Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Prague

Smelling Prague

One of the things you can never anticipate or predict is what a place you have never been to will smell like. Some places you visit for the first time are like a smell assault. You can’t imagine the smells before, and when you get there it’s all about them. When I was flying kilometers above Mumbai I could already smell the city. Now when I remember that time many years ago I remember the smells.

Prague remembered will also be a series of smells. There is the pre-snow smell and the snow smell. Snow has a smell. It is a great smell. There is the very different petrol smell. Absinth on tourists’ breath smell. Dog piss on snow under a streetlight smell. The cheap perfume on hot air leaving the souvenir shops. The greasy smell of outside heaters and the machines that clear the snow on the Old Town Square. The smells of winter; I cannot possibly imagine what Prague summer would smell like now.

Spiced hot wine is a smell. Dark beer is a smell. Garlic soup is a smell. Meat is a smell. Indoor smoke at restaurants is a smell. Fruit tea is a smell.  Ghost breath is a smell and old is a smell. The little sweets with funny faces in a teeny bowl at the hotel’s reception is a smell. The churches are a smell. Wenceslas Square is a different, complex, more modern, more global, doner kebab, hot wine, cheap clothes, foreign tourist, fast food, Thai massage, cigarette, marijuana smell.

Wet shoes are a smell. No sweat is a smell. Meat and potato smells fill the air. Garlic soup.

The chairs in the lobby. The lift, a vaguely herby, buchu smell.  The Italian old man who brushed my cheek in the lift smell. The bright blue soap in the dispenser smell. The ginger tea smell.

Tomorrow I will be leaving. But I will remember Prague by smell.

Prague so far

It will have to be a weird, jumbled list. Standing in a proper snow storm. Visiting the Jewish Quarter. The changing of the guards at the Castle. The insurance company’s stained glass window of the Cathedral. The beautiful astrological reliefs on the church gate. The pampered dogs of Prague. The houses with symbols instead of numbers. The micro brewery at the Strahov Monastery. King Rudolph 2’s magical Cabinet of Curiosities with unicorn horns, a Basilisk, massive dead crabs and tree books. The Golem of Prague, the Church of St Nicholas, The Infant of Prague Church, where you pray and if your prayer is answered you send a dress to the doll of the infant. The magnificent and romantic St Charles Bridge, St John who got thrown off the bridge and where people touch the two places on the relief. The strange Irish band of four Czech boys who sang Down In The Balley yo” in the Irish pub that sells Bisto, Marmite and LemSip. Nigerian drug dealers on Wenceslas Square. Cobbles. Goths. The Spanish Synagogue, soup served in round breads. Meat. Almost pagan nativity scenes. Marrionettes. Bohemia. Poor little St Vitus. Good King Wenceslas and his banner. Slavia. The Absinthe painting. The Absinthe ice cream shop. Did I say the snow? Trams. Apple strudel. Salad for breakfast. An exciting presidential election. Freezing hands. Hot wine. Hot white wine. The Sand Pact – go slow in the Nazi occupation. Slovakia. Crepes. Hot chocolate. Franz Kafka. Movies. Communism. Tourism. Pride. Horror stories. Ghost stories. Rabbi Lev. The Forbes 2nd Ugliest Building in The World. Delightful English by Czech speakers. Pastry shops. Theatre. Architecture. Statues.

Prague at a glance

The weirdest thing about traveling to a new place is how excited you get when you know where you are and you can navigate yourself back to where you are staying. The unfamiliar and strange becomes accessible and recognisable. For me it is also the moment when you stop thinking about yourself and start looking at the local people and imagining their lives. Their homes. Their routines. What they like and don’t like. What pets they have and when and where they walk them.

Our world has become very small. Prague is peppered with global brands like Mc Donald’s, H&M and Starbucks. The KPMG building looks like it has been lifted out of Cape Town and plonked into this city. But there are the things that define it immediately as unique. The horse and rider statues, the silhouette of an actual castle, the bridge over the river, the Old Town Square, the trams, the cobble stones.

I can’t wait to explore deeper, when I am refreshed and responsive tomorrow.

30 Exciting things before the year ends. And after. And latkes.

So Christmas has just been, and in a special twist of lucky fish fate it was a divine family one, with Big Friendly’s true blood in the Cape to celebrate. It was delicious, and seven year old Kai crowned me the best cooker. What an award.

But before I even relax a teeny bit I am getting ready to jump into a few things before the year is out. I am in the recording studio over the next two days, directing voice overs for GreatGuide, who have more than one or two projects on the go that I am involved with. And tomorrow (Thurs 27th) w are performing our first monthly long form experimental improv show called Jam Sandwich, at The Alexander Bar. The teeny theatre above the bar seems to have taken off with wings, and we are delighted to be part of it. I think we are all sold out for tomorrow night. How cool? Cool.

Then, rehearsals are under way for Fully Committed. I worked on directing this show at the very beginning of the year with Pieter Bosch Botha, who performed this decadent marathon of a one-man-playing-37-characters, before he took it to the Festival of Fame in Jozi. Well, now on the first two weekends of 2013 it is going to have its first showing in Cape Town at The Alexander Bar. I can’t wait. Pieter Bosch Botha is inspiring. It will be on on Friday and Saturday the 4th and 5th and again the following weekend of the 11th and 12th. Book here now because the small venue sells out fast.

And then, on the 9th of January I am winging my way to Prague, of all places, for two weeks. It’s also for GreatGuide. We are going to be designing and writing commentary for walking tours of Prague and I cannot wait! Prague. Winter. Oldness. Eastern Europe. 1st time.

I come straight back and jump into our most exciting Improv Festival at the Kalk Bay Theatre from 30 Jan to 9 Feb.

Gung ho for next year I tell ya.

But right now it is latke time with our favourite family, the Noodles. Here is my made up recipe for the most flawless, delicious latkes. Grate peeled potatoes on the fine grate. Do an onion too. Squeeze out as much juice as you can. Mix in an egg and some flour. Put blobs of the mixture in hot oil. Turn them often and try your hardest to wait until they go a delicious golden brown. Eat with sour cream, apple sauce (apparently), marmalade (not my cuppa) or even dijon mustard. Yum.

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