Praha

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
1
17
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Trip End Feb 05, 2008


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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Sunday, August 19, 2007

We arrived in Prague at 8am due to our horrific over night train. I had had no sleep in the last two night because of the train and the symphony of 12 boys snoring loudly the night before. Therefore Braden and I were not at our top touring mode. My parents were flying into Prague at 7:30 that night, so we had about 11 hours to burn. We didn't want to do to many things that my parents would want to do, so we kept it mellow. We managed to find the Marriott, where we got to stay (oh yeah no more hostels for almost two weeks). We dropped off our bags and went a wandering. We learned the lay of the land pretty well, discovering that old town was a stones throw away from our hotel. We parked ourselves on a bench in the main square to watch the famous Astronomical clock chime on the hour. We sat reading until 11am rolled around and then stared excitedly at the clock. Nothing happened. After sitting there confused for 10 minutes, we discovered that we weren't looking at the right side of the clock. So we moved to the correct side of the building, while sitting at a restaurant. We ate and read until the clock chimed again. There was a clock face that didn't tell you the time, but something to do with the stars and moon...Braden assumed I knew what the clock said since I am an AERO engineer, but sadly I informed him that I know absolutely nothing about astronomy let alone astronomical clocks. It turns out the clock isn't that big of a deal. A skeleton rings a bell and saints rotate through a window holding all sorts of obscure weapons which is ended by a weird kazoo noise. We managed to sit eating and reading to watch this clock show twice. After we were full, and now considerably more tired, we wandered to the waters edge in hope of finding a park to nap in. We were successful in finding and island park in the river, and I promptly fell asleep for 45 minutes. Braden didn't get much sleep to do a bug biting problem, so he caught up on musical listening. I was awoken by a cold breeze and a troublesome sky. The weather had turned on us. We managed to get about 10 feet from the park when it started pouring rain. We got back to the hotel soaked to the bone and thawed out in the lobby bar drinking tea and playing cards. We stayed there until we went to the airport to pick mom and dad. We go to the airport assuming my parents hadn't arranged a way to get to the hotel, I have no idea why I assumed that because as soon as we got there I found a driver holding up a sign with my last name on it. But it was nice to great them at the airport even if we weren't going to guide them to the hotel. We checked into our AMAZING hotel room, and promptly set out for dinner.

The next day we set off early, having breakfast at a spot Braden and I discovered the morning before. Full of fresh fruit (amazing pineapple being one of the fruits) and croissants, we set of to visit Prague Castle. We decided to get on the underground since the castle looked far away. The underground turned out to be pretty useless for our trip because it dropped us off about 500 feet from where we started off. We found St. Nicolas' Cathedral, but not the main entrance. We actually found the tower entrance and decided to climb the 280 something steps to see great views of the city, which were eclipsed later on in the trip by other places in the city. We made it to the actual entrance to the cathedral and were amazed to see a darker cathedral. It was made primarily of dark marble and stone and the statues of the bishops and such showed these men pinning other men down at their necks with their staffs. Another bishop was shooting lightning from the end of his staff at another guy who was crouched on the ground. It was a very violent atmosphere that I never experienced in a church before. Other than that, it was a pretty beautiful sight.

We then set our sights on Prague Castle which was close to the cathedral. Well it looked close but is was actually up about 300 stairs and a large hill. We were pretty tuckered out after that and the tower, so we meandered a little slowly through the castle grounds. We missed the changing of the guard ceremony but it was ok cause I am not sure why they even have guards. There isn't any royal family, or anyone of political importance there anymore, no one to guard. We enjoyed looking at the massive cathedral from the outside since the line to get in was all the way around the building. The grounds were pretty huge and housed a lot of people back in the day. We went over to the south gardens to find a nice little path that gave beautiful views of the city and an outdoor photography exhibit (mom was stoked). We put off lunch a little longer to go to the gardens that surrounded the summer palace, which was literally 200 yards from the main palace. They didn't have to go very far for the summer months. The gardens were much nicer than the main palace ones, but the palace was much smaller. We then took a hike through a park to find a way back down the hill and into the city center to get some much needed food. We managed to get there, emaciated, and ate a lovely lunner next to the astronomical clock (again). We then all promptly went back to the hotel and took naps. Three hours later we woke up and walked to a very beautiful restaurant for the best steak dinners ever. It is amazing how much I have eaten here, especially when my parents are the ones feeding me!

The next day we decided to go on a boat tour, but to take our own little walking tour before hand. We walked through the main shopping area and even managed to get a little lost in the commercial part of town. We found the modern building we were looking for which was right on the waters edge. We walked up the river bank to our boat tour. The tour was an italian themed ride in circles around the same stretch of river. I almost fell asleep, and my dad actually did. It was nice to sit down for an extended period of time though. We then hiked back up past the Prague Palace to Loretta Palace, which closed 15 minutes before we got there. As to not have our climb be in vein, we explored the area and found a monastery that housed an amazing little italian restaurant called Bellavista that was almost at the highest point of the town, overlooking everything . We made reservations for dinner the next night. We then followed the signs to the maze, which I though was a hedge maze. It was a considerable hike up yet another hill towards the observation tower. My mom and Braden decided they were too tired to reach the top, so my dad and I continued on to find the maze. It turned out to be a mirror maze, and was pretty lame. So we climbed the 299 steps of the observation tower to be at the highest point of the city. We met the tired ones back at the bottom and made it back to the hotel and crashed.  

The next day we took a cab back up the hill to visit the Loretta palace we missed the day before. This place houses the patron saint of dentists and the patron saint of unhappily married women. These two saints are immortalized by a painting of a woman with cherubs holding pliers and molars and a statue of a bearded woman hanging on the cross wearing high heels, respectively. Needless to say my mom and I were trying hold our laughter in out of respect of the holy place it was. We then packed up our day bags (still laughing at the saints) and went to Plezn to visit the Pilsner Urquell brewery. This was an amazing treat. We caught the 4'clock tour getting to see the bottling factory. It look just like something out of the old sesame street shorts where they showed you how stuff gets made in factories on conveyor belts. I was especially enamored by this because of all the shiny bottles moving at rapid speed across a huge and impeccably clean room. We then went down into the fermenting area that was underground, huge, and very cold. It was really cool though cause it was misty and had all these large barrel looming over you fermenting beer. We got to drink the beer right from the barrel before it was pasteurized and bottled. It was surprisingly good, even Braden had some. We were all enamored with this place and were super glad we made the 1.5 hour train ride there. We came back just in time to make our reservation at Bellavista. We all had an amazing italian dinner (with some of the best wine I've ever had, don't worrie Em I wrote down the name of it) amongst breath taking views of the night time city. We walked back to the hotel, packed our stuff and went to bed, ready yet sad to leave the next morning.  
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