P is also for Pretty, as in, Prague is so pretty!

Trip Start Aug 22, 2004
Trip End Aug 26, 2004

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Nedele 22 Srpen (Sunday 22 August)

After a slight delay at Heathrow, we arrived in Praha, Cseka Republika (Prague, Czech Republika) and immediately checked into our hotel, Zlatem Krizi (Golden Cross). It is a small estabishment, only 9 rooms, in the historic portion of Praha, aptly named Stare Mesto (Old Town). Praha sits on 9 hills, straddles the river Vltava, and has 1.5 million people. The economy has been developing since the transfer of power to a democratic government, and has had a slight boom due to the recent induction into the EU. Tourism, of course, is a key industry, with 3 million having visited the city last year, and significant increase is expected for the future. Anyhow, our room was on the top/fourth floor of the hotel. The building looks little on the outside, but quite the opposite when climbing the spiralling staircase up. The 2 rooms (1 for the boys, 1 for the girls) we had were soooo cuuuute and charismatic. I really liked them.

Right, all that done, we proceeded to walk around Praha. IT IS GORGEOUS! Many people had told me it was a beautiful city to walk around in, but they failed to communicate just how beautiful - the fact that it was low 20Cs and sunny probably helped. As one of the few European cities to escape bombings in the two World Wars, everything is still intact. There are buildings reflecting architecture styles from all periods, dating back to the 11th century through the Soviet-era, with just a smathering of modern ones, making for an exceptional collage of architecture and decorative styles. It is simply goregous.

There are lots of churches that line the cobble-stoned streets and pavements, but as the Czech Republic isn't terribly religious anymore, most of the churches serve the dual purpose of being a place of worship, and a place of venue for classical music concerts. Praha is a very artisitic city, with all the church concerts being advertised, loads of cafes, music clubs, marionette theatres, opera theatres and art shops. There are lots of little lanes with stalls selling ceska (czech) crafts, including sklo bohemia (bohemian crystal), and main streets have combinations of brand-name shops as well as local shops. The town is just so picturesque, you ought to bring a video camera with you because photos don't quite capture the city well enough.

After much delay, i.e. adults walking into every single shop, we finally made our way to the Staromestske Namestki (Old Town Square), one of the billion towns found in Praha. We saw more glorious architecture, a wicked astronomical clock on wall of a tower, and the Jan Hus Monument. Jan Hus was this 14th century priest from the Czech Republic who was branded a heretic and burnt at the stake by the Vatican. From that moment, Czechs started looking towards him as a national hero, representing freeddom from oppression and defiance of tyranny. It wasn't until 1965, 550 years after his "martyrdom", that the Vatican reversed its decision. Nice random fact, eh?

In Staromestske Nam. we took the opportunity to break for tea, or as they do in Praha, take a break for pivo (beer). Pivo here is dirt-cheap, about 60-70p for 0.5L. Everyone drinks it here, even the English are known to fly their snooty noses over here for a weekend, just to drink cheap beer! Now that's a good marketing technique - cheap alcohol. Did you know that Pilsner and Budvar (Budweiser) both originated in the Czech Republic? At least thats what they claim. Anyhow, with all this beer drinking going on around me, I just had to get my hands on some. Nothing like sitting back at a cafe, sipping on ice-cold beer with your Dad and uncle...ah!...so good.

After such a delightful refreshment, we continued with our walking tour of the Old Town, still stopping every 5 steps to pop into a store or take a pict of some wonderful building.

Dinner consisted of a supposed traditional Czech meal in a cafe. I ate pork and sauerkraut... ummm...sauerkraut...I like sauerkraut. Food here is cheap too making for a perfect meal - cheap beer with cheap food - what more can anyone ask for?!

I really love the city and highly recommend others to visit it.
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