It’s day twelve of Eurotour 2016 and we’ve said goodbye to Prague. Nina and I had three days of sightseeing, Pole Theatre World Championship and connecting with our pole friends.
The three-and-a-half hour drive to Prague punctuated the end of Austria and the beginning of the Czech Republic, our fourth country on our grand tour.
Nina did her homework for every aspect of the trip. She knew that we had to have special reflective vests in the car, that we needed to purchase permits (called vignets) at every border crossing, and familiarized herself with the pertinent laws – including routine traffic shake-downs and differences in fines for speeding.
There was a stark contrast in atmosphere when we crossed over from Austria to the Czech Republic. There was a distinct post WWII feeling to the outskirts of Prague with the block housing and gray skies.
Accommodations were cheap (we paid less than $100 a night to stay in a luxurious hotel in the historic area) but parking in old town was near extortion. It would have been $40 a night to park near our hotel so we (and this would be the Royal We as Nina did everything) parked 25 minutes away from the old town center in a public lot.
I never appreciated Nina more than when we were in the parking lot and all Czech metro station.
The place was sketchy as fuck and had it not been for her research, we wouldn’t have known whether we could even park there over night without getting towed.
Nothing was in English and the parking attendant spoke Czech and not even a little German. She used Google Translate to double check that our rental would still be there when we got back three days later.
We took a 20 minute metro ride into the city center and then caught an Über to our luxury hotel. We were upgraded to a bigger room with a giant balcony that overlooked the Vlatava river with the president’s castle just on the other side.
We met up with Moneypenny who was here to compete in the Pole Theatre World semi-pro division. The first item on everyone’s agenda was to find some tredlnik.
The old town center was a few minute’s walk from our hotel and was full of activity and life. Old Town was the polar opposite of the rest of Prague.
It was historic, ornate and full of history, like being in a fairy tale. The center was hopping with visitors and I heard more languages than I could name.
The Signal 2016 Festival of Lights was going on after dark so was music and texture mapped projections lit up historic buildings. It was a feast for the eyes.
A Boulder friend noticed my FB post about being in Prague and recommended I go to the Hemingway Bar. We met Moneypenny there.
I had the Hemingway’s Gasoline and was warned my the, um, “mixologist’ that it was very strong.
We tried to up with Steven and his posse but it got late and I was enamored with the street food so we punted on the sit down dinner in favor of eating and strolling.
There were wooden huts serving traditional Czech food like tredlnik (think a leavened churro rolled in sugar), spit roasted ham, sausages, crepes, halušky (pasta with butter, sour cabbage and cheese), and svařák AKA hot, spiced wine. I loved the revelry around us and saw why everyone raves about Prague.
The next morning we walked across the river for a little sightseeing before it was time to get ready for the Pole Theater World Championship which Nina was photographing. I caught an Über to the beautiful venue across town.
The driver chastised me for spending such a glorious fall day inside when it was so sunny and beautiful out. I only hoped that I would have good luck with the weather the next day.
PT World held their semi-pro and professional divisions on the same day so I was in it from 2PM to midnight; a very long day of pole. I fortified myself at an Italian restaurant before hand (Prague has wonderful Italian food) and spent the next ten hours watching the competition.
I’m hoping for pictures and video soon but these texts to Nina sum of some of my feelings.
And remember, when I say something is weird, that means I liked it.
Hanka wrote the best review.
The best and most important thing is that Steven won the whole thing. His division (classique, natch) and overall. Congratulations Steven, you are the queen of the pole world. You better not get too used to everyone calling you Your Majesty, though.
Just kidding, you will always be my queen.
The next day we walked all over town. Prague is a feast for the senses. Yes, it is touristy but there is a deep history to the place written all over the architecture and winding streets. We wandered in and out of museums, alleys, shops, and parks.
We left the hotel at ten in the morning and the next time I glanced at my clock it was already three.
As we crossed the Vlatava river via the Charles Bridge a man wearing a t-shirt that said Free Hugs approached me. I waived him off because he’s a man and I don’t know him. But then a bald woman offered me a hug and I went in for it, it made me deeply joyful.
There is bronze bas relief on the bridge supports and I touched the golden dog for good luck. I always wish for the same thing.
Meri, Nina and I stopped into a Signal Festival dome projection film. Everything was in Czech but the ticket was only about a dollar so we didn’t have much to lose. It was a computer generated children’s film projected onto the inside of a great dome structure.
It felt good to get off our feet.
We lay on our backs and took in an animated history class.
I saw something intriguing whilst browsing the food vendors. I didn’t know what it was but I simply had to have it.
This might be the singular best thing that has ever happened to food on a stick. It’s cross between a french fry and a potato chip. Delightful.
We wanted to take a load off before going out for the night so I picked up a cup of hot wine and wandered back to the hotel for a deeply satisfying nap and then it was time to go out again.
This light installation was just outside the restaurant.
Nina made reservations at a restaurant around the corner for everyone to meet at. As usual, planning anything for more than four people is kind of a clusterfuck.
Our group of six swelled to twenty pole dancers and overwhelmed the restaurant but they managed to get everyone fed.
I finally had some time to connect with Michelle and Maddie (who speaks lovely Italian BTW) and meet many of the competitors from the previous day’s show.
I saw Ken and Marlo there and got that crazy pole life feeling of seeing local friends in exotic locales.
I joined Steven and several of his pole friends for a ghost walk around Prague. I’ve been on one in New Orleans and it was a great experience. It was about architecture and history than actual ghosts, which was fine by me. I was hoping for a similar experience.
I was sorely disappointed.
The most important thing about this tour is the guide’s story telling abilities. This guy was not gifted. The best part of his presentation was when he took a call on his mobile and Millie Robson said, “What is on your screen? Is that a vagina?”
Of course we all crowded around him to try to look at his phone while he was trying to talk discretely on it (he must have really needed to take that call) and it was indeed a vagina. I can only imagine who he was talking to.
We were a tough crowd. The ladies were fairly respectful (except for me but we all know I’m no lady) but the men – many of them performers and divinely gay – are not used to having someone else be the center of attention, especially one so inept.
Our guide’s english wasn’t great and I had a hard time understanding his accent. He told a story about a scorned man murdering his lover and I wasn’t paying very close attention when the guide asked me, “Do you know know laugh?”
“Um yes? Ha ha ha,” and he looked at me like I was nuts and walked away. It was only until the next stop did I realize he said, “Do you know love?” and how weird my nervous laugh sounded. Either way, I’m pretty sure he just took us on a walk around random streets and made up some bullshit to tell us.
The company was the only thing that made the evening bearable as the guide told meandering stories that took way too long and never had a satisfying punch line. At one point he told a story that was so long and so boring that I couldn’t help but mutter, “And then they died of boredom.”
We just wanted it to be over so we could have some hot wine and tredlnik.
I loved meeting Dan Rosen who – guess what – is in Michelle Shimmy’s dick-pick group with me. Turns out he’s a DOPE femme pole dancer and instructor. Stevie Hilton is one of my new favorite people and I have to get to know Millie Robson better. If there is anything missing in my life, it is more people like them.
Nina and went back to the hotel, had a good night’s sleep and then met Steven at the Florenc subway station wearing his crown and cape. It was time to say goodbye to Prague.
We were relieved to find that our rental was still in the lot when we got there. We loaded into the car and started off for Karlov Vary, a two hour drive.
I fell asleep in the back as Nina and Steven caught up and awoke to the beautiful architecture and rolling hills of this historic spa town.
Once again I thanked my lucky stars for Nina because, of course, there was no easy parking. She navigated us to a parking garage and tried to ask the usual questions of the parking attendant.
“Do I leave this slip in the car? Do I take this ticket with me?”
The parking attendant was really nice and tried his hardest to communicate in his very limited English which was 100 percent better than our non-existent Czech. She said he looked like an adult Neville Longbottom.
We drove past an entire floor of cars completely covered in dust and mused at the pictures of penises and what I assume was “Wash me” written on the hoods. I’m happy to know that in addition to love, juvenile humor is the universal language.
Legend has it that on hunting excursion, King Charles IV fell into one of the springs which miraculously healed one of his wounds. After that he established Karlov Vary (AKA Karlsbad) as a retreat and since then it is a place where people go to drink the healing mineral waters and receive various health treatments.
Apparently the thing to do is buy commemorative cups and fill them up at each of the hot mineral water fountains around town. We saw people filling thermoses with the stuff so we figured it had to be good shit.
We filled. We drank.
Nina had the best description. “It tastes like a nosebleed.” It was salty and irony and really gross.
Each spring reports to possess different healing properties which meant that we had to drink from each one (at least twelve) in order to receive the maximum benefit.
“I don’t know if I can do it. That shit tastes nasty.” But after thinking about it for a second Steven said, “Fuck it. I need it.”
We wanted to have a spa day but it was trickier than we thought it would. You usually have to stay at the associated hotel to use the spa.
Nina got on-line and checked every spa’s website and found only one hotel that allowed us to use their facilities and let me just say that they were super snotty about it. She looked into booking massages but it was too late in the game.
“What’s a Scotch Bath?” She asked me. Without thinking I told her that it’s kind of like those Civil Rights era photographs of black activist getting attacked with fire hoses.
Then I realized that I missed a great opportunity to trick her into getting one and then blogging the shit out of it like our gommage experience in the Paris hammam.
The lobby was nice enough in a very vintage James Bond evil lair kind of way. We took the elevator to the basement and got out onto the “spa” floor which can only be described as institutional.
The dressing area was co-ed with three stalls to change in. The lockers were upside down L’s with the long part being barely wide enough for me to cram my coat into sideways.
Nina immediately brained herself little part of the L when she opened it.
“Why the fuck would anyone design something this way?” she groaned while rubbing her forehead.
We changed into our swimsuits and entered the pool/jacuzzi room. We tried this strange foot bath thing waited for Steven to come out. It was a shallow channel filled with smooth rocks and alternating hot and brutally cold water. We limped around in circles and reminded us that this is a totally legit treatment for something.
Steven came out in a tiny red Speedo with his t-shirt wrapped around his head like a turban.
We swam in Dr. Evil’s swimming pool, sat in an awkwardly small jacuzzi with a couple Russian close talkers, then sampled the triad of hot rooms. The steam room was nice, the sauna was good and hot but there was a cute guy in there so Nina and I cleared out for Steven’s sake, and then we sat in the infrared chamber which appeared to do exactly nothing.
I gave Steven a back rub in the jacuzzi to make for a more spa like experience and then we decided to split. We asked the attendant at the desk for towels and she handed us the smallest hand towels you can imagine.
We asked for some more but she was like, “Sorry, we don’t have any more but you can have this polyester bed sheet.”
The final analysis on Karlov Vary’s spa scene is that they could learn a few things from the Germans.
We found a place to have dinner where someone wasn’t actively smoking right next to us and mused that for all the “medical” type treatments offered in Karlov Vary, a mecca for the elderly and infirm, we wondered if any one of the “medical person” offering “modern doctor” ever told people to stop smoking. I hear it does wonders for your health.
Back at our apartment Steven and I watched a movie on his computer in bed while Nina read the second 50 Shades of Gray book. Har.
We slept in the squeakiest bed ever (seriously, it squeaked when we breathed) and then we got up to do a quickie photoshoot with Steven in full drag.
The looks we got walking to the location.
We parted ways with Steven and passed the chicken vagina shop on our way back to the garage.
This was hilarious when I saw it after having a couple G&T’s.
Tomorrow I’ll be back in Boulder, probably looking like a truck hit me. Our flights leave from Munich tomorrow but we are spending the night in Regensburg because Nina in her infinite wisdom thought it would be more picturesque to hang out in a UNESCO World Heritage site rather than a busy city.
We’ll drive to Munich in the morning, I’ll catch the 2:00 flight to Iceland, have a 45 minute layover and then I direct flight to Denver.
I can’t wait to see my family and my fur babies. I’m emotionally preparing myself to carry Bartleby non-stop for the next week and to clean up a lot of pee.