Prague was incredible. After taking the tube, train, plane, bus, metro, tram, and a steep walk uphill, we finally arrived at our hostel. We stayed in Old Prague in a great hostel ten minutes away from the Charles Bridge. Everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by age-old buildings covered with abundant ornamentation. Although later they harassed our feet, the ubiquitous cobblestones paved ways to feelings of wonder and awe. For much of our time in Prague, it felt like we were in a fairytale village (albeit one overrun with tacky souvenir shops and Thai massage joints.)
We saw many of the touristy sights while on a 2.5 hour walking tour and on our own: Astronomical clock (previous post), Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Jewish Quarter, Kafka’s stomping grounds, Old Town Square… The tour really helped skyrocket our opinions of Prague, compared with Amsterdam, where we ended up taking a tour on our last full day there (were only there for 2 full days though) because of some confusion. Understanding the city through a mixture of history, landmarks, and modern customs is essential to appreciating a city and to everyone planning trips during their times abroad, I stress the significance of walking tours soon after you arrive.
Food: Mmmmmmmm. Tried curly, sugared bread cooked on rotating sticks called trdelnik (thanks to the suggestion of a fellow blogger studying abroad in Prague!) Hot wine is also common, and we jumped on that bandwagon quickly. It was so bitter that even with a generous honeying, it was still too dry for my taste. Goulash was delectable, the bread dumplings hearty, onion soup scrumptious. My only negative food experience was the lack of vegetables (common in far too many places, I know. 😥 ) When presented red cabbage, I sorrowfully strove to collect every measly vitamin K molecule available.
One night, we got all dolled up, fetched our Chilean hostelmate, got a cab for 300 Kr (was about $3 per person for 20 min! So cheap!) and went to an amazing nightclub that played 80’s and 90’s music all night. The music videos plastered the walls and created an atmosphere I’d never previously experienced: many “older” people (late 20s to early 40s) dotted the large dancefloor, shamelessly grooving to the cheesy songs. As a young adult whose majority of “going out” experiences have been disappointing and full of desensitizing, uninspiring music, this felt like an epiphany. Finally, I’d found a club that seemed FUN and full of people I could actually relate to! In short, it was a great time and we danced for hours. I don’t have any pics of this night but Erica and Beth do, so if you want to see pics, I’ll show them whenever they share them with me.
The Prague Castle was a joy to meander around. The highlight was the St. Vitus Cathedral, an edifice so massive that I barely tried photographing it before surrendering my camera in order to absorb its formidable presence.
We also found the John Lennon wall, a memorial to the legend who never actually visited the city but remained a symbol of peace and resistance for the youth during a time of particular political turmoil. We were surprised when we learned that Prague has only been opened up as a major tourist destination in the past 25ish years, owing to the government changing at that time (don’t ask me any more about political history than that! Not my forte.) Read about the wall here.
I’ve loved JL for a long time. I even dressed up like him, memorized his life story, and donned a costume for a sixth grade biography project! I bought a wonderful book of his artwork a while ago too. So this excursion was especially fun.
Whoooh, this is a long post! Grab a swig of gatorade and a granola bar to replenish those electrolytes cuz we ain’t finished yet! Nearing the end, though. I applaud your tenacity.
One of the best parts of Prague was going to a monastery whose resident monks produced, wait for it, beer! Some proclaim it to be the best beer in Europe. Not long after hearing of this, you can imagine how, in my head, the puns flowed: How the monks turned water into beer, brewing happiness, etc.
We had a great time. The food was incredible as well! None of us were/are beer people, so it tasted like almost any other beer to us. Maybe the magic wasn’t in the taste, but the effects/benefits? Should’ve asked the monks!
On our way out, we stumbled upon a cute Czech cat and Erica was smitten. The first picture really says it all.
The day we left, we explored the Jewish Quarter’s museum and cemetery area. Really interesting and worth it.
As I said in the previous post, we indulged in massages. Our bodies thanked us by staying able enough to take on much of Amsterdam’s sights in two full days. STAY TUNED: More of that in the next post!