Here’s a list of some of my memories of Prague over the five and a half years I lived there. Some are more personal, others more general, but I hope they spark some memories in you, and maybe inspire you to include some here too…
1) Buying the whole shelf of canned peeled tomatoes in Delvita so I could make pasta sauce for the next few months. You never knew when they were going to stock them again.
2) 6K? tram or metro tickets.
3) Czech men wearing tiny Speedos at Podoli. Oh, and we would swim in the dirtiest man-made lakes too (can’t remember the names). Funniest was my friend so afraid to turn onto his back at the nudist outdoor reservoir pool, that he ended up looking like a crabstick and couldn’t sit down for a week!
4) The excitement when K-Mart opened and was finally able to buy an assortment of fresh vegetables… not just moldy onions and pale green peppers!
5) Absinthe and the crazy things people would do on it. Kind of like your body still works but has a mind of its own… a not very sensible mind. Very dangerous combination.
6) Stomach cramps before you can finish your smažený sýr at Masarykovo nádraži (it wasn’t easy being a non-red-meat-eater in those early days).
7) The moon and streetlamps reflecting off wet cobbled streets.
8) Party in the Stromovka ruins. There was music, kegs, and much fun was had by all jumping around that very unsafe structure… until the police showed up and we all ran away!
9) The long, hot, hot summer of ’94 left the sculptures on Charles Bridge and the outside deck of the “Party Boat” absolutely COVERED in spiders’ webs! A worse memory of that hot summer was the old Czech men with their shirts off, crammed in the trams, before they had discovered anti-perspirant! The heat made everyone go crazier than ever and brought the flashers out of the woodwork too…
10) Čarodějnice (Witch-Burning Night) on Petřín Hill.
11) The band “Crash Worship” doing pyrotechnics INSIDE of Bunkr, then leading a musical procession right down the street with the audience following.
12) Discovering Český Krumlov for the first time in the snow (before it looked like Disneyland!)
13) Staying at a Czech friend’s deceased grandma’s Mill for a skiing trip (après-ski at the more popular Špindlerův Mlýn was fun too).
14) Seeing Massive Attack play in a tiny sports hall just outside of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The sound was amazing!
15) Beautiful Czech women wearing tan tights with hairy swirls underneath (admittedly, that got a lot better during the time I was there!)
16) Openly smoking in places like the Roxy, without always having to look over your shoulder.
17) Getting out of clubs when it’s sunny outside and walking over a COMPLETELY DESERTED Charles Bridge (I have a photo to prove it somewhere).
18) Czech construction workers digging the road only wearing Y-fronts on a very hot day!
19) Being sprayed with intergalactic bodily juices by GWAR at the Tam-Tam Club.
20) Making many lifelong friends…
21) Getting exactly TWO sheets of toilet paper from those sour-faced bathroom babi č kas upon entry…and washing hands with bar soap attached to the taps with plastic mesh nets! Perhaps soap theft was a reasonable threat in the past?!
22) Arriving for the first time at Hlavní nádraží (summer ’93) at nighttime with nowhere to stay and choosing the most respectable looking person holding an accommodation sign to go & stay at their house.
23) Police escorting you to the nearest ATM to pay the infamous “on-the-spot fine” (e.g. after Fugazi played at the Roxy, three of us rode off on the same motorbike without helmets… seemed like a good idea at the time?!)
24) Corrupt taxi drivers. Corrupt on so many levels… adjustable meters, mafia-linked prostitution, strip bar affiliations, guns pulled on occasion, etc., etc…
25) The pitter-patter of your heart looking up at the amazing architecture and sculptures on buildings, like falling in love for the first time every day for years.
26) Your male friends getting groped by aggressive toothless women whilst walking down Wenceslas Square at night.
27) Wonderful stays at Czech friends’ tiny chatas/chalupas beside the river. Mosquito infested, but worth it!
28) (A personal one) A friend playing heartbreakingly beautiful saxophone on Old Town Square at sunrise (on acid), but then getting arrested for noise pollution and held inside the Astronomical Clock for hours while we tried to get him out…
– Originally posted at “prague 90s expats” on Facebook. Foto by Jeffree Benet