City of Saints

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

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Friday, August 27, 2004

Pondeli (Monday) 23 Srpen

I now know why beer is so cheap here - it's a great source of income, not just from tourists, but from the locals. At virtually every table, you will find at least one glass of beer sitting on it. They, the Praguers, say that in summer it is too hot to do anything except sit in a pub/cafe and drink pivo to cool down, but then winter is too cold to do anything except sit in the warmth of cafes/pubs and down more pivo. Therefore, and I quote a Czech on this, "aside from soccer, beer-drinking is out national sport." College kids will all LOVE this country!! I say, the Scots and the Czechs should be great friends, eh? I mean, they might not understand each other, but at least they have something in common - developing their drinking abilities.

On to today's adventures. We started off the day by taking a nice stroll along the Vltava bank, past the Narodni Divadlo (National Theatre) and across the Karluv Most (Charles Bridge). The thing with Praha is that everything is known by its Czech name, like they have plenty of street signs pointing to sights, but they're only in Czech, which is why I am giving you both names - aren't I so sweet? Karluv Most is basically THE bridge in Praha, and is lined with statues of Biblical figures. Actually, there are statues of saints, etc, all over the city, crowning buildings, fitted into niches of buildings, erected in squares, they're everywhere - comes with having churches on every corner I suppose. It almost makes me feel bad that I not a Christian because I can't identify all these holy people, almost. There was a ton of tourists on the bridge, much like every other street in this historic section of Praha, so it took us a bit of time to make our way across, but once we did it, we came upon, you guessed it, another church. This one is huge though, the Kostel sv Mikulas (Church of St. Nicholas). It's this honking Baroque building, very nice, all done up and well maintained. But it's kind of like any other big church, no offense or anything like that. I did notice however, that outside the Kostel s Mikulas stood an obelisk with an eye in a triangle with rays sitting on top - makes me think of Dan Brown and his proposed conspiracy-theory regarding the Freemasons. What a mystery....

After the church, we had to climb one of Prague's 9 bloody hills to go see the Prazsky Hrad (Prague Castle). It was quite a disappointment really because there wasn't very much in it, except for watching the changing of the guard and a good view of the city. I would like to think that it is because most of the building is still used by the government, and not because they really have nothing to show us. On the grounds, however, stood a grand Gothic cathedral, Chram sv Vita (St. Vitus Cathedral). It is simply splendid, and is filled with stained glass windows, all of course, with Christian references. But the stained glass here was particularly special compared to the ones in other churches, in my humble opinion. These windows were made of a mosaic of small pieces of coloured glass, not large panes like in other places, creating a very colourful and splendid effect. Too bad I couldn't take pictures inside. :( Stoopid guards who do their job properly...

Now totally pooped-out from walking, especially cuz of the god-damned hill, we ate lunch. Another supposed "traditional Czech meal." The I think all the restaurants in Praha decided to use the exact same menu because every place was advertising the same food. Makes me wonder if it's genuine Czech food, or something like the sweet-and-sour-chicken that only Chinese-restaurants-not-in-China have on their menu. From our 1.5 days in Prague, the 5 of us (just to refresh your lousy memory, it's me, Adeline, Mum, Dad and Uncle Lynx) concluded 3 things:
1) Czech food appears to use knedliky (dumplings) and zeli (cabbage) as their staple;
2) Praguers, while seemingly straight-forward and honest, don't seem to be the most helpful in the world;
3) Prague wasps and bees love our table, and our table alone, whenever we decide to sit down. I swear, they stalk us the way I wish the paparazzi stalked me.

After our lunch, I want to say that we were revving and adventurous enough to try using the Prague Metro system, but the truth is, we were just too damned tired of walking leaving us little option by to take the Metro to our next tourist destination. From the Malostranska station at the foot of the Prazsky Hrad in the north of the city, we took the Metro down to Vysehrad, by Vysehrad castle, in the south of the city. The mission: to get the best view of the Prague. That claim is partially true, at least from what we saw, it had a damned good view of the city, being on a hill and all (castles like being on hills for some reason), but it was of southern Prague and the Vltava, not of Praha 1 (the old, northern portion). Praha is a lot like Paris in many ways, there are nice streets with pretty buildings, revolves around a cafe culture, lots of artistic things to do, plus, they use a similar type of system to divide the city into districts, namely, they number it from the centre out. I have a feeling that at one point, there was a lot of French here, explaining all the French influence, or maybe, it was the other way around.

Our final stop of the day - Narodni Muzeum (National Museum). We didn't even go inside once we got there!! Turns out, it houses primarily geological things, like minerals of the Czech Republic, etc, not stuff that my family is into. Thankfully it wasn't a wasted effort because the Muzeum was only a 15 minute walk from our hotel. Of course 15 minutes is actually more like an hour because my family really likes shopping and taking photos. I bought a mini-bottle of ABSINTHE!!! GO AMY GO AMY GOH!!! Too bad my parents won't let me drink it, else I would've bought a bigger bottle, but it's a right good souvenir as it is. Oooh, and I got me bruva one too for his 17th birfday too! Only cost 85 Kc for a mini bottle (50 mL), pretty good since you can't exactly find it in your neighbourhood bottle-shop over in the UK, or the world, for that matter. The Czechs still use Koruns (Kc) eventhough they're in the EU now. Won't be doing a complete currency change til 2009.

A quick dinner at McDonald's later, I found myself at the Museum of Communism, all by my lonesome self. Mum and Adeline had bigger and better things to do (shop) while Dad and Uncle Lynx decided to have some good old fashioned guys time - wonder what they did... there are a lot of casinos and adult entertainment clubs... hmmm..... :P j/k Yeah, so the Museum of Communism was actually a small privately run display about the modern history of the Czech Republic. It was good. Also helped jogged my memory into remembering why Prague is so intact after the 2 World Wars - the Western allies gave Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in an attempt to appease their conquering interests. So they couldn't even put up a fight really, thus, no bombing of the city.

Being the powerfully analytical brain I am (humour me), I drew up a few conclusions about the city, and all by myself!
1) The buildings here are very well kept, lots have fresh coats of paint or have been cleaned - because of tourism or because they are just really proud and clean?
2) The streets, gutters, shops, everything, is really clean and neat here - I'm beginning to think that these people are just really clean and proud of what they have.
3) Lots of Praguers are blond and super good-looking. They also have a good sense of fashion.
4) The best way to get around the city would be bicycle - that way you don't have to tire yourself out walking, but you can still see everything and stop whenever you want without too much inconvenience.
5) My sister loves it here. Yesterday she bought a Mexx jacket and today she bought a Roberto Cavelli dress. It's a shopping haven here, really. (Things are cheap, with the current conversion being about 45Kc to the pound.) I love the city too, but for slightly different reasons. :D
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