Travel Momento… Prague Jewellery

When backpacking in Eastern Europe for 5 weeks, souvenir shopping was limited. Besides some practical goodies (a new towel to replace the one I had lost), some new summer dresses to wear in the 40 degree heat, the rest of my souvenirs were jewellery.

On the Charles Bridge in Prague we checked out the various stalls selling gifts and homemade wares. I love picking up pieces of jewellery that I haven’t seen anywhere else. This handmade set of earrings and necklace were perfect, in slate colours and olive green stones, with a hint of bronze. I think the set was about 40 euros (which was quite a bit on my backpacker budget at the time!)

The young fellow selling the jewellery was selling the items on behalf of his father who creates the pieces. A strong whiff of weed drifted down the bridge, despite being a Sunday full of tourists and policemen. We asked the young guy about the weed smell, which he proudly admitted was his and showed us his joint. Enough said.

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Prague, Czech Republic (with some manky dorm occupants)

Prague is a beautiful city, with many sites to see including Charles Bridge with the gargoyles and market stalls, the Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle with the stained glass windows, St Vitus Cathedral, St Wenceslas Square and visiting a theatre for some classical music or ballet.  Stay classy as a backpacker and see a ballet in jeans and thongs!

But, like most European cities, Prague is not nice at 7am on a Sunday in the rain. We had travelled from Poland on an overnight train and arrived in Prague at around 6am. Weary from a night on the train and in need of a hot shower we made our way to our hostel (along with a fellow backpacker who hadn’t booked somewhere yet who shared our cabin on the overnight train). Of course we can’t check in at 7am! Especially in a less than 10 pounds hostel that looked like an office block transformed into some random dorms. So there we were, 3 dirty, hungry backpackers stomping around a dreary, sleepy wet Prague at 7am. Not fun.

Sometimes it pays to be cheap backpackers, sometimes it backfires on you. We managed to find something to eat and spent about 6 hours site seeing (getting more and more weary) before getting to check in around 2pm.

Our beds were in a dorm of ten, a room approx 4m square. I took one look at some of the clothing and expressed ‘we have some manky looking roommates’. My travel buddy didn’t seem to mind, seeing as we didn’t look too good ourselves. She was desperate for a nap, me a shower. I wandered down the office style hall to the communal showers. Afterwards I had that all too familiar task of trying to get dry and dressed in a shower cubicle where every surface is wet. Assuming we had the dorm to ourselves on a Monday at 2pm I decided to sneak back to our room in a towel to dry and get dressed there. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find 4 twenty-something french lads. My travel buddy was sitting up in her bunk, awoken from her nap and looking quite annoyed. I shrieked, closed the door and ran back down to the shower to finish getting dressed. Talk about awkward.

Upon returning to the dorm, where my friend was even more annoyed, I found the French boys rolling the biggest joint I’d ever seen. They were literally about to light the thing when we asked ‘surely you’re not going to smoke that in here?’ They agreed to go and light up in the car park. After they left I did the ‘I told you we had manky roommates’ spiel, to which they then returned, high as the astronomical clock itself and decided to jump on the bunks and throw balls around.

Clearly we weren’t getting anymore nap time.

Disclaimer: I have never desired to be a cheap backpacker, give me a nice hotel any day. But seeing as I was being unpaid for 6 weeks whilst living in London I had no choice but to stretch the funds out while travelling and live on about 20 pounds a day! Oh god, the backpacker/dorm life is not for me!