American traveller Christian was recently in Prague for the second time round and sat down for a chat with me about dealing with drunks in San Jose as well as a very close call with the Turkish Border police. Christian’s relaxing charm and spontaneous attitude made for an interesting interview. Check it out below.
So you were born in California, right? Tell us about it.
I was born and raised in San Jose which is 40 minutes south of San Francisco. California is cool, very sunny. I’ve spent most of my time in San Francisco or in the South bay area.
Why did you decide to take this big Eurotrip?
Multiple reasons… The first thing – I was transferring to a different school, so I had about a year of free time to kill and also my lease was up, so I figured what the hell. I’ll go travel!
Cool, and where have you been so far?
I’ve been to Germany, Hungary, Poland, England, Scotland, France, Greece, Romania, Turkey… and Iceland is coming up soon 🙂
Iceland is one of my favourite countries, you’re going to love it! Why did you come to Prague? Did you know anything about it before you came?
I wasn’t really planning on going to Prague until a friend of mine went there from Berlin and said it was a blast!
What were your first impressions of the city?
Ohhhh girl! It was very different to what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be a huge industrial city. California is a big place for industry, whereas Prague felt a little more homely – like a small town.
The John Lennon Wall in Prague’s Malá Strana
What has been your favourite part of the trip so far?
In general, just making friends in different areas from all over the world. If I ever come back to Europe, I have a place to stay and they have a place to stay if they come to California. You kinda get a different perspective on people.
So what do you usually do in the US?
I study and work a lot. I work as a bartender in a gay bar in San Jose. Well, currently the ONLY gay bar in San Jose.. We had three but the others closed. It’s alright, but it’s not quite Berlin unfortunately!
What’s your favourite drink to mix?
It really depends, if I only have to make one. Mojitos. But in summer I have to make 25 at a time – so then they suck! I have a regular who literally doesn’t care what we give him – so we experiment with creating new things for him, which is fun.
What’s your favourite drink?
Añejo tequila on the rocks.
Nice, and how are you at dealing with drunk people?
Errrm, I mean they’re not pleasant to deal with, but I usually get them out quickly.
Got any crazy stories?
Yeah! A few actually! I think one of the best ones would be… There was this family with all young kids getting trashed at the bar. They were being loud and I had already warned them twice. Eventually we told them to leave, then they started pushing us so we threatened to call the cops. We walked them out then I went to the other side of the building to grab something and one of the girls ran back in, into the closet and pissed! He was like “What the fuck?!”. So he walked her out to her family and complained and they said that we deserved it! So we called the cops and I think they actually got arrested.
In the bar
I’ve always wanted to try bartending, but I don’t know if I could handle these crazy drunks.
That was an extreme one definitely.
What has been the biggest challenge during your travels?
Getting into Turkey. I didn’t realise that I needed a visa and I didn’t have one when we crossed the Bulgarian border. So I had to get off the train and no one spoke English and I had to wait there for 45 minutes while the train was gearing up to go. Then I got driven off into the middle of nowhere in this van! It was pretty fucking scary, but finally I got back to the Bulgarian border and it took a while to get a visa, but I got one. It was really sketchy.
I see you have a little notebook there. What kind of stuff do you write about?
It’s mainly just a kind of journal – trying to write about adventures of the day, where I’m going next. Also doing budgeting and stuff. It’s nice to look back on – good memories for later. And also some quotes of things that people have said – actually I think the Prague ones are the best.
(Opens book) Oh here’s a good one from London. This is from Chris, an eccentric really funny guy. He referred to this gay bar as being “laced with sodomy” which cracked us all up!
And also a guy in Prague talking about Meryl Streep – he said that she could even play other actors. He said “Meryl Streep is… Leonardo DiCaprio in… The Wolf of Wall Street”! (laughs).
(Laughs) That is golden. What adjectives would you use to describe Prague?
Crazy, awesome, fun, surprising.
The people were way better than I thought they were going to be, it was a great experience – which is why I’m back again this time!
How would you describe San Jose in adjectives?
Monotonous, big, unoriginal, but it’s home.
Random question time! If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?
1920s New York.
You didn’t even hesitate, you’ve had this planned?
Yeah, it’s a conversation I’ve had recently. Because that is where Jay Gatsby lived and his life was fucking amazing!
I LOVE Gatsby. Good answer. Will you come back to Europe soon?
I’m planning on moving here as soon as I can!
Great! So hopefully see you again soon.
Thank you! I hope to come back to Prague again soon too!
Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating
Photos: Christian Neff