Sunday, March 14, 2010

Prague, Czech Republic: Count on Coincidences

Before I depart on another journey tomorrow I wanted to write about Prague while it is still fresh in my mind. It's not necessarily the fact that I would forget the events, but rather that I would forget about the feelings I had about those events. First I should give a little blog high-five to Oslo for being fantastic and unique. I went skiing yesterday at a ski hill which you can see in the hills from downtown Oslo, and it was an amazing time. I realized that such an event may not occur in any other city in Europe. Also, tomorrow I will be going to FIS Nordic World Cup with my friend Kevin who is currently visiting me from Edinburgh. I can't wait as I will finally get to see the Olympic ski jump put into action. I have seen this structure many times on the way to skiing, sledging and a variety of other winter activities that the Norwegians seem to embrace so well. A final note that on Wednesday we threw a "gangster party," which really turned out to be a great time. I would add a picture, but I haven't uploaded the photos from that night onto my computer yet, so I suppose everyone will have to wait patiently for their arrival on facebook. To give you an indication, I was wearing an orange bandana, a tight green wife-beater,(note to parents: a wife beater as defined by urban dictionary is "form fitting white ribbed tank top worn by men; looks good on well-built fellas, pathetic on skinny guys, and disgusting on fat beer bellied men") baggy jeans with an extensive amount of boxer showing, and some fresh white shoes. Needless to say, it was fantastic, and another note to the parents...I know you are proud of me for that.

But I am getting a little sidetracked, and should probably do what I set out to do and write about the great Eastern European city we all know as Prague. Arriving in Prague or "Praha" I was a little concerned that it wasn't possible to beat Vienna because I absolutely loved that city. However, I realized that Prague wasn't better or worse, but simply different. It had more of a medieval feel to it, and in some manner was a little more seeped in history. However, it was also a little more "touristy," which is kind of an interesting dichotomy. On our first morning in Prague we went to the city center and went to the top of Old Prague Tower, which offered incredible views of Prague...Immediately I was sold by this city as the picture above can attest too. The picture is of Tyn Church, which was constructed in the 14th century and was ruled under several religions due to some religious rebellion in the Czech Republic. On the top of the Old Prague Tower a strange travel coincidence occurred that seemed so unlikely it was crazy. Vicki and I looked over only to see two other Queen's students who were traveling together, one being on exchange, and the other visiting. To think that they happened to choose the same destination on the same dates, and then come to the same tower at the exact same time seems like an impossibility, but somehow it was possible. Later that night we would end up going on the infamous "Prague International Pub Crawl" with them so it couldn't have been better timing.

We then watched as the hour crept and the astronomical clock was set in motion. It is one of the most famous of it's kind, and really quite something to behold. It is an incredibly elaborate astronomical clock built in the early 1400's complete with moving apostles in doorways above the clock itself. Prague is just incredibly old, but I felt constantly reminded of this while traveling through the city. We then walked towards the historic Charles Bridge, which connects the central city to the area of Prague Castle. It is famous and full of statues that constantly tell stories. As an example, I will show you the statue just to the right of this text of John of Nepomuk. The story goes that the King's wife went to him to confess her sins. The King went to John of Nepumuk to force him to divulge the information he just received on suspicion that she was cheating. the King was so furious that on March 20th 1393 John of Nepumuk was thrown into the Vltava river from the Charles Bridge and drowned to death. Therefore, He is considered the first martyr of Seal of the Confessional.
We continued walking towards the Prague Castle and stopped to get someone to take a picture of us. The man was foreign (and had apparently never seen a camera before?) because in attempting to take a picture of us he actually took a picture of his own face, which I think is the greatest picture ever (included on the left). I can't even begin to tell you how hard I began to laugh when I saw this photo. I even sadly remarked when this happened, "Well this is clearly going to make the blog."

On the way up to the area called Prague Castle we stopped off at the Old Bell Tower and gained another great view of the city from a different perspective. I also learned some sweet information about Bell forging. Fun Fact: During the world wars most of the bells were melted down for military artillery, well, I thought that was pretty interesting at least. We continued walking to the top of the hill and saw the most astounding building, at least in my opinion, in all of Prague. The building I am referring to is the St.Vitus cathedral in the Prague Castle area. I immediately felt small in comparison to this incredible building. I have included two pictures of it because it really needs to be seen from these two different perspectives.






Later we would go over to St.Georges Basilica which, believe it or not, was built in the 900's, which to me was just astounding to believe. We headed back to the hostel for a quick nap and to get prepared for the legendary night that was the Prague International Pub Crawl. We headed over with some fantastic people that we met in our hostel who were on exchange in Delft, Netherlands. We began the night with some Absinthe, and then were off to the bars. The pub crawl takes you on a tour of 5 famous bars in Prague, it starts small and ends big...real big. Along the way I met some fantastic guys from Montreal and Saskatchewan. Again, it was another moment where I thought to myself...what are the chances? The three of us are pictured to the left with another anonymous individual. The night ended at biggest club in Central Europe called Karlovy Lazne. Epic...enough said. You can check out their website with movie trailer-esk introduction at http://www.karlovylazne.cz/. It is complete with 5 floors, great music, and a light show that would trigger an epileptic in 3 seconds flat.

I always seem to mention at least one delicious food item from the places I travel, so why should Prague be any different. The food item that I was all about in Prague was the sausage. They had delicious sausages served in the main square that were so big they had to be served in a baguette. It was fantastic, and I hope everyone by-passed the obvious sexual innuendos possible with the remarks I just made. Prague was simply fantastic.

On the last day I was by myself, but not really at all. This was because I ended up walking around the city with my new found friends studying in Delft. After all I was pretty close to these people considering the night before I let the Italian of the group read my fortune using Tarot readings. It was actually hilarious, and strangely accurate. I left Prague with great feelings towards both Vienna and Prague. I also realized the potential I had to meet amazing people across the globe (like the one's below), and ultimately inspired me to sign up for the incredible international community at couchsurfing.com. It is almost overwhelming the amount of outstanding places and people I am going to meet and have met overseas, but in the best of ways.

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