Ramble On: Floaters
is a small town little more than an hour outside of Prague.
Like so many small towns that aren't given ink in the Lonely
Planet guidebook, it is beautiful and virtually tourist
free. Pack a bathing suit and take the green Metro to the
last stop, Cern? most. Hop on the bus at gate 54 and an
hour and change later, about 68 Kc poorer, you're in Liberec.
Off the bus, find the town center, conveniently identified
by the...yes...the Tesco. You're heading to the Centrum
Babylon Liberec located at Nitranskö 1, a ten-minute walk
from the center. Consult the town map or ask for directions;
everyone knows where it is. The Centrum Babylon is Liberec's
wholesome family playground, an all-inclusive wonderland
for all-day fun with the kids. There's an arcade for them,
a bar for you, and young and old alike can frolic in the
aquapark. Yes: aquapark, aka water park. An indoor water
If you're working your way through a bad hangover, the water
park will be your salvation. Fork over the two-hundred-some
Kc for unlimited access, change into your swimming trunks,
lock up your valuables and jump in. There are four waterslides
that twist and turn from varying heights. The lowest starts
on the first floor, the highest on the fourth. The best
one sends you down several frightening, unlit corkscrews
and then--whoosh!--deposits you into what can only be described
as a giant toilet bowl. Depending on how streamlined you
are, you'll glide around the edge once, twice or thrice
until your momentum runs out. Then you slide into the center
and--plop!--you're flushed into the pool below. There's
an observation deck above you, so don't be surprised to
see dozens of laughing Czechs watching your bewilderment
and horror at becoming a human turd.
Elsewhere in the complex, find the sauna room, wading grottoes,
hot tub and steam baths. Spend a couple hours in the water,
or however long you need for last night's toxins to seep
out of your body. Get wrinkly. Shower off--definitely shower
off, there are children in the water, after all--and change
back into your street clothes. Walk back to the center.
Ask for directions to the town square, which (despite the
McDonald's) you will find to be just as beautiful as just
about any square in Prague, only without the packs of tourists.
Have a coffee at one of the outdoor restaurants and, if
you're ready for it, the first drink of the day. Maybe eat
dinner there, too. It's a restaurant on the main square
basking in the shadow of beautiful architecture, but this
isn't Prague: Your dinner will be affordable. Once the sun
has set, ask for directions to TrznŠ nömestŠ. You're heading
to a club called Let's Go Let at TrznŠ nömestŠ 11. It's
a bit tricky to find, as it's set off the square a bit,
but if you wander a bit and listen for signs of life you'll
stumble upon it eventually. The night we went, we caught
two bands. The first, Pan Kix, wasn't horrible but wasn't
wonderful. Kind of an attempt at mainstream metal rock.
The singer, though, was a little cutie-pie wearing a shirt
that declared her "PUNK." She was a bit too young to really
understand the word as anything other than a marketing term,
but fuck it. She was, as noted, a cutie-pie.
Second up: The Radios, a band that's actually from Prague
but happened to be playing Liberec. They're a weird, modernized
New Wave band. The lead singer, MŠa, is a tiny little thing
who leans into the mic and does her best Siouxsie Sioux
by way of early 80s L.A. punk. The Radios are the Mr. Potatohead
of Czech New Wave. They've borrowed a nose from here, eyes
from there, ears from somewhere else. We heard a Cure bass
line, some familiar drum smacks and a bunch of other New
Wave touches and flairs that caught our brains, but nothing
so specific that we screamed theft. They even had an occasional
horn section provided by the Korg as manned by a guy who
looked like he'd stepped off a Kraftwerk album cover. If
you catch them at their June 22 show in Prague (see "Picks"),
request their cover of The Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere"
or "Sweet Jane".
While at Let's Go Let, ask for bartender to introduce you
to Guido, a crazy-eyed old man with a scraggly, gray beard.
He's the resident character. On the night of our visit,
he took the stage twice and belted out some wild blues more
full of delta than anyone we'd ever seen stateside. Think
of an older David Yow possessed by the ghost of Robert Johnson.
If nothing else is happening at the club, Guido alone will
make the trip worthwhile.
When the house lights come up, ask for directions to a club
named Hut, a ten-minute walk from Let's Go Let. Hut, too,
is tricky to find because it, too, is tucked away from the
road, and the small building seems better suited for hosting
a congregation of born again Christians. Or maybe a Howard
Johnson's circa 1982. Depending on your tastes, this place
will be heaven or hell. A tight, sweaty dance club offering
up cruise ship music, packed with lotsa mullets and hot
pants. We stepped in, we stepped out.
On then to Liquid, a dance club which is practically accessible
only by taxi. If you want to chill a bit, dance a bit, lounge
on a couch, maybe play some foosball, Liquid will make you
happier than Hut did. We spent a couple hours chilling,
dancing, lounging, playing foosball. Cheap drinks, drugs
in the bathroom, maybe some fumbling sex with a local sporting
pupils as large as a 50 heller coin.
Now then, walk back to town. The sun should be coming up
soon, but your bus doesn't leave for another couple hours.
Back to the town square. Facing the McDonald's, walk down
the street to your left and find a couple herna bars. One
has a couple pool tables as well as the usual assortment
of locals who will alternate between warm slaps on your
back to that particular brand of Czech derision. Fuck it,
though--it goes with the territory. Shoot some pool, have
a couple drinks, kill time.
Your bus will leave soon, maybe another hour. Walk back
to the bus station. Take out the Frisbee. Toss it around,
ask each other stupid questions that aren't at all stupid
when you're in this kind of altered mood. Relish the rising
sun. Get on the bus, try to sleep for an hour. Back home,
rinse your bathing suit and hang it to dry in the bathroom.
Hit the bed and waste away the day in a slumber of recovery.