George Dubbya ruined my holiday..

Trip Start May 10, 2007
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Monday, June 4, 2007

Woke up at 6:30.  Left Vienna for Prague around 8:30. 

Jimmy dropped us off at Hradcany Castle when we got there early afternoon.  The castle grounds were very large with several museums and churches...BUT..unfortunately everything was closed because Bush was in town schmoozing the Czechs.  Closed for "technical difficulties" my a**.

We walked down towards the Old Town and Charles Bridge.  We passed a monument of the Virgin Mary, built by the Czechs for protection from the plague.  Our first sight on the old bridge: a crazy old man who paints pictures of himself as the devil in weird places.  He's well known for yelling crazy ramblings to passers by.

The bridge was constructed by Charles IV over 600 years ago.  He told all the villages across the land to send their eggs to him because he heard eggs are the magic ingredient that holds a cake together.  Figuring eggs would make a strong bridge, he used them to mortar the bricks together. It must have worked because the bridge has survived several floods and still stands strong on the Vltava River.

Sight number two on the bridge: 16 statues of different saints, and one of a priest and a dog.  King Wencelas' queen used to confide in said priest.  One day, King Wencelas asked the priest to tell him what his wife had been confessing.  After many threats on his life, the priest finally gave in and said he'd tell one living soul..the king's dog.  Enraged, King Wencelas had his henchman wrap the priest in goatskin and throw him off the bridge to drown.

Sight number three: 12 bronze discs that are said to give you superpowers if you rub every one of them with your right foot.  They're not stationary, and the last guy to do it was never seen again.

As you can see, there are a lot of tales about the bridge.  The last one we heard was about the Hapsburgs hanging the heads of 27 Protestant bishops off the towers...basically to tell the people of Prague that it was Catholicism or death!

We then walked over to the Jewish quarter, which was several synagogues and a cemetary.  The cemetary has 20,000 graves of Jewish people stacked 12 deep  (which explains the wonkiness of the tombstones).  This was done because dead Jewish people had to be buried in that cemetary by law.  The cemetary also has a monument bearing the names of 80,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis in WWII.  When Hitler came to Prague, he wanted to keep the Jewish quarter as a museum..a memory of how he bettered the world by destroying the Jews.  Sicko.  Inside, there are pictures painted by children in concentration camps.  The Nazis forced them to paint happy pictures so Jewish parents would not be so reluctant to send their children away.

There is a fable about one of the synagogues as well.  Apparently, during construction, the rabbi ran out of money.  Because he was Jewish, he was often tormented and teased by children and people of other religions.  One day, some children threw a dead monkey at him.  When he picked the monkey up, it jingled inside.  He cut the monkey open and found gold coins!  The monkey stole them from his master by swallowing them.  The rabbi had hit the jackpot and was thus able to finish his synagogue!

We then went to the Old Town Square, home to the astonomical clock and the Tyn Church.  The astronomical clock is basically a huge cuckoo clock that told the Czechs everything they needed to know about the time of day, season, and what they should be doing with their farms.  Czech's famous astronomer Tycho Brahe is buried inside the Tyn Church.  He died a tragic death.  During an overindulgent dinner with the Emperor, he died of a ruptured bladder.  This was because it was rude to leave the table before the Emperor did.

We carried onto Wencelas Square, a more modern center.  This is where the portests were held by the people before the fall of Communism (called the Velvet Revolution because the Czech people protested peacefully, and went so far as to place flowers in the gun barrels of the police officers).  Two particular protesters are remembered for their strong stance against communism.  In support of their cause, they coated themselves in gasoline, lit themselves on fire, and subsequently burned to death.

Went back to camp via metro and tram, set up tents and ate dinner.

Brit went to sleep, and I went back into town to check out some of the infamous Czech nightclubs.  I had a shot of absynthe (second only in my life) and learned that it is much easier to swallow after about a 3 drink warm up!

Our first bar was a cellar bar.  Down in a dreary basement with concrete walls, cheap beer ($1 each), and a lot of locals.  We then closed down a jazz club a few blocks down, then wrapped up at a more modern and expensive nightclub.

Took an exhilarating ride back to camp in a taxi.  I got to bed around 2 AM.
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