I’m not sure of what to think of this city. It’s unique in its own right and is not what entirely what i expected.
The hostel where we’re staying is beside the fields and student housing. Since school ended a few days ago the hostel was practically deserted when I arrived but it’s filled up quickly. All in all approximately 1700 players are staying here and it makes for a unique atmosphere. Unlike other tournaments I’ve been to the teams don’t seem to socialize in outside of friends they’ve met at other tournaments and everybody is focused at this time. The hostel itself is 12 apartment style buildings with a large capacity for students and the energy they bring.
The Strahov Stadium/Football Federation fields are under strict guard and players cannot use them outside of designated hours. The fields appear to be private and are rented out for the tournament. I’m wondering how the fields will hold up under Ultimate conditions with four games a day played on each field. The New Zealand Masters team were able to try the fields out earlier in the week and they’ve indicated that they’re perfect.
I hadn’t expected any of my teammates to be at the dorms quite so early but a few of them had made it in time…and locked me out of my room. Fortunately there were plenty of teams to watch and I ran into familiar faces throughout the day. The first unexpected meeting was a player I ran into during checkin that I’d played against in Manila. Soon after I picked up my gear at the Five Ultimate Praha HQ and ran into Phoenix picking up there gear. A few players from Storm brought Canadian familiarity and before I knew it my friends had returned from their outing.
During my long wait I’d watched a Colombian Open squad practice on the small strip of grass available at the dorms. Like many of the “foreign” squads they had picked up a few US players and the disparity in styles and movement was readily recognizable. The Colombians (for the most part) were quick and fast with short and quick passes. The American players didn’t move the disc as quickly and tended to pickup speed over time. With both height and speed the Colombians should give plenty of teams trouble.
My trip to Five had taken me through most of the Downtown/main city area. The view (in general) was much like old city Europe that many have seen. With Churches and Monuments scattered throughout the city this was a modern city with little differences such as: Communist era buildings that were now painted vividly.
Upon the return of my Cotarica teammates we wandered to a local bar on the hostel grounds. We ran into a few ladies from Tequila Boom Boom and exchanged pleasantries. While the Italians chatted I noticed that one table over a group was smoking some weed while one of their friends snorted a white substance from the table. It was an interesting scene and one that I haven’t seen at an Ultimate tournament. There is some debate as to whether the person was actually a player and so I’ll leave it at that.
The later that optimal arrival of my friends left me wanting food quite late in the evening; perhaps a bit too late. Deciding that a bit of adventure was in need I wandered into the streets leading to the old city and found that practically every store was closed. It was then that I wandered into the Strahov Monastry grounds and found myself at a viewpoint overlooking the city. At night it’s a wonderful view and I decided that my girlfriend and I would have to visit Prague for that view alone.
As spellbinding as the view was I hungered for sustenance and continued my wandering. Each turn brought a new perspective on the city and perhaps even a steep cobbled road. A plaza with a fountain was interesting but when I turned around a church overlooking the plaza from a hill came into view. Once again a hidden perspective had been revealed and the charm of Praha took me in. It is by far one of the better walks I have been in my life
Upon acquiring food a quick taxi ride brought me back to the hostel at 2 am and a sinister looking projects. The character of the hostel at night left me wondering if some element of danger lurked on the walkways and in the shadows. Just then a bush rustled and a hedgehog scurried across my path to disappear into the darkness.