If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time (and managed to make your way here from Blogger), you may have read one of my many entries on Prague. It’s no secret that I love the city and maybe if things had shaken out differently, I’d still be there, living the Lost Boys life with all the all nutty expats.
But, life intervened and here I am. Part of the reason is that the Golden City is like any other city in that it’s not without its problems. In my 2.5 years there my friends and I had some experiences that were less than savory. There were drug-addled people in the park near our house (which was smack in the historic center), needles in the streets, perverts on the trams, and teenagers trying to pick your pockets as they made out behind you on the escalators of the metro. One of our friends was even accosted by a prostitute at a sausage stand. He managed to hold onto his dinner, but she got away with his cell phone. Note to tourists: don’t try to be nice to the ladies of the night and tell them that they’re beautiful before saying you’re not interested. Tell them to F off, and watch your pockets.
The teenage pickpockets tried to get me in my very first week in town. Luckily they were young and less than smooth, so I caught them in the act. Plus, there was only a book in that pocket of my bag anyway and somehow I doubt they would have enjoyed whatever I was reading that week.
That moment showed me that the tourist guides weren’t kidding about pickpocketing being a problem in Praha. Moreover, it could happen anywhere, in the tourist spots or not. Most of the time after that I spent with Professor Moody levels of Constant Vigilance (Thanks, J.K. Rowling). Other friends had phones stolen off of bar tables, jackets leave clubs, wallets went missing all over town, but I managed to avoid it. Until the last visit.
BV and I headed to Prague for a weekend visit in January. My sister was there doing the same TEFL course I did, which gave us a prime excuse to relax our stringent budget and visit. I was very excited to see my sister and get the dirt on her TEFL experience. I was also excited to show BV my favorite spots, since he’d only been there once before and hadn’t seen some good things.
All in all we had a great weekend. We rented a sweet little flat from AirBNB, and on arrival we went straight to my favorite Mexican restaurant on this continent. We hung out with my sister, some of her new friends, and one of my old roommates. Good times were had by all.
We decided to do a bit of shopping on Sunday afternoon before we had to catch our bus. There were a few places I wanted to hit on Wenceslas Square (Sephora, I miss you! Come to Germany!), but first we stopped for some coffee and cake. That’s where my Constant Vigilance failed.
In a bright and crowded cafe, on a Sunday afternoon, a guy made a big fuss out of changing the small stool at the table behind BV with the chair at the table next to us. Ten minutes later when we decided to leave, BV’s wallet was gone and so was the guy. AWESOME.
I had looked right at the guy during the chair switch and thought, “he doesn’t fit in here.” Maybe it was his face (ugly), maybe it was his jeans (ugly), maybe it was instinct – I don’t know. But whatever it was, it didn’t register strongly enough or he wasn’t quite “wrong” enough to make a difference. Two years ago I would have known that even in a bright cafe full of people sipping lattes, it wasn’t a good idea for BV to hang his jacket on the back of his chair like that. Putting the wallet and phone in the inner breast pocket isn’t enough sometimes. I should have taken his coat on the bench against the wall with me. But, we didn’t. After all the time I’ve spent in that city, it was bound to happen.
Really, we should be thankful that it was only the wallet. But spending our last 90 minutes in Prague calling the bank, trying to find a police station to file a report, and running to the bus put a serious damper on the weekend. So be warned, if you stop at Paul’s Cafe on Wenceslas Square, watch yourself. Okay, watch yourself everywhere on Wenceslas Square. And if you see this skeezeball in the blue hat, white and blue Adidas jacket, and ugly jeans, kneecap him and tell him he owes BV for the nearly brand-new wallet and me for one missed trip to Sephora.
Prague, I still love you, but it may be awhile before I can convince BV to visit again. Clean up your act.