Exploring the Beer Capital

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Dec 24, 2004

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

I am just getting tired of reading travel books and figuring out the city on my own. So I have decided to try some city tours in Prague. Prague is highly tourist oriented. Every corner is some type of tourist trap like "discount concerts", " tourist merchandises " "Sex museum" etc. I picked out the Prague Castle tour and Insiders Prague tour. These tours give me a better feel for the city then I can figure it out on my own. The castle was dated back to 900s on its oldest section, while it wasn t completed until 1920s due to wars and conflicts. The Insiders tour went through the Jewish Quarter, Wenceslas Square, Astronomical clock, Charles Bridge etc. It was nice that when the guide explained everything, what I saw yesterday suddenly made sense.
My tour book written by Rick Steves was really helpful. It actually prepared me for any possible criminal events that can potentially happen to the tourist. I was boarding the tram with several other tourist when suddenly this old woman intentionally bumped into me. I knew immediately something is up. I felt my bag, nothing missing. But just a second later, that same woman, pretend to trip and fell on this Australian tourist and tried to steal her camcorder. Then a tug of war started, pulling back and forth the camcorder and a purse. I helped that Australian tourist to get her Camcorder back, but in turn infuriated the old women. The tram conductor then came to our assistance by shutting the door. The Australian tourist thanked me profusely for helping her out, but she looked frightened. Anyway, the tip given by Rick Steves was to be careful when thieves and con artists make some scene and try to pickpocket tourist. Just something to watch out for.
The following day, day 9, I went and visited the Vyséhrad or the High Castle. The castle did live up to its name because I was fully exhausted by the time I climbed to the top. It did give me some spectacular view of the city and Vltava river. In the afternoon, I decided to go out of Prague to visit a small city called Kútna Hora. The town is famous for its silver ore where back in the middle ages, all of Europe s coin were struck here. But I am here not to see the silver mine but to see a special church called Kostnice. This church is full of decorations made of human skeleton. It also has mounds of human skeleton. Apparently back in the 1500s, the plague killed 30 to 40 thousand peoples and they were are buried here. Due to lack of space, the monk was asked by the high priest to make use of the skeleton. So he ended up building a chandelier, pyramids, coat of arm symbol out of human skeleton. The decoration is meant to commemorate those who died and had gone to a better place. Quite grousome to see so many skeletons.
I found this Czech kitchen that serves traditional Czech food for the blue collar worker for a low price. You pick up a slip when you enter, get all the food you want like cafeteria style and pay toward the end. I got soup, salad, and beef goulash for only 4.5 US dollars, I would have pay for double or triple of that if I eat in a restaurant.
More excitement tomorrow in český Krumlov, where the second largest castle in Czech Republic is located.
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