Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Boating Adventures in Prague

The other day, I took my life in my hands and operated a paddle boat.

I'm being melodramatic, of course. Paddle boats are perfectly safe, as evidenced by the fact that they grant boating privileges to any random dweeb who enters Prague. Still, it's hard not to feel melodramatic, given the stone-faced way the boat guy read me the safety litany. It included items like this:

- If you go past the buoys, you will die.
- If other boaters come near you, you will die, and so will they.
- You can sink in the Moldau, just FYI. And if you do, you will die.
- One hour from now, you will probably be passing through the digestive tract of a large water rat.
- If this happens, you may not sue.

Also, he kept calling me "Cap'n," as in, "are you ready, cap'n?," and still with no hint of a smile. How can you feel calm about this when your cap'ning experience is limited to eating Cap'n Crunch?

But I am not one to crumble at such provocations. At heart I am a hardy seafarer, and so I gathered my courage about me and took my vessel to the seas. Let me tell you it is no small thing to set out on the mighty waters with no provisions aside from a sweater, a coat, a purse, all your credit cards and an iPhone. But I settled in soon enough. It turns out paddle boating is quickly seductive. Here is an overview of the thought process you, the cap'n, will be undergoing on the boat:

1 MIN IN, as the boat guy sets you free: OH DEAR GOD
3 MIN IN: hey, I can steer! Kind of!
5 MIN IN: YEAH!!! Let's $%**&in' FLOOR this $*^#$-er *^%$%-er!!!!!

As befits a seasoned salt such as myself, I soon bonded deeply with my vessel. I have dubbed her the S.S. Snark, and though she tops out at the speed of a mallard duck with a nerve disorder, her majesty has never failed to inspire great awe and fear in all who see her, causing some among them to remark: "Huh."

I do not mind telling you that while piloting the Snark, I executed a great many "bad-ass" boating maneuvers, such as:

- Not bumping into other, lesser vessels;
- Executing turns so wide that at one point I bumped into Poland;
- Calling to a swan, "HEY YOU! OUTTA MY WAY!"(I regret to report this did no good, but that's probably because he only spoke Czech.)

Thus maneuvering, I sailed the mighty Snark from one row of yellow buoys set up by the boat company all the way to - get this - the other row of yellow buoys set up by the boat company. This is the kind of fearsome voyage we hardy cap'n types engage in, and I'd like to see you try it. Truly, there is nothing quite like coursing up and down the river, imagining you are going much faster than you really are.

Along the way I also witnessed many fine examples of nature, including:

- Fuzzy baby duckies;
- Humans in other boats that were a lot like the S.S. Snark, only less cool and fearsome and awe-inspiring;
- A water rat the size of a Volvo station wagon, who was probably a local elected official;
and last but not least,
- A floating bottle of Fanta, clearly a relic of the geological period known as the Fanta epoch.

When not manning the mighty Snark for all to see and wonder at vaguely before thinking about other things, I am here to work. I am in a play in the Prague Fringe Festival, in which I operate a large bunraku puppet named Lizette. She requires a great deal of physical skill, but on the other hand, she is excellent company and never dominates the conversation.

Meanwhile, I am delighted to report that I am speaking some Czech over here. Or at any rate, I am speaking some language. I have made a concerted effort to learn basic conversation, but you just never know what will come out of your mouth. For example, this morning it was Bulgarian, which is pretty damned amazing when you consider I've never heard it.

In sum, I highly recommend, if you come to Prague, that you take your own spin in a paddle boat. It will leave your heart full and your mind empty, provided it wasn't already, and if it was it will still be empty, so no harm there. Two hundred crowns or roughly 6 euros gets you an hour at sea, and it will be worth it. I myself even went a few minutes over the time limit, and the boat guys were very kind: they could have charged me over time, but they elected not to. That is the sort of fear and admiration inspired in all who behold the S.S. Snark.

1 comment:

DS,LK & F said...

Long experienced with the nuances of paddleboats, I commend you on your bravery, pluck, courage, and innate navigational skill!

Open-water paddleboating is not for the noob, the coward, or the bungee-jumper who insists upon "doing the math" to make sure that they do not impact the riverbed below with more than 8G's of force.

You are a brave and valiant soul.

Perhaps cross-country skiing next? It's like walking but, with 8-foot long slidey things attached to your sneakers. Stupid? Yes! But brave nonetheless!

Love & Hugs!