Prague was an amazing city. Its character was a testament to its rich and long history. The architecture could vary by style quite drastically and yet it all seemed to pull together. Gothic, Neo-gothic, Art Nuevo, Functionalist, Romanesque – seriously the list could go on forever. It was an ideal city to wander around and albeit it was super confusing at times with all the side streets that went at all different angles, it was the perfect place to get lost in. The city was like drugs for your eyes, your brain was in constant stimulus. Everywhere you looked something would catch your eye. And how could I forget the need to look up and find even more surprises. It may have took me 3 days but I found the art piece by David Cerny of Sigmund Freud holding on to a bar pondering whether or not to let go. It was just a magical city, full of enchanting tales and myths. Plus add in the fact that beer is actually cheaper than water and how could you not fall in love with Prague?
We started our trip with a free walking tour led by our amazing guide, Dora, from Discover Prague Tours. It was an awesome way to get to quickly see the main sites and figure out what we wanted to check out further. Plus we learned a lot of cool facts and Dora told us a lot of stories and myths about a lot of the sites we saw that we would never have known about otherwise. The Astronomical clock, she told us, was cursed by the inventor to make it not work for the next 100 years after the councilmen of the city cut his tongue out because they were jealous of his success and fame and his unwillingness to share with them his knowledge of how the clock works. Even today people still aren’t sure how the moon rotates to match the moon’s cycle. Apparently it didn’t work for the first 100 years and then after that it has always worked. Who knows whether or not its true but it’s still quite curious. The four figures beside the astronomical clock represent four things that were feared and hated at the time – vanity, greed, death, and lust. I honestly found the whole 12 apostles moving around inside to be quite unimpressive. However, I really did enjoy the hourly show. The fact that death was actually ringing the bell and the figure depicting lust was shaking his head, showing his unreadiness to leave, I found to be quite amusing. Hanson was killing it with attention to detail! Dora also told us a myth about the Old New Synagogue which I found eerily creepy. In the 16th century, it’s said that a Rabi created a monster named Golem to help defend the Jews and that he lived in the attic of the synagogue. When the Nazi occupation came into effect, one soldier decided he would check on the roof to see if the creature was real and if it was to stab it and kill it once and for all. The next day he was found dead next to the ladder that led to the roof, stabbed with the knife he had intended to use on the creature. The Nazi’s in fear cut the ladder to the roof so that no one could come up or down from the attic anymore. As Dora attested, it may not be true but the ladder rungs are gone from the bottom half down so who can truly say.
Anyways I’m rambling with my myths and I could go on forever so I’ll stop before I write a 50 page blog. We met up with Jess and Steph, two volunteers from Naples that Vanessa had spent her two weeks with. It was a crazy coincidence that we all were there at the same time but they were amazing girls who I was lucky enough to get to know. We visited the Prague Castle and learned it was not one castle like we had originally thought but a district spanning over 70,000 m2 (the Guinness World record may I add). We had a beer, okay two, at the top in Klášterní Pivovar Strahov, a brewery run by Strahov Monastery. They actually made really delicious beer and I mean it’s a brewery run by monks, enough said. Only in Prague!
We also did a day excursion to Kutna Hora and the Bone Chapel in Sedlec. The Bone Chapel was super awesome and is a UNESCO site (it’s also going to stop allowing people to take photos so go while you can!). They estimate that there are bones from between 40,000 to 60,000 individuals and that these high influxes of bodies had to do with 3 things. First, with the finding of silver, the monks were rich and decided to go to the Holy Land and bring back soil from there and mix it with theirs. They then claimed that being burried in their lands were like being buried in the Holy Land so clearly everyone wanted to take part. Second there were the wars between the Protestants and Catholics that caused a huge amount of casualties and thirdly there was the black plague. So when the church had to start selling their land (since unfortunately they couldn’t find more silver forever) they started running into the issue of what to do with all these bodies. Cue holding them in the basement until the church was bought by the Schwarzenberg family who decided to decorate the chapel with the bones. Interestingly enough the church was actually in agreement with the family. They thought it sent a message to the people that life was short and you didn’t know which day would be you last. Lesson to be learned: treat each day like a miracle in and amongst itself. Pretty awesome message from a pretty creepy church. Afterwards we went to a few more churches, saw some more truly gorgeous countryside, and then headed home to do a paddle boat in the river and watch the sun set behind the castle district from there.
And if we hadn’t been on a beer streak enough, Vanessa and I went to a Beer Spa called Pivnilazne Spa Beerland. We spent two hours in oak barrel whirlpools filled with extracts used to brew beer, our own hops sauna, straw bed (which seriously was so hilarious in itself that we were sold with it), and unlimited beer. Needless to say we had a riot at the spa. Afterwards we finished off with a beer tasting tour and now I’m writing this from Salzburg and am currently on a beer cleanse!
Oh and how could I forgot, Czech cuisine is superb. Definitely super heavy and a lot of meat and potatoes but delicious none the less! If you’re ever going to be in Prague, I have the restaurant names in the pictures and they were all fantastical!