Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Surreal return to Prague

Just came back from town. A short stroll through Prague filled me with really unusual sensations. Have you ever felt like a tourist in your own home?

Two days ago, the daily reality I was used to was buying groceries in New World or Countdown, cycling through vineyard country and discussing topics such as North Island versus South Island, the earthquake, how the All Blacks beat them Ozzies or how bad the State Highway 1 is (that's actually a very popular topic even in the Czech Republic, even though it's D1 instead of SH1). Less than 48 hours later, with nothing but a long sleepless flight in between, I'm in Prague, surrounded by people who have never heard about the All Blacks, who are oblivious of Motueka, Blenheim, Queenstown or Christchurch, and who live in a completely different daily reality.

A bit like Alice in Wonderland, or like a freshwater fish that swims happily in a mountain stream, then blinks and finds itself in the middle of a tropical ocean (and yes, it's a fish with eyelids). It's really strange, especially considering that I'm in the city where I spent most of my life.

Yesterday, after nearly two days without sleep, I was too tired to feel it, but today, walking on the streets of Prague while doing some errands, felt almost surreal. The most common things such as buying a ticket for the underground felt like something completely new. I couldn't even remember the website for Prague's public transport, even though I used to use it every day! People around me look, dress, think, talk and act differently than I was used to until a few days ago, streets and buildings couldn't be more different, and if I tell someone that I cycled the West Coast or that I'm gonna hitch-hike to Motueka, they'll think I fell from the moon.
The shock is much stronger now than it ever was after my returns from the UK. At least London is a city and many things, such as public transport, crowded streets and indifferent shop assistants are the same, but New Zealand and Blenheim in particular is practically countryside. Plus I lived in the middle of nowhere for the last two months.

One thing I want to point out is Czech men's fashion. They're infamously known for having a rather horrible taste for clothes (and I don't deny I'm one of them). I never paid attention to this and one thing I really like about NZ is that nobody cares what you're wearing, as long as you don't walk around naked. However, coming back after such a long time and having a look around is rather disquieting...

In saying all this, it's not bad, it's just strange and funny in a way. Today's stroll was really nice and entertaining. I did feel like a tourist in my own town, watching the most basic things with different eyes and enjoying myself. Plus, it was very nice to find out that not all Czech shop assistants are grumpy and rude anymore. For instance, the bloke in the Vodafone shop was helpful and pleasant, we even exchanged some small talk on his own cue. Same thing with the lady selling magazines before the underground station. With others things went the old-fashioned way, but it was still entertaining.

The surreal sensation didn't start with going to town, though. The first weird thing was taking my gaming laptop out of the cupboard and feeling like I had never seen it before, and then realising that some things I was used to doing online don't work that way anymore (although that's not about New Zealand, but simply about being away. If there's something I really, really miss about the UK, it's e-shopping; easy, hassle-free, safe and way cheaper than here).

Ok, enough writing now. I'm sure I made my point and now there's a DVD with Duke Nukem Forever waiting to be installed on my newly found gaming laptop (which I'm using right now and which doesn't feel alien any more).


  1. I know exactly what you mean ! I'm back for 5 month but I'm strangely sad when I read your article. I hope you have plans now... Cheers

  2. Yeah and I just realized again I dont wanna go to Prague :D just for a visit and then back to NZ asap... oh, nice dreams...

  3. Glad to hear u r well back...BUT where is any comment at all about the local beer????? What´s wrong, man??? Don´t tell me u prefer sitting on ur ass in front of a laptop rather than sitting on ur ass at a pub garden in the sun, sipping one of these local beauties ;P
    miss u already

    1. Miss u too, from the very moment I left Blenheim :) As for the beer vs sittin on my arse, I like to do both, ideally at the same time :) But tbh I'm not thrilled by the "common" beer anymore. As I get older, my palat gets wants better :) Like this: Staroměstský Pivovar - Husova 10 , Praha 1 - the best beer I had in a very long time. Mlask.


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