At first, I wasn’t sure about contacting Rainer.

I spotted his profile on Couchsurfing: he’s a German living in Prague, willing to give tours of lesser-known parts of the city. He’s much closer to my age than the partying CSers I met the other night. So why the hesitation? On his profile, he wrote, “Please do not contact me if you just want to extend your photograph collection. The same is valid if you are not interested at all in history and architecture (in this case it might be boring for you).”

Just look at this blog- yes, I’m gonna take lots of photos! I wondered if that would annoy him. However, I truly am interested in history and architecture, so I gave him a shout. I’m glad I did.

Rainer and I met in Wenceslas Square and were immediately on the move. Maybe it was because he’s German, maybe it was because he had opera tickets for that afternoon, but we practically ran from place to place.

As we walked, we caught a glimpse of the Old Jewish Cemetery. How did a Jewish landmark survive in Nazi-occupied Prague? Hitler intended to create a museum here, so future generations could learn about the (soon-to-be) extinct Jewish race. Creepy.

Old Jewish Cemetery

At lunchtime, I wanted to eat an authentic Czech dish. Rainer set me up with Svíčková (I’m glad I’m typing that and not trying to pronounce it) and a Staropramen beer. Very satisfying all ’round. I insisted on paying for lunch, and Rainer insisted on treating me to a piece of cake for dessert.

Into every tour a little cross-cultural confusion must fall. When I mentioned my plans to visit Terezín (in the Czech Republic), Rainer was excited- he gives tours there and could advise me on things to see. Except he thought I was saying Dresden (in Germany). My ter-AY-sin sounded like his dr-AYs-din. Turns out Terezín rhymes with “magazine.” I’m going to Dresden, too, so we got that cleared up and I got his advice after all.

And we’re off! To the public library.

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At Town Hall, our tour came to an end, and Rainer hastened to the opera. It was Couchsurfing at its best: he got to share his passion for Prague, I got a tour with a personal touch. For the record, I took 86 photos in three hours. In other words, I held back.

Vielen Dank, Rainer!

Rainer at tour's end