Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Our train ride from Berlin to Prague was an ordeal. The train was late to begin with, and then we discovered that it was extrememly overbooked. We and about four other people in our car were left without seats and had to stand - or sit on the floor as we ended up doing. Some of the other cars were even worse. We were on that train for two hours before they had everyone switch at one stop to another train. We managed to grab a seat fro the last two hours of the trip, thank goodness! Once we got to the Prague station we looked for Robyn because she had decided to meet us in Prague for a few days. Did I mention that she's in Austria at the moment for a music program? So that's why she was able to meet us in Prague, although her trip was about twice as long as ours. We all walked the two miles or so the the hotel along busy roads, narrowly missing being hit by a tram and a few cars along the way. We stayed at a cute little place called Casa Italia that had a cooker - er, stove top I mean - which was nice because we got to cook some hot food! And that's exactly what we did our first night there. We cooked up soem sausages, onions, and peppers and drank some Czech beer.

On the 26th we headed out to see the city. Well, first we had to figure out the subway system, mainly how to get tickets. After wandering aroudn trying to find the corner shop that sells 24 hour tickets we realized we had already found it, except they don't actually sell 24 hour tickets. But that ended up being a good thing as we realized we could buy single use tickets for less than 1/5 the price. So unless you're going to hop on the subway more than five times a day you're better off with single trips. So we made it to Musek station after all that and headed towards Old Town Square. The streets we walked along wer lined with shops and people and big food stands with sausages hanging from the ceiling. We saw what's known as Powder Tower on the way - a dark tower covered in nice sculpted details with an arch for cars to pass through at ground level. We also saw a kino, or movie theater that was showing Harry Potter and had a huge Harry Potter themed cardboard enterance set up in front of the door. I had to get a picture with it... And Robyn had to check what times it was playing because she still hadn't seen the movie yet. Eventually, after passing through some cute back-street allies we ended up in Old Town Square. It was absolutely packed with people! They were all there, like us, to see Tyn Church and the Astronomical Clock. Along with those two incredible buildings were shops and cafes and a big copper-turned-green statue. The buildings surrounding the square weren't quite as immpressive as those we saw in Brussels, but I thought they were still very pretty. I liked the pastel colors they were painted. After checking out the square and looking into a pretty church Robyn got a sweet treat that we all shared. I don't even know what it's called, but it was the size and shape of a tube bracelet, made of a pretzel-like dough covered in sugar. They had a rack of them over a fire, spinning on... rolling pins for lack of a better word. It was tasty. We headed towards Prague Castle next, which was across the river from where we were. We got a nice view of the Charles Bridge along the way. We didn't plan on going into the castle, just to see it from a distance. Once our castle-seeing was fulfilled we stopped in a pub for a beer. It was different because we didn't get to pick what beer we got We just said "Three beers" and he got us the house special. No choosing! But it was a nice break form all the walking. We headed back across the river via the Charles Bridge, seeing an interesting fountain of two men peeing along the way. The Charles Bridge was packed with tourists, vendors, and performers trying to earn a buck. We decided it was lunch time and found our way back to a good looking restaurant we had passed earlier in the day. Boy was it good! We all split three meals: roast duck with dumplings, beef in cream sauce with dumplings, and roast pork knee. The pork knee was immpressive! Chuck had told me before about a restaraunt he went to whne he went tot he Czech Republic a year ago and how he was served a pork platter on a wooden cutting board. Well this was the same thing. It was served on a wooden cutting board with some vegetables, mustard, and grated raw horseradish. And the dumplings that came with the beef and duck were good too. I looked it up to see how the Czech dumpling is made. Basically it's bread that is cooked in boiling water or heavy steam, then sliced and resteamed to moisten the inside of the bread. It's especially good when paired with whatever meat your eating. So that was a very good lunch for us. After that we did even more walking over to Wenceslas Square which wasn't as cool as the name makes it sound. The only thing there is a nice big statue and their Natural history Museum. I mean, they're nice and all, but it's not like Old Town Square. We were honestly beat by this point and deciding to go home. Robyn decided she would go sit and watch Harry Potter and meet us back at the hotel. I was a tad nervous about her wandering around Prague all on her own, even though I knew she'd be fine! And of course, she was fine. She showed up at the hotel a few hours later with not a scratch on her and we all had a home cooked meal again - this time some pasta concoction. It was a long day!

The next day Robyn left by noon and Chuck and I twiddled our thumbs for most of the day. Chuck knows someone from online that lives in Prague and had been chatting with her about possibly meeting up. So we ended up going out with her that night to a hookah bar called Karma Lounge. It was a really cool place in my opinion. It was in the basement of one of the many old buildings in the city and had these wide brick arches along the ceiling that added to it's character. The mood was nice and relaxed and they played good music. Music you could dance to. And people were dancing which was fun to watch. Some of them danced... well, let's say it was amusing to watch them. And others were good dancers. One couple danced for about two hours straight. Besides watching people dane, we got a hookah and some sodas and just sat and chatted for a couple of hours. The hookah was a nice big one too, probably two feet tall. And one of the friends of the girl who took us out was an American guy who had apparently gone to Prague and liked it so much he just stayed. How crazy is that?? That must be a nice state of mind to be able to live in. It was a greta night! Very cool to see what the "people of Prague" do when they go out. It's actually petty much like what people do back at home really. Just go out and enjoy each others company. People are basically the same wherever you go I think.

The 28th was supposed to be a zoo day, but I just was not feeling it. I wasn't feeling anythig really. We tried to go to the zoo anyways but the map was all weird and we couldn't figure out how the heck we were supposed to get there. After walking around for 30 minutes nd getting nowhere we looked into go to see the Prague Metronome. But we didn't have enough money in coins and I didn't feel like buying an over-priced, warm soda to get change just to get the 75 minute subway ticket. So I gave up on it all and we decided to go back to the hotel. Sad, I know. But on the upside, we made goulash (the Czech version) and dumplings for dinner. And dessert was vanilla ice cream with cut up apples, nectarines, and oranges. We also managed to get our train tickets to our next stop while we were out, so it wasn't a completely useless day.

I have to say, I liked Prague. Maybe it helped that Robyn spent a day there with us and that we went out with a local, but Prague seemed pretty alright. And the beer is super cheap there! I don't know how it can be so cheap... A bottle of beer that costs US $0.75 is on the pricey side. A lot of beers are about US $0.50. And it's not like it's all bad beer, most of it's pretty decent. You just have to watch out for the sneaky, cheap non-alcoholic beer. We ended up buying a few of those on accident. Another sneaky beverage is the soda water. You really have to pay attention to what you're getting or you'll end up with a bottle of soda water instead of regular still water. We made that mistake a couple times too. Actually, we'll probably continue that make that mistake. Another interesting thing about the Czech Republic is that they mostly use their origianl currency, the krown. Some places will accept Euros, but most only seem to use Krowns. And since 1 krown is about 5-6 US cents, you frequently are paying 200-300 krowns for whaqtever you're buying. I even had a 2000 krown note at one point! It was like I was rich! It's a bit difficult to get used to working in currency that large. It feels like you're spending a ton of money.

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