Friday, July 3, 2015

First time to Europe - Partying in Prague then Car Renting in Germany

My transition from Prague to Germany (train from Prague to Dresden, then rent-a-car from Dresden to Berlin and Sachsenhausen) went like this:

  • Put my backpack in a storage locker at Prague's main train station (Praha hlavní nádraží) for a damn good deal (3 euros was it for a small locker? It was the cheapest I could find compared to other luggage storage options). The station's closed from midnight to 3:30 am or something though, but that was fine. I had a 42 liter pack.

  • Go clubbing in Prague at the 5 story club till it closed at 5am. Turned into a bunch of guys, somewhat homoerotic... hehe.

  • Club closes and I check out the Charles river a bit. It was a little before sunrise, so it was fun to play with the camera settings on my One Plus One smart phone (F/2.0 aperture). Short lesson of all I know about photography - there are 3 main elements to it:
    • Aperture: The f-stop number. You can't change this on a smartphone. The larger the number, the smaller the aperture, so F1.0 would be very big and F16 very small. The aperture size affects field of view and how much light is let in.
    • Shutter Speed: You CAN change this on a smart phone. The longer it is, the more light gets let in (for darkly lit shots), but the more blurry things get. To get the photos below, I had to use the countdown timer and leaned the phone against a rock so that I wouldn't disturb it at all (because I had set shutter speed to like 4 or 8 seconds).
    • ISO: I just think of this as graininess vs brightness. The lower the ISO, the less grainy the image seems, but also the darker the image seems. So the photos below had low ISO.
Charles River
  • Anyway, onto the train station! I walk/jog to the station and make it on time, but was a bit scared at first because the displays didn't show my train or platform until about 30 minutes before the train was to arrive (I was still kind of inebriated)
  • I for some reason become obsessed with taking pictures/videos of this train station
Prague Main Train Station
Prague Main Train Station

  • The train looks kinda crappy from the outside, but really nice from the inside!

  • The 2 hr train ride from Prague to Dresden is really beautiful. But I was really sleepy. But it was also really sunny!
    Prague to Dresden Train Ride

  • I finally get the Dresden, and make my way over to the avis rent-a-car, located pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Dresden actually has 3 Rent-a-car locations, and the city looked MUCH bigger than it did on google maps. The place I got the car from was: Dresden Downtown, RD7 Friedrich Strasse 24. I pre-paid online for their online-price, and it came out to 93 euros (including everything except gas) for 24 hrs. I specifically wanted the "BMW 3 series or similar" notch because I wanted to experience driving the ultimate driving machine on the autobahn. The process was extremely painless. I just needed to show them my US California's driver license (I don't have an international driver's license or anything)
  • I got to Avis and they gave me a VW (WTF!!!). It's a VW Tiguan and they say it's in the same class. It might be in terms of comfort, but I wanted horsepower, and it was lacking :( 
  • My return location was Berlin Center Budapester Str 43 (I chose that because it was near my hostel and open 24/7). Fuel ended up being about 43 euros.
  • Driving on the autobahn was a fun experience. 
    • Most areas are 2 to 3 lanes
    • There are zones with speed limits and zones without
    • You should always stay in the right (slow) lane unless you're passing
    • There was one time I was passing some slow cars and took a little too long in the fast lane, and noticed an Audi roaring up behind me, so I quickly go to the right lane
      • The Audi followed me.
      • I was confused as to why, until I saw the Porsche roaring gunning behind the Audi's ass and then burning past both the Audi and I. (And I was flooring it, going about 200kmph)
      • I burned a police car and was about to brake check right when I saw him, but realized I was on the autobahn, and continued to floor it
      • Most people don't floor it because it wastes gas. Most people drive similar to US freeway speeds
  • I drive past Berlin and go see Sachsenhausen concentration camp. (It's kind of out of the way from downtown Berlin, so I thought this was a good chance to see it, instead of dealing with public transpo).
    • Sachsenhausen was a "model" concentration camp that other camps were modeled after. 
    • Sad and disturbing place. You can form your own thoughts about it. The exhbit that disturbed me the most was the "hospital" and "post mortem" area, where the Nazis dissected humans.

  • Anyway, with that visit behind me, I go back to Berlin and pick up my buddy from the Hostel to get Ramen and we cruise. It basically feels like we're back at home in the US again. (He had already gotten there and checked in after taking the train directly from Prague to Berlin because he didn't trust my ability to drive without sleep and speed limit. Pfftttt)
  • There's an amazing tunnel that goes under the Berlin Hbf (central train station).