Our Second Day in Prague

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End Jan 24, 2010

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Saturday, January 23, 2010

So here's a quick bit about Prague.  It's in Czech Republic and it is divided into 5 quarters: The New Town, Old Town, Jewish Quarter, Little Quarter and Castle Quarter.  We stayed in New Town which was only about a 10 minute walk to Old Town.  On this day we decided we'd walk through New Town into Old Town, cross the Charles bridge into the Little Quarter and go to the Castle Quarter.  

We woke up with hopes that the weather would warm up a bit.  We knew it was going to be cold but if the sun would come out maybe it would be tolerable.  Negative.  No sun today but no rain either.  It was freezing!  I wore leggings under my jeans, socks, boots, 2 shirts and a sweater, heavy coat, hat, scarf and gloves.  Still cold.  We also thought we'd find a bakery to get a pastry at for breakfast on our way to see the city.  We plan on doing this every trip but it never seems to work out.  We walked and walked and walked, looking for a bakery and found nothing but McDonald's'.  There was a McDonald's every couple of blocks.  So, we gave in and had breakfast at McDonald's. 

Walking through the New Town we walked through Wenceslas Square.  A long strip of more modern shops like Guess, Esprit and H&M.  Not a very interesting part of the city.  It's just like any other city. 

We finally get to the Old Town.  All around we started noticing people dressed up in crazy costumes.  They looked like clowns.  We'd later find out why.  The entrance to the Old Town was old tower called Powder Gate.  It even had a guard monitoring the entrance.  It's here where you start to notice more souvenir shops and people trying to hand out advertisements to tourists.  We were apparently at the right place.  

Just down a street from the gate we entered the Old Town Square.  All around us were old buildings and churches and a couple statues.  Just a big wide open space with a tiny stage set up in the middle with a EUROKARNEVAL 2010 banner hung across the front and even more people dressed in costumes with band instruments walking around.  We later found out this is the first year Prague was having a Eurokarneval.  These teams of people were from all over Europe and they would take turns playing music on stage for everyone.  They were like pep bands.  They would play and dance and chant.  The crowd was small but those that were there really got into it.  Around the stage were a few booths set up selling jewelry and trinkets as well as some amazing looking foods.  We found one booth with these long wooden dowels with doughnut looking spirals strung on.  The dowels were resting over heat and spun to cook the dough. They're called Trdelnik. We ordered one because they looked amazing.  When they took the Trdelnik off the dowel they dip it in a sugar/chopped walnut mixture, running the sugar through the inside of the rings.  It was one of the best pastries I've ever had.  

Behind the stage was a really cool looking church we wanted to try to go into, Tyn Church.  But it was closed for the weekend.  Across from the stage there was another church with a tower we could climb to get some cool views of the city as well as an astronomical clock.  We got over to the church just in time to see the "Walk of the Apostles" show that goes off every hour.  It's a pretty amazing clock.  In one of the books we got from our hostel it said that there is a legend that when this clock was built it was the only clock like it in the world and when other countries heard about it they wanted one of their own but Prague didn't want this so some officials had the man that made the clock blinded so he wouldn't be able to build any clocks.  Then, after he was blinded the clock broke and since he was the only man who knew how to fix it and could no longer fix it they had to wait years until they could find someone else to fix the clock.  This clock has some really awesome components and the figures tell a cool story. 

Climbing the tower was easy, we took the elevator.  There weren't even steps to climb the tower, it had a ramp that wrapped around the inside or a glass elevator with a cool spiral design around the outside.  Up at the top it was even more cold but the city was neat to see from above.  There were a lot of red roofs and you could see Prague Castle in the background. Also, the streets had really neat designs that you could see really well from higher up. 

Ry and I walked around Old Town, looking at the different buildings and shops.  One of the funniest parts of the trip was when we were walking and I had stopped on a corner to look into this adorable little indoor cafe as Ry walked on around the corner.  Literally 20 seconds behind him, I turned the corner to see him walking quickly back towards me, eyes big then he asked in a panicked way, "Did you get kidnapped?" After walking around the Old Town we finally came to Charles Bridge.  The bridge is having some construction work done so it wasn't quite as beautiful as I would have  thought.  I thought Paris had a much prettier bridge.  On the bridge were tiny little kiosks with photos and paintings of Prague for sale as well as other little souvenirs.  The bridge was lined with statues, most of which we couldn't see because of the construction, but towards the end of the bridge a few were free.  There was one really cool statue with some guys chained up inside the statue.  

Soon we came upon St. Vitus Cathedral in the Little Quarter.  It was one of the coolest cathedrals I've seen. It looked like the castle from Shrek.  The stained glass windows wrapped all around the church were so pretty, and the architecture inside was just as amazing.  There were tombs right in the middle of the cathedral and paintings on the walls.  I thought this cathedral was even better than Notre Dame. 

Finally to the Castle.  The castle grounds were huge.  You not only got to visit the castle but you got to visit the towers; the cathedral; the torture museum; special exhibits showing the furniture, actual clothes worn by the kings, queens, princess and princes, shoes, jewelry, painting; and a vineyard.  It was one of the best castle visits I've been to.  There was so much to see. One of the stops was to a place called Powder Tower.  It is a tower that is now a museum for military uniforms throughout Prague's history.  Ryan kept calling it Powder Room Tower.  Apparently this is where he thought the military used to powder their noses.  On our way through the castle grounds, we walked down a street with tiny colorful houses.  We didn't really think anything special about this street except the cuteness of the buildings.  Later on while reading a book about Prague from our hostel we found out that building #12 was where Franz Kafka used to like to come to write. The view of the city was really beautiful.  The red roofs really popped out through the hazy wintery sky. 

On our walk back into town we decided to stop for a drink and warm up.  The place we found was a fairly big bar/restaurant but empty at the time.  Pilsner beers originated in Czech Republic and there is actually a town, Plzen Czech Republic, where the Pilsner beers are brewed.  So our beer of choice...Pilsner.  Another interesting beer option throughout Czech is Budweiser.  Not America's Budweiser but the original Budweiser, the Czech Budweiser. We sat and drank our beers and chatted about what we had yet to see and chatted with our bartender a bit.  We perfected our pronunciation of "cheers" in Czech...Na zdravi (sounds like nass drawvey) and also "Thank you" Dekuji (Dyack-quee).  While sitting and chatting I noticed a familiar bottle on the liquor shelf behind our bartender.  In Munich, Ryan and I have a Czech friend who brought a bottle of this to Munich around Christmas time.  It's called Becherovka and it tastes like Christmas.  It tastes like cinnamon, pine trees, candy canes and Santa all mixed into one. So I ordered a shot and the bartender then decided Ryan also needed a shot, but not of Becherovka but of some other Czech liquor, Slivovitz, it was not good. Instead of taking the shots as we would in the US or Germany, they pour them into pretty little glasses and you are supposed to sip them.  Poor Ryan. 

By the time we walked back towards our hostel we were hungry, luckily just around the corner was Pivovarsky Dum, a restaurant serving traditional Czech foods and brewed their own beers.  Ryan and I both ordered the Czech goulash and dumplings.  Wow. One of the best meals I've had while traveling ever!  After dinner noticed they had a beer sampler so we ordered that to see what the beers there were like.  Some of the samples were banana beer, coffee beer, sour cherry beer and nettle beer which was a green beer and tasted a bit like tea.  I really liked it but Ryan didn't so much.  

Tomorrow, Kutna Hora!
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