“I’m not sure I like this element,” my friend Tom said, chomping into his gigantic, onion-covered sausage, grease dripping down his chin and onto his napkin. “They’re fellow British people. I know these people. Something bad is going to happen.” He took another sip of his beer to wash the onion-sausage mix down.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, look at these people,” he nodded towards those people. “They’re a bad element. I’m not really comfortable here.”
“Maybe after a few more beers,” I said.
“No, it will be even worse.”
We were at the Prague Beer Festival, sitting outside at a picnic table, soaking up the sun while sipping on the suds. “I think I know what you mean, actually,” I said. I looked at the crowd again. Mostly they were fat, shirtless Englishmen, their own fingers as big as the sausages Tom was eating. They were talking loudly, shouting across the tent, they looked like they belonged more at a football game than anywhere else.
probably the best place to eat there
I remember the Prague Beer Festival being better than this last year. It felt more organized. This time, we came to the gate and they gave us a card. On the card the different vendors would write down the price of the beer or food that you had ordered, and then you had to pay the sum upon leaving the festival. “What if you lose this card?”
“Then you’ve got to pay 5001 crowns,” the clerk said. That’s something like 200 dollars.
“I just don’t like it,” Tom went on in between bites of his sausage. “And not only this element, but also this card, this sword of Damocles hanging over my head.”
“Just don’t lose the card,” I said. “Then you’ll owe nothing more than what you ordered. The thing is, it’s the same policy at Czech restaurants, isn’t it? They write down your order on a piece of paper, and then you have to pay for it.”
“I didn’t know there was a penalty for losing it though,” he said.
“Well, now you do. And I guess you won’t manage that sword of Damocles either,” I said.
The beers were good, if not expensive. There were some 120 beers offered on tap throughout the tents. There was one stand that served only IPAs, all sorts of IPAs including a fruit IPA. I don’t think I’ve ever had a fruit IPA. My favorite was the Chotmouc Lezak, a very thick and heady beer.
The festival is in general a great opportunity to buy all the Czech beers you wouldn’t otherwise be able to try in regular restaurants. But my friend was right, it did seem to attract many British hooligan types.
“For being one of the most xenophobic countries in the EU,” I said, “I mean, for essentially pulling out of the EU because of your fear of foreigners, the UK pumps out the most degenerate lot of tourists I’ve ever set my eyes on. I’ve never had a problem with a Muslim tourist, but man, these British tourists rove around the city, vomit, shout, and get into fights all the time. Do they act this way back home?”
I guess they did. What a sad lot. Is this what technology and civilization does to a people? Is it boredom? Comfort? There should be a study on it. Maybe I’ll write a doctoral proposal to Oxford and see if they’ll accept my candidacy.
the beercentration camp
Back to the festival. It was a strange setup too, a real beercentration camp. You enter into the tent complex, which is like a big O of tents, with only the center of the circle open to the air. That meant the air tended to be stale, it sits around and heats up. It was clearly so they could easily control entry and exit from the festival, but it didn’t make for the most comfortable or attractive setup. Just white tarp everywhere, and wooden tables. And the tents weren’t big enough to give you the open Oktoberfest feel, they were only each enough room for maybe 8 picnic tables each.
It’s only a few dollars to get in though, and you can try a wide variety of beers, and the food vendors are fantastic. Your ticket is good for the entire festival, which is almost the duration of the month. That means I’ll most definitely go back anyway, regardless of the element.
But well, after a few beers, we went off to the nearby Letna Park beergarden for some of the typical, still tasty cheap stuff.
enjoying the view
beer, fresh air, and a view, much better
For more on Prague, check out my new book, A Facetious Guide to Prague.