Cheers to Another Chapter

Trip Start Jun 12, 2011
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Trip End Jun 16, 2012


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I certainly wasn't treading any new ground when I visited Prague. Even in the grips of an arctic freeze there were tourists everywhere. Infact Prague is the 6th most visited city in Europe with over 4.1 million tourists annually, but they must be coming here for a good reason.

To me Prague felt like a compact version of Budapest, which is probably good if you're short on time. It certainly had it's fair share of drawcards including the UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town, the Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Rather than bore you with my opinion, I thought that I would entertain you with some interesting (and useless) facts instead:
*Prague Castle is the largest (by area) in the world
*Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other nation in the world
*The Czech Republic has the largest network of signposted footpaths in the world
*Czechs invented the sugar cube
*Defenestration is the act of throwing someone out of a window. The Czechs seem to have made a habit of this. The second significant incident involved ejecting a pair of Regents from a third storey window of the Castle. This act subsequently sparked the 30 years war.

To the east of Prague is a small town called Kutna Hora. In its day it rode on the back of a silver mining boom to rival Prague in affluence. Unfortunately the silver eventually dried up and seems to have left downtown Kutna Hora frozen in time. Fortunately this means that it is remarkably well preserved, which has landed it on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But I was mainly going for another reason. The Black Death and countless wars had left the grounds of the Sedlec Ossuary overflowing with skeletons. In 1870 a woodcarver by the name of Frantisek Rint was employed by the church owner to put these bones in order. Obviously they weren't too specific, because at least 40,000 skeletons got turned into macabre decorations for the church. The result is...um...strange. Bones are used to make a chandelier, coat of arms and other various adornments. Rint even used a few to put his signature to the work.

The day trip also turned out to be an interesting adventure in itself. I met a local kid in the train to Kutna Hora who offered me a lift into town. He subsequently dropped me at a cafe in the old town run by some of his friends. I ended up staying here for about 2 hours talking about all sorts of things while downing Czech beer, cake and some very interestingly brewed coffee. After this, one of the guys gave me a free walking tour of the old town then directed me to the bone church. On the train home I got talking to another local who invited me out for some beers. After a handful of beers he walked me all the way back across town, also giving me a guided tour as we went. What friendly people!!  When I finally made it back to the hostel, the manager asked if I'd like a few more beers. This subsequently ended with him shouting me whiskeys in a local night club, and me giving myself a day of "rest" the following day. HAHA.

It seemed like an appropriate way for me to end my Eastern European adventure. I had been through 11 countries in 35 days, and it all felt like a bit of a blur. I was now just over half way through my World Odyssey and I was about to embark on a method of travel that would be completely foreign to me...and not for the reason you might imagine. I was also really looking forward to it...for a reason that will soon become apparent.

[234 days on the road]
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