Imagine all the people living life in peas & gravy

Trip Start Nov 18, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, December 8, 2013

Naturally, after a big night out, you sleep in. Joanna got up to have breakfast, but I valued my mattress time more than food at that point. We put on a much needed load of washing and I had a really good Skype session with my parents.

Unfortunately, the trams are different on Sundays, so our usual tram went in completely the wrong direction. And once again, we were running through the cobblestoned streets to make it to the walking tour. Why are there always taxis around when you don't need them, but then as soon as you’re in a rush, they are all full?!

We were only ten minutes late, and met up with Sasha, Pariza, Mohit, Amanda and Nara again in the Old Town Square. I bought a kransky for breakfast which was a great life choice! We were on the Castle tour, with the same lady from yesterday, Jana. The others were all new to her accent, so they had a period of adjustment where they were trying really hard not to laugh.

We stopped off at the Rudolfinum, a music auditorium, situated on Jan Palach Square (named after the 21 year old who immolated himself in 1969 to protest against the Soviet occupation, whom I wrote about yesterday). The building had awesome statues of famous composers on the top, such as Mozart, Bach, Handel and Beethoven.

We walked over a bridge to the other side of the Vltava River. On the way I spied a huge red metronome sculpture on a hill; a symbol of 'changing times’ since the fall of the communist government. So cool!

I marvelled at the beauty of the medieval buildings and winding streets. We stopped off near the waters edge where there were masses of tame-ish swans, and Jana told us something very strange about the Charles Bridge. Apparently the mortar contains thousands of eggs because Charles IV thought the egg yolks would bind the stone blocks to make it harder. Scientists have confirmed there are egg proteins in the 14th century mortar!

We had some fun photo opportunities at Cherny’s peeing statues, and then stopped for some hot drinks in a small square. I saw a lady with a birds display, and wanted to get a photo holding one, but ‘the tour must go on!’

We walked around a corner and bright colours jumped out at us on the wall ahead. It was the John Lennon graffiti wall, which started in 1980 after his murder, as he was a pacifist hero for many young Czechs. Most Western pop music was actually banned by the communists, and some musicians were even jailed for playing it. I saw some graffiti that originally quoted the famous Imagine song lyrics, but it had been changed to ‘Imagine all the people, living life in peas and gravy’!

We walked up to the Castle complex and the first thing I saw was a Starbucks! It was so out of place and made me a bit angry that an American chain was allowed to have a store in such a historic and panoramic place. There was a crazy man standing in front of the castle gates yelling about how the debt collectors stole his house. He politely moved to the side at the changing of the guard ceremony, but ran straight to centre stage the second they had finished and started yelling and waving his signs again. Apparently he’s always there, and I have to admit, it kind of ruins the solemn and royal ambience! We saw St. Vitus church where there is a Mucha-designed stain glass window, and visited Goldsmith's Lane, named due to the many goldsmiths/alchemists living in the houses.

The tour lasted for about three hours, and after we had tipped Jana, we went back to the Pub Crawl Bar and picked up our free t-shirts. A great souvenir! Joanna and I said farewell to the others, bought a yummy berry tart and indulged in a traditional Czech pizza type thing.

At the hostel there’s a corkboard that lists weekly activities. Tonight’s activity was a Czech cooking class, led by a lovely girl who was studying in Prague. Joanna and I were the only ones to start, but then two lovely German girls, Mira and Katharina, an Argentinean couple, a Korean girl and a Japanese lady joined in the fun. We learnt how to make (and eat) Czech potato pancakes. The main ingredients were potato, salami, garlic and cumin. After a lovely dinner of swapping weather stories from our countries, the Japanese woman gave us all New Year’s good luck coins. I think she had been lonely on her trip, and was very thankful to us all for a friendly night. Apparently she only gets one week off a year! I am so lucky to be travelling.
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