Tales from Suburban Bohemia: Time Off
This post originally appeared on Stumpy Moose on 4 August, 2002, and was migrated to PraguePig.com on 9 April, 2020.
Prague’s a great city when you’ve got nothing to do.
Work had been driving me slowly crazy, so I took four days off, with no plans, except to visit the National Technical Museum (Narodni technicke muzeum).
I’ve lived here over five years now and I’ve never visited any of the major museums. The NTM seemed like a good place to start.
There are, however, as with most things in Prague, strings attached.
For one, the NTM is under-funded and a little shabby. Some of the exhibits, such as the balsa-wood models of Italian fighter planes, would look more at home on a teenager’s bedroom windowsill than in a national museum.
Also, we chose to visit the museum on a day when the temperature approached 30 degrees Celsius, which was probably a mistake. Call me spoiled but is it too much to ask, in a museum devoted to technological achievement, to have an air conditioning system that actually works?
Griping aside, the NTM was good fun, and I’d recommend it to visitors.
The old-school planes, trains and automobiles on display in the sweltering heat of the main hall are cool, while the Communist-era future-retro styling of many of the Telecommunications exhibits is a must for any Kraftwerk fan.
The Acoustics section is also surprisingly entertaining. The scientific principles demonstrated are a little obscure, but the interactive exhibits allow you to make massive amounts of noise, which is always nice.
Unfortunately, we arrived too late to take a tour of the artificial coal mine, which is supposed to be the jewel in the NTM’s crown.
The NTM trip was a pleasant reminder of the way things used to be.
When I first moved here, work was much more irregular. When I was a dishwasher or a part-time sports editor or a freelancer, there always seemed to be plenty of time to take a trip or just flop around the house watching daytime TV.
These days, I work 9-to-5. I have a work permit, a legal residency permit and health insurance, and I get paid regularly, which are all bonuses.
But the 9-to-5 lifestyle can feel like a prison sometimes.
I was stoic but secretly bitter about missing most of the midweek World Cup games, for instance, especially when I was called back to the office halfway through the England-Argentina game for a meeting.
Some weeks I feel like I could be doing a similar 9-to-5 job back in Britain, with little difference to my lifestyle.
But this week it was good to be in Prague.