Monday, March 24, 2008

people you (want to) know go to chateau

the great thing about the czech republic is that it's completely acceptable to go to the bar on major holidays. in fact i think it's encouraged.

after a few minutes of confusion caused by the changing of the clocks (apparently it's next week), anna and i got back an hour we thought we'd lost. we decided to take advantage and see what our friends were up to.

turns out we don't have many friends, or they were just not up to anything. until marie and amanda agreed to meet us at chateau. almost simultaneously, anna and lori's italian friend stephano agreed to meet us there as well.

so on a blustery (american) easter evening (the czech's traditionally observe a non-religious holiday on the monday after easter), we set out with the goal to maybe get tipsy but definitely end up at mcdonald's when the night was through, regardless of inebriation levels.

chateau is one of those places that you either love or hate. it's full name is "chateau l'enfer rouge" and, as the italians later explained, the upstairs is considered the "chateau" and downstairs considred "l'enfer rouge" or "the red hell." which is about right. it's always crowded with expats. upstairs it's your typical college-type bar. order drinks at the bar, try to find a table but usually end up standing, get hit on by random drunk dudes.

our first encounter, minutes after we got our beers, was with mitch. it went like this:

"hey, do you speak english?"
"cool! are you american?"
"awesome! it's great to see some friendly american faces."
"yeah. how long have you been in prague?"
"oh, two days."

apparently mitch just couldn't stand being away from his countrymen. we talked to him for a few minutes before he was distracted by a phone call and never returned (guess we're pretty charming). we learned that he and his friends chose prague for spring break because "it's cheap - not on the euro."

next was the one-two punch of a guy from nigeria whose name i didn't catch and gary from kent, england. i got stuck with gary, who spent the whole conversation using his witty, biting sarcasm to make feel inadequate. two tidbits:

"where are you from?"
"england." (said like it's something that should be obvious.)
"yeah but where at?"
"kent. do you know where that is?"
"no, not exactly."
rolls his eyes.

like my brain has a world atlas built in? imagine if i asked him if he knew where scranton was. goodluck with that one, dude.

gary is a med student, five years in, so like most longtime residents of prague, he's bitter about almost anything. he "hates chateau" and "got dragged out." but then he named the bars he preferred - m1, bombay, harley's -- which are all just like chateau, as in they're crowded and full of expats.

"do you like tretter's?" (note: it's a swanky cocktail bar.)
"no, a little too fancy for me."
"oh, so you're one of those down to earth girls?"
what do you say to that? "uh, i guess..."
"i know. this whole red hooded sweatshirt thing is a facade."

i explained that yeah, i'm really high maintenance, i just dress in a sweatshirt and ripped jeans to go to the bar to throw everyone for a loop. i then explained that we were going to find our friends.

"so i'll see you in ten minutes, right?"

which is true. you really can't avoid anyone in chateau. on any given night, everyone you don't really want to run into in prague is at chateau. we ran into one of my coworker's russian friends, lori and anna's ex-roommate john (who is probably not too happy with the way things ended), and "tefl jen," a former teacher trainer at TEFL worldwide who's scathing lesson observation assessments left a bad taste in our mouths.

all in all though, chateau is not as bad as i used to think. you actually end up talking to people (even though they might be creepy dudes) as opposed to sitting around a table with people you already know, which is a nice change of pace.

on the way home we stopped at mcdonalds. to anna's dismay, you cannot order a swiss king sandwich (which includes bacon AND a slab of fried cheese). as we were enjoying our food, we watched a group of 19 year old brits get kicked out for being too belligerent. considering it's a 24 hour mcdonald's in wenceslas square - probably one of the more difficult places in the world to be ejected from - being tossed out was quite an accomplishment for them.

anyway, happy easter!

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