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An old memory

The other day, while I was talking to a good friend, I suddenly remembered a great beer experience I had more than eight years ago.

It was September 2002, barely a month after the terrible floods that had affected Prague and many other towns along the Vltava. I had an appointment at the Czech consulate in Dresden to pick my working visa, but for reasons that are not worth mentioning now, I couldn't make it there and instead I got stuck in Ustí nad Labem, which is far from being the nicest Czech town.

It was somewhere between eight and nine in the morning and I was in a really awful mood. I hadn't slept the night before (my fault) and it had just been made clear to me that I was not going to be able to make it to my destination and that to get back to Prague I would have to wait a couple of hours for the next train. The whole day had been wasted for fuck all.

I remember the weather was miserable, grey and too cold for that time of the year. I didn't feel like exploring the city, but I needed a place to kill some time. The train station was being renovated so I went in search of a coffee shop, or something that would be open.

What I found near the station was a pub that already at that time was open. "Cool," I told myself. "A beer won't do me any harm".

The place was pretty big and it was packed, wall to wall. Half of the patrons were pissed and the other half were working hard to catch up. I found a spot by the bar and, with a tiny bit of fear, I sat and ordered a beer. Zlatopramen, I think it was, and it tasted lovely!(*). Once I had the glass half empty (who said that this means being a pessimist?) I started to get the atmosphere and realised that everyone there was having a good time. The air wasn't full of tension, there was no threatening vibe in it, there was laughter and people speaking loudly and enjoying that time and their beers.

Some of you might say that they were all a bunch of pathetic drunkards who were already shitfaced before 9AM. To me, in that moment, they all seemed like blokes who had just finished their night shifts and were with their mates winding down and forgetting about their problems, at least for a while. Either way, my mood considerably improved (and it wasn't because of the alcohol), the day didn't seem so fucked up any more. On the other hand, that sensation lasted until I got on the train and realised that it was one of those that stops at every bloody station, no matter how insignificant and that because of that, it would take me almost half the rest of the day to get back to Prague, but that's another story.

And there are still morons who will want people to believe that alcohol is worse than heroin and crack (please, do read Pete Brown's excellent take on that).

Na Zdraví!

(*)I've recently come to the conclusion that the best beer in the world does exist, it's the first one you have each day.

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  1. Shoulda grabbed a couple of lahváče for the trip, could've been enjoyable too

  2. You are right... Pity they didn't sell PETky back then...


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