Thanksgiving in Prague!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Dec 14, 2012

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, November 26, 2012

Ciao a tutti! I hope you all had a lovely thanksgiving, I miss you all!!

My Thanksgiving was delightful, because I spent it in Prague! I left Thursday morning (and skipped class, it was just like high school, but cooler) and got on a bus and then a plane for Prague! I left Florence with my friend Mary, who was also doing the program (I went on a program run by Jewish Life at Duke, who also partially subsidized the trip). We met the group at the Old Castle, and joined the tour. The Old Castle was the residence of the royal family of Prague starting in the 1400s. They had really tiny rooms though, because it was hard to keep big rooms warm. They did, however, have a big audience room, which was so big they even had duels on horseback in it! Then we visited the Lobkowicz Castle, which is one of the many properties held by that family. They were a Czech royal family, but they had all their properties and possessions confiscated by the Nazi's so they went to America. Then they came back, but the Soviets took it all again so they left again. Now they got it all back, and they have a huge collection! I got to see the original score of Beethoven's 5th and Mozart's version of Handle's messiah, because they were all written for members of this family! That night we had thanksgiving dinner! It was the first thanksgiving I've ever had that involved hummus, but there was also turkey!

The next morning we got up early in the freezing cold to go visit Terezin, the Czech concentration camp. Terezin was an interesting concentration camp to go visit, because it was more of a village than a camp. It was not a death camp, and all of the children there were kept really happy and well fed, so as a result there were many drawings of how life looked like. It was still very awful for the adults though, and the camp was pretty eerie. Since the camp was run by the Jewish community, religious life was still allowed. So, there were two churches and a synagogue, because 1.5-2 million of the people killed in the Holocaust were practicing Catholics and Protestants. I never knew that! Also there is a Soviet cemetery, but on every map there is a big blank spot there, because the Czechs HATE the Russians. Later that night we went to services in one of the oldest synagogues in Prague! It used to be the town hall of the Jewish quarter, and was decorated all in gold and marble

Saturday morning I made a few people wake up early with me and run around and see everything before I had to go. We went to the old town square, and saw all of the churches there. We saw Our Lady of Tyn, which was this huge gothic church that was also slightly baroque. Then we saw St. Nicholas, which was already completely baroque. Finally, we saw the big astronomical clock tower when it hit 11am, and there is a figure that moves and pulls the string to ring the bell! After that, it was back to Florence for me! 

If anyone ever gets the chance though, I really recommend Prague. The entire downtown looks like a giant storybook, and every building either looks like Cinderella or Dracula live there. Or both. Maybe they are friends in Prague. Anyway, stay tuned for next weeks adventure! I will be harvesting olives on campus and making olive oil! Ciao ciao!
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