Flying to Europe

OK, so I finally have a good Internet connection and so I’m able to post this missive that I wrote yesterday:

If this post doesn’t make sense, please excuse me, but I’ve only had about one night’s worth of sleep in the last three nights. Monday I caught the red eye out of San Francisco and arrived in New York City at about 7:30 a.m. and went non-stop until about 2 a.m.

Much of the day was spend doing interviews for my book, The Tribes of Burning Man, including staying and hanging with Jessica Bruder (author of Burning Book and someone I knew through the Flaming Lotus Girls), having a late breakfast with Not That Dave (BM’s regional contact for New York and founder of Figment), spending a few hours with Rev. Billy (who is now running for mayor of NYC), and getting drinks with Jessica and Madagascar Institute founder Hackett.

In between all of that, I managed to wander Times Square (which has cool new colored and lane-separated bike lanes), go to the top of the Empire State Building, and generally check out New York, including Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn that I’d never seen. By early afternoon, I took the A train to JFK for my flight to Prague, which arrived first this morning. Again, I didn’t manage to sleep much on the flight, partly from my anxiousness and partly from the huge group of Hasidic Jews who were bustling about almost the entire flight.

I got cleaned up and grabbed one hour’s sleep in my room at the Hotel Prana, an imposing yet stylish building with cool rounded edges overlooking Prague Castle and much of the city. Santosh and I decided to fight through our fatigue and venture into the city, which is just beautiful and has an amazing history that’s apparent just walking around.

We hung out in Tyn Cathedral Square and people-watched while drinking overpriced Budweisers (no. not the American kind), save sights and took photos, grabbed a cheap lunch at the wonderfully divey Bar 69, strolled along the Lvtava River,  crossed the historic Charles Bridge, and rode the trains (it’s been a good week for public transportation).

The plan for tonight is to crash early and hard and recharge the batteries from when the tour officially begins tomorrow at 8 a.m. Oh, and despite my earlier intentions, it looks like it’s going to be tough to regularly blog as I go along this trip, both because of the full schedule and challenging Internet issues. But check back, because I’ll have much to say, I’m sure.

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Greetings from Prague

Just a quick post because of computer difficulties, but Prague is beautiful and conveys an amazing sense of its long and interesting history. After an 11 hour hibernation last night I am now caught up on sleep, more or less. The tour of the rest of Czech begin now, so I need to get going. Ciao, all, and pardon my irregular updates.

My trek to the Czech Republic

I’m looking forward to reviving the travel log function of this site – as I did during my visits to Bolivia and Peru — and to devoting some of my energies into blogging my exploration of the Czech Republic. I’ll be on a press tour entitled “The Way We Were: A Look Back At the Communism Era” and I’m excited to see how the Czech government presents this era.

After all, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is such a fervent support of neoliberal capitalism that called out President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus efforts as “a way to hell” (just before Obama’s recent visit to Prague, no less). Topolanek is at odds with Social Democrats and facing a no-confidence vote from legislators that threatens to collapse a government that is halfway through its presidential tenure in the European Union.

These are precarious economic times, and despite the fervent hopes of neocon true believers that we were at the end of history, the old struggles between socialism and capitalism haven’t been solved (certainly not using military and economic weapons). There are still open questions about the best way forward, which I’ll explore as I try to marry travel writing with sociopolitical analysis.

I find politically turbulent countries far more fascinating than stable ones (which was a reason that I liked Bolivia better than Peru during my trip there, although I do appreciate Peru’s recent conviction of former President Alberto Fujimori on human rights abuses from his “dirty war” with leftist rebels).

I’ll post my trip itinerary in the next couple days, and I’d love to get feedback from anyone out there with insights. And I’ll try to do posts every day or two, so come on back.