I begin this entry by saying, at this point in the tour, having been surrounded by so many Australians, my thoughts are in an Australian accent at this point. If I come home with an Australian accent, it is not by my own will, it is by process of osmosis as I am surrounded by Australians. Kangaroo. Uluru. Melbourne. No worries. I say that anyway. Moving on…
We began with some time on the bus, which I am thankful for, because it always gives me time to write without “missing” anything. Emma said that our bus rides would start out mellow and then after we’d make a lunch stop, we would get some business done, either learn about an area or play a game or whatever. So I shall use my morning time for my blog. So there, Mom, I’m not being antisocial or reclusive when I’m doing this. I knew you were worried.
Our lunch stop was in Dresden, Germany, a beautiful town that had been 90% leveled during WWII. It has been rebuilt from scratch since then, which is cool, considering the city still looks to have the same old-world architecture of many of these other cities. Brodie, Lindsey, Katy and I wandered around there for a bit and grabbed a bite to eat at a “Canadian Steak House.” For some unknown reason the waitress was not a fan of Lindsey, considering she was polite to all of us and then not so nice to her. Ah the Germans.
When we were back on the bus, Emma gave us some information about the Czech Republic, complete with Powerpoint presentation projected on the little bus screens. The dorky geography teacher in me was thrilled. Fun facts about Prague- they consume more beer per capita more than any other country (by far), their president is an outward alcoholic who’s gone to state functions intoxicated, and during Easter, it’s tradition for all the males to go out and “whip” the girls in their lives with willow branches for good luck. It’s a weird place. I love it.
We got to Prague ahead of schedule (yay!) and began exploring the city at the top of the hill where Prague Castle sits. As a lover of gothic architecture, I knew already that I was in my element. We paraded through the courtyards of the castle, and popped into the gorgeous Prague Cathedral. It reminded me of a mini version of Notre-Dame inside. Stained glass windows, little annexes, a long row of pews. It was very pretty.
From there we continued on our walking tour with our guide. Now, this was not our best walking tour. It felt like we were walking at the speed of light with very few stops. Also our guide wasn’t loud enough to deliver information to all fifty of us successfully, so all of the information he gave us kind of went over our heads. So, we started at the castle and began walking downhill. As we came to more of the urban city streets, I started seeing the ornately decorated buildings and colorful facades that had my heart immediately. But of course, we were on a walking tour, so we continued to sprint forward as my mouth hung open, in awe of everything I saw at the blink of an eye.
We also saw many stands that sold these treasured items known as chimney cakes. Chimney cakes are essentially cones of sweet dough roasted over a grill on a spit then covered in cinnamon sugar. They were selling them literally every few hundred feet at different cafes and street carts, and each time we passed by we could smell the aroma of fresh baked cinnamon bread. AND AGAIN. We were on the damn hundred-meter-dash walking tour, so we carried on. But by the end of smelling all of those treats, they were immediately on our Prague “must do” list.
We also passed by Charles Bridge, the most famous bridge in Prague, decorated with old stone statues of Jesus and other religious figures. We decided that Germany statues in a nutshell is “Friedrich on a Horse,” considering the number of historical figures represented in stone on horses in Berlin. Meanwhile in Prague, the aesthetic was definitely “Jesus on a cross.” But what excited me about the bridge was the number of street artists. This would be a place I’d later return to so that I could peruse the artwork.
After the speed view of Prague came to a close, we headed back to the hotel for a refresher before our dinner and night out. Rather than take the bus into town, we relied on the street tram system, a stop for which was conveniently located near our hotel. Well, the tram showed up sooner than we expected so we had to run to catch it. It filled up quickly, so we ran to the front half of the train to try and sneak onto a less-congested door of the train. I ran up and Brodie was right behind me. But right after I stepped on, the doors started closing and left Brodie standing on the street behind closed doors. “NO!” We both screamed dramatically as I took off on the train and she stood there alone. Thank god she has service on her phone. I was able to help coordinate with our trip manager Emma and driver Frank to help save her.
We all made it safely to our “traditional Czech dinner” in the city center. I saved a seat for Brodie, who did eventually arrive on the next tram about ten minutes later. At this dinner, we had some delicious Czech food and got to enjoy some traditional Czech music and dancing performed by locals. The food was really tasty I thought, though some people didn’t agree on the tour. Basically they cooked as many meats and potatoes in as many ways as they could and piled it high on a plate. I was totally happy with that. The entertainment was really cool as well. There was a really talented violinist, a couple of singers, and a guy playing some kind of percussive instrument where you bang on strings. Then there was a male and a female dancer that were twirling and jumping all over the place. And the guy dancer was really hot. No points off for that. Brodie and I asked “Why can’t we be Czech? It looks better than being us.”
After getting our fill at the restaurant, we were off to the Golden Tree, a bar near the city center. This place was really cool and trendy with all kinds of different rooms, some loungey, some loud, and another room dedicated to a dance floor with lasers, smoke effects, and a light-up floor. We armed ourselves with some strawberry daiquiris, devoured them in one of the loungey rooms, then made our way to the light-up dance floor.
After spending about an hour there, we were off to the famous Karlovy Iazne night club, the largest night club in Europe. It was five stories tall, with a different dance floor and theme on each floor. They had a floor dedicated to dance music, disco, oldies, and hits, and then downstairs in the basement they had an ice bar, where you could even drink out of a carved out ice cube. Now, they have one of these in Boston. I could easily go there if I felt like it. But y’know what, I’m never going to, so I decided to try that in Prague instead. A big group of us went in and drank out of our ice cups. Most of the Australians were whining about how cold they were, but as a native New Englander who has braved the month of January to go get a drink at Libby’s in downtown Durham, I was unphased.
After getting our ice drinks, it was definitely time for bed, so a handful of us piled into a cab, then made our way back to our hotel in Mala Strana. We were happy to get our first look at Prague, but I was excited to get more acquainted with the city the next day. And get my hands on one of those chimney cakes.