Are Pants Optional?
I was stupid, and I was lucky....
The only part of the move from Prague to Amsterdam that went as planned is that I ended up at the destination in one piece.
SCENE OF THE CRIME
the plan set, and everything organized....
Four friends were traveling together from Prague to Amsterdam. Me and my boyfriend, a mutual friend from college, and a guy from San Francisco whom we met in Prague.
The morning of departure we split into teams to complete set tasks. Me and Mike to drop off suitcases to ship back to the US, and Matt and Ted to do other things I no longer remember. It was all timed. I had the money, and Ted had our train tickets. We were to meet at Velryba an hour before heading to the train station.
Hahaha. Siiiigh. That is not what happened...
Mike and I managed to bring the suitcases to the shipping company along with the required itemized list of contents. Matt and Ted accomplished their tasks, whatever they were. Well done us!
Mike and I had time to spare before going to Velryba, and he wanted to take me to one of his favorite hang-out spots before I left Prague for a new location. Inside the bar there were groups of older men drinking, smoking and chatting. There were snuff-boxes on the table.
Mike and I each ordered a beer. Then a second beer. I had not eaten breakfast, and it was nearing midday. I went to the bathroom, and I forgot that I had all of our money in a silly money belt because I had never owned or used a money belt before this day. (And, I have not owned or used one since this day.) The money belt fell off my waist and into the toilet after I peed, and I didn’t notice until I flushed and the water started coming up instead of going down. Fuck.
Now I’m drunkenly attempting to dry the belt and the stack of drenched bills that now smell like pee. There are only a few towels in the bathroom. Dammit!
Whatever. Around my waist it goes, this time tucked a bit further down my pants. I am not enjoying the hot, damp feeling on my backside.
Mike tries to convince me to try snuff. I don’t try it. Or, I don’t think I tried it.
We move to Velryba. I am on my second Scotch when Matt and Ted arrive, and Ted is not impressed. He takes my drink away and orders me my favorite – smažený sýr, fried cheese – to soak up some of the alcohol. I’ve never ordered Scotch before, and I think some guys from the neighboring table pressured me into doing it. Riiiight.
Time passes, and we realize we are late. We quickly pay, run to the train station and see that our train is delayed. Whew! As we are chatting away one of us realizes that we misread the station signs.
Our train is departing in precisely one minute. Fuck.
Mike and I run to the train, three tracks over, and jump aboard. Matt and Ted follow with our luggage, and chuck one big bag after another through the narrow train door opening as the train begins to depart the station. Shit.
I see Matt and Ted chasing the train. They don’t make it on board.
I’ve lost Mike. I am alone. I have the money. I have four giant bags. I have no train ticket. Shit. Shitty. Shit.
After a few minutes, Mike appears. He thought he was alone. We are reunited. Yay!
We shove all of the bags into a cabin and wait. Within 20 minutes the conductor appears. He is amused. And, thankfully, helpful. He understands our situation, and he saw what happened at the train station. He explains the various routes that Matt and Ted can take to catch up to us, or at least when they might also arrive into Amsterdam. He says he can help me travel on this train to the border of The Netherlands before I need to purchase another ticket. Oh, thank you, thank you, kind gentleman.
Mike and I settle in for the overnight. Hey, guess what? Mike has a bottle of red wine. Perfect. I need wine.
When we cross into Germany a young German couple boards the train, and they ask to sit with us in our cabin. They look like 1980s metalheads and honestly although I don’t know what metalhead means, I decide they fit the description in my mind with their colorful spandex tights, wild hair, and their loud music. Also, they have a huge joint. We open the window in our cabin. It is late Winter, and it is getting dark, and colder, yet the fresh air feels good. I’m feeling good until I’m not.
I can hear my name called by a voice I do not recognize. Where am I? My eyes won’t open. I don’t care. I go back to sleep.
“Melissa. Melissa. Melissa, are you okay? Hello?”
I hear a strange noise and can slowly sense the air changing around my body. Next to where I am sitting, a door opens a tiny crack. A hand reaches through the crack to touch me. Suddenly, like a reflex, because I am too fucked up to think about anything, I jolt upright, shove the hand away and slam the door closed. My eyes are now wide open. I am in a bathroom on the train.
I see my shoes. And my pants. And my dirty shirt. I am naked.
The mixture of alcohol and smoking have left me feeling like I am soaking in a cement bath. Everything is heavy, and I am slow.
I manage to dress, leave the bathroom after a weak attempt to tidy it up, and charge down the train corridor looking for my cabin, banging into doors as I go. The heavy metal lady is waiting for me and pulls me into our cabin. Mike and the heavy metal dude are sleeping. The lady helps me find a clean shirt, and I put it on, tossing my dirty shirt into my bag (where it stayed for three weeks).
The journey to Amsterdam continues. Someone gives me a sandwich and a big bottle of water.
We have to change trains somewhere in Germany, in the middle of the night. I am far from sober. I wander around the station without Mike and start speaking with a man who says he is waiting for his train to depart. I want to keep talking to him because there is no one else nearby and I don’t want to pass out and miss my train.
This man wants to take me home. Ummm. That is not happening. I run away. He’s too wasted to attempt to chase me. At this point, I decide to never, ever allow myself to be in this position again, and I have not.
After boarding the train for the ongoing journey to Amsterdam, I do have to buy a ticket for the last portion of this journey
The piss smelling bills are still warm and damp as I pay the conductor. Sorry about that.
Mike and I arrive in Amsterdam, and we store all of the luggage at the train station taking only a small backpack of stuff with us until we meet up with Matt and Ted again. The four of us had already agreed on a hostel to stay at in Amsterdam, and according to the Czech train conductor, Matt and Ted would arrive in the next day.
Mike and I went to the Christian Hostel in the Red Light District for the night. After we showered, we went to a coffee shop and then returned to our separate dorm areas at the hostel, and I fell into a deep sleep.
A day went by — no Matt and Ted. We post a notice at the agreed hostel and wait for contact. At the end of Day 2, they show up at the agreed hostel. I don’t remember their story any longer except that their journey from Prague was also a bit dramatic.
At dinner, Ted asks me if I’ve phoned my parents. I say no. My parents and I had an agreement that I would call them every other Monday. That Monday hasn’t arrived yet, and I wasn’t about to tell them the Prague to Amsterdam story. He says that I better call them immediately.
Ted called my parents after he “lost” me. Why? Why? Why? Now they’ve been worrying for two days for no reason. I called them and made up a bullshit story (of course they knew it was complete BS) about what happened and assured them all was fine.
Which it was.
No big deal.
There is nothing to tell.
I was safely in Amsterdam.