When I rocked up to Paris, France, I was intrigued by two things – the fact that croissants are the official currency, and a large, metal tower that loomed over the city. Nobody seemed to know what it was called, so I was left to assume that it was probably the Bert Newton Tower, dedicated to Australia’s (and, I assume, France’s) favourite moon-faced television celebrity.
Alright, I’ll admit I was pretty drunk on Kronenbourg at that time, which probably influenced my decision. It wasn’t until later i discovered it was actually the Eiffel Tower – whatever the fuck that means.
A few weeks later I travelled to Prague, in the Czech Republic, and was astonished to see a tower highly reminiscent of the one I’d seen in the French capital. Only it was smaller, crappier and far less popular, so I made the assumption that it must’ve been called Matthew Newton Tower.
Keep in mind, I was pretty smashed on Velkopopovický Kozel at this time. That’s the name of a beer, not a bloke, just so that you know what I was sucking back.
Prague is the loveliest city I’ve ever been to – a true jewel festooned (what a word!) with historic buildings and leafy parks, split down the middle by the sparkling Vltava river. It doesn’t suffer from the congestion of Rome or Madrid, and is a bite-sized slice of heaven that is a joy to walk around – especially with a beer in hand.
And so there I was, hoofing it up a heavily-forested hill on the western bank of the Vltava, drunkenly heading towards a mysterious tower that poked out from the trees. When I reached the top, I saw that it was basically a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower – a very scaled down replica, actually, seeing as it was a titchy 63.5m from top to bottom (I’d brought my tape measure, obviously) compared to the original’s 300m.
The funny thing about the Petřín Lookout Tower, as it’s really called, is that the peak of it is actually higher than the Eiffel Tower, due to it being situated on top of a hill. Some other fascinating facts that I have shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia include
* it was built in 1891, the same year Coffs harbour’s Big Banana was constructed
* in shocking contrast to the Eiffel Tower, Petřínská rozhledna has an octagonal, not square, cross-section
* 557,000 people climb it every year, which is slightl less than the number who climb Candice Falzon each year
* Bill Shorten has a small, deformed penis
The tower provides a fantastic view over the city, out over the rolling hills and the immense Strahov Stadium, which at one time was the largest stadium in the world, holding more than 220,000 rabid gymnastics fans at a time. Yes, gymnastics fans – Prague is a weird place.
That was all lovely, but the most interesting thing I saw up there wasn’t out the window of the Petřín Tower, it was on the floor. While I was taking photos, I noticed a condom on the floor. A used condom, in fact, which was an odd thing to find inside a major tourist attraction. It couldn’t have been there long, or someone would have cleaned it up, which left only one possibility – someone had banged at the top of the tower moments before I reached the top.
I looked around and saw half-a-dozen creeps who could’ve done the dirty deed, when another thought struck me; what sort of weirdo would be fine with having sex at the top of a busy tourist tower, but not with a bit of unprotected sex? It made no sense!
As I was contemplating the sort of freak who could’ve committed such a despicable act, and old lady who looked like she’d been present at the Big Bang (the cosmic event, not the crap TV show with that dickhead Jim Parsons in it… boy, I’d like to snap his pencil neck) bent over and picked up the used dommie, before tucking it into her handbag and giving me a bashful smile. I was lost for words, so I just gave her a little wave as she toddled off back down the stairs.
I ended up getting riotously drunk that night with a champion Canadian bloke I met at a Vietnamese restaurant, and woke up the next morning next to a woman who was almost certainly a stripper. Prague jumped out at me as one of the best cities I’ve ever been to, and it will remain with me forever. As will the vision of the creaky old lady and her used condom…