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Posts Tagged ‘Old Town Square’

Day 2 (Evening-Night)

After our tour through Prague, we started towards our hostel with the intent of depositing our candy and excess baggage.  We investigated a few shops, but mostly kept to our path.  During the walk we came upon a guy with a life-size doll of an Indian woman strapped to his back.  He was advertising a massage place on the second floor of the building across the street.  While intriguing, we decided it was an activity to save for a future trip to Prague.  Besides, my shingles were still visible, and I doubted someone would want to look at, much less touch them, and I certainly didn’t want anyone massaging the rash (OUCH).  So, we continued walking in the direction of our hostel.

Before we reached the Charles Bridge, we stopped at a marionette shop so I could look at a collection of Prague’s buildings carved from wood.  Like 90% of the other stores constructed for tourists, this shop had a wide variety of marionettes.  Springing upon the opportunity to sell us goods, the shopkeeper and her assistant delivered an in-depth explanation about marionettes.  Most marionettes found in stores are made from ceramic, and are therefore heavy, or a mixture of wood and plastic of low quality.  These puppets are produced in factories, and the label “made in Prague,” placed on them for authenticity.  During my trip to Prague a few years ago, I had purchased such a marionette, a Robin Hood puppet that I love.  Because of this purchase, I wasn’t sure if I wanted a second puppet.  However, the two women showed us marionettes that were hand-made, and told us that only marionettes with an artist’s signature were legitimate.  These marionettes were made entirely from wood, lightweight, and their looks dependent upon the artist.  BreAnna and I each decided to purchase a marionette.  Our little marionettes are jokers, the traditional puppet, with mischievous wood faces.  We both liked the black-haired version, but they only had one left since the puppets sold quickly, so I got one with brown hair.  The puppets were 600 Czech crowns each (about $30), and we’re both very happy with our adorable puppets.

We continued on our walk, stopping by a stand titled “Traditional Goodies,” to purchase drinks and a bread roll with cinnamon.  BreAnna and I each got a Cocobomb (hot chocolate and Baily’s Irish Cream), and Eliza got a Lomombomba (hot chocolate and rum).  Then we headed back towards our hostel to relax and decide what to do for the night.  After depositing our stuff in the room, we surfed the internet in search of a night time activity.  Resulting sites mainly gave names of clubs, and we weren’t up for dancing.  Maybe with a bigger group or a greater amount of confidence, we would have attempted a night club, but we felt it was a good night to sit and get a drink.

As we exited the hotel, three guys from our dorm also headed out.  They were walking several paces behind us, and I debated asking them if they knew of a place to get a drink.  Partway down the hill, I turned around and posed the question.  Turns out, they didn’t know where to go either.  We introduced ourselves and decided to go in search of a bar or restaurant.  The only thing I knew from the internet was that there were bars near Old Town Square, so we crossed the Charles Bridge and wandered into Old Town.

Two of the guys were Italians (and I’m afraid I can’t remember their names) who were visiting Prague, but leaving the next day.  The other guy was Alioune (or Al), from Paris, and was staying at the hostel temporarily while looking for a more permanent living place.  In Old Town Square a group of guys advertising an Irish bar came up to us, saying there was a massive St. Patrick’s Day party that we should attend.  “You should check it out, there are lots of girls!” one guy exclaimed to our group, then realizing that half our group WAS girls, suddenly announced, “Oh! And lots of guys too!”  We excused ourselves, saying, “perhaps later,” intending to avoid the bar entirely.

After wandering under the Powder Tower into the more modern area of Prague, we located Applebees and decided it would be a good place for a drink.  I got an Appletini cocktail, which was pretty good, even though I still have issues with the taste of alcohol.  The Italian guys went to meet a friend at a casino, but Al stayed and chatted with us.  After finishing our drinks, we walked back to the hostel, talked for a bit, and fell asleep.

March 16, 2012

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Day 2 (Morning – Afternoon)

Touring Prague

I woke up on Friday and let my brain process the fact that it was morning.  I wondered if perhaps the alarm set for 9am had failed, and it was now 11am.  Not that it particularly mattered since we weren’t running on a set schedule, but I didn’t want to start out so late that our explorations would be rushed due to shortening daylight.  A quick glance at Eliza’s phone averted my worries: it was 7:15am.  After midterm week with stress and early hours, my body alarm was set to before-school-time.  The bright sunlight filtering through the curtains may also have triggered my awakening.  First Eliza then BreAnna stirred, and I watches as their eyes perused the room.  Answering the morning’s bright bugle seemed like too much effort, and they rolled back over in their comfy beds.  I considered bounding from the room in search of photo opportunities, but instead, I tried to study.  I soon found myself dosing on my notes so I rolled myself into my bed sheets for more sleep.

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, the song from “Inception,” pulled me from my dreams, to observe Eliza stretching to switch off her phone’s alarm.  9am seemed suspiciously similar to 7am; our room was still bright, we were still blinking at each other, and the room was filled with us and quiet.  Wait a second!  Where was everyone else?  Around 7, the glance around the room revealed at least one other bed lump, and there was shifting in the other section of the dorm.  They were gone.  Of course, it’s not like we were expecting them to wake us up.  I had no idea what they looked like, and doubted they were concerned about our sleep habits.  We figured they had probably gone to breakfast.

Breakfast in the hostel was offered for a small charge, however, we wanted to explore the food options around Prague. So, we paraded onto our street and returned to our usual clattering and chattering as we clomped off to locate a meal.  We quickly located the Caffeteria (review coming soon, I hope), a Ferrari-loving shop filled with photos of cars.

After breakfast, we began to follow directions from a suggested 3-day itinerary that BreAnna located online.  We modified the order in which we saw various buildings and areas to fit our preferences.

Our first stop was the Prague castle complex.  From our hostel, we hiked up the cobblestone-lined hill, took a sharp right and continued hauling ourselves upwards.  The view of Prague below us was wonderful, although, personally, I preferred the view from the Clock Tower.

We walked through the castle walls, past the guards, and into a courtyard.  After a few minutes of locating our position on a map, we headed into a tunnel, in the direction of St. Vitus Cathedral.  Blocked by a group of stunned tourists at the end of the tunnel, we started to squeeze through the crowd.  Then we glanced up, and instantly halted, caught in the crowd of gaping mouths.

St. Vitus Cathedral’s Gothic spires loomed overhead.  The Cathedral’s entrance was planted so close to the tunnel that capturing the entire church in a photograph was impossible.  A photograph capturing both bottom and top of the church required circling to the right, where there was a greater amount of space.  After several minutes of fighting crowds and struggling to take photos, we headed inside the church.  Our necks craned backwards as we tried to take in the details.  Intricate stained glass windows filtered light into the church, and arched columns swept above our heads.  We weren’t willing to pay to circle around the church, all three of us deciding food was more important than a closer look.  So, instead, we tumbled outside to explore more of the castle complex.  We saw the old castle, a pale pink building stretching around the courtyard.  Then, we located the St. George Basilica, a ruddy red building with white trimming and white towers.  After learning that the Golden Lane required payment to enter, we wandered about the complex for a bit then exited through the palace walls.

We then went in search of a monastery, and while we found a religious building, I think we located a random church instead of the intended monastery.  However, we were content with this, as it gave us the chance to examine the statues that lined the front of the church and take photos of the church from an elevated parking lot.  By this point, hunger was bothering our stomachs, so we began tromping along streets in search of a meal.  Down some steps, we were drawn to a restaurant with outside seating called Mystic Café (review hopefully on its way).  While enjoying lunch, we noticed the sneaky antics of a pair of pigeons intent upon a bellyful of chips.  There were chips upon each table, and the birds repeatedly fluttered down to the walkway and performed a Pink Panther skip/jump to the one empty table at the restaurant.  The waitresses continuously chased the birds away ts-king at them, but after a few minutes, they fluttered down from their perch on the wall to make another attempt.  One even crept inside to attempt a raid of the indoor premises but was quickly chased out.  Finally, the pigeons seized a waitress-free chance and swept directly onto the table.  They hurriedly pecked at potato chips, gaining only a few bites before a waitress discovered their pilfering and shooed them away.

After lunch we headed across the Charles Bridge and began an exploration of the Jewish Quarter.  The exact synagogues that we visited are listed on Day 1 of our itinerary.  Having no knowledge of the synagogues’ histories, but still in need of entertainment, I adopted the role of tour guide.  “Welcome, thank you for coming along on this tour, I’m very new at this, and I hope we’ll get to where we need to be.”  I started making jokes about my “tour group,” intentionally picking on BreAnna (she started this by saying I wasn’t very good), and proceeded to mangle the names of the streets and synagogues.  At each synagogue, I announced our arrival, and we all took photos.  Then I commented on my extensive lack of knowledge on the building’s history and directed us to the next synagogue.

Whenever our brief time at each synagogue ended, I moved everyone along with the words, “Shall we?”  Before the Prague trip, it fit quietly into my speech pattern, but as a tour guide, I threw weight onto these two words, adding to my role as an incompetent, terrible tourguide to keep my group of two amused.  Now, these words are stuck as cues in my language for BreAnna and Eliza, and whenever I say this phrase, I’m assaulted by rolling eyes and sarcastic grins.

As our tour ended, we decided to head to Old Town Square for some water and rest, and once again, I shuffled us forward with my characteristic, “Shall we?”  The water and shaded park benches gave us an escape from the sun, which I’m near positive was responsible for half of my crazed tour guide antics.  Noticing a candy stand, the three of us grabbed bags and selected multiple candies for delectable consumption.  While sampling a few of our newly-purchased treats, we walked past the Church of our Lady Before Tyn, and wound our way to the Powder Tower, the historical entrance to Old Town.

We then set our eyes on the trek back to our hostel.

March 16, 2012

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Day 1 (Noonish-Bedtime)

“Guys?  We’re in Prague!”

Commence squealing and high fives. The 7 hour train ride was over, and we were officially in the capital of the Czech Republic.  Goal #1: Reaching our Hostel.  We used our expert skills of observation and followed the massive crowd of people away from the platform, towards the station’s main doors.  I have no idea what the train station looks like outside because we were focused on reaching our hostel.  So, we stayed inside, examining the map of metro lines.  We knew the name of our metro stop, it just took a bit of map reading skills to discover what metro trains we would need to board.  Then we weren’t sure what to do about getting to the metro.  It was obvious we had to walk down the stairs located beneath the huge Metro sign, but we weren’t sure if we needed someone to check our tickets.  We had the stamp “PID” on our tickets which would allow us on most transportation around Prague, but we weren’t sure if we needed that stamped signed or punched or whatever.  We tried to get assistance, but the man at the ticket stand indicated that he didn’t speak English.  After discussing the issue together, and then discussing it with two other travelers, we determined that it would be fine to head down and board the metro.  In Budapest, people simply board most modes of transportation without needing to show their passes to the driver, so we figured it was probably the same here.

When we reached the platform for the metro train, our guess about the passes was confirmed when a transportation controller walked over and asked us for our tickets.  We showed him the stamp on our train tickets and he nodded then wandered away.  I guess we looked clueless enough that he targeted us for potentially not having passes/tickets.

After the metro ride, we began walking towards our hostel.  The streets were cobblestone, and I wanted to take pictures, but we had to make sure we checked in first.  We followed Eliza’s directions and soon found ourselves hiking up a road, our suitcases weighing down as though the cobblestones had jumped from the street into our bags.  Then we spotted our destination, Little Quarter Hostel. I’m going to keep descriptions of the Hostel confined to My Review of Little Quarter Hostel (Post Coming Soon).  After storing our luggage and resting for a bit, we set out to locate the Charles Bridge, and ultimately, some food.

We clattered along the cobblestones, quickly reached the Charles Bridge, a 700 year-old, pedestrian-only bridge, and started across.  The weather was beautiful and a breeze flowing down the Vltava river slid through the crowd to tease hair into my mouth.  We drifted past street musicians, peddlers, and artists.  Atop the castle-like arches that funnel tourists from the town onto the bridge, trumpeters stood, their melodies flowing across the river, signaling the hour.  Statues of Saints lined the bridge, and people posed for photos before the statue depicting the crucifixion of Christ.

After crossing the bridge we crossed the street and decided to eat at a restaurant connected with Hotel U Zlateho Stromu.  (I will have a separate post for all restaurants/food soon).  After eating, we stepped back into the flow of pedestrians and followed the steps of the crowd to Old Town Square.  The first building we noticed was the enormous Astronomical Clock Tower.

We drifted around the square, admiring architecture, watching children chase pigeons, and listening to the street bands.  Amongst the hundreds of other tourists, we fit in perfectly, photographing every detail, gaping at buildings like nothing else was quite so beautiful and squishing through the crowd accumulating at the base of the clock tower.  After several minutes of fanatical photographing everything in site, we fixed upon climbing the clock tower.  We did reach the top, although instead of hauling ourselves up impossible staircases, we simply stepped into the elevator.  Even with the ridiculous crowd (no longer clogging the pathway since the clock stopped ringing), there weren’t may tourists who ventured into the tower.  In summer, attempting to reach the tower’s summit would have been an hour long wait, but since it was March, we were standing above Prague within a few minutes of purchasing our tickets.

Standing in the middle of Prague, at the top of the astronomical clock tower was like discovering a secret passage from which you emerge into an exquisite clearing in the forest.  I almost expected fairies to drift through the afternoon light and dance across the rooftops.  I could have stayed on the clock tower balcony until sunset.  It was difficult to remove myself from the magic and return to inside the tower for our descent.  This time, Eliza and I took the stairs while BreAnna went down in the elevator.

As the day stepped into evening, we began drifting into stores and working our way back towards our hostel.  We paused for gelatos, and switched into window-shopping-mode.  Later that night, we traveled back along the Charles Bridge for night pictures.

As we crossed the bridge, BreAnna threatened to throw me into the river (can’t imagine what could have provoked this declaration).  I figured my being thrown over the wall into the Vltava river was begging for the creation of a song.  You can sing the following lines to the tune of “Over the River and Through the Woods.”

Over the wall and through the air

Into the river she goes!

She’s swimming around, maybe she’ll drown

Thanks to Lucretia’s throw-o!

Lucretia is BreAnna’s evil twin, so it wasn’t really BreAnna who threatened to toss me into the river, it was Lucretia!  Eliza continued to walk along the cobblestones in her high-heeled shoes, while BreAnna and I played a game of Lucretia and her target.  Throughout our entire Prague adventure, Eliza strode along in her heels across cobblestone, conquering stairs and even climbing….. well, I’ll save that tale for another post.

After crossing the Charles Bridge, we decided to walk along the river and take photographs.  We entered a tunnel that lead us beneath Karlovy Lázně, the biggest club in Central Europe (5 stories high).  In the tunnel was a sign that read “Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments.”  We paused for a minute when all of a sudden Eliza suggested we try purchasing the torture devices.  Ensue silliness and jokes along the lines of adopting such devices for use in the bedroom.

Our night walk along the river involved pictures, laughter, and many more inappropriate jokes.

March 15, 2012

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