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The longest journey...London-Pragu e '00
Member Name: Fu-Manchu
Date: 28/11/00, updated on 28/11/00 (262 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap, gives you time to think...
Disadvantages: Uncomfortable when packed.
Fortunately, at the age of 22, I'd found the perfect girl. Unfortunately, she lived about 800 miles away in the small picturesque village of Kutna Hora, around 60 miles east of Prague.
I hadn't the guts to ask her out while she was living in the UK, and when she returned home, I thought, "B*****ks to it! I'm not letting this one go!" And jumped on a coach to Prague...
A 22hr journey, departing from Waterloo, going across the channel to France, up through Belgium, back down through France, all the way across Germany, before finally arriving in Prague the following morning.
It was a gruelling journey, but a peaceful one until we reached Brussels. Up until that point, there was only about twelve people on the coach. I had planned to fly my England flag (It was Euro 2000) from the window, but Brussels had been turned into a battlefield by the England fans. I was ashamed to be English, and it saddened me...I had planned to watch the last group game vs. Romania in a pub with my Czech friends, but after all the violence, I was embarassed to single myself out as English.
There was a scary moment on the way to Brussels - the connection time was tight, and we stopped in a Belgian village 30 miles short of the capital for a pick up. One guy had decided he didn't want to go on holiday after all, but we had to wait for him anyway. Time was getting tight, and I feared I would miss my connection and end up stranded in Belgium, with no currency and nowhere to stay.
Luckily, I made it by ten minutes, and then we played "How many people can you stuff into a coach?", which is a variation of those Guiness Record efforts where they packed as many people as possible into a phone box. The air was thick with other people's bad breath, sweat and farts. Luckily, my own flatulence is like a biblical plague, so I soon exerted my authority on these misfits.
I was wedged in next to a 6ft+ Czech
guy named Peter, who was a born again Christian. He asked me what I thought of Britain's political stance in Europe. I told him I didn't have a clue - I'm not one for current affairs.
On the way back through Belgium, we saw carloads of Spanish fans celebrating a victory. What we saw of Belgium looked beautiful.
Through the night, we travelled through Germany. I slept fitfully, and the journey was punctuated by short stops. Unfortunately, I only had Czech crowns, and none of the garages and restaraunts took this currency. That meant I had to strictly ration my last half-bottle of water.
Dawn. A long stop at border control, and then we trundled into the Czech Republic. I strained my eyes for road signs, to give some indication of where we were. The first familiar name was Plzen, where the first Pils lager originated. Then I was ecstatic...finally a sign reading PRAHA!
Another stop, and I could finally by some food, and freak out about the prices. As an Englishman, I soon found I could live like a king for a week on fifty quid. Then onto Prague - a strange mix of beautiful architecture, grim Communist built blocks of flats, rubbish, and graffiti.
We eventually reached the coach station, and I strained my eyes for my friend. It was a long way to go to ask for a date - it was 26hrs between when I first left my house, and when I finally arrived in Prague.
After all that, she turned me down. But she was worth it.