Classical, Hip Hop and the Ghosts In Between


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, July 28, 2004 was originally posted on August 07, 2004.

DAY 284:  Music, as Madonna once put it, “makes the people come together.”  I’m sure this was still true in the caveman days, when a caveman started banging on a rock in a manner as simple as the percussion in a White Stripes’ song.  Music brought villagers together in South America, tribes together in Africa and Americans together in “we can do it” montages in American 80s teen flicks.

Prague has been one of the premier stages for bringing people together in Eastern Europe, particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries, the hey day of classical music.  Classical music still brings people together in modern day Prague; there’s quite a calling for it from tourists wanting to hear the classics in a classical setting, to classical instrumentalists looking for work. 

I SPENT MOST OF THE DAY WRITING ALONE in my room and running errands in town, stopping for some Czech fast food down the block from sculptures in front of the National Museum.  At five in the afternoon I headed over to the Church of St. Martin in the Wall with a flock of others to see one of the many classical concerts in town for a small fee.  The Romanesque church had the perfect acoustics for such a performance.  The string quartet Musica Praga (picture above) performed classics such as Mozart’s “A Little Night Music,” Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons (Spring),” and Schubert’s “Ave Maria” to a packed house — so much that some people had to sit on the floor.

Afterwards I went out to find an internet cafe but ended up inquiring about a ghost tour that I had seen a poster for.  I figured I spend most of the day writing about a tour in Berlin (I was behind on The Blog), that I might as well see Prague from a quirky angle on my last night.  A tour agency sold me a ticket and I went off to Blog.

“HEY MAN,” I CALLED TO KYLE sitting at the computer in the hostel reception.  He was just getting his day started after a long night out after our rounds of absinthe.

“Feel like hitting that steak place?” he asked me.  We had planned to check out the Crazy Cow steakhouse across the street and down the block.  Word had it they had great baked potatoes.

“Can it wait ‘til ten?  I’ve booked this ghost tour.”

“Ghost tour?”  I showed him the brochure and he looked it over:

“In the Old Town we stumble through a web of surreptitious passages and infernal alleys extending on all sides infiltrating it completely: small rag doll lanes intersected by entrance halls: circular paths hard to penetrate: narrow underground passages still smelling of the Middle Ages…” [sic]

Kyle seemed a little skeptical until he read the bottom:

“Following our walk complimentary drinks will be served at an Old Town tavern.”

“I’m down.”

THE SKY DIDN’T GET DARK until about ten on a Prague July day, so an 8:30 ghost tour didn’t have much of an atmosphere for a brush with the supernatural.  Kyle and I arrived at the meeting point late but eventually found our way to a small alley where a guide holding up a bright yellow umbrella was telling a ghost story to a group of about twenty.

“Is this the ghost tour?” I whispered to a guy in the group.

“Yeah.”  He was Greg, a 19-year-old American who had also been drawn to the tour by that poster on the street.

“Did we miss much?” I asked him.

“You just missed the first story, but it was kind of lame.”


Despite the brochure’s backside saying, “You will be entertained,” the rest of the tour was pretty lame as well.  I don’t know if it was the fact that the sun was still out or the guide’s delivery was off, but the entire tour was, as we quickly discovered, sort of lame and not funny.  The female guide led us around random places in the side streets of Prague, telling us a story in each one.  She spun tales about crazy and psychotic priests, doctors and barbers, telling us he killed a woman here, a man there, but it just didn’t come off as a frightening ghost tour at all.  Maybe it was fact that she spoke through a mic attached to a hip speaker.  The only redeemingly entertaining part of the tour was when she said that one of the ghosts manifested in Prague in present day as a dark-skinned happy fellow in Mexican garb — and when we turned the corner, an African guy was there in a big Mexican sombrero passing out flyers for a local Mexican restaurant.

“Now I will take you to the bar for your free drinks,” was our guide’s conclusion of the hour-long tour.

“Yes!  I knew this was worth something!” Greg exclaimed for joy.

Kyle, Greg and I sat in an old-fashioned wooden bar over a couple more rounds than everyone else that had left after the freebie.  We were joined by two British chaps who equally thought the best part of the otherwise lame tour was the beer at the end.  The five of us toasted and eventually had dinner at the Crazy Cow steakhouse before splitting up.

CLASSICAL MUSIC ISN’T THE ONLY KIND that brought people together in Prague.  All kinds of genres did, and Kyle and I went to confirm in the nightlife scene.  We did a shot of absinthe in the hostel bar to start the night off, and then went downstairs to the Roxy nightclub in the same building, where reggae star Luciano had just performed earlier, bringing people together with Jamaican rhythms.  The young British couple we met there — whose female half got picked up by a lone Czech lesbian for really hot girl-on-girl suggestive dancing — didn’t join Kyle and me to Prague’s big nightclub, Karlovy Lazne, a five-story venue with a different genre of music on each floor:  hip hop, dance, 80s pop, rock and techno.  Apparently only certain types of music brought people together — hip-hop and 80s pop — because the other floors were empty.  Now if there was free beer on those floors, I’m sure people might have flocked like they did for a lame ghost tour.

Next entry: Capitalist Pigs

Previous entry: Bohemian Rhapsody

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Comments for “Classical, Hip Hop and the Ghosts In Between”

  • ERIK - main pic stringquartet doesn’t work…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/07  at  07:39 PM

  • Too bad about the lame ghost tour.  I’ve found that usually ghost tours are one of the best ways to see a city, since you get all the weird stories from its history, but delivery is so critical.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/08  at  03:01 AM

  • Hey!  You remembered me!  That’s cool.  Anyways, I had no idea you were such a writer when I met you.  Hell, I just thought that you were some crazy hippe walking around the world, and now I visit your site and you write for the New York Post?  Wild, man, wild . . .

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/08  at  07:20 PM

  • One of my favorite ghost tours of all time was in New Orleans. They have a ton of cheesy ones, but man, this one was all based in folklore, nothing cheesy about it!

    Sorry yours stunk so much. But, free booze at the end is good…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  12:54 AM

  • GREG:  Hey man…  glad to hear from you!  Funny, did I look like a hippy?  Anyway, keep in touch, and pass my Blog around!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  10:17 AM

  • I have to go to Prague! It’s been near the top of my to-do list for ages!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/10  at  07:32 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Capitalist Pigs

Previous entry:
Bohemian Rhapsody


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