Trip Start Aug 14, 2001
Trip End Nov 07, 2002

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Thursday, August 23, 2001

When we arrived in Prague we were greeted and approached by several hotel/hostel representatives... Despite our initial apprehension, we chose to go with an old lady named Jana (pronounced Yana)simply because she had kind eyes. (Of course she didn't speak English) but she was friendly and paid for our subway ride into the city. (We had no cash and the lines for the bank-machines in the train terminal were very long so, she insisted on paying for us. A nice touch.)

In Prague, we were blown away by the absolutely marvelous & endless old & beautiful architecture that is literally everywhere one can look within old Prague. It's almost impossible to digest even a small portion of the ancient life & soul that ebbs from every narrow coblestoned corner! From a high vantage point, (Petrin Tower) we could see the red brick roofs go on for miles & church peaks, towers, marble statues and castles lurk everywhere. Most notable is the Gol'gothic' Prazsky Hrad. (Prague Castle) At night it is lit up, high on the hill and as we walked towards it across the romantic and enchanting 'Karluv Most' (Charles Bridge) built in 1350, the whole visual experience was just breathtaking...

We spent the good part of one day in the Jewish District where there are several Synagogues housing the Jewish Museum. During the second world war when Hilter began exterminating the Jews, the Nazi's collected the belongings of the Jews to later create a museum of an extinct peoples!?! Most striking & very emotional was the Pinkas Synagogue... Built in 1535, it was later made into a memorial to all of the Jews of Czech murdered by the Nazis. In very small but fine print are the names and dates of the 80,000+ Jews (including small children) who died so unjustly. The rooms were deathly quiet. Searching alphabetically, we found several family names Karpel, Karpelus and Karpe including Amil Karpe and his daughter Amilie Karpe.

Eventually, we hooked up with our friends Greg and Alexia who we know from back home but who are now living now in Prague teaching English. We stayed with them for a few days and took day trips to different places including Vysehrad and Karlstejn. Karlstejn is a fairytale-like castle from the 14th century found high up on a hill with a long winding road (full of tourist-trap like fare) leading up to it. The castle was bloody expensive (but, Katrinka's Student-Card got us ALL in for the student price!) One thing of particular interest was an old relic in their collection which was believed to be the head of a great dragon, once slain by the bravest knight of Karlstejn. In actual fact, it was that of a crocodile! (Ha! I could've been a knight!)

The train ride back to Prague awaited. It was different because there was an old steam-engine to pull the usual string of passenger-cars. (We thought, how fun!) We all piled on in anticipation but I remember wondering why some of the seats looked so dirty, like an ashtray had been emptied out on them?? 'Hmmm, oh well...'
It was still very hot out so once inside the train-car, we opened all the windows. Then, the train pulled out and everything was fine until we really got going. (Where there is steam, there is also coal...) Soon there was black smoke billowing and black, BLACK coal dust started coming in all the open windows, sticking to all the sweaty skin it could find!! Everyone had to scramble to shut all the windows and the whole trip was miserably warm! (kinda funny though)
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