Praha….Czech it out

Trip Start Jun 18, 2010
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7
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Trip End Jul 17, 2010


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 2 continued: We arrive late in Prague to some great news…our luggage made it!

We miss dinner with Andrea's parents, but for Father's Day we all go out to a pub for a few drinks. The beer in Prague is as good and cheap as they say. And even this far from Great Britain we are still able to experience the pleasure of being serenaded by some very drunk Englishmen and women celebrating a joint Hen and Stag party.

Day 3: A quick breakfast at the hostel and we’re off to the ultimate tour of Prague. Six hours of beautiful architecture accompanied by stories such as: this statue is of a knight who was murdered by his 15 year old brother at the age of 28; this is where so and so was thrown out of a window (it happens so often that they have a special word for it…defenestration); here Protestants were tortured in public for four hours, having their tongue and limbs slowly cut off before having their heads hung above the Charles Bridge for 40 years; these crosses mark where two students burned themselves alive in protest of communism; etc.  All horrifying stories aside the whole city resembles one huge museum with magnificent statues, buildings and art; and a long rich history.

We start of in Wenceslas square, making our way to the astronomical clock and then Jewish Quarter (no Jews live here now, not after the oppression that occurred here beginning with the Pope’s commanded segregation in the 16th century). We stop at the 20 foot high cemetary the result of having to stack graves on top of each other due to the lack of space. Along the way is the Revoluce statue, the Czech word for revolution spelled out using keys that were jangled at the President (while chanting it's time to go now) during the Velvet Revolution. Next is Charles Bridge with it's memorial to the pope that was tortured and killed for keeping the Queen's confessions a secret from the King, leaving a cross that the Czechs touch to make a secret wish. We take a boat down the Vltava River, viewing the giant metronome that replaced the 50m (164 foot) Stalin statue (taller than the Statue of Liberty) that was torn down in one night, symbolizing that time is constantly changing our surroundings. The tour concludes in Prague Castle (the largest in the world if you keep in mind that palaces are not the same thing) which is spectacular, particularly the St Vitus Catherdral with it’s jewel studded St Wenceclas Chapel.  We have a glass of wine in the vineyard before hurrying to see the anticlimactic awakening of the clock tower (as it does on the hour) with a procession of the apostles.

While here we also sampled a lot of the local cuisine, with many types of dumplings, sauerkraut, roast pork, duck and sparrow, fried cheese, cheese marinated in beer, potatoes, and delicious apple strudel.  And of course plenty of beer, though we could never keep up with the world’s most enthusiastic beer drinkers…the Czechs each drink an average of 300 liters a year.  

Day 4: We begin the day with quite an accomplishment…successfully navigating the Czech post office to mail the extra suitcase that was with our luggage (we had planned on leaving it in Florida).  Then we all decide to take the train to a nearby town, Kutna Hora, to see the famed Sedlec Kostnice.  It was quite a remarkable and strange sight.  It’s famous because one of the monks got creative with the bones of the 40,000 people buried in the cemetery and made various decorations throughout the chapel crypt including pyramids, the Schwarzenberg coat of arms, and a chandelier containing every bone in the human body.  We toured the town while getting only slightly lost, and then make it to the other highlights, another Cathedral and the Silver Museum including a tour of an actual mine. Unfortunately you have to take a tour to get into the Museum and there wasn’t one that would get us back to Prague in time for our flight to Paris.
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