Prague: First taste of "Eastern" Europe

Trip Start Dec 22, 2010
Trip End Feb 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
Iris Hotel Eden Prague
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mmmm...Praha, sooo much beer, Pilsners to be precise =P But a very beautiful city as well.  They call it the "Golden City" or the City of a Thousand Spires" and I can see why.  Winding streets full of Baroque houses, massive churches everywhere (hence the spires), a lovely riverside and to top it off, a surprisingly cultured nightlife.  Classical concerts, jazz bars, black light theatres!  Granted, a lot of these are mainly for tourists...anything on a flyer being handed out by slightly dodgey looking people would be...but the overall feel of the city definitely surprised me.  Of course absynth and beer abounded but that's for later =P

We arrived in Prague after a night of awesome night train haha, no snoring!!  w00t!  And proceeded to our 4 star hotel.  Not a swanky as it sounds but it was still pretty sweet, comfortable beds, big shower and importantly, it included breakfast!!  Hot breakfast with bacon and eggs and sausages...mmmmmmm.  Went on a walking tour that day around Prague with a very enthusiastic Czech guide.  "LET'S GO!" =P  I particularly liked his stories of defenestration where the unhappy people simply threw their rulers out the window.  XD  Was shown the old town square, some very cool churches, the opera house (which Mozart was at!), the gunpowder gate and of course the astronomical clock, Charles bridge and the Prague Castle.  Did you know that this is the land of Bohemia!?  Spent the night wandering around a little with a new American friend that we met on the tour (Adam) and was cool seeing Prague from the castle at night and then eating some nice Czech food.  Mmmm, the beer I really liked =P the Pilsner Urquell, I never realised that Czechs were also very famous for their beers!  The dumplings were a little bit of a let down though, bread dumpling is unfortunately, just bread =(

The next day, after wandering around a little, we met up with Lee and Danny...and went straight for another beer haha, don't worry, this was after 12 =P.  Checked out the famous Prague Castle after that...very cool building especially the massive church.  It was surprising how cold it was inside but the stained glass was amazing (impressionist stained glass!??) and it's the first time I've been in a gothic church that had so much light!  We even went up on the tower to check out the view of Prague which was amazing...too bad the fog makes everything slightly blurry but the city is definitely a sight from up high and the City of a Thousand Spires is correct! =D  I counted =P  Seeing the old palace and wandering down the streets of the old castle was very cool, took many pictures of Prague near sunset too at the end...pretty!  A bit worry though that all we could hear from the castle was sirens all over the city =S haha, the sound of Prague =P.  Saw Prague's famous black light theatre that night after dinner.  I'll admit, it was a bit amateur haha but I did enjoy it a lot and the fluorenscent stage props was amazing!  The lights moving everywhere, a very cool horse and car scene and a lovely dancer =P.  They even showed us how it works at the end of the show, I had already guessed it but it was surprising how complicated some of the scenes were!  Afterwards Lee headed off but I wanted to see some live music so we ended up at a snazzy jazz bar in the tourist part of town (right on the old town square haha) where a cool blues band was playing.  Was a nice way to finish off the day chilling to the funky sounds and enjoying (you guessed it) a beer =P.

Headed off to Kutna Hora on day 3, a nearby city that used to Rival Prague as the capital of Bohemia well, until its silver mines ran out.  The town is now known for some amazing UNESCO listed churches including the oldest church in central Europe which was newly renovated and very pretty and a slightly creepy bone church decorated with real human bones!  Everything inside is made from human bone, the chandelier, the chalices, even a coat of arms of Kutna Hora.  It wasn't the most comforting place to be but it is kinda cool, makes me wonder who'd be crazy enough to go to the place for church though =S.  Explored the rest of the town for the afternoon and saw another grand Czech gothic church, the arches on the roofs of these churchs are really quite something but is a little bit of a change when you step out onto the quaint little streets.  A cool contrast from the extravagance of Prague though.  Had lunch at 4:00pm and so, as expected, we were all quite hungry so it was quite fitting that we gorged ourselves on a truely MASSIVE platter of meat from a medieval style Czech restaurant, all for under 10Euros =D  We met up with Eugene and his friends (including Elodie all the way back from the start of Sweden) when we got back at night since it was his birthday.  Beers, tried some interesting absynth cocktails haha and realised that I kinda like gin XD...anyways...was a cool night but we had to head back around 1 since I was going to visit Lisa in Dresden!!

DRESDEN!!  The train ride there was especially pretty, followed this river dotted with Czech towns and amazing scenery, winding valleys and even castles on the cliffs!  Met an American called Mase on the train too so that helped pass the time.  Was awesome seeing Lisa again, she hadn't changed much =P, took me around the city...lots of shopping since it was her friend's birthday the day after but that was alright, seeing all the shopping centres (proper shopping centres) reminded me a bit of home =)  But then we entred the old town and that was FANTASTIC!  My advice, go to Dresden if you can.  It's an amazing place, bombed out during the 2nd world war, the old city was rebuilt and now looks better than ever.  One word, GRAND...this was the home of the Saxon kings and if the buildings in Dresden say anything, they sure were rich.  The palaces, churches, the Opera house!  It really helped that there was good weather too of course but it really is an impressive place, perhaps I've seen grander palaces or bigger churches individually but never in such a concentrated area.  They were just everywhere looming over you filled with statues and carvings and statues...ah it was too much.  Even more impressive to know that most of these were rebuilt after WW2.  The blackened stones make them all the more precious.  Just a shame we couldn't go into any of them =(.  Oh got introduced to Sandmanchen too haha, from what I gather he's like the Noddy in Germany, the sandman!  So I got a pin of him now =P.  So yeah, that was Dresden, was much cleaner than I would've imagined for an East German city but what do I know eh?  I though Eastern Europe was going to be dirty and gritty but Prague and Dresden have been some of the nicest cities that I've visited so I think I'm going to be in for a surprise.  Was really nice meeting up with Lisa again and I'm glad that she lives in such an amazing city haha, she wants me to say to Ben that Dresden is better than Nuremburg XD  Who will win?? =O

So that was Prague, my first venture into 'Eastern Europe' though I don't think it really counts.  Such a beautiful city, the coloured baroque houses are just everywhere and it's really cool to walk through the cobbled streets.  I understand now why there are so many tourists here!  A bit of a shame that we missed the many concerts going on (they had one with Pachabel, Mozart AND Vivaldi! on the day we're leaving =(..)  But I had a really nice time in Prague, taking it a bit easier, relaxing and enjoying the comforts of the hotel room =P.  Can't wait to explore further eastwards =D.  Othe train now to Munich, long ride of 6 hours but the train is comfortable enough I guess.  Let's see what awaits in the beer halls of Bavaria!! =D
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