Oh Prague. I’m not even sure how to express my love for this city in words. It completely surpassed any pre-conceived ideas I had of the city. Not only is there so much to see and do, but the city itself is beautiful (LOOK AT THAT PHOTO) and historically amazing. So let me tell you about it.
We arrived at the bus station in the very late evening, after riding in one of the most top notch buses I have ever ridden in my life. The seats were super comfortable, we got free drinks, and the TV’s were set with movies. I happend to watch Catch Me If You Can (UNF LEO) and Sherlock Holmes 2 (UNF RDJ AND JUDE LAW). Anyway, we went to take money out because we needed crowns. 18=357.50 crown, for those who are interested in the currency exchange. So that was a bit weird to get used to. And then we headed down to the metro or underground or whatever you want to call it only to find out that it was darn near impossible to figure out. So we decided YOLO, let’s walk. At first, I am going to say that I was completely nervous walking through streets after dark in a new city, but we followed these old tall towers and eventually found our way to the old square and our hostel. Side note, the city is beautiful at night.
Upon first arriving, I hated everything. I was covering this hostel payment, but they wouldn’t take my card. I needed 6600 crown in cash and didn’t have that in my bank account. So that was a fun dilemma to overcome, but my parents are beautiful people and helped me out.
Then the next morning happened, and I fell in love with the city. We decided to hit up a free walking tour, and that was one of the best decisions of the trip. Adam was this overenthusiastic, adorable, 18-year-old Czech with a British accent who spoke Spanish, French, Czech and English. The kid was so full of life and excitement that I was scared at first, but he turned out to be the most brilliant guide, and I am so thankful for him. We started in the Old Town Square with the super cool clock and then moved to a theatre where Mozart performed, Wenceslas Square (where we saw the National Museum, also known as the place where the Casino Royale casino scenes were filmed), Republic Square, parts where Amadeus was filmed, the powder tower and finally the most beautiful building in Prague (supposedly). During this first half, we learned so much history about revolts and memorials at Wenceslas for people they admire.
Then we saw a church that has a mummified hand hanging from the ceiling to ward off thieves, because supposedly the Virgin Mary didn’t like when a thief tried to steal something off her statue, so she came to life and grabbed his hand and then solidified once again, and the only way for the guy to get out of her grip was to saw his hand right off. Ah, good church stories. This ended with lunch at Bohemia Bagel.
Fun Prague fact: it is the homeland for bohemian ideals, so think Moulin Rouge, and you’ll understand my love.
The rest of the tour took us through the Jewish quarter and ended near the Prague Castle. Now, there are a few things about the Jewish Quarter that caught my attention
- It was once the poorest section of the city, and is now the richest
- Hugo Boss has two stores in the section. Hugo Boss was the designer of SS uniforms for Nazi soldiers. Ironic.
- The cemetery is eleven layers because they kept running out of room, and it’s tiny.
- It is the site of the oldest synagogue in all of Europe.
- There is a plaque remembering four Jewish citizens who were taken to the concentration camp Terezin before being transferred to Auschwitz.
And the most interesting:
- The reason the section still exists after Hitler took control of the city is because he wanted to keep it as a museum to an extinct race.
Pretty crazy stuff, right? We explored a bit more and then nothing exciting happened until the next day. The next day consisted of a trip to the Lennon Wall (which was really awesome), the Prague Castle (which wasn’t that impressive and is mostly a village) and a hike up Petrin Hill. Oh my gosh. I was NOT prepared in any way for the physical toughness of hiking up Petrin Hill’s steep side. PHEW. But the view from the top was incredible. I might put blame on the toughness on the fact that we took the most unconventional way up, but hey, we made it. This night was the night I tried my first sip of Absinthe. THE WORST THING EVER. I literally took a tiny sip, like the drink barely touched my lips before I felt a burning sensation in my nose. UGH.
The next day we went to the dancing house, called that because it was modeled after two dancers. We also got lost finding Vysehard, but we eventually made it, and all was well. We had some pretty spectacular views after that steep climb too.
On our final day, we hiked up to where the largest monument to Stalin once stood. There is now a fully-functioning giant metronome in its place, supposedly ticking away the time lost to communism. That was pretty awesome. While up there, I witnessed an old man completely wipe out on a segway when crossing the bridge, and I cried from laughter. My bad. But there ends the Prague adventure. We left in the evening and headed to the train station where we were catching an overnight train to Krakow.
I’ll write about that later.