Friend or Foe

by Andrew Stein

We are in Prague for about two minutes before Gabe notices someone across the bus (which takes us the long distance of about 100m from plane to airport terminal) that is wearing a Cal Bears sweatshirt. We are discussing which baggage carousel is ours when Gabe loudly enough declares that we need not worry because we are following a Cal Bear. That gets their attention, and we soon get to chatting as we wait patiently for our baggage. Unfortunately or fortunately, it does not take long for the conversation to devolve into me spouting some Big Game statistics. For example: Cal gave up more points to us last year (48) than they had in their five previous games that year at home in Memorial Stadium. In addition, the Bears were only a last minute, trick play away from matching the largest one-sided loss in this rivalry’s history dating back to 1930 when Stanford beat Cal 41-0. After getting Big Game talk out of our system, we again became more cordial and ask the usual questions of where each other is from, how long we are traveling for, etc. And before we know it, our baggage comes, we exchange contact information, and we part ways.

After Amsterdam and a day of travel, Gabe and I feel a little tired and decide that tonight is a good night to take it easy, get a couple beers at a corner store, change into comfortable cards, put on some grooveshark.com tunes, and play cards. We get to the stage of playing cards, when the computer rings with the modern equivalent tone to AOL’s “You’ve got mail.” We check, and it’s Tracy and Christina from the airport asking to see if we’re planning on going out tonight. We unabashedly admit to our current state of beers, pajamas and cards, but are also open to evening activity suggestions. They proceed to describe Karlovy Lazne, which is advertised as the largest club in central Europe. We research what comprises central Europe and several sources, including the very reputable Wikipedia, describe it as Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. The biggest club of all these countries might be worth exploring, so Gabe and I rally, put our faces back on, and walk across Prague. Karlovy Lazne is five stories tall, and each story plays a different genre of music. We enjoy the oldies (which is now music from the 1990’s) and the pop music floors. The beers are inexpensive, the music fun, and the company good. It is easy to call our first night in Prague a success.

The timing then works perfectly that when we arrive back at our apartment, I call California where my extended family has gathered to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday! It is wonderful to hear everyone’s voices before I go to bed.