Travel Break: Oct.26-Oct.28

Trip Start Sep 02, 2010
Trip End May 13, 2011

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Where I stayed
St. Christopher's at the Mosaic Hostel

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ok. So I've only been able to find time to write this on the weekends! School has been extremely crazy. We've had so many schedule changes, trips to Paris for class, tests and projects. A whole semesters work has been crammed into about 2 1/2 months. So traveling this month probably isn't going to happen. But Christmas break will be here soon and I will be going to Dublin for a week and staying with some of Kara's family then going to Germany to visit Chris (a relation of Aunt Barb's) and spend Christmas with him. I'll be back in France to spend New Year's Eve with my friends :) But, as far as Prague went, back in October, this was my favorite part of the trip.

    We got to Prague tuesday afternoon around 1:30. I dont remember what I said about this but the ride into Prague was beautiful. The trees changing colors and riding along the river the entire time. It was so pretty. I tried taking a picture out of the window, didnt come out too well but I'll put it up. We get into Prague and check into our hostel. Our hostel is amaaazzzziinnnng!! If only our room would have had a flat screen would have been one of the nicest places I've ever stayed in (as far as a normal hotel room goes). We had the room all to ourselves. All 8 of us slept in one room, 8 bunk beds. The bathroom was really modern with one of those raining shower head things and there was even a button to open and close the shades on the outside of the window. The whole place was really nice, and for only 13euros a night!  After checking in we went to a restaurant across the street and ate. We ate sooo much cause eveyrthing was so cheap! It was 25kc for 1 euro. So I ate like 5 different things (which also came in huge, normal sized portions) for about 6 euros. I had potatoe pancakes, garlic soup, a soda, and a huge pancake that came with ice cream and fruit inside with chocolate on top. We spent the rest of the day just walking around and exploring the city. 
    The next morning we got up and went on another of those free 3 hour tours. They took us all over Prague and it was so interesting to see so many connections to the things we saw in Berlin. For example, the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe that we saw in Berlin was inspired by the Jewish cemetary in Prague that they showed us. In Berlin, they told us they didnt know where the architect got his idea from. But they showed us this and everything makes so much more sense. Because the cemetary was so small and there were so many Jews living in the Jewish Quarter (the only place they were allowed to live during WWII) they had to keep burying people on top of one another. So, in some places, there were 12-20 people buried in one grave. Like in the memorial, as you will see, the large cement blocks get taller and taller and taller. AND! while on this tour, we started talking to these 2 girls who were also from U of I and studying abroad in Milan, Italy! But, I knew one of the girls because she had dated one of my friends (that ive known since high school) back at U of I. The other girls in my group also knew them thru whatever connections. Crazy how small of a world it is.
    After the tour, we decided we would climb up one of the large hills in Prague that had "the Eiffel Tower" on it. It was just an obersvation tower that looked like a mini-Eiffel tower. We walked thru the forest to get up to this thing then walked up a never-ending spiral staircase to get to the top of it. It had a really pretty view of the city. You could see all the bridges, the churches, and even see beyond the city into the countryside. After we finished up there we all went our separate ways to sketch. I went back to the hotel so I could get in touch with a couple people I was supposed to be meeting up with that night. One of our neighbors from home, Bob, has a niece that lives in Prague. We were going to meet up so she could show me around but something happened and she couldnt be there. Instead, she set me up with two of her friends to meet up with me that night and show me around. My phone wont work outside of France for some reason so we were using email to talk back and forth. After I figured out when/where to meet them, I met back up with my group and we went out for dinner. We went out for Thai food, to my displeasure, but it was pretty good. I hate going to these countries and not eating their food. After dinner, I walked to meet up with Jan and Matt, Petra's two friends. They were extremely nice guys. Jan is 30 and Matt was my age. They took me to a pub and we sat there until 2am just talking. They bought me a Hemlin cheese appetizer, which had some raw hamburger on the inside with Hemlin cheese around it in the shape of a patty with raw onions on top in a plate of oil. It was really good and they let me eat the whole thing. haha I was so excited to eat anything. Then they bought me a ton of Czech beer which was really good and then, even bought me Svickova to eat. This is two dinners in one night. They were extremely nice and I had so much fun talking to them. The food was good, everything was. One of them has family that comes from Klatovy where grandma and grandpa are from. They offered to show me around there and the countryside if I ever get a chance to come back! I plan on going back possibly in May and would love to take them up on that offer!
    The next morning we all got up and went to Bohemia bagel. Its a place opened by American's where you can get bagels. Theres not many places in Europe to buy bagels! Afterwards we walked to a church we saw on the tour the day before. The church had a real arm hanging from its ceiling. Story goes, a long time ago, a man tried to steal the necklace off of the Virgin Mary statue. She came to life and grabbed his arm. He got stuck that way and was found there the next morning. They couldnt get his arm out so they cut it off. Didnt know what to do with the arm so they hung it in the church. Interesting. 
    Afterwards we went to Prague Castle. Its a huge fortified castle where the president lives. We walked up another hill to get to it and when we got to the top, the President of the Czezh Republic was walking out. They were having a small ceremony for something. It was kinda cool we got to see him :) After he went back inside they let us walk around. We went into the church on the castle grounds. It took 600 years to build and was finished in the early 20th century.
    After we walked around it, we all split up for about 4 hours. I walked around to go shopping and just relax and see everything. That night we went out for Bohemian food down the street from our hostel. The food is sooooo good!! We went back to our hostel and hung out in the movie/internet room. We watched Wedding Crashers twice while we waited for our taxi to come at 2AM. He finally got there and we all piled in and headed to Auschwitz. I sat in the middle in front with the driver. It was a crazy ride. He went 160km/hr the whoooole way there! That's 100mph! It was the craziest car ride ever. We even made it to Auschwitz an hour earlier than we were supposed to! We got there at 7AM instead of 8AM, thats including a pit stop.
    Onto Poland! The final part of the trip!
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