it sounds like I picked the right person to hang out with on my last night in Prague.”

Eventually, we were joined by her 20-year-old Czech friend, whose name escapes me. Jillian leaned in, “He’s just here to roll joints.”

He was a sweet kid. Enthusiastic and happy. He made sure we didn’t get screwed over, turned a cigarette into a joint, and we chatted a little bit about the typical European misconceptions about Texas and George Bush; etc.

As I burned the joint, we were joined by Jillian’s Portuguese upstairs neighbor, Andre, and some chick from Quebec, whose name also escapes me.

Jillian had told me about Andre, that he was a little…intense, as in he had no concept of personal space, and didn’t really know how to dominate a conversation in a way that didn’t freak people out a little. He also hosted couchsurfers all the time. I guess it was his primary means of getting girls. A good gig, if you can get it, or if no one wants to hang out with you in your hometown anymore.

Andre looked like a caricature of Mick Jagger, and acted the same way. His jokes were terrible, and he was definitely very intense.

We ordered a round of Bechyrovka, a traditional Czech liqueur that kind of tasted like Christmas…if Christmas were evil. This was followed by another pilsner and a shot of plum brandy. Keep in mind, I was still puffing on the joint, and my evening started to spiral out of control. I leaned into the only American I knew,

“Jillian, I’m starting to freak out a little bit.”
“Just ride it out. Its cool.”

We left the bar and headed to this place called U Sudu. Andre was blowing my mind with his antics (think Portuguese Mick Jagger on stage strutting like a chicken, and then putting his arm around you and saying, “Just kidding. No seriously, you want to fight? Just kidding. Here, watch me make out with this girl. Will you give me a dollar? Will you?!”)

Okay, so picture this:

You walk into a traditional, crowded British pub. There are old men and withered soldiers sipping on pints, and there’s barely enough room to order, let alone find a table. “This bar’s kind of dumb,” you might think to yourself.

And then someone shows you a tiny door in the very back of the bar, so hidden, you probably wouldn’t have noticed it. You maneuver past the old men, and go through the door. As you descend the steps, that’s when you start to hear the faint thumping of the disco.

Down the stairs you walk. Further and further down, until you’re in an intense cave-like disco, with flashing lights, sweaty europeans, and a glowing neon bar.

Cellar bars. The closest thing I’ve ever seen to the Star Wars bar on Tattooine.

Things started to get fuzzy here. Jillian started making out with the young Czech. Reluctantly at first, but with growing enthusiasm. The Quebec girl would not shut up about how many languages she knew, how much she hated Canadians (that were not from Quebec, of course), and Americans, and Europeans. This was my first introduction to anyone from Quebec, but she certainly confirmed all the haughty stereotypes.

More shots of Becherovka…more plum brandy…more beers. Another stair case further down, revealing hip hop, and then alcoves with jazz and jungle.

Another bar, called The Cellar, with more of the same. I couldn’t really stand up or focus. We kept losing Jillian in the mazes. Andre put his arm around the Quebec girl.

One final bar. More shots. “Now you show me American shot!” “Hmmm, a lemon drop?” “Andre, you are in rare form tonight!” “What is this, ‘rare form?’ Are you making fun of me?” “Its possible.”

The Quebec girl and I were staying right next to each other. We stumbled home, while she told me about the nice Czech guy for whom she moved here. “That’s nice.”

I fell through the doors to the hostel, as the front desk clerk eyed me warily. I went up to the first floor to find two young travelers emerging from the shower.

It was 4am. They skipped sheepishly towards their respective rooms.

Nothing says ‘wordly’ like getting fucked in a bathroom…