Tuesday, December 13, 2011

czech in, czech out: prague.

Prague, Prague, Prague. What to say about you, you beautiful city? Well, I could start off by saying that you're beautiful because that's a fact. If you have ever thought about going to Prague, go. If you've never thought about going to Prague, go. Seriously a beautiful city. We did Prague in about 24 hours and wished we could have stayed longer. We've graciously started calling this trip our 'Taste of Eastern Europe'.

We got in last night after a 7 hour train ride through Budapest, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, to finally stop in Prague. We hurried ourselves out of the train station to our hostel and were shocked to see how utterly nice our hostel was. It's part hostel, part hotel, so you can only imagine. Like, I don't think I've even stayed in any hotels that were this fancy.

Our hostel gave us a map and we trekked out to the Old Town of Prague. We came upon the Prague Christmas Market which was way better than Budapest's Christmas Market (as in, it existed). There was a stage with traditional entertainment and tons of little shops with souvenirs, gifts, food, and drinks. It was wonderful to be able to look around at all the shops after spending a day on the train. I even had a palaciny (palachinka)! We had dinner and shopped a bit before wandering over to the Charles Bridge.

The Charles Bridge is absolutely gorgeous at night. They light the ends of the bridge with bottom front light to give the turrets this dark, mysterious look. The view of Prague itself, including Prague Castle, was amazing all lit up.

Back in the square, we trolled around a little more. At 9pm, we started on our Ghost Tour of Prague city. Our tour guide, Maya, was actually from San Diego and moved to Prague after she studied abroad there. How cool is that? She showed us around the city, telling us some of Prague's ghost stories and the mysterious deaths that have happened there.

After our tour, we went back to the hostel, showered, and slept. I was so wiped that I passed out the moment my head hit the fluffy pillow. I didn't even hear our roommates come in.

This morning, we woke up a little later than we had been and had breakfast at the hostel. I had buttermilk pancakes this morning! Real pancakes! I don't think I've been so excited for a breakfast food in my life. Once our nourishment was in our systems, we went in search of the Vysehrad Citadel.

The Vysehrad Citadel was pretty cool. The most impressive parts were the Basilica Minor and the Vysehrad Cemetery. The cemetery had a huge variety of headstones and graves in it. It was impressive. So many different types of headstones really reflecting the person who was buried. The Vysehrad Citadel wasn't much else other than some spectacular views of south Prague and a small kid's carnival going on. It was cool, but we wanted more.

Next, after some struggles with trams, we made it all the way up to Prague Castle. One thing we noticed about both Buda Castle and Prague Castle is that these castles love their inner walkways and plazas. Prague Castle loves its inner buildings, that's for sure. One of the most famous buildings in Prague is the Cathedral of St. Vitus. It is a huge cathedral in the middle of Prague Castle and absolutely stunning inside. They have a slightly smaller cathedral, St. Georg Cathedral, that was the worship space  for the nuns that resided near Prague Castle. Also within the walls of Prague Castle was Golden Lane, the place where writer Franz Kafka lived. Golden Lane's houses were all incredibly small, but very interesting. Some were converted to shops (such as Kafka's home), but some were left as exhibits of who used to live at Golden Lane. Prague Castle was very cool and I'm glad we figured out the tram situation since it's way up on a hill, overlooking the city of Prague.

Once we got down from Prague Castle, we walked across Charles Bridge to see it in the day time. It wasn't as impressive as it was at night, particularly since there were little vendors and artists all up and down the bridge. One group on the bridge was the Bridge Band, a Dixieland band of Czech gentlemen who play on the bridge. As a sucker for Dixieland and bands with tuba players, I bought a CD. Can't wait to listen to more of their music.

We did a little more shopping and eating prior to going into the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Remember I mentioned in my last blog post that we were going to an Advent Vigil? Apparently, it was at 7am, not 7pm. Oops. At least we were able to go into the church at some time. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures, so nothing from in there. It was pretty cool, but I don't think anything compares to St. Vitus. Tyn Church, though, is still way awesome from the outside. That I will not argue with.

For dinner, Gabby and I got traditional Czech food, but made for vegetarians and vegans! Most Czech food is meat-heavy, so Maya recommended us go to this restaurant for good veggie food. Definitely did not disappoint.

Prague was absolutely beautiful and I would love to come back here again just to relax. I cannot stress enough that you need to see pictures of Prague. I'll be posting them when we're not so stressed for time and when I have an internet connection. Currently, we're sitting in the lounge room of our hostel waiting to head over to the train station for our overnight train to Krakow. You know, no big deal.

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