A weekend in Prague

Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
Trip End Feb 28, 2009

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Friday, September 12, 2008

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (12.09.08 - 14.09.08)

First of all, let me say that this blog entry cannot possibly describe what a wild time we had in Prague...

Katie, Vijay, American Dave & Chelsea left for Prague the day before us. In Copenhagen we had a big night at KolorBar, where there was free beer between 11pm and 1am. Needless to say, it was a massive night. Early the next morning Canadian Dave, American Dave, Omri, Eric & I caught our flight out of Copenhagen & all slept on the plane.

When we arrived in Prague, still a little hung-over, we caught the bus and then train downtown to where were meeting the others at the Bell Tower in the Old City Square. The bus ride was interesting for two reasons. First, we got to see some of the less beautiful areas in the city of Prague. Second, Omri and Eric seemed to have a hard time breathing with all the body odour emanating from the locals. Apparently deodorant hasn't caught on in Prague yet.

After we met the others, we set off to find our hostel. Stupidly, we left Copenhagen without our laptops, without the address of our hostel and without the hostel's phone number. All we knew was the name of the hostel - The Old Prague Hostel. Unfortunately, no one in Prague seemed to know where it was. After an hour and a half of exploring the city/looking for our hostel we finally found it - and it was amazing! Everyone agreed that it was the best hostel we had ever seen. The other 5 who were staying in another hostel were so jealous.

After checking out the facilities and sorting out who was sleeping where Dave, Omri, Eric & I went sightseeing. We figured that the easiest way to do this by walking around the city. We were trying to find the Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery as we knew that it would be closed the next day. Unfortunately the map we had wasn't the most detailed map ever made, so we got lost trying to find the Jewish quarter. Never the less, we had a good time walking randomly around the city and long the river. We also found some amazing ice cream.

Eventually we did find the Jewish cemetery. It is a really eerie place, especially when it is dark (as it was by the time we got there). There are apparently over 100,000 tombstones piled on top of and next to each other in an area the size of a football field. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we got there, but we could see through some gaps in the high walls and were able to take some good pictures through the gaps. The tombstones are all at random angles, of varying grandeur, and varying ages. The next day we were told that, in the past, this graveyard was the only place in the entire city of Prague in which Jewish people were allowed to be buried.

After picking up some cheap beers, we went and had dinner with the whole group and headed out for the night. Our first stop was a place called the Beer Factory. At this fine establishment, each table has four of their own beer taps. You are given large beer mugs and get to pour your own beer. Up on a big screen on all the walls is a tally of where each table is up to and how many litres of beer they are drinking per hour. The object of the game was to drink at a faster rate than the other 14 tables. With a bunch of very competitive Americans, one competitive Canadian and a super competitive Australian (yours truly), the result was inevitable. We blew them out of the water and came away with the victory. The girls celebrated with quick dance to 'The Macarena' on the dance floor and we were out of there, mission accomplished.

We then split off into our hostel groups as the other group wanted to go home to bed. But the night was still young and there was partying to be done in Prague. After a quick stop at the casino (in which Eric managed to win $2600 US playing roulette) we were off to visit some of Prague's more infamous nightspots. Finally, at about 5am, we headed off to bed.

Day 2:
On only a few hours sleep, but determined to make the best of our short visit to Prague, we were up at about 8.30am and ready to do some more sightseeing. We had decided the previous day that we would do a free walking tour in the afternoon starting at 2pm that would cover the majority of Prague's sights. So, our goal was to cover all that wouldn't be covered in the tour. While the previous day had been beautiful and sunny, today was significantly colder and windy. It was amazing the contrast between the two days. The temperature difference must have been about 15 degrees Celsius.

First stop was to climb to the top of the Bell Tower in the Old Square. After a good workout climbing up the stairs for Dave, Eric & I (Omri decided to take the elevator) we finally reached the top viewing deck of the tower and the view was unbelievable. We had an uninhibited 360-degree view of the city of Prague and beyond. It was good to see the city from another angle and to look at the sights that we had seen the previous afternoon and would see in the next few hours.

After taking some happy snaps of the cityscape and a couple of group photos, we decided to move on and continue to explore the city. Although it was still only about 10am, we just couldn't resist a stop off to pick up some Prague ice cream to eat along the way. We wandered through some of the back streets of Old Prague and stumbled across a flea market. Clearly targeted at tourists, the prices were not as you would expect from an eastern European city. Nevertheless, I managed to pick up a Praha fridge magnet & Eric got himself a cool Czech horn.

Next stop was to visit the museums. We went to the National Museum and had a bit of a look at the free displays in the main hall. We were going to go in but decided against it as there was a lot more to do and we didn't really want to spend all our time indoors.

So we decided to continue shopping. We figured that, as we were in an Eastern European country, clothing should be cheaper than it was in Copenhagen. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and we spent a lot of time window-shopping with no results.

After picking up some lunch (where there were hidden charges for silverware & service), Dave & I joined up with the group from the other hostel in time to start the free walking tour. Omri & Eric decided that they could spend their time better by going and getting a Thai massage and a haircut. We all thought they were crazy but they said that they enjoyed it.

The walking tour was awesome. The tour leader was a really nice Czech girl with a really loud voice so we could always hear what she was saying despite crowds of tourists at most stops. She took us to all of Prague's major tourist attractions as well as some lesser know sights such as:
The Jewish synagogues which were closed because it was Sunday.
The famous Charles Bridge.
A really funny fountain that was made up of two guys peeing into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. She had no idea what this was meant to symbolise and thought that it was merely meant to be entertaining. You can send a text message to a number written next to the fountain and then the guys move their penises so that the water flow spells out the message that you wrote. Very odd but very funny to watch.
The John Lenin wall, which is a symbol of peace for Czech citizens. It is the only wall in Prague that you are allowed to graffiti, so it has layers and layers of paint and messages of peace. We all wrote something small on the wall.
We walked up 646 stairs towards the parliament building , the Cathedral & the Castle. This is where the tour ended. Despite it being a free tour, we all gave the tour guide a generous tip so she would have made quite a good amount out of her 3 hours work.

We then walked back down the hill towards town & stopped at the most authentically Czech looking restaurant we could find for dinner. Dave & I shared a giant platter that had slices of roast pork, a red spicy sausage, half a roast duck, two types of cabbage, two types of dumpling and gravy. It was really good, but pricy. Once again we were met with hidden charges. They charged us for the cutlery and service as well as bread that we didn't even eat. I guess we just couldn't get used to these hidden charges.

Nevertheless it was a good meal, and it was now time to go out and hit the town once again. We started off in a sports bar where we watched some soccer and had a few drinks. This then moved on to another bar, and another, and another.

Before we knew it, it was 4.30am and we only had a few hours sleep before we had to get up to catch our flight in the morning.

Day 3:
We were meant to be meeting the others in the Old Square at 8am so that we could all travel to the airport together. For some reason though, none of our alarms worked and we didn't wake up until 8.05. Luckily I just woke up naturally and it wasn't too late. We were out of the hostel by 8.15, caught a taxi to the airport, and arrived there early with time to spare.

It turned out that the others were also running late so when they arrived at the Old Square and we weren't there, they assumed that we had already left. It all turned out well in the end.

We arrived back at Holger mid afternoon with plenty of stories to tell and a keen audience wanting to hear them.
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