Beers with Bill

Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
Trip End Dec 02, 2009

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8th July - Prague

A strange start to the day as at 5.30am I awoke to find a guy on the floor asleep in a sleeping bag right next to my bed. I didn't hear him and his friend come in but Cesca said they arrived at 3am only to find one bed in the dorm free. Instead of sleeping over the other side of the room near his friend or in one of the spacious free areas the other guy decided right next to me would be a good idea! Trying not to stand on floor boy we gathered our things for the day and headed upstairs to the free breakfast, it was memorable as we got a cup of tea! Next stop we took the metro into the old town and found the central square. Here we picked up a free walking tour of the city which was guided by a small shouty Welsh girl. Over the next 3hours she took us around the main sights of the city including; the town hall and astronimical clock, Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, the castle and the Jewish quarter. One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to a church which has a human arm dangling from the ceiling. In the 16th century a thief had been caught trying to steal jewels from the religious artifacts and in punishment had his arm cut off and put on display to warn others of the consequences The architecture here is unbelievable. Unlike most European cities, Prague was spared during both world wars.  There is a very "old" feel to the city with the narrow, cobble stone streets  and the buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries.  At the end of the tour we took ourselves over Charles Bridge, this is the most famous monument in Prague. We stopped and admired the view towards the castle and the religious statues that decorate all the way down the sides. Then we retraced our steps back to the church for a proper look at the arm before returning to the Jewish quarter to view the cemetary. This is special as it is the oldest jewish cemetary in Europe and because of its asymetrical layout. Basically every jew that died in Prague over the centuries was laid to rest in the tiny area and so due to high numbers they ended up having to pile the bodies on top of each other. This resulted in the graveyard becoming really high - with bodies in places supposedly 10 high in some places. The ramdom nature of the headstones scattered about is supposed to be inspiration for the Jewish memorial in Berlin that we hoped to see in a few days time. With sore feet we returned home via the supermarket and ate dinner in the hostel.

9th July - Prague

This morning we caught the metro back into the old town near to Charles Bridge. Our mission was to find Lennon/Lenin Wall - a space used for graffiti by opponents of communism (Lenin) that used Beatles lyrics as tools (Lennon). Prague was inundated with tourists - more than any other place we have been - so we were expecting loads of people to be at the wall. Luckily just as we neared it there was a quick shower of rain so when we got there we were the only people! The wall itself is a sea of colour, pictures and slogans all jumbled up - we spent ages taking photos and even started messing around trying to catch ourselves jumping. Our solitude was short lived as the other tourists came out with the sun so we headed off to catch a tram up the hill to the castle. Our first attempt was thwarted as the tram turned off before starting up the hill so we hopped off and tried again. Prague Castle is the biggest castle in Europe with huge grounds and numerous sections built over the years. We timed our entrance just right as the royal guards were performing their position change to music for the crowds. After they had done their thing we walked out of the front gate and enjoyed some buskers music and the views around the square. Walking back through the different gates we went around the outside of the cathedral and out of the Golden Gate before heading down the hill into town. That evening after returning to the hostel for dinner and to get changed we went back into town for a few beers. The second bar we went in was called the Golden Tiger and was supposed to be a typical Czech pub - we thought it was more working man's club. It didn't have a bar - just a metal sink and a couple of taps and your choice of drink was just the beer they have on, nothing else. On the wall there was a picture of Bill Clinton with the Czech PM during some visit - not sure what Bill would have made of the simple wooden tables and chairs or the green lino on the floor!
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