Earning My Keep in Prague
“This is a good inn. I seem to have gotten very good at developing a traveler’s sixth sense in such matters. A wandering beggar’s sixth sense.”
-Taneda Santoka, Japanese wandering haiku poet.
As I stepped off the 119 airport bus at the Dejvicka metro stop in the northwest of Prague in the early glimmers of morning, I knew that I needed to land a free bed. I knew that I could not afford to pay the $25 a night for a dorm bed in this city. I had to find a hostel that would allow me to make a website for them as a trade for a free bed or a job where I could make up the bean money to have a place to lay my head.
So I walked towards the metro entrance, and breathed fresh breathes of new country air. I had not before been in the Czech Republic, and as I looked at the metro stop bums and the hurrying morning people, I became very happy.
I took the green line metro in to the Mustek stop and sat next to a Czech girl reading Hesse’s Siddhartha. I made a motion that it was a good book, as I made my way off of the quickly crowed morning metro train. I at least need to learn how to say “that is a good book” in any country that I travel in. I needed to go to a Czech bar.
But first I needed a place to lay my head.
I could not land a couch surfing bed prior to getting in Prague, so I knew that I had to Hobohideout it or live in the airport with the group of bums that I spent the previous night with.
I had to Hobohideout it. I had to find a hostel who would take me up on my offer of making a website for them on Hobohideout.com in exchange for a free bed for a week. After meeting Andy – the mastermind of the Hobohideout hotel encyclopedia site – in Guatemala in the spring, I have been making these pages for hotels just to keep riding on my vagabond coattails.
But it was a little to early in the morning to go sauntering into unsuspecting hostels with my jive and graft. So I found a space on a park bench next to some bums and lit up a pipe. Prague was just rising for a day of work, and not even the bums were up to spanging yet. So I watched the smoke rise out of my pipe, as I got my first glimmers of Prague women.
It is said that the most beautiful women in the world live in Prague.
I was not convinced at that time. They just looked at me like I was a bum.
I think they are right.
But soon enough the Prague street bums recognized that I was not one of them, and got to work on me. Soon cheap watches were shoved into my face, and I had to cut my pipe short and make a hasty exit from my park bench. I had to find a place to lay my head.
I wanted to go out to a bar in Prague that night, and I did not want to carry all of my “swag” along with me. So I recited to myself my Hobohideout wrap as I made my way to a hostel. I mounted the steps and found a petit, young blonde smiling at me from her post at the entrance to the hostel. I asked if she had any beds open. She had to work hard to find one. They were packed. This was not good. I then inquired about the price:
$28 for a dorm bed.
This was really not good.
I gave her the Hobohideout wrap. She stared at me blank faced and said that she would ask the hostel owner’s “right hand man.”
I went and sat in the common room, and fiddled for a while with my Molskine.
Soon enough I was called back to the reception desk.
“We have a bed for you,” the blonde said with a smile, “please pay $28.”
“What?” I stammered, “I have no money.”
The blonde and the “right hand man,” who appeared to be a woman, looked at me with deer-headlight eyes.
I repeated slowly:
“I make websites for hotels as a trade for a free bed for one week. These websites are very good and are a free promotion for your hostel. Would you like to trade?”
“What can we do,” the “right hand man” woman spoke with an attitude, “we are only receptionist?”
“You can give me a map of Prague.”
They did, and I made my way for the door armed with a map that denoted the hotels and hostels of Prague.
This first attempt was clearly not successful, so I walked on through the city hopeful that the next hostel was not as stingy with their dorm room accommodation. I found another hostel nearby, and I rang the door bell.
Then rang it again, and then rang it again.
Nobody was going to even let me into this hostel it seemed.
Discouragement slowly began to slip over me. “Oh well,” I thought begrudgingly, “I will just sleep at the airport. It is cheap to get to and from the Prague airport on the 119 public bus, and I also noticed fields of pine trees that would be perfect to sleep under.
I began walking towards the river. I walked past a hostel, stopped short, and figured that it would not hurt to try to earn my keep here. It was called the Golden Sickle Hostel, and I was greeted with smiles by the receptionist, who was laughing and joking about something.
I told her that I travel by making websites as a trade for a free bed for one week. She said quickly said OK, and I got a bed.
I went to sleep happy. I found a bed.
Prague Hotel Accommodation
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