You won’t believe it when you I tell you, but … in Prague, I didn’t eat any candy.
(This is a lie. I did buy a tiny bag of candy from a street vendor, and it was pretty bad. And by pretty bad, I mean: it didn’t even hold up to my decently low standards. Which is impressive. In a bad way.)
I didn’t eat much candy, but I did have a lot of something that was just as magical and just as sweet. Something that will warm you up, both inside and out, on a freezing cold night in a fairytale city. Something with subtle flavor and just enough of a “kick” to get you feeling good under the lights of an old town square. Something the Czechs like to call …
… Or as we know it, mulled wine. But the Czechs like to cut to the chase (or maybe their English ain’t so hot), because all of the vendors’ signs for the deliciously spiced, slightly bittersweet drink read “hot wine.”
Really, though, the Czech language is probably the craziest language in the world. The simple phrase thank you in English is děkuji in Czech. Like, what? Deh-koo-gee? What are you saying?!
My cousin Alicia (who is getting her Masters Degree in Prague at the moment; hey, girl!) may have taught this to us the first night we arrived in Prague. And I may have immediately forgotten it afterwards and just awkwardly smiled for the rest of the trip instead of saying thank you to any waiter and shop owner I came across. And I may have just looked the phrase up on Google Translate just so I could put it in this blog post.
I’m telling you. Craziest language I’ve ever heard. So I get it that the phrase “hot wine” was damn good enough for the Czechs.
And damn good it was! For fifty or so Czech crowns, the currency of the Czech Republic, you can get a Styrofoam cup filled with the steaming hot stuff from a shady street vendor trying to flirt with you in his awfully broken English in the open street courtyard. What a deal!
I know what you’re thinking: “You spent FIFTY DOLLARS on WINE? Rachel, I knew you liked the stuff, but I didn’t think you’d spend that much money for just a cup of it…” And that’s where you’re wrong. I said Czech crowns, not dollars, silly! 50czk is about $2.50. Does that make you feel better?
Or does it make you feel worse because we bought the stuff not only during the night, but during the day as well?
Yeah, it was that good. Look at those cinnamon sticks! Look at that steam! Look at that deep red! Ugh, ugh, ugh. So good.
Now, I don’t wanna make it seem like Ella and I didn’t do anything but drink hot wine in Prague. We viewed magnificent castles and bustling bridges, ate enough bread to make our stomaches explode (as we simultaneously watched 5’0″ Alicia
demolish eat a roasting pig all by herself; you go, girl!), saw weirdly awesome blacklight theatre, had a few drinks in an underground bar, and most importantly, celebrated Ella’s 21st birthday. Happy Birthday, Ella!
So if you ever go to Prague, see all the things you have to see. Do all the things you have to do. It’s a beautiful city, with hilarious and interesting people who may or may not speak English … but who will try to speak it anyway just to sell you a cup or two of hot wine. It’s worth the 50czk. Just don’t forget to say, “Deh-koo-gee!”
Photography by Ella Pennington.