Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Czeching Out

I've spent a bit longer here in Prague than I had at first planned (so nothing new there) but I finally leave tomorrow morning after having said my goodbyes to all my friends here, invariably involving the intake of several pints of beer (it would be safe to say that I have drunk more of the amber nectar whilst here than during the whole of the rest of my travels put together). It has certainly been good to see my Czech friends again as it gives me an important connection with the country. It has also been interesting to see how their lives have advanced and changed since I last saw them: new girlfriends, marriage, careers, mortgages, pets and (for some at least) a few extra kilos. All these things have been put on hold whilst I have been travelling, being in a sort of "real-life stasis". After seeing how far they have advanced with their lives I've been wondering how employable I'm going to be when I get back. (Prospective job interview: "So Mr Jelinek, what skills have you learnt in your past three years that would help you in our sales department?", "Well, I can ask for food and accommodation in halting Arabic, I can set up a tent in 5 minutes and I can comment on recent political developments in Georgia within a historical context ... I'll just show myself out then.") The closer I get to my return the more I'm getting preoccupied by what it will be like.

I did manage to visit some sights here and there that I hadn't seen before. I keep being amazed by how many towns seem to be lifted straight out of the Middle Ages, with fairytale castles and imaculately preserved Renaissance and Baroque buildings around achingly picturesque town squares: Domažlice, Telč, Český Krumlov, Holašovice and many more. In Prague I also paid a visit to one of my favourite museums: the Czech national museum. It's a bit of a pick 'n mix museum with archaeological, historical and mineralogical exhibits, but what I enjoy most is the zoological section with its innumerable cabinets and cases of stuffed and mounted birds, mammals, fish, insects each more weird and exotic than the next. So much more magical than the latest penchant for making everything multimedia and interactive. I was also rewarded by an extra special exhibit that was on display for the first time in decades - the so-called Venus of Věstonice. At only 10cm the rather unassuming little statuette doesn't look like much, but at 30,000 years old it is the oldest piece of pottery in the world and shows how stone-age man liked his women (certainly not supermodel-skinny!).

I also managed to get some important bureaucratic paperwork done as well, namely getting my new Czech passport which should come in handy, though perhaps not on this trip. Actually I think I might use it exclusively from now on seeing as it cost a fifth of the price of my British one and has plenty of space for further visas and stamps. There is one drawback and that is that it has biometric details and a chip in it, which I am personally against on the principle that it's just another step towards an Orwellian Big Brother society and has details that can be accessed without my knowledge. It's all part of this so-called War on Terror that is, in my eyes, just an excuse to reduce civil liberties and personal freedoms. If there was a real war on terror then we wouldn't have news such as we had earlier this week when the US announced it would be selling 20 billion dollars more arms to the Persian Gulf countries. The one sure fire of not making the world a safer place is by flooding it with arms. But I digress; it is late and I plan to leave early tomorrow morning ... and, as per usual, I amn't in the least ready or packed. With me everything has be done in a rush at the last minute.

1 comment:

Inihtar said...

Well, I would think that you've gained infinitely more skills during your travels than you would have in a sales job in some corporation (three years?!?!?! WOWIE!! that itself is something. . . most people would have given up life on the road after three months, if not three weeks!!) It's just a matter of translating what you've gained (tenacity and perseverance, the ability to build up relationships with complete strangers, ability to pick up new concepts quickly etc.) into skills that they can understand and use. I think you'll do just fine!

And the whole big brother thing. . . so scary. My parents told me recently that someone "sounding western" called them in Sri Lanka asking for me. I barely even know their number--and yet someone else does and knows we're related. That's freaky!