Bohemian Rhapsody

Trip Start Feb 27, 2012
Trip End May 19, 2012

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Saturday, May 12, 2012

My expectations of the Czech Republic and the Eastern Bloc have been shaped fro a lifetime of computer games and Tom Clancy novels - Desperate, desolate and miserable but a great place to buy some discount price nuclear warheads.

How wrong was I.

Prague is not only one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen but it has a truly kick-ass night-life and shopping galore. Oh yea, and the beer here is arguably best in the world.

On the way in from Austria we stopped by the Mauthausen concentration camp; where at least 120,000 people were murdered during the war. All very grim stuff - especially the quarry next to the camp where workers used to have to carry massive rocks on their backs. The Nazis would often play games getting the prisoners to race up the steps - the last one up would be thrown to his death. The camp was filled with plaques and memorials claiming "we will never forget". It all made me angry - having seen how this exact same stuff went down in Cambodia only 30 odd years ago. People don't forget - they just choose to ignore.

We arrived in Prague very late after a long day of driving. After dinner Luke our tour guide took us out for a walking tour around the city. At the end of the tour we headed to Prague's bars and had probably our best night out. One club (Karlovy Lázně) was five stories high and is the biggest in central Europe.

The next day we had a long overdue sleep-in then headed back to check out the Astronomical Clock Tower (great views of the city), the Communism Museum (which I enjoyed being a dirty commie at heart but wouldn't recommend to anyone who isn't into politics) and the Prague Castle/Cathedral (the Cathedral is the biggest I have seen, we went at the perfect time of day when sun flooded the church with colour from it's massive stained glass windows).

Liz enjoyed the shopping and oddly so did I. Not only is it very cheap, but there is also bucket-loads of soviet-era memorabilia, from silly hats to medals and gas marks (it has long been a strange hobby of mine to collect this stuff). When we come back and we are employed I am sure we will spend up large.

Prague has definitely shaken off its boring reputation from four decades as a socialist state. Cool place!
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