Bohemia Time

Trip Start Apr 20, 2008
Trip End Sep 15, 2008

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Where I stayed
prague's heaven

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We went to the mail boxes etc. and for the first time in a week we had our passports, complete with Chinese visas, back in our hands.  Yay!  From there we made our way to the train station and hopped on a train for Prague.  On the train to Prague we were sitting with a couple of guys from Dublin who chatted our ears off, but we didn't mind because they were hilarious.  They were in their early 20s and were doing the all drinking, no sight seeing type of tour of Europe and had some good drinking stories.  We got to Prague and after getting some Kronus (first time all trip we've had to get a new currency) we took a metro to our hostel.  After checking in we went to a restaurant at the recommendation of the hostel owner.  It was a great little place a few minutes from our hostel, good food and cheap too.  We had these fried potato pancakes filled with meat, vegetables cheese and gravy ... very tasty.  We finished off the night having a few beers with an American couple (Jenna and Chris?) at the hostel.
Our first real day in Prague, so we jumped on the tram and took it to the Old Town Centre.  From there we went across the famous Charles Bridge, which of course is named after the most famous ruler of Bohemia, Charles IV (at that time Bohemia was a kingdom that was amalgamated into the Holy Roman Empire of the German People).  Charles Bridge used to be the only bridge across the river when it was built in 1357.  These days it's just as crowded with tourists, but it's worth it as there are lots of cool statues to see along the bridge.  From there we made our way up the big hill to Prague Castle.  Prague Castle houses the President's office and is the world's largest castle complexes.  It looks and feels more like a town than an actual castle as from most of the complex all you can see are the palaces, churches and houses.  Our first stop was in St Vitus Cathedral, which is the key feature of the castle complex.  It was started in 1344 and not finished until 1929 due to various periods of turmoil and lack of funding.  It's a great Cathedral and the two biggest highlights are beautiful stained glass windows that were installed mostly after WWII and the big statue of St. John of Nepomuk made using 2 tonnes of silver.  After the Cathedral we went to the old royal palace, which was originally built by Prince Vladislav I.  Vladislav was one of the lesser-known rulers, because all he did was rule his people for 40 or so years of peace and prosperity (funny how the good guys don't get much press in the history books).  The main hall of the old royal palace is so big they used to use it for indoor jousting tournaments.  From there we took a trip down Golden lane, named so because that's where the gold smiths used to live (and that's where they suck all the money out of tourists in the little shops).  It also has an interesting armoury of replica armour and weapons for sale.  Our final stop in Prague Castle was Dalibourka Tower.  That's were the dungeons and torture chambers used to be and they have on display some of the tools for torture and methods of imprisonment so you can get the impression of what a nasty place it must have been.  Of course there is much more to see in Prague castle, but we elected to do the short tour for less money J.  At this point we were hungry so we stopped for a beer and a bite to eat.  We then wandered back across Charles Bridge to briefly check out the old Jewish quarter and the main square before walking back home along the river.
Today we took in another "free" (tips only) tour.  It was another great tour an our guide Veronica showed us around the main square with the Tyn Church, Jan Hus Memorial, Old Town Hall and St Nicholas Church.  From there she took us around the Old Town and New Town and pointed out the many different architectural styles in Prague (gothic, renaissance, baroque, cubist, round cubist, functionalist, and the list goes on).  She showed us some other churches, the Charles Bridge tower and we finished off in the old Jewish town.  After the tour we stopped for some lunch and a beer before heading home for a nap.  Following the nap we made our way up to the old fortress of Vysehrad, which now a days is has many parks, great views of the city as well as a nice church with an old cemetery.  We finished the day off with some chill out time at the hostel.
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