that time i went to prague and ended up in a beer dungeon;

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preseta little preface: ~ a million years ago, when i began documenting the two weeks i went backpacking in europe solo, i had a mental squabble over this portion of my trip. most of my non-fiction stories involve a game i play called, “is this libel?” or rather, “is this my story alone to tell?”  so i stopped until i could figure out how to tackle this nugget. 

then solange dropped her album and i was like “lol lemme throw out my feelings like they’re confetti, too!” so, time to unleash this beast. 

in case ya missed it, here are the first two legs of my solo euro trip:  dublin. berlin. 


at this point in my travels, i was convinced i would never sleep again.  it just became a thing i was used to not doing. like my taxes. or changing my brita filter.

i debated all the things i could do now that sleep was not a part of my life —  maybe i’d learn lady-coding like all those facebook ads suggest i do since they’ve obviously detected me googling diva-cups {that was ONE TIME and i definitely immediately bought one right after and life has never been better???}

exaggerations aside, i really, truly did think i’d die. i felt like snakes were crawling over me constantly and i was rapidly running out of dayquil and common sense.

these are all moments i put down in my europe scrapbook to read at future family dinners for my grandkids to be like, “ma, please take grandma’s teeth. she’s gone off the rails.”

i’m definitely losing teeth privileges in my old age.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset5am on new years day, i threw caution to the wind and headed to the train station to board my train from berlin to prague. by “throwing caution to the wind”, i mean i pleaded with anyone with a shifty look in their eye and perhaps a snaggle tooth to give me a teeny tiny, fun-sized, recreational portion of rohypnol so i could roofie myself to sleep. 

failing at this and inspired by the darkness i felt deep in my soul’s bowels, i shoved my face into the darkness of my down coat and forced about 4 hours of weird, trippy sleep.

it was like an of montreal album queefed out my dreams, but a sort of sad one that’s full of old czech grandmas who openly judged me and hit me repeatedly in the ankles with their shopping carts.

i smelled of shame, broken bottles of old german pilsner and a bit {a lot} like fear-urine. i would judge me, too. 

 

enter, my dank-ass hostel in prague . which was in an old palace. and was essentially full of endless free ham sandwiches and clawfoot tubs.

know your worth, ladies.

if i could chunk up this trip into chapters, the first chapter would be “finding myself by not finding absinthe”, the second would be “open mouth strudel sobs”, and the third would be called “whoops, gettin’ dumped in my bunk bed right now.”


finding myself by not finding absinthe (or my wallet):
i know none of you are reading this because we’d all likely rather read about a relationship going to complete chicken shit {we’re all kind of turds and also i would too}, but just in case:

prague is…breathtaking in the sense that it feels like it’s punched you in the throat and as you’re like, “what gives?” prague throws a huge, rare diamond at your right eyeball and runs away. this is all to say it’s aggressively gorgeous and unbelievable in every sense of the word.

after i napped myself into a deep drool puddle, i partnered up with my hostel bunk buddy, marie, to go after what any self-respecting woman in prague alone would do: we went to go eat a shit ton of goulash and chase the green fairy.

totally starved as we passed by an absinthe bar, we decided to shelve it until we found a good place to eat. ERROR #1: absinthe will not wait for you!

after we goulash’d, we trudged back to find this bar and…couldn’t find that ish ANYWHERE. the main touristy part of prague is also very, very small, and yet we could not find this particular bar again? did we eat absinthe-soaked beef? roofie-soaked beef? like how is this possible?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetresolving ourselves to try to find the green fairy another night, we decided to do the next best thing: i took my last dose of dayquil with a $1 czech beer, and went to those fish tank spas where the fish eat YOUR DEAD FOOT SKIN OFF.

just kidding, it cost EIGHTY DOLLARS. when i’m old and spending all of my rich husband’s money, i will spend most of my days eating terra chips i smuggled from jet-blue flights and having tiny fish eat my dead foot skin, though, so fear not.

now, stay with me here: i sound like i wasted all of my good time in prague getting lost and trying to get absinthe and sleeping off the flu and feeling insane and being cheap as balls, which is mostly correct, but we also can’t forget that i also wasted a whole evening accidentally pick-pocketing myself!

{i also rode a funicular, and that negates everything according to travel math.}

while backpacking, i luckily buddied up with two groups of brazilian students. the first group invited me to a pub crawl one night and as we sidled up to the first pub, i patted my down jacket and realized…um, nope. my wallet pouch {that is covered in a collage of dogs} i’ve had since i was 20…was very much not there. the wallet also contained my keys, my passport, my ID, and everything of value outside of maybe my dignity.

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flipping out, i ran all across the old town and charles bridge and my new friends angelically followed me, retracing my steps all the way the pub, and tracked down a police officer  who directed us to not one, not two, but three different police stations until we finally found the english speaking police station.

three hours and three statements later, all the boys in my group began to laugh at me. the officers were shaking their heads at me, one after the other:

“why do you keep saying ‘dog wallet’?” the boys said.

“it’s a wallet that has dogs on it!”

“what do you mean by ‘it has dogs on it’?”

“like, it has a shit ton of dogs on it! it’s a wallet. with dogs on it!!”

“that’s ridiculous.”

“no, it’s amazing and you don’t understand!”

i didn’t even care if my money and cards were lost. i just really wanted my dog wallet back.

resolved to use my next and last day trying to scramble to find a way to leave this country for my next stop, my friends walked me back to the hostel, totally gracious in having missed a pub crawl to help me out.  i asked the front desk guy if he had seen a wallet with dogs on it, by any chance.

he had.

it was on the hostel couch the whole time.

{i hate me.}

i nearly kissed the front desk homie right on the face out of gratitude and disbelief and definitely not enough beer. he was not into it. but gosh darn it, i got my dog wallet back.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetopen-mouth strudel sobs:
most people in high school had a life, whereas i wore a lot of vests, and had a whole lot of free time that i spent eating banana ice cream  {why, 15 year old me? you could’ve eaten ANY thing else in the world and you squandered it!} while watching a shit ton of episodes of passport to europe.

my favorite was naturally where samantha brown gets a strudel the size of a fat toddler’s arm.

sure, this city looks like a damn disney castle, but i am nothing if not 100% myself at all times and cannot lie and say i came here to experience true cultural immersion, instagrams, or to absorb works of art.

i came here for a strudel. a $1 strudel.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preseti wanted to shove my face into this strudel and thus peer into what i assumed to be the face of god/goddess. i wanted to motorboat this strudel until someone would inevitably ask me to leave {the sign of a job well done}. i’ve wanted to do unspeakable things with this strudel for the last 9 years, and then for the rest of the strudel and i’s natural lives.

i knew it was a gamble, trying to find this strudel man around the holidays but i felt the strudel gods smiling on me and sectioned off a full evening of my trip to this quest, including two trains and an hour walk in the middle of nowhere.

after trudging out to the middle of nowhere, i made it to the strudel shop as it started to rain. and it was closed.

so closed.

as in it was closed until the day after i left prague for munich. for some reason, the gods decided i was not ready for the rest of my life to begin. and they were correct. because i promptly cried like a little bitch.

on the hour long walk back to the station, i walked past a czech pizza shop, which only confused and disgusted me further {i’m always confused when drastically different cultures make pizza. it makes me nauseous for reasons i cannot explain and am embarrassed by this assumption always. like would it be covered in goulash? why do i think this way? when will i be less of a turd?}

finally, i made my way back to my hostel, delighting that at least i came up with the dad joke: “strudel is brutal” and drank away my strudel sadness at a czech beer dungeon {complete with fake skeletons} down the street with my other brazilian posse.

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i know this looks like a ham hot pocket. i did not do you justice, strudel. 

the next day, i stumbled into a cafe that was straight out of a laura-ashley-meets-alice-in-wonderland wet dream, ordered a huge strudel and a coffee and sighed so long the small children around at the nearby table became very, very concerned.

 

i promptly went to first base with this strudel for at least 15 minutes. it was delightful and both the strudel and i were both very, very happy afterwards.

i’ll likely not know what that magical, fabled strudel tastes like until i return to prague, but i will remember the romance i felt with my own strudel in that random cafe.

it’s comforting to know i alone felt such an acute sense of strudel-scented relief {which probably smells like the “apple pie” + “man town” yankee candles combined} that was entirely my own.

so suck on DEEZ STRUDELS, samantha brown.


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gettin’ dumped:
and then i very nearly got myself dumped. at 3am. at the bottom of a bunk bed, leaning over the side of the bed to see if i could dislodge a bit of snot with the help of my good frienemy, gravity.

i vividly remember telling my then-boyfriend i had to leave my phone a few times to go blow my nose in the bathroom, so i could breathe as i got the text messages, which implied heeeeey, maaaaaybe we should break up?

my entire face for the two hour saga was inspired by the blair witch project, all splotched and covered in various types, textures and ages of snot, as i cried as quietly as possible in the hostel {i like to think i sounded like a little, dainty mouse queen}. i spent two hours type-shouting “NOPE. I REFUSE. I DENY YOUR REQUEST TO DUMP ME. DO NOT TRY AGAIN LATER.”

it’s not the reasons of the breakup that i really want to focus on, because those all-too-personally extend to both before and after my trip, but rather how it colored my experiences and how i viewed others around me on the trip, because how could it not?

my old and new hostel friends were the first to notice something was amok. i decided to put the blame on the timezone shifts, or even directly on myself for accidentally humble-bragging about my day to him, the places i was going and people i was meeting. when asked by new hostel friends, i’d frame details of my chats with him in a hopefully-endearing way, but my new friends would raise their eyebrows, with a tally that didn’t add up to much.

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and i’m glad it didn’t. eventually, i shut off my phone for much of my trip to avoid the silence from the other end. it ultimately forced me to not sit by my phone on the charger, trying to will my boyfriend to skype with me from the claw-foot tub in the communal bathroom as i ate a free sandwich full of hostel ham.

the fact that i didn’t have wi-fi or phone service was freeing and also a bit darkly humbling, like when you expect a solid chunk of texts after a long flight just to receive nothing from… anyone {wtf, mom? text me shit! confirm my existence!}

while it was hard to leave for a whole day of solo plans, just to come back to the hostel to nothing but radio silence, it kept me more accountable to myself to enjoy myself, for myself, by my own damn means. i stayed out longer, searching instead for mysterious kebap meat rather than wi-fi signals.

i also ate a lot of fried cheese potatoes and realized i DO NOT understand what 100g. looks like {AHEM, it’s NOT enough potatoes} and really educated myself on the metric system, if not to just know how many potatoes to order. i skulked about the old town with some gluhwein and #wanderlusted to my damn heart’s content.

i also ate like…two doner kebaps a day, guys. from the same kebap stand without the guilt of another person getting bored of my food choices, as i’d much rather buy dumb magnets and admission to old ass libraries {and this dope one direction matryoshka} than spend a boatload on new foods. i wandered to only the places i wanted to see, which admittedly is less than guidebooks suggest i do to get my “money’s worth”, but who gives a damn? no one was watching over me and i largely kept these memories in my own brain instead of online, where they glistened like….some glistening gems? jewels? brain-baubles? i don’t know, man.

eventually, he gave up on dumping me that night and the rest of my trip {like, should i go to law school?? i’m super convincing????} i think it also helped that i kept reminding him of how i actually, literally couldn’t breathe at the time, so i had the pity card ON LOCK.

we eventually fully broke up about a month later, a hard but necessary decision, because ultimately you shouldn’t need to convince yourself or another person to stick around when it’s just not right or enough or just feels funky.

and thus, i stapled that girl scout patch lesson right onto my vest and trudged the fuck on.

next stop, munich!

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