Prague: Weird buildings, good food and sex machines

Prague, like a few of my destinations on this trip, had intrigued me for a while. Yet, I really didn’t know anything about it. When our train arrived on Tuesday morning, I had no idea what to expect. Would the former communist country fit the stereotype I have of Russia? Is it more like its closer neighbours in Eastern Europe? Has a more cosmopolitan influence crept over? Or would everybody be eating McDonalds and drinking Starbucks?

Prague is the end of the line for one of the City Night Line routes. The overnight train runs between several countries – our train from Zurich travelled through Germany, stopping at Berlin, before entering the Czech Republic. My first great relief, when we pulled into the main station after travelling overnight on the City Night Line from Zurich, was it was cheap. After barely 24-hours in Switzerland, I was conscious of my bank balance.

We didn’t get organised in time to make a walking tour I was interested in, so we decided to leave that for the next day and instead explored the city on our own. We got as far as the river before jumping on one of the little peddle boats. It cost 250CHZ – or about $12.50 AUD – for an hour. From the water we took in the weird city that is Prague.

The buildings are colourful and the architecture rather medieval. It’s a gothic San Francisco. The lamp posts are eerie, there are spires on nearly every building and the statues are just as creepy. I’ve never seen another city like it. But it fits with the appeal of this mysterious place.

We walked into the Old Town, although to me, the whole city looked pretty old. One giveaway that we were entering a special part of the city was the number of tourists. Everywhere. Perhaps they followed us from Venice?

We’d skipped lunch after a late breakfast so were famished come dinner time. But being hungry in Prague is a good thing. We took a seat at the first restaurant we found. Mum and I start with a hearty potato soup – no blender used here. I loved the chunks of potato. I wiped the bowl clean using the free bread that seems to be a standard across Europe. For mains I chose the roasted leg of lamb with a red wine sauce. It was served with traditional Czech bread dumplings. Dad’s meal included the potato dumplings, another Czech staple. The meals here are filling. Lots of meat and starch. But for a long time most of the population didn’t know where there next meal was coming from, so they made each one count.

When looking up a map of the city, an intriguing museum came to my attention and on our way to the Old Town Square we walked past it. At only 200 CHZ each we decided to check it out and stepped into the Sex Machines Museum. Interested? I was.

The opening exhibits resembled machines used to spin wool, with a big wheel (like one used to steer a boat) spinning round. However attached to each spoke on the wheel was a little, leather whip, and on the other one, feathers. In case you can’t quite work this out, they are designed for women to stand over. The feather one had a little press peddle to make it turn.

It only got more inventive, weird and funny from there. My favourite? The anti-masturbation machine. Strap the end on to your teenage son’s penis and if, at some point in the night, he gets excited, an alarm will ring at the other end of the machine, which is placed in the parents’ bedroom. Genius.

The machines were as creative and inventive as they were perverted and disturbing. Perhaps a late-night edition of New Inventors is in order….

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