Traveling with teenagers can be kind of cool. One rule we have is: if the Teenager actually shows an interest in something, we do it. He made it clear that he was So Over medieval castles, but lit up like a birthday cake when I showed a him a flyer for a “Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour.”
This could have gone either way, and we were dubious when the ticket office was about the size of a phone booth and covered with posters for all kinds of tours from ghosts to girlie bars. But, as it turned out, our guide was a history student from Charles University with excellent English. The tour was low-key and truly educational.
We started out with a walk around various sites of interest, from the former secret police headquarters, to Vaclávské Namestí, site of the huge protests that brought about the Velvet Revolution. At each stop we got a little Communist history lesson, most of which was news to me, despite having lived there for four years.
For the second hour, we got to explore a real-live nuclear bunker! This was majorly cool. I love these little low-budget attractions, filled with stuff that people find in their attics. We got to try on gas masks and radiation suits, handle grenades and Kalashnikovs, and generally do everything on a 15 year old tourist’s list. (The middle-aged teenager had a pretty good time, too.)
Part of the bunker (which is now owned by a radio station) has been turned into a nightclub, complete with a bar and stage. It looks like a scuzzy university student center, to tell you the truth, and I can’t imagine it passes any kind of fire code. I would be scared to death to be down there with a bunch of drunks. But I am sure it is hip as all get-out.
After stuffing ourselves with pizza at a little hole-in-the-wall place that we remembered from years before, we stopped by the Museum of Communism. I had actually been there before, but I wanted the Teenager to see it, and he did seem to enjoy it. Most of the museum is a random collection of interesting memorabilia, but the video with scenes from the Velvet Revolution is quite moving.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wallowing in capitalism: shopping for several items I should have bought years before. Let’s just say the garnet collection is finally complete. Dekují, Praha!