A city once rich from silver

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
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Trip End Oct 01, 2007


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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Here we are again doing the daytrip thing. Since Mayu has already been to Prague before, she hasn't been quite as ecstatic about a visit there as she is about our upcoming time in Spain and Italy. I thought then that it'd be a good idea to get out of town for a day and see something different. What better then than Kutná Hora - an old UNESCO-listed town within one hour of the capital?

The town is hardly a secret these days, frankly. Blame mankind's fascination with the macabre: Kutná Hora is famous worldwide for its Cistercian chapel in the industrial outskirts, featuring an ossuary decorated entirely out of bones. Well, I can't exactly claim high moral ground either - I find it a fascinating piece of work too. I was a little surprised to see how busy the outbound train was with daytrippers though (but perhaps I shouldn't have been). Last time I was here, I had the place mostly to myself. But, I suppose most people in their right mind don't come to small-town Bohemia in early February.

So it was at this same ossuary that we made our first stop. Prices have gone up considerably, so Mayu decided that I alone would pay the additional charge for taking photos. I made sure to take a shedload with that in mind. The small chapel was packed to the gills with a Russian tour group when we first arrived, but the crowds cleared out after about 15 minutes. Even though I'd seen it all before, it was just as incredible to witness as the first time.

The rest of Kutná Hora is small, so we whipped through it in just a couple hours. The bizarre cathedral with its three naves was unfortunately almost entirely under scaffolding, but most of the rest of the town was looking spic-and-span and decked out in pastels. Apart from the cathedral and its approach - past the long Jesuit College and its line of dramatic statues - the other sights were low-key. Once we'd taken it all in, we plodded down to the smaller local station just in time to catch a train back to our transfer to Prague.

Our outbound train left 15 minutes late (despite actually starting in Prague), so I anticipated the return train would be behind as well. Sure enough, it was. After about fifteen minutes (and a few misleading announcements), a train appeared around the bend and rolled up. There was no indication of its destination anywhere on the exterior, but as it was the right platform it clearly had to be ours. Hopping on board with the rest of the crowd on the platform, we settled in for the return trip. That is, until we came to the first stop - a station called Čaclav that I didn't recall from the way in. On top of that, the sun was over to our right, which didn't make sense since it was the afternoon and we should be traveling north/northwest. The sinking feeling set in, only to be confirmed once the conductor walked up. In Czech: "to Prague?" I nodded. "This train doesn't go to Prague. Get off at the next station."

Great.

So we get off at this puny, po-dunk depot in the middle of some non-descript Bohemian village and quickly find out that we have to wait another hour there for the next train to Prague. So much for doing anymore sightseeing around town before dinner. Predictably, the next train turns out late - by 25 minutes this time! The only plus is that the conductor doesn't check our tickets until a while after Kutná Hora, so at least we don't have to pay extra for the additional, accidental leg. Even so, we don't get back into Prague until 6:30pm, which pretty much blows our daylight hours. Blah. . .

Perhaps not so surprisingly, I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to efficient, timely Deutschland!
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